Many times, I walked right past the Magic of Disney Animation building, without realizing it was really there. It is located in Hollywood Studios, near Disney Jr. It pretty much looks like a backdrop for stroller parking. But, inside that smooth faceless building is hours of entertainment and fun! Dopey Diva did a great job giving you a glimpse into the many activities available in her article all about The Magic of Disney Animation. And while my family has tried, and enjoyed, all the many diversions, our favorite is the Animation Academy.
The Animation Academy is a drawing class, complete with professional drawing table and Disney instructor. The classes start at 10:30 each morning, and run every 30 minutes, lasting for 20 minutes. The classes are free, but limited by the number of drawing tables available. These classes are very popular, so be prepared to show up for the class well BEFORE the time you want to join the drawing class. Once you arrive, you need to stay in line, to hold your spot. There is a seating area and it will be roped off by the presiding Cast Member. Once you are in that roped off area, if any members of your party leave, say to go see Sorcerer Mickey, they risk not being allowed back in. I’ve seen it go either way, and it’s best not to take any chances. Generally, once you are inside the roped off area, you will make it into the next class time. Not everyone has to draw. There are benches behind each drawing table, so non-drawers can watch the fun, while not taking up a spot. I’ve let my child draw, while I sat behind and offered words of encouragement. But, most of the time, we all want to draw! The Cast Members will not tell you which character you’ll be sketching – it’s always a surprise once you are at your table. The room is filled with about 4 rows of tables. Each table is under lit, and a large piece of paper is secured at the top. The only drawing tool is a simple sharpened pencil, without an eraser. Yep, no eraser! You just have to plow ahead! The instructor sketches along with you, and his drawing is shown on a screen at the front of the room.
Once everyone is seated, the instructor gives everyone a little background in his/her teaching method, and reveals the character you’ll be drawing. Whether you love the character choice, or not, your first reaction may be “I can’t draw….”. But, the instructor will start with simple shapes, and slowly build those shapes into the character. The pace is swift, so there is little time to dwell on imperfections. Make sure you keep up, even if you’re not satisfied with your work. The goal is not a perfect figure, but a pencil sketch. For example, you’ll make a circle, and then continue to trace circle after circle, in the same place, and before you know it, it will be a nose.
Every time I take the class, I am truly amazed at the end result. In my family, my husband is a true artist, and he always ends up with a picture that looks almost exactly like the instructor’s. I do OK, even though I have no real talent, because I follow the instructions very closely. My 11 year old daughter follows along, and ends up with a very respectable drawing. And my 6 year old does her best, sitting at that big table, and also ends up with a drawing that looks like the character. When we compare our drawings, we see that they are more alike than different. Considering our varying abilities, it’s very surprising. So, even if you think you have no talent at all, you’ll probably end up with a drawing that looks better than you could have believed!
At the end of the class, you can take your picture with you. The paper is about the size of two 8 ½ x 11 sheets, so you’ll probably have to fold it, unless you’ve thought ahead, and brought a tube with you. The class exit is right into a Disney drawing store, the Animation Gallery – no big surprise. It’s a wonderful store and stocked with books that show you how to draw various Disney characters. You’ll be so excited about how well you did in the class, you’ll likely get one of those books. The problem is choosing which one! We picked up a couple, and have really enjoyed trying our skills at home!
CLEVER DIVA TIP: The Animation Studio attraction is very popular, so allow yourself enough time. Yes, you’ll have to wait, but you’ll be sitting in air-conditioning. We often pass the time by trying to guess who we might be drawing. If you wait till later in the evening, the line is shorter during Fantasmic!, especially during the second show (if there is one that night.)