Theme Park Insider

Disney World to Close Hollywood Studios' Animation Pavilion

June 29, 2015, 3:21 PM · The Walt Disney World Resort today confirmed that it will close the Magic of Disney Animation pavilion at Disney's Hollywood Studios next month.

Magic of Disney Animation

One of the original attractions at what opened in 1989 as the Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park, the animation pavilion used to be a working production facility where visitors could watch Disney animators creating feature-length films. The Florida studio worked on Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and Brother Bear before Disney closed it in 2004. The original tour of the animation facility began with the short film "Back to Neverland," starring Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams, who showed audiences just some of what made Disney animation so magical for audiences.

After the animation studio closed, Disney converted the facility into the current exhibition hall, which included a 10-minute animation demonstration, character meet and greets, and the Animation Academy studio, where visitors could learn how to draw a Disney character, which they could take home as a free souvenir.

Animation Academy

Last year, Disney closed the last remnants of the Studios' Backlot Tour which, along with the animation pavilion, provided much of the entertainment in the park's first years. Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed earlier this year that the studios park would be getting another name change, although Disney has not yet revealed what that will be.

Disney's been sitting on a variety of plans to substantially transform the studios theme park, including designs for a Star Wars-themed land as well as proposals for a copy of the Toy Story Playland from Hong Kong Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Paris and a copy of Disney California Adventure's Cars Land. Disney has yet to announce any major plans for the park, however.

The animation pavilion's last day will be July 12.

Replies (46)

June 29, 2015 at 3:28 PM · What's next: One Man's Dream?

All these closures would make much more sense if there were any ideas of what's going to replace them. As it stands, half the park is closed yet Disney continues to raise admission prices.

June 29, 2015 at 3:43 PM · How many more attractions will be shuttered before Disney finally gets going on whatever its (supposed) plans for DHS are? Either this is a signal that they're finally about to get rolling on the park-wide makeover project, or it's a signal that they care more about saving money (through cutting attractions) than in providing a product in DHS that is worth what they're charging.
June 29, 2015 at 4:03 PM · Has there been 1 crane seen in the park, or anything that shows they are actualy working on replacements for all these closed rides?
June 29, 2015 at 4:42 PM · @James Trexen....actually Yes! They have also stated that will be closing as well
June 29, 2015 at 4:47 PM · At this rate the park will be devoid of attractions by November, with Disney still saying "we'll announce plans soon..." as they continue to charge full price for admission to what, at that point, will be nothing more than a shopping mall.
June 29, 2015 at 4:59 PM · When is the last time any regulars of this site even visited the Animation Pavilion? The only part of it that was still worthwhile was the "learn to draw" class which can be set up somewhere else if there is a huge outcry. It's not like Disney is closing a popular attraction, by any means. I am more worried about the rumored closure of One Man's Dream, which will only be okay if they move it somewhere else (Main Street at the Magic Kingdom would be great). You need a shrine for the man himself somewhere at a Disney park.

As for DHS proper, we all know Disney is getting things primed for big additions - it is just amazing that they have been able to keep things so secret. Robert you sure you don't know something that you just aren't able to share yet?

June 29, 2015 at 5:17 PM · I really hope we don't get copies of Toy Story and Cars lands. I would want the Pixar Place section to still resemble Pixar's actual campus with Pixar related attractions housed inside, like Toy Story Midway Mania. I want unique stuff in the park that's been copied so much by California Adventure and Walt Disney Studios Park.
June 29, 2015 at 5:33 PM · Bring it on! The Magic of Disney Animation is really the last testament to the fact that Hollywood Studios was originally intended to be a working movie studio. The realities of financing such an ambitious endeavor have clearly set in; both the Animation pavilion and the Studio Backlot Tour evolved to become shells of what they once were. If Disney is going to move past the whole "studio" thing, the closure of both of these attractions solidifies their intentions. I'm excited for whatever comes next.
June 29, 2015 at 5:39 PM · My goodness. People complaining about charging full price for a park in construction. They are closing clunkers. Few people go to them.
June 29, 2015 at 6:01 PM · Uh, where's the construction besides the extra line for Toy Story?
June 29, 2015 at 6:18 PM · Besides Frozen in the new Hyperion, the removal of The Big Hat, and the new Great Movie Ride, I suppose coming soon.
June 29, 2015 at 6:19 PM · So secret or just really indecisive like Hyperion Warf? Having 5 attractions shut down within a year (major or minor) puts stress on what's left. It doesn't matter if it's something that goes to the regulars or not, it makes the lines and everything else at what's left even crazier. It's not worth the admission price when you compare it to pretty much everything else at Disney.
June 29, 2015 at 6:23 PM · They already changed the pre & post show film on the GMR last month, that's it for that. They merely changed shows & stage sets for the theater. And the hat was another "removal" even though that was probably good. Calling these changes construction is really stretching it.
June 29, 2015 at 6:58 PM · They did construct a new stage to replace the old stage where the hat once stood. The Toy Story is real construction. You just have to wait.
June 29, 2015 at 6:56 PM · How sad- we just discovered this last trip and were looking forward to doing it again. Now we will not have a chance. I wish they would stop closing things- there won't be anything left to do!
June 29, 2015 at 7:16 PM · Anon: Yes, I believe real construction is in the future. And I would guess it will be massive. But, I will reiterate that saying the park is now in construction is stretching the construction point. These changes are minor changes that occur in theme parks on a yearly basis. it's certainly not in the league of Universal Studios Orlando a two years ago when you had construction walls covering Springfield, Transformers, And Diagon Alley/London/Hogwarts Express all at the same time, or what's been going on in Universal Hollywood. Or, for that matter, California Adventure when they did Phase 1. Those are what I would call a park in construction. DHS will be there eventually, but it isn't to that point yet. I don't think there's even a construction wall in the park as of today (Toy Story is backstage). But, I agree with you, it will happen someday.
June 29, 2015 at 7:30 PM · "The animation pavilion's last day will be July 12."

Construction walls soon after. Soon is undetermined. Hyperventilating continues.

"Saying the park is now in construction is stretching the construction point."

Okay. I hear you. Except when they are and were.

June 29, 2015 at 7:58 PM · I agree with the others, this might be exciting if other construction equipment was already onsite. With no recent permits discovered, I would assume we are still another year from any kind of announcement and probably 5 years before any new attractions.

Fingers crossed D23 proves me wrong.

June 29, 2015 at 7:59 PM · Ok, people, seriously, I love you guys, you all seem to be very nice people and you're all great go-to sources for theme park info, but what is there to complain about here? You always say that Disney hasn't added anything new recently, and here you go. They're adding new things. So what if it's taking a while? We're getting somewhere. But I do agree that it's pretty stupid that Disney is charging full admission for what is, at the moment and what will be for a while, an incomplete park.

On a different note, does anyone notice a strange parallel between DHS and USF? They were both originally created to to be working film studios, the East Coast versions of their parent studios on the West Coast. Not only could guests see the filming take place, but they could learn the secrets behind movie-making and go on some attractions themed to popular films and TV shows. Nowadays, Universal has definetely seemed to have abandoned that idea. The only attractions left at that park that educate guests about filmmaking are Disater!, Animal Actors and the Horror Make-Up Show. But one of those attractions is possibly going to close down. To make way for what the park's new focus is. Not teaching you how to make movies, but putting you in movies. And we don't really see too much filming there, do we? And DHS seems to be following the same strategy. There has been little to no filming there since Mickey Mouse Club went off the air and the animation studio was closed down. Plus the closing of the Backlot Tours and The Magic of Disney Animation definetely seems to signify that they've abandoned the whole idea of filmmaking education. What attractions are barely being touched? Tower of Terror, Star Tours and Toy Story Midway Mania, attractions that try to make you feel like you're in a real movie or tv show. Oh, and then there's the often-talked about lands themed to Star Wars and Cars. Coincidence? I think not.

June 29, 2015 at 8:02 PM · Regardless of whether the attraction was popular or not, it was still something to do in a park void of rides. As a result, wait times are going to go up for Toy Story, Star Tours, Tower of Terror, and Rock n Roller coaster. Guaranteed. Look at DHS in the past 5 years:
Modified: Star Tours
Closed: Sounds Dangerous, Jack Sparrow, Backlot Tour, American Idol, Magic of Disney Animation.

Aside from American Idol, there is no action going on at any of those now recently shuttered spots. From a long-term perspective, yes, it's exciting to think that worthy attractions will be going into place (assuming the crappy Toy Story Playland isn't part of the plans). The park's short-term status stinks quite frankly and I think that's why fans are upset because DHS is unworthy of the $97 admission charge.

June 29, 2015 at 8:04 PM · American Idol is no longer open either
June 29, 2015 at 8:05 PM · I agree with Kyle, I'm glad that Hollywood Studios is stopping being a working movie studio. Although Disney tried really hard, there was never any exciting going on, unlike UHS
June 29, 2015 at 8:08 PM · So construction for the redo will include Animation Courtyard, Idol Theater/ABC Sound Stage, and Streets of America, based off of the closures and posturing. Disney will most likely keep Muppets Theater and Lights Motors Action open until after the First Phase is done. Star Wars will be in the Echo Lake/Streets of America sections, but what will be in the Animation Courtyard?
June 29, 2015 at 8:31 PM · I really hope that they move the learn to draw section of the magic of Disney Animation. I hope they do not forget where it all started....with an animated mouse!
June 29, 2015 at 10:26 PM · I don't think this is that big of a deal since not many people visited it anyway. Disney is removing the vestiges of the Studio park concept. I agree they need to make some announcements soon so everyone has stuff to look forward to. Hopefully it's not Toy Story Land, which is cute but really underwhelming. I've been to HKDL, and the rides are really cute and nicely themed but they're still only carny rides. This is not the way to go.

As for One Man's Dream, I hope it ends up in DCA (or DL) as it should be in California not Florida.

June 29, 2015 at 11:11 PM · Disney will probably do something with DHS or whatever it will be called in the future, yet still move at a glacier's pace! Has anyone paid attention to the Attendance figures for Theme Parks in North America for 2014. USF because of Diagon Alley has annual attendance increase of 17%! Thats 8 times the theme parks at WDW. You don't think Disney noticed that?!?! They know now that they have to respond somehow someway soon!
June 30, 2015 at 1:52 AM · Very disappointed my son and I enjoyed the animation drawing class it's a shame it won't be there any more and as for people not knowing about it I beg to differ that class was always crowded you had to get there early to get a seat to draw love it ??and will miss it??
June 30, 2015 at 4:03 AM · I've heard that they are moving the drawing class to another spot and it will be like the one out at Disneyland. - Gene
June 30, 2015 at 4:58 AM · If one mans dream leaves I will be very unhappy with Disney. I love that attraction.
June 30, 2015 at 5:17 AM · In 15 years I have been in the animation building twice. Once to see Mickey Mouse, and once to see Winnie the Pooh. This should have been shuttered years ago and replaced with something of substance. Nothing they have closed has been of any use to anyone for years. The backlot tour of 1989 was not what was just shut down, nor is this closure the closure of what was there in 1989. What they closed was two large wastes of space and hopefully they will knuckle down on Star Wars and Pixar related upgrades and get this place going again.

I think the whole complaint about paying full price for the park is a bit whiny in many ways. How many people who visit Sites like this would go to Florida and pop down a $100 bill and walk in there? I'm guessing less than zero. I'm sure most people who may go once in a blue moon to one park would probably still do their research and realize the value for their money is probably not there either, and go to another park. 99% of people going to DHS are there as part of a week long vacation or more and treat all 4 parks and both water parks as one big place.

June 30, 2015 at 5:23 AM · So..... I am guessing the ticket price hasn't gone down for another attraction closed?
I really don't want to be a cynic! But... they make it so easy sometimes. :-(
Makes me sad.
June 30, 2015 at 6:40 AM · My daughter and I visited last summer. In general, the Animation Pavillion was being used by guests as a quiet, air-conditioned place to rest. However, there were lines to attend the Animation Academy and guests were asking for schedules to know which drawing lessons would happen during the day. I noticed that many guests (ages 10-25) visiting multiple drawing sessions, asking for the artists' sutographs and advice about animation careers. I hope the Academy is relocated. Walt would want to encourage future animators.
June 30, 2015 at 7:24 AM · I would be interested to see a map of DHS with all of the closures marked, to get a sense of the areas they are clearing by closing these attractions. It seems to me that they can't get started on the planned projects because they need the land taken up by a large group of attractions at the same time.

I see this as great news. DHS is in desperate need of a major makeover, and it looks like there is about to be USH-style construction going on there in the near future.

June 30, 2015 at 7:31 AM · Best idea I heard to counter the lack of attractions while the park is down was to convert a 1 day DHS ticket to a "1 day DHS/Epcot" ticket. Since they are fairly close. With 5 attractions "down" in a year, there is a lot less to do and spread the crowds, but Epcot is large enough to absorb it.

In other words until the new areas open up, tickets for Epcot/DHS should be considered as one. (and hopping between the two should be allowed, even with a "1 park" ticket)

June 30, 2015 at 12:08 PM · The key is for everyone to be patient. Marty Sklar said that to get from the blank sheet of paper to people smiling, laughing and/or screaming can take 4 1/2 to 5 years. He said that about the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Disney-MGM opened in 1989 and TOT opened in 1994. Magic happens, but not overnight
June 30, 2015 at 12:45 PM · What I wanna know is how they would fit Cars Land in there. With Echo Lake/Streets of America being an obvious location for Star Wars Land, the only other space left for new attractions is Animation Courtyard. That couldn't possibly fit all of Cars Land.
June 30, 2015 at 2:07 PM · While I loved this attraction in the past, let's be honest, it really ceased to mean anything when the CGI revolution took over and pushed hand-drawn animation aside. I had hopes of a revival with "Princess and the Frog" but that didn't do as well as hoped so I can understand Disney shutting down what's basically turned into a character greeting area. A shame as I loved the original version but, like that style of animation itself, it's a time now past.
June 30, 2015 at 5:40 PM · We were at Epcot last week and at least 3 exhibits/rides
were closed, did anyone notice that! BUT we still paid $102. I think they should notify you at the gate which exhibits/rides are closed.
June 30, 2015 at 6:12 PM · This stinks one of my favorite things to do at Disney is the art class. I am really a terrible artist but with the art class directions I actually do pretty good and I really enjoy taking home the picture I drew. Makes for a great souvenirs
June 30, 2015 at 6:20 PM · Cars Land can take the place of Lights Motors Action! from the end of Streets of America all the way back to Catastrophe Canyon. Star Wars land can take over the Streets of America itself.
June 30, 2015 at 8:32 PM · Was just there in April and NOT ONE PERSON OR KID had any interest in the Animation Pavilion.

As a DIS stockholder, DO NOT RUSH the redevelopment. As a matter of fact, I think everything should be timed to open just before the Magic Kingdom's 50th Anniversary.

For those that say...
WDW attendance is suffering. It's not.

For those that say...
USO/IOA will make DIS suffer until them. They haven't so far and USO/IOA have A LOT of rides to replace. They know it, have stated it and are actively planning it.

For those that say...
HPotter will continue to dominate. IOA is already suffering from stagnant attendance.

June 30, 2015 at 10:33 PM · Now I know why the Genie wears the Goofy hat and yellow Hawaiian shirt at the end of Aladdin. :)
I'll admit I've only been to MGM once (in 1994). The only thing that blew me and my friends (16-17 year old guys and girls) away was the giant AT-AT and Star Tours. My friends and I went on that 11 times. Was the Aladdin parade there? I also thought that was awesome. I remember the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground...I see that that is still there. I'm not sure that anyone under the age of 30 has any idea what that movie is, so maybe that shouldn't be there anymore since it is meant for little kids. I looked at the map of DHS. It looks like the whole left half of the park is scheduled to be closed except the playground, the Muppets, and Star Tours. They should get a new show or ride for the Muppets (Is it the same one from DCA?- because if so that really needs an update) and relocate it to the Pixar area. Then just wipe the rest out besides Star Tours and make it all Star Wars. That's probably going to cost about 1 Billion dollars. They are floating the idea of spending 1-1.5 Billion at Disneyland so I assume they'd be willing to do it also in Florida. If the Star Wars movie makes 2 Billion dollars at the box office, which I seriously think it could, that should make some money available for this project. Hopefully they'll announce it at D23 and then start construction after the new Star Wars movie is out. They really don't want spoilers for the movie so they really can't put out plans or concept artwork yet, right? Wouldn't hundreds of non-Disney employees have access to information about the new movie if they started construction now? Iger said they wanted stuff from the new movies in the Star Wars sections so I think we just have to wait. Some of the timing of these closures may seem weird, but remember that the movie was going to be out this summer originally? Business people make logistics plans way in advance. They love to have plans more than a year out for things, so they may have planned all the attractions to close for this summer, then the movie date got pushed back, but they didn't want to mass with the closing plans for just and extra 6 months of use for attractions that weren't super popular anyway.
June 30, 2015 at 11:28 PM · It's easy to say nobody has any interest in something they haven't tried. Before I tried it I didn't expect to either, but once I tried it I enjoyed it. It's like the little kid thatis a picky and mom made them try something only to discover they actually enjoyed it
July 1, 2015 at 8:56 AM · I totally understand them closing this pavilion. And I don't want them to rush in a patchwork fix for this park. I hope they do something amazing and don't mind waiting for it.

However, the fact that Disney hasn't announced anything creates the impression that Disney isn't sure what they're going to do with the park. In a recent WDW Today episode, Len Testa revealed that the Board hasn't confirmed the Star Wars plans yet. That's a really bad sign.

I agree that Disney should cut the price of a one-day ticket to DHS. I know they won't, but it would be a really good gesture. I expect that One Man's Dream and Lights Motors Action will eventually close. Adding a third track to Toy Story Mania is nice, but that isn't a new addition. If it's going to be multiple years (if not more) before the park is in shape, it should be cheaper.

July 1, 2015 at 2:23 PM · One person writes that no one under 30 knows what Honey, I Shrunk The Kids is. Guess what? 17 years old, knows what the film is! (Haven't seen it in years, but I know what it is!)
July 2, 2015 at 11:30 AM · It's too bad. As someone who works in the animation industry, the Animation building was always a must-do in DHS. Tower was the only other thing in the park I cared about.

I usually come in the back way through the gift shop as I don't need to see the intro movie any more. I spend a couple of hours in the last rooms with the production drawings. Many have been there for years, and I can still stare at amazement in their quality. I wish they added more to them, but with Disney going mostly 3d now, I understand that production art is a dying form.

Every bench was filled around me with people sitting and either eating or just seeking some shade. One had a man laying down totally asleep. I was surprised a CM hadn't come by to remove him.

The drawing classes were great when I was younger (I still have many of them, and it was cool to see my work improve over the years), but because extremely repetitive over the years.

I'm glad I took a lot of photos of the pavilion last time I was down, because it looks like we'll be skipping Orlando till at least 2017 while DWorld gets their act together. California or a DCruise look much more appealing now.

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