Walt Disney World Wish List: A New Home for the Animation Academy
As we await the start of the D23 Expo in Anaheim this weekend, let's take a look at some improvements Disney could make to the Walt Disney World Resort. These aren't the big announcements that many fans are hoping to hear — such as Star Wars Land, a new Pixar-themed land, or even a new name for Disney's Hollywood Studios. And they're not necessarily even things that we're looking for Disney to announce from the stage at D23. But they are improvements that would go a long way toward reassuring Disney fans that the company is working on reinvesting its relationship with its most loyal fans.
First up? Finding a new home — and some new love — for the Animation Academy.
Animation Academy at Disney California Adventure
We've long been fans of the Animation Academy, a hands-on demonstration where a Disney cast member leads visitors in drawing a Disney character. It's a unique theme park attraction in that every visitor becomes an active participant in the show... and those visitors get to create a free souvenir to take home.
In doing so, Animation Academy pays the most appropriate possible tribute to the art form upon which the entire Walt Disney Company was built — animation. Animation Academy makes the art of animation relevant and engaging to each visitor, creating a physical, pencil-on-paper connection between fans and beloved Disney characters. Want to see Disney Magic? Look around the room at the reactions on first-time visitors' faces as they see a Disney character emerge from the pencils in their hands, simply by following the cast member's instructions.
Walt Disney World's Animation Academy closed with the Magic of Disney Animation this summer. The attraction continues to operate at other Disney resorts around the world, including the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, but ought to have a home at Disney's largest resort, as well. Frankly, Animation Academy not only deserves a new home in Florida, it deserves a more prominent home, too. At Disney California Adventure and other Disney resorts, Animation Academy is tucked away inside an animation tribute pavilion that just doesn't offer much curb appeal to attract passing guests.
Animation Academy's intimate nature ensures that it will never be a high-capacity show, serving several hundred guests an hour at full capacity, instead of the 1,000+ per hour that Disney's bigger theater shows can handle. But this is the heart of the company. With some tweaks to the theater-style room used in Anaheim, instead of the classroom-style room once used in Florida, Disney could create a higher-capacity Animation Academy that could take a more prominent position in a reimagined animation pavilion at whatever Hollywood Studios becomes or... even better, taking over the space now used by the Captain EO theater in a redesigned Imagination pavilion in Epcot's Future World.
Wherever Disney puts it, the Animation Academy is a great attraction that deserves a new home at the Walt Disney World Resort. What do you think?
Could not agree with you more, Robert. To me, the Animation Academy represents more "old school" Disney World - where interactive experiences could broaden one's horizons. This is an attraction that brought a light to my daughter's eyes anytime we went. While she has great memories about the various rides throughout WDW, the tangible Goofy drawing she has in her room is an actual source of pride and has spurred her interest in art that much further. I may be naive, but I truly believe this is the kind of experience upon which WDW was intended to be built - an experience that not only entertains, but opens up possibilities of the future especially to children.
I did see the one in Disney MGM studio. I never saw one at Disneyland Resort in California. I would like to spend all day long enjoying drawing characters.
Valid opinion, but even during DHS peak attendance... LOW pass through. That said, my grandmother loved it!
It's a pretty good show. I couldn't agree with Robert more when he said that it's tucked away at DCA. When I first discovered the Animation Pavillion, I thought it was a shop. Disney really does a poor job promoting the animation studios. I really enjoy this show, and I hope it can find a new home at DHS.
When Disney decided for us that we didn't care for hand drawn animation movies anymore (wrongly, we didn't care for their generic stories anymore, the hand drawing wasn't the problem) the Animation Academy got redundant.
A new home at Epcot: How about Wonders of Life Pavilion and have a simulator ride through the History of Animation also.
The animation academy was my favorite thing to do. I was sad that it closed the day after our trip this year and that I didn't get to go. The lines were over a 2 hour wait. I would love a longer drawing class. Like one of the backstage tours for a price. The comment above about a Pixar class is a great idea!
The Animation Academy is a good activity for kids. I found it dull and mind numbing. Funny that it was initially sold as a top attraction when California Adventure opened 15 years ago. I went there a lot with not much else to do in other parts of the park. There are four areas to learn animation. Plenty of chances to draw pictures and use your voice talents. Now, I bypass it on every recent trip. No time to do the activities.
I don't see the need for an animation pavilion when Disney doesn't even make non CG cartoons anymore. Even Mickey mouse has been reduced to CG baby cartoons. The only decent animation that exists these days is Japanese anime
I can't possibly imagine Disney without the Animation Academy...I miss it already.
"Yes, Disney doesn't make hand-drawn animation anymore, but that's how they got started, what they stuck to for decades, and what they're still most famous for"
Thank you, Blake.
Disney's animated movies are based on classics, but we don't refer to the original classic stories any more. "Tangled" is the title of the movie, not "Rapunzel", which removes the reference to the classic story. The analogy doesn't quite work.
Why not move it to a hotel? Disney Art of Animation for instance.
"Harry Potter may be a best-selling series, but its not The Odyssey or The Divine Comedy or Moby-Rick"
Harry Potter is of course not Moby Dick. People actually finish reading Harry Potter without grabbing Cliff Notes.
I agree that Animation Academy would be great to expand and publicize. Most rides have one fast moving line which feeds into more than one ride. They could have multiple classrooms, and time the start of these drawing classes every 5 minutes. The session could be about 15-20 minutes. I never actually saw a line for the drawing class in DHS. My wife and I went there a few times, and loved the experience.
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