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Looking at the Animation Academy

If you’re a seasoned veteran of the Disney-MGM Studios or Walt Disney World in general, after a while, you start looking for different things to do.  Sure riding rides is fun and all but variety helps keep the trips fresh and gives you something to look forward to on a future trip.  So as a result, you start looking at the park map for something you haven’t done yet, perhaps because you didn’t have time ever before or you wrote it off as uninteresting to you.  One of the most overlooked attractions is the Animation Academy at the Magic of Disney Animation.

The Animation Academy was added to the Magic of Disney Animation when the to the Magic of Disney Animation received an upgrade a few years ago to match it’s Disneyland cousin.  This was the upgrade which introduced the Mushu video (and replaced the ever popular video of Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams), among other changes.  The Animation Academy is located following the Mushu film as you enter the area where you can meet some characters, but before you exit to the Animation Gallery store.

So what is the Animation Academy? It’s an opportunity for guests to be instructed on how to draw some famous Disney characters.  A trained animator runs you through the process of drawing a character with the help of an overhead camera while you the guest can draw at your station and follow along.

For years I skipped this attraction because I didn’t think it sounded fun to me.  It sounded like something for 7 year olds to do and mostly a distraction.  But after a while I too was looking for something new that I had never done and decided to stop in on the Animation Academy.  Before you can get into the Animation Academy, there is a small waiting area for guests who arrive after a presentation has started.  Here, you can watch on TV’s as a famous Disney character is animated and you try to guess who it is.  Lots of fun for kids and for adults, it’s interesting to see how many characters start off looking the same.

Once inside, you pick a station to sit at where you will find a large piece of paper and a pencil to draw with.  The animator will let you know when the session begins who you will be drawing, with the character to be drawn changing each session.  There’s about 5 or 6 characters you can draw, some easier than others, and they include Mickey Mouse (like you didn’t see that one coming), Goofy, Winnie the Pooh, Stitch and others. 

The session can be quick (the Cast Member has to follow a strict time schedule) and you follow along on your own paper as the Cast Member draws on theirs.  When I first tried it out, I wasn’t paying much attention to how my drawing came out, but at the end, I was really surprised by how well I did and really felt a sense of accomplishment (until I went back and tried to draw Stitch and ended up with a real atrocity of a drawing).  Let’s be honest for a moment, I’m no Monet and my art skills barely pass at a 2nd grade level, but even I could muster up something that looked like the character I was supposed to draw.

The Animation Academy is free and you get to keep your drawing after you’re done and I highly recommend it as a nice alternative to the “usual” things to do at the Studios (and you get to sit down and be in a nice air conditioned room).  It’s worth trying out and is fun to compare drawings to everyone else in your group.  One more benefit, if you’re going solo to the park (or perhaps you split up from your group), it’s a great activity since you don’t need to be with a group to do this and certainly won’t feel out of place. 

 Agree with what I said? Disagree? Have a story to share sparked by this column? Share your own idea by posting a comment below.

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A regular look into Disney's Hollywood Studios, both past and present, with commentary and analysis from Matt Hochberg.


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Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 by