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Unheralded Treasure: Animation Academy

Friday, February 20, 2009

 I was never much of an art student. In fashionable 1970s Marin County, when “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” was all the rage, my middle-school drawing teacher abruptly pronounced me to be entirely left-brained. He was cruel, but correct.

So, you shouldn’t be surprised that it had never occurred to me to check out the “learn to draw Disney characters” class at Animation Academy, in The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Why subject myself to more humiliation? Plus, somehow I’d never been all that interested in The Magic of Disney Animation to begin with, and given its location in the park, it was never anywhere near my critical path to Tower of Terror, or Toy Story Mania, or the Sci Fi Dine In.

I’d actually tried to convince my far-more-artistic son to give the class a try, but he always turned it down. Perhaps it seemed too much like school.

But during my solo-with-tons-of-friends MouseFest 2008 trip, I was open to trying pretty much anything new. So when my friend Danielle said the drawing class was one of her “can’t miss” attractions at the Studios, and showed me scans of the characters she and her wife had sketched in previous classes, I figured I’d tag along.

We skipped through the Magic of Disney Animation, and got right in line for Animation Academy. Classes were running every 15 minutes (the Times Guide always has details, since the hours may vary and do not generally run the full park hours), so we didn’t have to wait long.

The classroom was appealing and well-themed (of course), with slanted workdesks for the budding animators. The instructor took a quick informal poll of the class to determine which character we’d be drawing today; perhaps the rest of the Guests were as old-school nostalgic as myself, as we collectively picked Jiminy Cricket.

And yes indeed, in just a 15-minute class, this left-brained non-artist was able to draw a recognizable, even nice-looking Jiminy! The instructor walked us through, step by step, with fundamental building blocks of drawing: circles, squares, lines, shading. I didn’t have to know a darn thing to be able to follow these instructions. I was honestly thrilled.

And now I’d have to say it’s on my “can’t miss” list too!