Art of Disney Animation is an attraction at the Walt Disney Studios Park. It first opened in 2002, along with the park, and is situated in the Toon Studio area (previously known as Animation Courtyard). As part of the expansion of the park in 2007, which included the addition of two new rides, Crush's Coaster and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye, golden figures of famous Disney characters were added to the hat that symbolises the entrance to the building.
The Art of Disney Animation allows guests to learn about classic Disney creations with the help of a Disney animator and Mushu, the mischievous dragon from Disney’s 1998 classic Mulan. Through combining theatre presentations with interactive exhibits, the Art of Disney Animation takes guests on a trip from the historical world of classic Disney animation techniques to "the creation of modern-day Disney characters". The iconic Sorcerer’s Hat is the perfect way to usher guests into the building and start this experience. Additionally, in front of the building near the wait area, there is a collection of golden statues of various Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, Mulan and Donald Duck to name a few.
After guests pass the outdoor wait area, they enter the pre-show room. "A colorful mural wraps around the left side of the room charting early animation inventions". This room has on display an original multi-plane camera which was used in the animation process of Disney classic such as Bambi. The attraction also displays other early animation inventions such as the Greek urn that dates back to 500 BC as well as the Magic Lantern (1659) an early type of image projector, which was invented in the Netherlands.
Other animation inventions include the English Thaumatrope (1825) which is "a disk or card with a picture on each side. The disc or card is attached to two strings on each side. [And] when flipping the disc or card in a continuity movement from one side to the other it looks like the two separate pictures merge[d] into one single image". The Phenakistoscope invented in Belgium in 1832 is "a vertical spinning disc with multiple drawings that gave the illusion of a moving picture once [it was] set in motion". The Zoetrope (1834) is another English invention and " it is a cylinder with slits in the side. Inside the cylinder a band with images is placed. Once the cylinder is set in motion an illusion of movement is created". The last animation invention featured in this room is the French Praxinoscope (1877) which "improved on the Zoetrope by using an inner circle of mirrors that create a brighter and less crooked picture".
After this exhibition pre-show, guests are taken to the Disney Classics Theatre which is a seated cinema is showing a collection great Disney and Pixar animated moments touching on Disney’s classic themes of love, loss and rebirth. Guests are then moved on to the Drawn to Animation room, where they are welcomed by a Disney animator and their host Mushu, the dragon. Together they explain, how Disney creates its many beloved characters and "how they [bring] them to life on the big screen". At the end of this presentation, guests are shown some scenes from the latest Disney or Pixar animation, the scenes obviously changing with the release of a new animated movie.
Guests are then moved into the final and largest room of the attraction, which features a series of interactive "animation stations", where they can try out some of the things they had just seen on the tour. Guests have the possibility of trying their hand at drawing Mickey Mouse with the help of an animator who explains the whole process. They can also draw their own Zoetrope animation on bands of paper and test the results on one of the devices. There is also a sound creation game and a voice over game, as well as many other fun stations to explore.
For those who want to see a little bit more of Disney animation history, there is a display of concept art highlighting the design and creation of Disney’s classic films as well as statues displayed behind glass windows. Lastly, a tip guests can keep in mind about this final room is that it can be entered without visiting the main attraction, allowing guests to return to view certain exhibits and take part in certain "animation stations" during their visit to the park.