I decided to start a new series this week called “My Favorite Disney Things”, where I, or one of our other wonderful writers, shares a special thing we just LOVE at Walt Disney World. It may be anything: an attraction, a souvenir, a snack or restaurant…there is so much to love at Disney World, so we figure this series could go on for years! And of course, we are The Affordable Mouse, so our emphasis is going to be on things that don’t cost much, if anything, so that should make it even more fun!
So today’s inaugural edition is featuring a true favorite of mine: The Magic of Disney Animation, at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.One of the reasons I wanted to write about this, is because in my opinion this is a true hidden gem of Disney World. While I think it is one of the most interesting attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it is also not your “typical” attraction: it’s not exciting, nor are folks racing to see it every day…in fact, most people don’t even know what or where it is. But I guarantee that if you take a few minutes to explore what it offers, you and your children will come away with a new appreciation for what goes into creating animation….and you may have a new Disney favorite too.
You will find the Magic of Disney Animation located in the Animation Courtyard, just to the right of the Chinese Theater. When you enter this building, you have the chance to take a short tour that gives you a very general idea of how the animation process works. It’s pretty interesting, and there are some fun interactive areas where you can play some animation games. One that I always get a chuckle out of is where you get to answer a few questions and then find out which Disney character you are most like. (I’m apparently “Belle” in case you are interested… ).
There is also a relatively unknown Character Meet and Greet in this area too, where you can see some characters that don’t necessarily pop up over the rest of the parks. While we have seen Sorcerer Mickey here, we have also seen the characters from UP here, as well as Lotso Bear. As this article is being written, Winnie the Pooh is scheduled to officially be in this area in the very near future. The good thing about this character area? You won’t find long lines because again, most people don’t really know it’s here.
But my favorite part of this attraction comes at the end of the tour, where you can choose to create your own Disney character art in the Animation Academy. Here, for the next 15 minutes you will get to watch an animator at work, and follow his/her directions on how to do it yourself. The animator makes it very easy by breaking down an entire character like Pooh, into a series of circles, ovals, and lines. Kids especially enjoy having the chance to draw their favorite characters, and usually the “class” is made up of many folks who have done this before, and enjoy coming back to draw a new character. In fact, the animators typically will ask what people have drawn in the past, so everyone will have the chance to do a new one.
I love this activity for a variety of reasons. For one, it’s a hugely fun activity and you don’t really need any particular artistic talent: just go with the flow, and if your Pooh doesn’t quite look like the animator’s Pooh,so what? Part of the fun is all of the comparisons at the end!
I also love this attraction because anything that encourages creativity in kids is a winner in my book. Our structured, electronic “entertain me” world has eliminated the spontaneous joy of creating in our young people, and I love how The Magic of Disney Animation brings that out in both kids and adults. It’s the essence of what Disney is about on many levels.
And one more reason I love this attraction? Well, you get a personal, free souvenir because at the end, you get to keep your creation! How cool is that? Interesting, fun, creative, not crowded, and free. What a great combination!