I was very sad when we lost the Animation Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios several years ago. It felt like and integral part of what that park was originally all about had been lost forever. In summer of 2019 Disney opened a new animation experience in a very different location, which had many of us scratching our heads. They gave us the Animation Experience at Conservation Station in Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Animal Kingdom. At first thought it doesn’t seem to make sense, but now that we have experienced the animation experience, we can see their logic.
We had secured Fastpasses for our visit to the Animation Experience at Conservation Station but, unless you are traveling at peak times, I don’t think you need a Fastpass for this experience. I do recommend you plan ahead because you have to factor in the time you wait for, and ride the Wilderness Express to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The Disney website recommends boarding the train 40 minutes before class time.
The animation experience is set up in the large, open center of the building at Rafiki’s Planet watch, where the live animal demos, and meet and greets were previously held. There is a queue with lines for stand-by and Fastpass. On the podium it tells you which character you will be drawing. Our visit was on a villains day and we drew Hopper.
Once you enter the classroom area the class is very similar to what we used to have at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, except it appears much more temporary. You grab your paper and pencil as you enter and there is a lapboard on each seat for you to draw upon. The animator is up front taking you through the steps while also sharing about how Walt Disney would bring in live animals so that the animators could observe how they move and respond. This exercise allowed them to make their animal characters more life-like.
The class lasts 25 minutes and when you are done you have a free Disney souvenir to take home. We had a lot of fun at the Animation Experience at Conservation Station and my drawing isn’t too bad! I’m sure we will do it again on another visit. If you are thinking about planning your trip to Walt Disney World please Email me. My travel agent services are FREE to you!