Animation Academy Artists Signatures
Animation Academy Artists Signatures

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has officially closed “The Magic of Disney Animation” the best attraction at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. When I first moved down to Florida in 2009 I met Les Carpenter one of the artists teaching guests how to draw characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and even Princess and the Frog characters. Everytime I would go, that would be the first place I would go. I would take the tour over and over, just so I could draw Disney characters. It would drive some of the people I went with crazy. They would even leave me for the day while I would wait for the next class and draw and draw. I am very saddened by the closing and wish it wasn’t happening.

Volume 33 - Number 18 - September 4-17, 2003
Volume 33 – Number 18 – September 4-17, 2003

We visited “The Magic of Disney Animation” attraction on the last day and talked with a few of the employees and also contacted a few of the artists who have worked there over the years and asked if they could write a little about their experiences working at The Magic of Disney Animation Tour.

The only story I will tell is this; my first week there, Roy E. Disney came in and watched me draw.
That will stay with me.

– Bob Chernik (Animation Academy Artist)

Kerry Fatherree Tripp Drawing Mushu
Kerry Fatherree Tripp Drawing Mushu

I am so proud and humbled to have been a part of such an amazing attraction… But especially the amazing talented artists I worked with, cried with and laughed with. I love you guys and gals so very much!

I remember as a part of my artist training for the Animation Academy, I sat in a room with Steven Walker and Corbie Dozier, watched Mickey Mouse cartoons and thought to myself how lucky and blessed I was to get paid to do something I truly loved… What a GOLDEN opportunity! I thank God for every moment…. even the tough times!

– Kerry Fatherree Tripp (Animation Academy Artist)

The Magic of Disney Animation Tour Group Photo
The Magic of Disney Animation Tour Group Photo

It’s sad to see The Magic of Disney Animation Tour go. I’ve been going to Disney World since I was little and after I saw the tour I knew I wanted to work there. Now to see it close and go away, it’s ripping some of the artist out of me and I’m sure the artists that are working there now feel the same.

My favorite memory working there was teaching little kids how to draw Mickey and Minnie. To turn a ‘No, I can’t do it.’ into, ‘Yes, I did it!’ it was the best feeling ever. We also had guests that would travel from all around the world just to take our classes, they would spend all day drawing, coming out of a class and going into the next one.

We had fans! That was awesome to know. We used to give our drawings away, knowing that we have drawings all over the world that we did ourselves, for me as an artist that is a great feeling. I know I have art pieces all over the world with my name on them.

-Raul P. Pacheco (Animation Academy Artist)

The Magic of Disney Animation
The Magic of Disney Animation

It has been a very upsetting week for so many of us, Former and Current Disney Cast Members and Disney Fans everywhere. The news of two very high profile attractions, The Magic of Disney Animation and DisneyQuest, both announced to be closing within such a short amount of time of each other has hit so many very hard, particularly me and a few others because I was one of the lucky artists that had the privilege of working at both. I am very grateful to the things that I learned at Disney, and I mostly have fond memories of working there even still. I miss the people most of all – that is really what makes these two attractions, The Magic of Disney Animation and DisneyQuest so special and unique. I would like to recognize a few of the artists and people who inspired me while I was there and continue to inspire me still.

– Steven Walker (Animation Academy Artist)

The Magic of Disney Animation Desks
The Magic of Disney Animation Desks

My name is Les Carpenter & I was an Animation Academy Artist at Walt Disney World. I had a dream of doing Special EFX animation at the Disney Florida studio, where they had made the films Mulan, Lilo & Stitch & Brother Bear. The closing of the studio in 2004 gave me the opportunity to draw the classic characters to audiences from around the world.

It was honor to represent in a way the Disney animation legends to the guests, who would never get a chance on a day to day basis of meeting the great artists like Glenn Kean, Andreas Deja or Eric Goldberg. But our classes offered a dreamer a way to watch & learn how a character is created from blank paper to the beloved animated star they love.

They guests were amazed, with little instruction, a bit of patience & whole lot of encouragement they too could draw Stitch, Eeyore or Mickey Mouse. It’s part of the Disney magic disappearing with the closing of the Magic of Animation Tour. My favorite moment was being stopped in the park by a guest on my day off, asking if I was one of the artist at the Animation Academy. I had told I was & he let me know his daughter had taken my class 2 years earlier & had drawn everyday with hope of being a Disney artist one day. I’m so glad I was given the opportunity to pass on the Disney heritage.

– Les Carpenter (Animation Academy Artist)

Princess and the Frog Display
Princess and the Frog Display

I had the good fortune as a guest to watch the making of Mulan at Disney’s MGM Studios. I found the tour to be the best part of my entire vacation.

Almost 18 years later I became a Disney Artist at Animation Academy working along side the greats: Brian, Heather, Nanci, Mike, Don, Ryan and Megan. This was a dream come true, especially being older than the other artists.

The guests loved the classes; especially the children. When you put their artwork on screen they were overjoyed (even a vampire Mickey Mouse by a 7 year old). And then there’s Mushu. I love Mushu. I looked forward to my rotation to Drawn to Animation. Talking to Mushu, Chris, Tom, Pam and the coffee guy (putting a little of me in the spiel) was always well received by the guests. I guess you could wrap it up by saying “thank you for choosing me to be part of the MAGIC.

– Joan Neumann (Animation Academy Artist)

Piglet Drawing at the Animation Academy
Piglet Drawing at the Animation Academy
Winnie the Pooh Display
Winnie the Pooh Display

Goodbye “The Magic of Disney Animation” attraction, you will definitely be greatly missed by all those who have experienced and gone through your attraction as well from all those who have worked there.

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The Author

Lavalle Lee

Lavalle Lee

Lavalle Lee has been creating animated cartoons online since 1999/2000 for his website Many cartoons on the site have gained viral video status reaching millions of viewers online. In 2009, Lavalle started learning hand drawn animation from Don Bluth in his animation classes, as well as attending his Masterclasses in Arizona. He has also personally studied animation and visual effects from Veteran Disney animators in Orlando, FL.

Lavalle is widely known in the animation industry as the creator of the website. After seeing that most animation sites were about all types of animation, not any specific to classical hand drawn animation, Lavalle knew Traditional Animation needed to be represented online. has become the leading website and social media account for all things 2D. The website served as inspiration for “The Traditional Animation Show” in which Lavalle was both producer and host.

His partnership with Don Bluth began when he championed the Dragon's Lair Indiegogo campaign as lead project manager, editor, voice actor and in-betweener. The campaign reached $730,000 dollars to produce a 7-minute pitch video. In 2017, Lavalle brought the idea of creating a school to Don Bluth, and Don Bluth University was born. After a decade of learning from Don Bluth and working together on multiple pitches and business ventures, Lavalle accepted the position as Vice President of Don Bluth's new company Don Bluth Studios.


  1. July 14, 2015 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    So sad

  2. July 14, 2015 at 2:07 pm — Reply

    This was one of our favorite things to do at the park 🙁

  3. July 14, 2015 at 2:16 pm — Reply

    I don’t think we appreciated this the way we should have. Shame on us! It holds true to the lesson that there is nothing lacking in magic that carries the Disney name… we should be skipping NOTHING. Ryan Anderson

  4. July 14, 2015 at 2:24 pm — Reply

    I hope they at least recycle some of the props used in this attraction. If not I would like to buy one of those light tables

  5. July 14, 2015 at 2:42 pm — Reply


  6. July 14, 2015 at 3:00 pm — Reply

    Laurel Coleman

  7. July 14, 2015 at 3:01 pm — Reply

    My heart is breaking

  8. Tyler
    July 14, 2015 at 11:29 am — Reply

    This is a real bummer! On the other hand, is there any info what they will be doing with those lightboards?!? That would be a heck of a fun way to work, with a mickey mouse lightboard staring back at me and reminding me of visiting that attraction every time I put pencil to paper.

  9. July 14, 2015 at 3:30 pm — Reply

    This was my favorite thing to do in all of the Disney Parks. Star Wars could have taken over any of the other empty attraction buildings. Where is the inspiration for tomorrow’s artists now?

  10. July 14, 2015 at 3:42 pm — Reply

    Alright, Enough is enough, this is the final, this is THE VERY VERY LAST STRAW! WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS! I DEMAND THAT YOU SHOW YOURSELF! WHO ARE YOU, HUH?!!!!!!!

  11. July 14, 2015 at 4:22 pm — Reply

    Sad day, makes me feel all the more grateful that I got to go on that tour coz love 2d animation and would’ve been heartbroken if I’d never got to go on the tour. Again sad sad day

  12. July 14, 2015 at 5:03 pm — Reply

    Stupendo !!!

  13. July 14, 2015 at 6:01 pm — Reply

    It’s a shame it is going away. When I was ten, my family visited during the 25th celebration so the studio itself was still open. It was incredible for a kid to get to see the people making an animated feature. I bought a lot of art supplies that day. Eight years later I went to art school, and had a short lived career in videogames (hint: the pay is shit) and this particular attraction was a positive in my career trajectory. I hope Disney picks up the slack and institutes some other sort of creative attraction to engage kids, but my hopes are low. It feels like they’re at the early years of a 90’s like crunch on the parks (outsourcing the magicbands, for instance).

  14. July 14, 2015 at 7:25 pm — Reply

    A petition needs to be started IMMEDIATELY against Disney Management to stop this insanity!
    If they get enough protests, they will
    Change their course.
    There are a lot of ignorant people working in Disney Mangmt. Right now, like Igor.

  15. July 14, 2015 at 7:28 pm — Reply

    When I worked there, the people protested the closing of Country Bears, and they stopped!!!
    Tell them how much this means to YOU, and without Animation – traditional, there would be NOTHING.

  16. July 14, 2015 at 8:03 pm — Reply

    Thanks so much for doing this! 🙂

  17. July 14, 2015 at 8:45 pm — Reply

    I never went there(I’m from Europe), but it saddens me to see it go! As a child I was always super exited when a new Disney movie came out. I would copy the characters till I could draw them on my own. And later on I created my own characters. I don’t think I would have done that with CGI characters since it is like drawing from a photo or object. I need my outlines and “flatness”. Also liked the different styles and huge variety of unique characters in 2D as well. And if you think about it, outlines/flat characters/forms are easier for a child to follow and to learn. And in CGI the majority of releases looks similar. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against CGI, but it is used way too much and 2D pretty much pushed away(the closing of this attraction is just another proof!). Animation is not just CGI. Without 2D animation, I wouldn’t most likely work in animation myself, or even draw as much. Like other people pointed out here; 2D is often the gateway and inspiration for future artists.

  18. July 15, 2015 at 12:40 am — Reply

    I met that guy in the video! He told me that story and it truly inspired me to work for Disney in any way I could so that maybe one day I could be seen drawing and getting hired for it ^_^ But I seriously loved that place… I went there and was one of the people going from one class to the next to learn how to draw all of the characters I could!

  19. July 15, 2015 at 7:16 am — Reply

    That is such a shame. I wish they could have make it stay open forever. The artists who worked there had drawn the characters beautifully as I always think 2d animation is very special to me in all these Disney films including Aladdin, The Lion King and The Princess and the Frog

  20. September 29, 2015 at 1:17 pm — Reply

    Animation it;s magic, it’s a a place where any artist can create a world through drawings.
    If you want to become an artist, a great start is an workshop online an essential animation book for beginners, non software specific, that explains the principles of animation in depth, showing their importance and how to use them. This book will show you how to approach and learn them in the most clear and understandable way. Inside you will find many tips, examples and drawings that makes it very easy for every beginner to start with animation. Even for an intermediate, this book will be a great tool for the revision of knowledge already acquired.
    Try it!

  21. April 5, 2018 at 3:45 am — Reply

    You article is very good, inspires me and helps my work. thank you.

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