When I walked into the building, chills ran through me. I had goose bumps up and down my arms. I literally tingled with excitement. I had just stepped through the doors into one of the most magical buildings in LA. A place that literally brings magic to life – Disney’s Animation Studio. Squee!
For a girl who has been obsessed with all things Disney since she was a child, it was like a dream to be invited to tour the halls where artists bring life to beloved animated characters. I could only imagine the work that was happening behind closed doors as I walked through the building in wonderment. This was no ordinary studio tour. Tourists aren’t allowed in the areas we were privy to. It was like stepping into the secret world of Disney, and it was everything I could have imagined it to be.
There was nothing ordinary about this work space Sure there were offices and cubes, desks and chairs, but within the office Disney’s creative minds develop a world to match the one they were working to create on screen. It wasn’t just rows and rows of Disney memorabilia, although personal effects of every shape and size seemed to revolve solely around photos and Disney novelty. No, it was more than that. It was like working within a Disney theme park. From a conference room that looked like we stepped inside Sorcerer Mickey’s Magical Hat to office “pods” that were completely transformed into elaborate animated sets – I was in awe.
I wondered the halls soaking in every detail, willing myself to take mental pictures of everything I saw as my camera remained dormant. The pictures you see in this post were from areas I am allowed to share, but I saw so much more. So many sneak glimpses into Disney animation’s future. My fingers itched to snap pictures at every turn, not to share with the world (sorry), but merely to remember this moment. To remember the moment I walked through Disney history. Alas, I obeyed the rules and remained giddy that I was in such a secretive world that it must remain so.
Inside one “pod” cast members transformed the office space into a working arcade to gather inspiration for the film Wreck-It Ralph. With the movie nearing completion, we were permitted to photograph this area, and I snapped pictures like a mad woman. It. Was. Awesome.
After being invited to enjoy lunch on the terrace (yes, really), our host had a little fun up his sleeve just to make sure we didn’t take things too seriously. Earlier that morning we had the crazy-cool privileged of screening the not-yet-completed Wreck-It Ralph (let me repeat that, I got to see a Disney film before its final production – how amazing is that!), inspired by the movie a challenge lay before us. Our group of 25 bloggers was tasked with creating the coolest candy car we could fashion from the pile of sugary goodness that before us. The winner to receive a Wreck-It Ralph prize pack. Well, let me tell you — it was on!
Unfortunately, I quickly learned that my crafting skills are limited to paper and cloth and that candy is not the medium for me. After constructing a modest car, inspired by Vanellope von Schweetz’s car in Sugarland, I took a look at the creations around me. Realizing my car was not even in the running, I drown my sorrows in the sea of candy before me. Even my sweet tooth ached after gobbling up an undisclosed number of sugary sweets. (The temptation was just too great!)
After moving on from my certain loss, I returned to noticing the world around me. A trip to find the lady’s room took me down another path of wonder, and a hint of fun when I found a group of cast members engaged in a game of foosball. Returning to the group, I put my limited gaming skills to the test and tried my hand at the free-standing Wreck-It Ralph games created for the movie. (Aren’t they awesome? A little birdie told me that they might appear outside the offices for promotional reasons soon.)
I lost that game too. But I have already downloaded the Fix-It Felix Junior app on my iPad and will add it to my Android as soon as it is release! So I am practicing.
At this point I was certain nothing else could wow me. But this is a Disney tale, after all, so I was wrong.
Our group was next introduced to a pair of Disney animators who were kind enough to give us a personal drawing lesson. Despite their insistence that we would tackle an easy drawing, I am still embarrassed by my lack of skills. (Pencil and paper, also not my medium.) But I was wowed watching them create and explain the animation process.
Finally, we were led into a recording studio where we were each given a turn to record a voice over for Sarah Silverman’s character Vanellope von Schweetz. (Squee!!!) I am already getting long winded, so I will share more about that experience and a clip of my animated acting debut next week.
With our Animation Studio tour complete, we took a short walk over to the original Animation Building – you know the one where Walt himself penned Disney characters. Since this building will soon make an appearance in the upcoming movie Saving Mr. Banks with Tom Hanks, we insisted on a stop for a group photo.
Another movie screening awaited us – Monsters Inc in 3D, more on that coming soon, and then we capped off the day with a walk down the Disney Legends Corridor. I could have stayed there for hours, marveling at Walt’s personal walk of fame filled with bronzed hand prints immortalizing Disney stars such as Judy Andrews, Dick Van Dike, Annette Funicello, Sir Elton John and many others. But soon it was time to say goodbye.
Even as I sit here now recalling my adventure, I am amazed that I had the truly unique pleasure of visiting and touring a place where dreams come true, every day.
Disclosure – I was invited to attend this premiere as part of a blogger weekend. Air fair and lodging was provided, however, all thoughts, opinions and Disney gushings are my own.