The Magic of Disney Animation

***UPDATE: This attraction has closed to make way for Star Wars Launch Bay. Please enjoy this article as a bit of Disney history.

Tucked away at the back of Animation Courtyard, beyond Voyage of The Little Mermaid and Disney Junior – Live on Stage!, lies The Magic of Disney Animation. Inside this building, a once fully operating animation studio for Walt Disney Pictures, you can experience all things animation.
A good portion of the space is dedicated to character greeting and interactive games, but wander around and you’ll find some pretty cool learning opportunities, too.

AnimationThe Production Gallery is an exhibit space that features working animators’ desks (you might even get to see them creating character sketches) and a display wall giving a sneak peek at upcoming films now in production. You can also watch a short film that explains how some of your favorite Disney characters came to be. Cast members in this area can impart lots of neat information about past and future animation – just ask!

The Animation Academy is another fun experience where you can learn to draw a Disney character from an actual animator on site. There are usually lines for this experience as seating is limited during each session.

One of our favorite spaces in The Magic of Disney Animation is the Animation Gallery. It’s a self-paced, walk-through exhibit with rotating displays pertaining to certain aspects of animation. Currently on display is “Setting the Scene,” a fabulous exhibit all about backgrounds and layouts from iconic Disney films. You can learn about the artists’ jobs in creating these important parts of film and also why they choose the techniques they do.

Animation 2

Animation 4The Magic of Disney Animation is a great spot to interact with cast members. They have a lot to share about Walt Disney, his famous films, and the history of animation.


FL Sunshine State Visual Arts Standards:
VA.2.F.2.1, VA.3.F.2.1, VA.4.F.2.1, VA.5.F.2.2, VA.5.F.2.3, VA.68.F.1.3

Morocco Pavilion

The Morocco Pavilion always seems to be abuzz. Its waterfront areas are usually busy with shoppers and people looking for a bite to eat. The marketplaces are colorful, the food is delicious, and the music makes you want to dance. But as you continue into the pavilion, you’ll stumble across some often-overlooked areas.

Make your way toward the back of the pavilion and you’ll find more shops, Restaurant Marrakesh, and maybe even a Disney character or two. Look for plaques in archways and on walls explaining the architecture. For example, the main archway that leads you further into the pavilion is modeled after the real Bab Boujouloud [sic] in the city of Fez.

Morocco ArchNear the front of the Morocco pavilion, just across the courtyard from the Tangierine Café, is a terrific spot to get out of the heat and learn something new while you’re at it. The Gallery of Arts and History is one of those spots you might walk right by if you didn’t know it was there. Inside are rotating exhibits that highlight elements of Arabic culture. Currently on display is “Moroccan Style: The Art of Personal Adornment.”
This exhibit shows traditional dress and accessories for men and women. You can also learn about the art of henna and why it is important to the culture.

Morocco Gallery Morocco Gallery 2The gallery is small, but the artifacts and even the wall carvings are definitely interesting to spend some time with.


FL Next Gen Social Studies Standards:
SS.K.A.2.3, SS.6.G.2.4, SS.912.G.2.1, SS912.H.1.1, SS912.H.1.3


One Man’s Dream

Guests rushing down Mickey Avenue to get to Toy Story Midway Mania! are likely to pass right by this extensive and immersing exhibit. One Man’s Dream was created during the 100 Years of Magic Celebration that commemorated the 100th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth. It takes you on a journey through the life and many achievements of Walt Disney and his company. Over 400 artifacts, costumes, and models are housed here.

IMG_3080The exhibit begins with Walt’s childhood, explaining where he came from and the inspiration for Main Street, U.S.A. in Disneyland. As you move through, you’ll see artifacts from his school days and the beginnings of his passion for animation. One of our favorite pieces in the gallery is the multi-plane camera and its accompanying video. This invention made the more 3D quality of even early Disney cartoons possible. Rounding the bend inside the exhibit, you’ll begin to see more from Walt’s forays into television, films, and theme parks.

IMG_3082In the back of the gallery is a theater that shows a 15-minute film chronicling the life and times of Walt Disney. You’ll also hear Walt’s voice narrating some of the footage. The film plays every 15 minutes throughout the day. It’s a pretty touching tribute.

One Man’s Dream is a self-guided exhibit, however cast members are available at the entrance and at the back of the gallery if you have questions. Be aware that there is quite a lot of information here, and if you’re the type that likes to read everything, it can take a long time to go through it all. You don’t have to stay for the film if you’ve finished touring the gallery. Likewise, you can skip ahead just to watch the movie if you’d rather. You are welcome to spend as little or as much time as you like in the exhibit.


FL Next Gen Social Studies Standards:
SS.K.A.2.1, SS.K.A.2.4, SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.1.A.2.4, SS.2.A.3.1, SS.4.A.6.3
FL Sunshine State Visual Arts Standards:
VA.2.F.2.1, VA.3.F.2.1, VA.4.F.2.1, VA.5.F.2.2, VA.5.F.2.3, VA.68.F.1.3

Mexico Folk Art Gallery

Most guests look forward to visiting the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot for its wonderful food, to take the obligatory photo with a giant sombrero, or to ride the Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride.
But just inside the doors of the great Mayan pyramid is a gallery full of cool things to learn about Mesoamerican culture.

This gallery is officially known as the Mexico Folk Art Gallery and is home to rotating exhibits. Currently on display is “La Vida Antigua – Life in Ancient Mexico.” (Fans of classic Epcot will appreciate the opening wall quote, taken from the previous boat attraction, El Rio del Tiempo.)
“La Vida Antigua” presents in dioramas, artifacts, wall plaques, and models the architecture and culture of ancient Mesoamerica.

Mexico GalleryVisitors will learn about the Maya, Aztec, and Toltec civilizations. You’ll find information on clothing and how a certain type of dress identified a person’s rank. You’ll learn about farming techniques and how important the dibble stick was. You can also find out how Ancient Mexicans followed their own hoop dreams, playing one of the oldest ball games in history.

Ancient Mesoamericans followed a complicated calendar system. A great replica of the Aztec Calendar Stone rests in the middle of the gallery, providing a terrific photo op. The Kidcot Fun Stop is located just behind the stone, so this also might be a good place for kids to pause and talk to a cultural representative from Mexico!

Calendar Stone 2

FL Social Studies Standards:
SS.1.A.2.1, SS.1.A.2.2, SS.3.G.4.2, SS.5.A.2.1