Creating A True Disney Original

For years at Hollywood Studios, you could visit the Animation Academy where a Disney Artist would guide you through drawing a Disney character yourself. With the expansion of the park and redesign of some areas, it went away and that made me sad.

But now it’s back and it’s brand new!

The Animation Experience returned earlier this year at Animal Kingdom. It’s still led by a Disney Animator, the classroom is bigger, it’s still less than 30 minutes,open to all ages, and best of all, it’s still free with your park admission. No additional charge! At the time of this writing in the fall of 2019, the characters that you’ll be drawing are from The Lion King, but that is subject to change.

It’s located at Rafiki’s Planet Watch so just take the train which is located near the Kilimanjaro Safari entrance, then follow the walking path back to an area that you might not have ever explored inside Animal Kingdom.

No artistic skills are required, and it’s fun to see the differing results of everyone in your party.

Pro Tip: Fast Passes are available but typically not required since the classroom is quite large.

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to fold up your finished artwork (I don’t, I like to frame it for the office when I get home), you can roll it up and keep in a bag or backpack. The gift shop just outside will sell you a perfectly sized cardboard tube that will fit your drawing. It was $5 and all of your groups art will fit into one tube which easily fit into my cinch bag.

Pro Tip: Spend some extra time exploring Rafiki’s Planet Watch when you’re there. But snacks and meals are limited out here, so if you need lunch or dinner before you go, eat in the main part of the park before you jump on the train.


Pete Herrick has been with Once Upon A Vacation since 2013 and has visited Walt Disney Destinations over 30 times and takes every chance to travel to just about any fun location in the world. He and his wife Tessa live at Lake Norman near Charlotte, NC. Find him on social media @peteherrick (or e-mail


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