14 November 2011

Where animation begins

The Disney Chick, speaking about The Magic of Disney Animation, recently said, “once upon a time, it was a place where Disney proudly took guests behind the scenes of their upcoming animated features - including the ones in progress.”

Now, in the age of DVD/Blu-ray bonus features, we all know this attraction, along with its various sideshow distractions and galleries, are no longer the juggernaut it once was. This is partly due to the removal of feature animation production, partly because of the aforementioned hours of bonus features, and in part owing to the transition to a character meet-and-greet gathering hub. However, we are not here to bemoan or shame to past and present today. No, we are here to glimpse into a future of my imagination where this corner of Disney’s Hollywood Studios becomes truly relevant once more.

Little more than a decade ago, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream opened up shop along Mickey Avenue (now known more as the prelude to Pixar Place). It was the no-frills heart of the 100 Years of Dreams, the celebration of what would have been Walt Disney’s 100th birthday. The walkthrough attraction and film featured vignettes about important elements of Walt Disney’s life, props and costumes from live action television shows and feature films, models, artwork, and much more that offered thousands of glimpses into the life and legacy of the man. While not always a capacity crowd, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream still maintains a healthy assembly of curious individuals.

So, what does this exhibit have to do with The Magic of Disney Animation? Everything. When you consider that California is home to the Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Archives, and the Walt Disney Family Museum, it does feel like the East Coast has taken a bit of a shellacking in the history department. Okay, sure, the Studios and Archives aren’t open to the public on a regular basis and tours are extremely difficult to come by (quick aside, if anyone in the Archives or Studios is willing to give me a tour, I will find a way to get myself across the country). However, the opportunities do come up on rare occasions. Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream is almost an East Coast version of the Walt Disney Family Museum, it is a historical portrait of Walt Disney, but still leaves quite a bit unexplored.

What Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream is for the man, The Magic of Disney Animation could be for the history of Disney animation. Think of the Animation Gallery, the one room, one case display, that features maquettes and sketches promoting the most recent or upcoming animated feature, but on a exponentially larger scale. Artwork, both concept and final, from the 80+ years of Disney animation could fill multiple rooms in rotating displays which could highlight princesses for a year and then switch to animal films, or the beauty of backgrounds, villains, or the houses of characters; the list could go on and on. Viewing rooms could show various shorts or clips from full length films. Just imagine a child sitting down to watch Oswald or a Silly Symphony for the first time. Then, after all of this build up, through the majesty and hilarity brought to life by drawings over the past 80 years, you show guests a room filled with drawing tables just waiting for them.

Who knows, maybe the next Ollie Johnston or Andreas Deja will sit right down at one of those stations inside The Magic of Disney Animation, draw their first barely recognizable Mickey Mouse, Goofy, or Orange Bird, and begin their own journey as an animator. It certainly is a future worth dreaming about, right?


Greg said...

This is a great idea Ryan. I wish it would come to pass.

DizWiz said...

Disney created an exhibit like you're suggesting and displayed it at the New Orleans Museum of Art for the opening of "The Princess and the Frog". It would be great if they would install this exhibit at The Magic of Disney Animation. I attended the exhibit, and the artwork presented was incredible. It would be wonderful if more people could see it at DHS.