Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oh, You'll Love This...Just One More (Free) Thing...

A few weeks ago we released an article (Tip Of The Tail, October 2nd, 2009) about our favorite FREE things at Walt Disney World. In retrospect, we neglected to mention one very important free thing. And this might actually be my favorite of all: the free drawing you get to take home from the Magic Of Animation attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Now, this attraction has changed over time. Years ago, when MGM Studios was still being used as an actual studio for movie and TV production, this attraction allowed for you to watch Disney animators draw actual movie cells of an in-progress movie and explain the whole process. It was fascinating. For example, I remember visiting this attraction in 2003 when they were animating Brother Bear. That was the best part of the Magic Of Animation attraction. Now, the best part is where you take home your free souvenir.

After entering the attraction, you are lead into a small studio with theater seating. On stage a Disney animator interacts with an animated Mushu (on TV screens above the animator) as they explain the basics of 2-D animation. It actually is informative and entertaining the first time seeing it, and it is worth the time (even if the previous version of real working animators working on actual in-progress movies was MUCH better). From there, you are emptied out into the main attraction area that showcases a room decorated to simulate an animation studio (it's chock-full of cool trinkets, toys and sculptures). After that is a second room that does have production art and cell art hanging on the walls, usually of an upcoming movie that they are promoting. Earlier in the year they had art for Up, and currently (unless it has changed in the last couple of weeks) it is of The Princess And The Frog. It is very interesting to see, even if it really is now just a glorified advertisement at this point.

There are two levels to the Animation studio - you exit the theater onto the upper level. The bottom level has a meet & greet area that usually features Sorcerer Mickey. There are also several stations that allow guests to play with interactive games. The upper level has a smaller meet & greet (our last time there they had the Incredibles posing for photos) and the animation studio where the drawing classes take place. The classes usually change out every 20 or so minutes.

You enter the room and take a seat behind actual drawing/drafting desks. In front of you is a blank sheet of drawing paper (with the Hollywood Studios logo) and an eraser-less pencil. The animator begins to explain the process of basic character drawing, putting emphasis on drawing very lightly in geometric shapes to start. The animators usually have a humorous and effective way of explaining each step clearly enough so that most all can catch on quickly. Having a background in drawing or illustration obviously helps, but anyone can do this and have fun with it. In recent months we've drawn classic Mickey, Goofy and Eeyore (Brian and Katie's efforts pictured here - sorry about the wrinkles!). It's a perfect souvenir to take home and even frame if you want. The kids love this and beg to do it every time we're at the Studios. And it's free!

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