The Magic of Disney Animation, an attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, will soon see its end credits roll for the last time. Walt Disney World confirmed the attraction’s last operating day will be June 12, reported the Orlando Sentinel on June 29. The Animation Gallery, a store, will close some time in late August.
In its current form, The Magic of Disney Animation consists of several elements designed to highlight this cornerstone element of The Walt Disney Company. It includes “Where Character Come From,” a 9-minute film introducing audiences to the creation of Disney animated characters. In the attraction’s Animation Station, guests can use interactive kiosks related to making animated movies and characters. This area also holds Animation Academy, which offers a brief lesson in drawing a Disney character and provides guests with that rare Disney experience – the free, personalized souvenir.
The Magic of Disney Animation is also where several Disney character meet-and-greets take place, including classic characters like Mickey and Minnie as well as characters from recent movies like Hiro and Baymax of “Big Hero 6.” According to Disney fan site WDWMagic, some character meet-and-greets will be relocated to other areas within the park.
Disney has not yet said whether the nearby Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream will also close. The exhibit focuses on the history of the man behind the magic, and includes displays and archival materials. “One’s Man Dream” debuted in 2001, along with the recently removed Sorcerer’s Hat, as part of the 100 Years of Magic celebration.
Disney has not yet announced what may replace The Magic of Disney Animation. A Disney spokesperson provided the following statement to Orlando local media outlet, Fox 35, “”Work is underway on a new experience and we look forward to sharing more information in the future.”
The Magic of Disney Animation is one of the park’s original attractions, opening with what was then called Disney-MGM Studios in 1989. Back then, the attraction included a Feature Animation area with a tour that showcased animators working on projects in keeping with the park’s focus as a production studio. The park’s focus shifted in 2004, when Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida was shut down. Disney-MGM Studios name changed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2008, a decision reflecting the expired (and not renewed) licensing deal between Disney and MGM Studios.
Over the years since then, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has experienced something of an identity crisis. Its look at Disney movie-making, television, animation and “the Hollywood that never was and always will be” has been increasingly removed from the park.
The Magic of Disney Animation is the latest in a series of recent changes, including numerous closures. The Studios Backlot Tour, another original attraction, closed in September 2014. Both the American Idol Experience and the AFI Showcased had already closed in August of that year, and The Legend in Jack Sparrow in November 2014.
Beginning in January of this year, Walt Disney World removed the Sorcerer’s Hat that had long blocked the view of the park’s Great Movie Ride. Intended to be a temporary installation, the hat had became something of an icon for Disney’s Hollywood Studios as the park moved further and further away from its original theming as a working studio. The Great Movie Ride has received recent updates, thanks to a new partnership with Turner Classic Movies.
The Magic of Disney Animation as another strong indication that significant changes will be coming to the theme park. At the Disney shareholders meeting in March, CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Disney’s Hollywood Studios will undergo a name change as part of changes coming to the park; that name has not been released, nor have the proposed changes. Rumors within the Disney fans and theme-park community suggest that new additions and enhancements will increase the presence of Pixar and “Star Wars” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.