Magic of Disney Animation, R.I.P.

magicofdisneyanimation

The magic of Disney animation is literally dead. On July 12, Florida’s Hollywood Studios theme park closes down its Magic of Disney Animation attraction.

It’s a bittersweet ending for an attraction that introduced many young people to the art of hand-drawn animation and inspired untold numbers of budding artists to consider animation as a career. One of the park’s original offerings after it opened as Disney/MGM Studios in 1989, gave attendees the chance to watch Disney animators at work.

Its launch in 1989 was attended by Roy Disney, Jr., as well as luminaries of the Golden Age Disney studio:

The opening of Disney-MGM Studios on May 1, 1989 was attended by (l. to r.) Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, Ward Kimball, Ken O'Connor, and Marc Davis. (Click to enlarge.)

The opening of Disney-MGM Studios on May 1, 1989 was attended by (l. to r.) Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, Ward Kimball, Ken O’Connor, and Marc Davis. (Click to enlarge.)

Ward Kimball, Marc Davis, Roy Disney Jr., Ollie Johnston, Ken O'Connor, and Frank Thomas, attend the opening of Disney-MGM Studios. (Click to enlarge.)

Ward Kimball, Marc Davis, Roy Disney Jr., Ollie Johnston, Ken O’Connor, and Frank Thomas, attend the opening of Disney-MGM Studios. (Click to enlarge.)

Visitors to the attraction were able to watch artists at work from behind glass-paneled overhead breezeways, as they labored on memorable features like Mulan and Lilo & Stitch, as well as Roger Rabbit shorts. The revealing opportunity to see animators at work disappeared in 2004, when Disney shuttered its Florida animation studio, leaving only art lessons in the attraction’s Animation Station, a character meet-and-greet area, and a short film detailing how Disney’s characters are created. An adjacent animation gallery showed artwork from Disney productions; that, too, will also be shuttered in August.

The attraction’s closure has been all but inevitable since 2004. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the closure is but one in a recent series, including the loss of the Studios Backlot Tour, but that Disney World is working on a new attraction and that specific details would arrive in the future.

The Sentinel also noted that Hollywood Studios (which is expected to soon change its name) is a “natural choice” for Disney to build some of its promised Star Wars attractions, although the corporation has not yet stated its plans on that front.

Rest in peace, Disney’s hand-drawn animation process. We’ll see you when we see you.