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The Animation Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Friday, December 24, 2010

Shhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone.  It will be our secret.  Well, it may not be a secret anymore, but for guests who have only visited Walt Disney World once or twice they may not know about this little gem tucked in the back of Disney’s Hollywood Studios where you can arouse your creative side.  A place where you can find out how well you can put a pencil to paper and if you have a future career in animation. 

There once was a day when animation was alive and well at Disney’s MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios).  Disney housed a branch of its animation division backstage at Hollywood Studios.  However, due to consolidation efforts it was removed from the theme park in 2003 and sent to Disney’s animation headquarters in Burbank, CA.  One piece that remained for guest experiences was the ‘Animation Academy’.  This activity is located in the ‘Animation Courtyard’ section of the theme park inside the Animation building. 

Did you say you can’t draw very well, or your straight lines look more like sine waves?  Don’t worry, my drawing skills are awful and even I was able to draw something recognizable to the naked eye with some help from a Disney Cast Member who lead our class in drawing a very popular Disney character. 

Before you enter the drawing studio you check-in with a Cast Member in the waiting area who counts your party size.  Each class can hold up to 40 guests.  The waiting area has a couple of interactive screens and some clever wall paper to set the mood for your upcoming drawing class. 

After a brief 5 or 10 minute wait the doors open and it’s your turn to become an amateur artist.  As you walk into the classroom you are welcomed by your drawing instructor and asked to sit anywhere you like.  Each seat is equipped with a lighted table, pencil, and paper with the Hollywood Studios logo on it.  The classroom is very comfortable with dim lighting and pleasant surroundings.  Once everyone is seated the instructor welcomes everyone and reveals the Disney character you are about to draw.  For our particular class we were going to draw Winnie the Pooh.  Not a difficult character to draw since he has a lot of little floppy imperfections. 

During the class your instructor will guide you on every line you draw.  It’s a step-by-step drawing process.  Not only are you instructed as to which lines to draw, but you are guided on exactly where to draw them on the paper.  Drawing your character does require some concentration.  The outcome of your character depends greatly on the lines you draw and the shades of each line.  You can afford to be off a bit (especially with Winnie the Pooh) and still draw a stellar character.  In fact, in some cases drawing an imperfect line or circle may even help your character look better. 

After you’ve finished drawing your character you will probably examine it over and over.  You will also want to compare it to your instructor’s drawing to see where you could have made some improvements.  But don’t lose sleep over tiny imperfections because everybody has a different drawing style.  Not everyone’s character is going to look exactly the same.  Your drawing style is very much like your fingerprint.  It’s going to be a little different to identify your artistic touch. 

Something you may want to keep in mind if you know you will be attending this class before heading to Hollywood Studios.  Consider taking a folder with you because once you have completed the class the drawing is your souvenir to take home.  Remember it is a piece of paper and it can fold, bend, and tear.  Placing your drawing inside a folder can help preserve it until you get home from your trip. 

Once your class is over you are welcome to leave or ask your instructor any questions about animation drawing in general.  I took the opportunity to walk around the classroom to admire some of the props and other drawings used inside to properly theme the attraction. 

If you plan on spending your day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios be sure to check out this activity.  It’s not specifically for adults or children, but an attraction the entire family can enjoy.  There are very few attractions or activities at Walt Disney World where you can obtain a level of personal satisfaction.  The Animation Academy is certainly one attraction where you not only can feel good about what you have accomplished, but collect a free souvenir along the way.  If making memories at Walt Disney World is what you are looking for then this souvenir will be one you can look at years later with a smile and sense of accomplishment. 

Next Up:  Resort hopping continues at a place where white sandy beaches meet the Eastern coastline. 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Studioscentral.com.  May your family find peace and joy this Holiday Season. 

About this column

Aaron DelPrince looks at the various activities you and your family can experience at Walt Disney World


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