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The Animation Experience

Recently, while reading about Dinsey’s newest traditional animated film, The Princess and the Frog, (which I highly recommend to everyone) and how the film was put together, I had a thought about the whole animation process and how it might make for a possible attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Several years ago, at DHS, back when it was still known as Disney’s MGM Studios and movies were still being crafted at this park/studio, there used to be a mini tour thru the animation building. On this tour, you could see the actual areas where the animators worked and maybe even catch a glimpse of work in progress for a future Disney film. I only went on this tour once, and thought it was quaint, but somewhat interesting. I believe all that remains of this tour is a short presentation by a Disney “animator” on the process of creating an animated film.

My idea, however, would bring back some elements of the original tour where guests not only get to see how a film is made, but actually work together as a team to craft their own short animated feature. It would take some effort to put this together, but I really think it could be done using current computer technologies, similar in format and function as guests build a coaster and ride it at Cyber Space Mountain at Disney Quest. Here’s how I see it working. Guests would come into the presentation area and see a short film talking about animation and its history and of course Disney’s involvement in the industry. When the history and presentation of animation is finished, they could offer guests who want to leave the opportunity to do so, and those who wanted a more detailed experience and the chance to create their own film could choose.

Those who chose to stay, would be presented with a more detailed overview of the process of creating a Disney film. Ideally, Disney would update this every couple of years and use storyboards and ideas from their most recent films, and allow guests to build their own version of the story using a variety of options. They could also make this part where guests could choose from other Disney classics and then work on them. Guests would go thru each of the processes involved in bringing a new film to the theater in a very abbreviated and fast pace to create their own short film. If possible, the process should be contained to at less than 30-45 minutes. At the end of the process, they would get to view the film they created in a small theater. Optionally, they would be able to buy their film on DVD or BLU-RAY to take home with them.

Of course, trying to squeeze the animation process into a 30-45 minute attraction might be a near impossible task. So, I propose a second option on this idea.  Make it into a full day experience that would be even more encompassing and allow for a lot more creativity. Disney has reportedly been looking for some kind of deluxe or exclusive (pricey) experience they could offer guests similar to what SeaWorld offers with Discovery Cove. At one point they were rumored to be working on a project called Dark Kingdom which was thought to be their answer. I could see this working if it were maybe a 6-8 hour experience that took guests thru the process of creating a short film and then viewing it.  Of course they would have to find a way to make it fun and cut out all of the menial parts of the process like the sometimes endless cycle of loops and story changes that a film goes thru to get to production. But, I think it could be done, if it were set up in modules that the guests could choose from. Ideally, they would have enough options that each group that went thru this process would produce a unique product of their own. They could choose to re-do Steamboat Willie, colorizing it, giving it a new soundtrack, adding some features to it, re-voicing it, etc. They could choose to do a mashup where they took elements from several movies and re-did them. They could take a segment from a movie and maybe change it altogether with new dialog, scenery and music.

The possibilities are pretty endless and Disney of all people should be able to make this happen. They have a huge library to work with of movies, songs and characters, all they would need to do is to put them all together in digital library and develop the software to pull it all together. I don’t mean to trivialize and make it sound easy, because I know it’s not as simple as it sounds, but I believe it’s doable using today’s technology and would make for a truly unique experience.

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