It’s become a recurring theme for Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the past year: another attraction is closing down. The Magic of Disney Animation will permanently close on July 12, 2015, joining the ranks of the Backlot Tour, American Idol, and The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow. According to WDWMagic, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream is also expected to close around the same time, but no announcements have been made to the fate of that attraction.

Looking at the recent trend of Hollywood Studios, the move to close The Magic of Disney Animation makes sense. It is basically the last vestige from the original era of attractions that promised to give guests a look behind the scenes of how movies were made. That original attraction featured a fantastic introductory movie starring Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite and a walking tour of a working animation studio. I remember going on this attraction as a kid, being delighted by the movie, and getting a genuine thrill of being able to look at an animator actually put pencil to paper. Since the animation studio closed in Orlando years ago, the tour was nixed and the introductory movie was updated to feature Mushu from Mulan. However, it felt like a shell of its former self without animation production actually happening in the building. The attraction turned more into a pavilion where you could interact with different animation exhibits, meet a few characters, and take a quick art class. The Animation Academy was by far my favorite part of The Magic of Disney Animation, and felt like a natural fit for the attraction: a way to learn more about animation and interact with it that you typically wouldn’t do at home. But overall, the attraction didn’t even reflect the most recent advances and practices in animation.

Animation Art Class - Hollywood Studios Attraction


 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been long moving away from trying to give guests a behind the scenes view of movie production. It’s been years since Hollywood Studios has actually been a movie studio, and the closure of The Magic of Disney Animation shows another step away from that behind the scenes mentality of the park. It’s long been rumored that Hollywood Studios will be refreshed with a focus on its popular Lucasfilm and Pixar franchises, trying to transport guests inside the movies rather than give them a peek behind the curtain.

No replacement has been announced for The Magic of Disney Animation. It would make sense that the Animation Courtyard will be annexed by the rumored expansion of Pixar Place, which would provide for a much more appropriate entry point for that part of the park, since Pixar Place feels tiny and shoehorned in as it currently stands. I’m hoping that elements of The Magic of Disney Animation continues to exist in some form in the future. The character meet and greets are being moved elsewhere in the park. Perhaps Disney could use the defunct Sounds Dangerous building to temporarily hold the Animation Academy (just an idea I’m throwing out there in case anyone from Disney is reading).

Going forward, I’m hopeful that Disney could incorporate something similar to the Animation building in Disney’s California Adventure in its future plans for Hollywood Studios. Animation at DCA is one of my favorite places to escape from the heat in Disneyland. It has all the elements of DHS’s Magic of Disney Animation, but presented in a much grander way.

Animation Building Interior - Disney California Adventure
Animation Building Interior – Disney California Adventure

I think there is value in this idea, but it could be updated to reflect the advances that Pixar has helped made with 3D animation. Maybe interactive stations where guests could animate 3D models of popular characters like Joy from Inside Out or Elsa from Frozen, or an exhibit showing the progress that Disney has made in animation from the days of Walt to the days of John Lassiter. While I think it’s wise for Hollywood Studios to move away from trying to show guests a glimpse behind the scenes, there’s still value in being able to learn about and interact with filmmaking in ways that you just can’t typically do at home.

That’s a lot of speculation and wishful thinking. One thing that’s clear is that something big is in the works for Hollywood Studios. Next month’s D23 should be very interesting. Stay tuned.