Attraction Reviews

A Hidden Gem: Disney’s Animation Building in California Adventure

Crowds, heat, exhaustion. Even though this does not seem like the ideal situation, it is one that us Disney Parks goers know all to well. It is just part of the experience, but we deal with it to enjoy the magic and the wonder of these parks.

Fortunately, there are many different resting places that we can escape to during these times of complete fatigue. One of these places when visiting the California parks, is Disney’s Animation Building in California Adventure. It is located in what is now Hollywood land. (formerly Hollywood Backlot) By my second day of a trip, this is always my go to spot for rest.

AoA screens

If you are lucky enough to stay at one of the hotel resorts that are a quick hop and skip away, then more power to you to go back to your cozy bed and rest your tiredness away. If you are like me and many others, the hotels are a little out of our price range. Therefore, places like Disney’s Animation Building are ideal for a good old fashion recharge.

Once you walk through the door at the Disney Animation Building you are greeted with the glory of air conditioning and dimmed lights. There are multiple gigantic screens hung all around you that play various clips of classic Disney movies, this is called the Animation Courtyard. For me, it is so relaxing to sit on the couches (and sometimes the floor) and just watch and listen to my favorite Disney movie scenes that I know and love.


For those of us with children, it is also a fantastic place to let them run and dance around to their heart’s content in a confined area where you don’t have to worry about them getting lost. It’s also an opportunity for them to take a rest as well. If you are lucky enough to be able to slow down for a moment, they usually get so captivated by all of their favorite Disney movie clips and songs appearing on the screens, that they are occupied in your lap while you are getting your rest as well.

Not only is this a tranquil place to rest, there are exhibits and activities to take part in as well, such as, Animation Academy, Turtle Talk with Crush, Sorcerer’s Workshop, and Character Close Up.

Animation Academy:
Here you will bring out your inner Picasso and put your Disney drawing abilities to the test (or lack there of in my case). I would recommend this activity for kids 8 years old and above since it requires a longer attention span. Inside you are given the basics on Disney animation and some simple tips on how to draw some of your favorite Disney characters. At the end, you get to take your drawing home along with a few pointers from a real Disney artist.  What a great and personal souvenir!

Turtle Talk with Crush:
Attention all Finding Nemo fans! This is a great interactive show with the most famous sea turtle in the big blue, Crush. This is an excellent show for all ages, especially the little ones. During the show, you get to have a Q&A with Crush. If you are lucky, you will get your own personal name from Crush, I was dubbed Kookamonga Kelsee. Truly a unique experience for everyone and one you will not forget. Another great break from the hustle and bustle of the outside streets of the parks. 


Sorcerer’s Workshop:
At first you walk into the Magic Mirror realm where you are able to again put your artistic abilities to work and create your own animated sketches with the age-old trick of persistence of vision and put your still life creations into action.

The Beast’s library is next in the Sorcerer’s workshop and it is my favorite part of the whole Disney Animation Building. You walk into a room surrounded with books and you are greeted with your own personal enchanted book to determine which Disney character you are most like. This activity is hosted by two familiar characters from the Beauty and the Beast movie, Lumiere and Cogsworth. The two magical objects ask you a series of questions and take a picture of you to find your best Disney match.

aoa Lumierre

Ursula’s grotto is the last stop in the Sorcerer’s workshop. Here you lend your voice to famous Disney characters. You can choose to either sing or act out a scene from the provided Disney movies. This is a fun experience even if you are not as good of a singer as Ariel. Ursula doesn’t care as long as she gets your voice.

Character Close Up:
This exhibit highlights the process of animation. You will be able to see many of your favorite Disney and Pixar movies in their early sketches before they hit the big screen as well as rare collectibles and sculptures. It is a really great opportunity to see where our favorite characters started from and puts the whole process of animation into perspective.

There is also a Toy Story section in this exhibit that demonstrates how sculptures can come to life with the invention of the zoetrope which makes still images become fully animated, a true optic illusion wonder. To us, animation seems easy if you have the talent, but this exhibit shows the tedious journey of this incredible industry.

I think one of the reasons I enjoy Disney’s Animation Building so much is because it is a hidden gem. It is not the typical place you think of going when you visit the Disney Parks. Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole Disney experience along with the thrilling rides, amazing shows, and I can deal with the crowds and the lines. However, this is a place where you can step back, relax, and soak in the wonder that is Disney from a different perspective.

– Kelsee

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