February 2001 – present
Hollywood Land – When you arrive from Buena Vista Street, follow the main road and you’ll see a huge sign for “Animation” on your right. Enter the building along the blue wall that reads “Once Upon A Time” and you’ll land in the main lobby for Disney Animation.
When California Adventure opened in 2001, Hollywood Land was originally dubbed “Hollywood Pictures Backlot”, and focused more on film making than the land does now. As part of the Backlot, Disney Animation offered guests to experience the animation process for themselves, and to learn how animation starts with sketches and moves to digital production. After this land became Hollywood Land, much of the film making themes disappeared, but Disney Animation survived the transition. Today, it is both a testament to Hollywood Land’s original identity, and a unique place for guests to access some behind-the-scenes info about their favorite Disney films.
- Single Rider Line – no
- Fast Pass – no
- Height Requirement – none
- Duration – N/A
Guests arrive in a lobby, the “Animation Courtyard”, which showcases Disney animation in progress. Many guests like to sit down and take in the Animation Courtyard, but those interested in a more involved experience can choose from a number of activities within Disney animation:
- Animation Academy – This workshop is the most hands-on animation experience in the Disney Animation building. Guests receive step-by-step instruction on drawing their favorite Disney characters, and have the chance to learn tips and tricks from Disney artists.
- Character Close-up – This walkthrough exhibit demonstrates how Disney animators develop concepts for characters, and how they bring these characters to life. The centerpiece of the Close-up is an amazing Zoetrope machine, which takes Toy Story sculptures and animates them before your eyes!
- Sorcerer’s Workshop – If you’re seeking adventure or want to step inside a magical world, wander through the Sorcerer’s Workshop. Guests can explore three different rooms: The Magic Mirror Realm, Beast’s Library, and Ursula’s Grotto. Each room has its own set of interactive activities, from character quizzes to voice-overs of your favorite Disney scenes.
- Turtle Talk With Crush – Ever wanted the chance to chat with a Disney character? This 15-minute show enables guests to interact directly with Crush from Finding Nemo. Crush loves to talk about his friends, his favorite snacks, and life under the sea. Since Crush answers questions from the audience, every session is completely different, so guests can visit this show repeatedly and have a brand new experience each time.
MY RATING: ★★★★★
I think Disney Animation is one of the most underappreciated attractions in California Adventure. Many people walk by without even knowing it’s there! My favorite spot is definitely the Sorcerer’s Workshop, particularly Beast’s Library and Ursula’s Grotto. The activities in these rooms are really fun, and there’s nothing better than stepping right into the scenery of classic Disney movies. All of the workshops and shows in Disney Animation are both entertaining and informative, and you’ll leave this attraction with a new appreciation for how Disney movies come to life.
The schedules for the shows in Disney Animation change daily, so it can be difficult to plan when to visit. Check back periodically for wait times, and work Disney Animation into your touring plan when convenient. If you’re just interested in exploring the Sorcerer’s Workshop or Character Close-up, visit whenever you’re in Hollywood Land; as self-guided walkthroughs, there will be no lines.
One final tip: Disney Animation typically closes a few hours before California Adventure does, so don’t put off your visit until the end of your day.
In Beast’s Library, pay attention to the photo above the fireplace when the lights flicker and you hear the thunder. Though you can’t see him, Beast will scratch the photo during the rumbling!
When Disney Animation first opened, the animation screening room featured a short film, “Return to Neverland”, starring Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite. After a short run, Disney Animation replaced this film with one narrated by Walt Disney, titled “One Man’s Dream.” Both shorts stopped running in Disney Animation by 2005.