7 Things to Do in Walt Disney World If You Love Animation

I’m a child of the 1980s, so I was the perfect age to experience the Disney Renaissance, which started with The Little Mermaid in 1989. I have vivid memories of when that film came out in theaters. I desperately wanted to see it, but my family tended to rent movies rather than go to the cinema, so I had a long wait to see it. In the meantime, my mom got a different Little Mermaid movie from the library, one in which Ariel does, in fact, turn into sea foam. I was not pleased. Thankfully, by the time Beauty and the Beast came out in 1991, we started seeing the latest Disney movies in the theater.

So, I have a lifelong love of Disney animated features, but I admit I don’t know that much about the art form of animation. For those of you who do, there are a variety of experiences in Walt Disney World where you can indulge that fascination. Here are seven things to do in Walt Disney World if you love animation.

1. The Magic of Disney Animation

If you love animation, you obviously have to spend some time at this attraction in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, although I have to say it’s not as cool as it used to be, when you could actually watch real animators at work on Disney animated features. Still, you see a cute show, and you can visit the Animation Academy and take a brief class on animation from a Disney animator. OK, it’s mostly kids who take the class, but adults are welcome too. There are also a variety of animation-related games and displays, as well as character meet-and-greets.

Princess and the Frog display (2009) in The Magic of Disney Animation in Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World

Princess and the Frog display (2009) in The Magic of Disney Animation

2. Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

While you’re in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for The Magic of Disney Animation, don’t miss going into Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. There you can learn more about how Walt revolutionized the art form of animation and see his animation camera stand, the table on which he animated “Steamboat Willie” and “Plane Crazy.”

3. The Art of Disney

To see or even purchase Disney animation cels, head to The Art of Disney in Downtown Disney. You’ll probably also want to visit the Art of Disney stores in Epcot and Magic Kingdom (at Main Street Cinema), but the store in Downtown Disney is the largest.

4. Mickey’s PhilharMagic

As I’ve mentioned before, if you also grew up during the Disney Renaissance, you’ll appreciate the selection of movies that are featured in Mickey’s PhilharMagic. As an animation fan, you’ll enjoy seeing scenes from these 2D films reimagined in 3D.

5. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

If you liked seeing your favorite animated films go from 2D to 3D, just wait until you feel like you’re actually in them! The first phase of Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will open in May, and the marquee is already up. As I mentioned in my post on lions, you can get a preview of the Lion King rooms in this post from the Disney Parks blog. I can’t wait to stay there!

6. Turtle Talk with Crush

Turtle Talk with Crush in The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion in Epcot in Walt Disney WorldTurtle Talk with Crush is a live animated show, and that simply fascinates me! It’s amazing how an animated character can interact with the kids and adults in the audience. While some parts of the show are repeated, as a whole it’s different every time! (Next time you go, get your kid to ask Crush how many kids he has, and then get another one to ask him to name them. Hilarity will ensue.) This attraction is a great example of how far animation technology has come.

7. The Seas with Nemo & Friends

The Seas with Nemo & Friends in Epcot in Walt Disney WorldAnother innovative use of animation is found in the same pavilion as Turtle Talk. On The Seas with Nemo & Friends, animated fish mingle with real ones in the Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium. It’s a cool effect, although I have to admit my favorite part of this attraction is the queue—it’s so well themed!

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If you plan your animation-themed day in Disney World for this May or later, you can actually begin your day the night before by staying at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Even if you don’t stay there, once it’s open you will be able to go over and check it out; you just won’t be able to see the guest rooms. None of the attractions on today’s list should involve overly long queues, so you could do the three parks (Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot) in any order. Unless one of the parks has Extra Magic Hours to consider, I would probably start at Epcot and do The Seas with Nemo & Friends and Turtle Talk with Crush. (You might also consider stopping in Epcot’s Art of Disney store.) Then I’d go over to the International Gateway and take the boat over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I’d take a leisurely tour of The Magic of Disney Animation and Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. Next, I’d go over to Downtown Disney and wander through The Art of Disney. From there, I’d take a bus over to Magic Kingdom and see Mickey’s PhilharMagic and the Art of Disney store on Main Street, U.S.A.

If you could own an animation cel from any Disney animated feature or short, which one would you choose?