An opening day attraction, the Magic Of Disney Animation was a unique look into a working animation studio.
Guests entered the animation area and viewed sketches from popular animated films before entering a small pre-show theater. The show, titled “Back to Neverland,” featured Robin Williams as a Disney tourist (in Anaheim) and Walter Cronkite. To better understand the process of creating an animated film, Robin was turned into a cartoon of a Lost Boy, moving through the animation world and interacting with other animated characters such as Peter Pan. After the film, a Disney animator took the stage to explain the animation process, do some sketches and take questions from the tour group.
Following the show, guests moved into a glass-walled corridor where they could view animators at their desks, often working on current productions such as “Lilo & Stitch” and “Mulan” which were both animated in their entirety at the studio. Throughout the tour, Robin and Walter continued to narrate what you were seeing via overhead monitors.
After viewing the animation area, guests entered another small theater where they viewed a short film called “Animators on Animation” featuring Disney animators speaking about the production process. Following the film, guests moved onto another theater to watch a film montage of Disney animated movies, exiting into an exhibit area displaying more props and cells.
Similar to the Backstage Studio Tour, once the actual working production studios were shut down the Magic of Disney Animation Tour changed dramatically. In late 2003 the tour closed and was reworked. The animators were moved back to Anaheim; their cubicles, equipment and animation desks along with them. Guests visiting the studios after these changes found a large empty area with scattered interactive kiosks and meet & greet locations where the animators once worked. Additionally, a new attraction opened in the area called “The Animation Academy.” Here, guests could learn to draw their favorite characters with help from a Disney Animator. They could also view actual animation cells from popular movies as well as some of the many Academy Awards Disney had won throughout the years.
In July of 2015, as part of multiple closures on the West side of the park, The Magic of Disney Animation, and the Animation Academy, officially closed their doors.