Before the stars of Disney+’s High School Musical series get their head in the game, they’re geeking out over their shared love of the original film franchise that inspired their meta reboot show.

During the D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif., the cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series stopped by the EW and PEOPLE video studio backstage to shared new details about their streaming musical comedy, as well as reveal how they were all fans of the original Disney Channel film trilogy starring Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, and more. One of the stars was even in a production of High School Musical when he was younger while another was at the third film’s premiere!

High School Musical The Musical The Series
Credit: Disney +

High School Musical is such a big part of our generation’s upbringing so it’s really great to be a part of a project that pays homage to that,” Olivia Rodrigo, who plays the Hudgens equivalent in the new show, says. “It’s really exciting to be a part of that franchise.”

Check out our full interview with the cast above. And during the panel for the series, original High School Musical cast member Corbin Bleu walked onstage by yelling, “What’s up, Wildcats!” to enthusiastic applause and cheers.

“It has been over a decade since the original High School Musical movie,” he told the fans gathered in the arena. “It was the first TV movie to be put on iTunes. The franchise went on to win two Emmy awards and become a stage production. It was a wild ride. Today, the journey continues. Disney’s new streaming platform is going to be playing host to a brand new television series that is a reinvention of Disney Channel’s most successful TV movie franchise of all time.”

Executive producer and showrunner of the Disney+ series, Tim Federle, then joined Bleu onstage to reveal why the new show is a meta look at the original franchise with an all-new cast of young characters.

“You don’t want to remake High School Musical because it’s still perfect,” Federle said. “What I wanted to do was capture the real spirit of theater kids. So what if we cast real teenagers with acne? They’re not going to lip-sync, they’re going to sing live. It’s the real deal. The entire series is all about finding your tribe. A new generation deserves new characters.”

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series premieres Nov. 12 on Disney+.

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High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
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