Newly Re-imagined Animation Experience at Animal Kingdom

Last October Disney’s Animal Kingdom closed Rafiki’s Planet Watch for refurbishment. Since Disney hadn’t released any information regarding the changes, we made one last visit to reminisce all the memories made over the years. Surprisingly, when Rafiki’s Planet Watch opened back up, it included a newly re-imagined Animation Experience at the Conservation Station.

Our young budding artist was excited about this, since the original Animation Experience in Hollywood Studios closed quite some time ago. We stayed on property recently, and got us some Fast Passes for check out day. 

Mom and daughter on Rafiki's Planet train

I hadn’t seen any pictures, so we weren’t sure what to expect, as we traveled the train back to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and the Conservation Station. 

Conservation Station at Animal Kingdom

We entered the Conservation Station through the main entrance, or at least what used to be the main entrance. Only to find out it’s now the exit. 

Scoop on Poop sign

I took the opportunity to pop into the restroom, and they still have “The Scoop on Poop” signs in the stalls! A nice added educational touch, don’t you think?

Animation Experience sign with times

Now you enter on the left, past the merchandise area. We arrived so early for our Fast Pass, we decided to sit in on the session before, because they run every 45 minutes. 

Guest view sitting at Animation Experience

What’s New?

Instead of just having an artist guide your drawing of a Disney character, you now work more like the actual artist. What exactly does this mean?

TV screen showing Red River Hog at Animation Experience

It means you observe the animal you are about to draw. Walt Disney was the first to use this technique. For Bambi, he brought in deer for artists to observe details, posture, and movement. Even director of the new Lion King, Jon Favreau, continued to use this technique.  

Our first session we got to draw Pumbaa. Animal Kingdom houses families of Red River Hogs, but they are not the easiest to bring in for observation, so we had to settle for learning more about them on screen. 

TV screen with guided drawing at Animation Experience.

With several screens, the artist can project the guided drawing for everyone to see. 

Animal caretaker with Trumpeted Hornbill at Animal Kingdom

In order for us to get back in for our Fast Pass, we had to go out the exit, and come back around to the entrance. Session two we got to draw Zazu, and meet Peggy Sue, a Trumpeter Hornbill. 

Drawing of Pumbaa
I still never made my final touches, but it’s way better than I thought.

Josephine convinced me to take a pencil to the paper, and I was quite surprised with my results. In the past, my creations had not been as good as these. I may be hooked now! 

Animation Experience sign

Our Thoughts

All and all, we were shocked to see not much had changed inside the Conservation Station. The upper wall had new painting for the Animation Experience. You can still view the animal caretakers through the viewing windows. 

With girls who love to draw, we are happy to see the Animation Experience return, but we sure will miss all the special animal educational events throughout the year. Below you can see our last visit to the Conservation Station before the closure.

What If?

During the refurbishment, we did a little brainstorming of ideas. Thinking about what Disney could possibly be doing with Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The grand idea of this becoming a Zootopia experience was our favorite. Who else would have loved that??? I think it would be a perfect fit. Who knows, maybe in the future.

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50 thoughts on “Newly Re-imagined Animation Experience at Animal Kingdom

  • October 4, 2019 at 2:07 am
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    Love the Zootopia idea! I haven’t been to Rafiki’s planet watch since the year 2000. I don’t even remember much about it. Looks like it has a great program if you love to draw!

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    • October 4, 2019 at 11:03 am
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      Right??? I think it could be amazing!

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    • October 4, 2019 at 11:08 am
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      I’m happy I decided to join in!! It was fun!

      Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 7:47 am
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    I love Disney and especially Animal Kingdom. Hubby and I keep saying that when he retires we are going to go back to Disney, but this time take at least one day per park, or more. It’s hard to see and do all four parks and really get the most out of each one when you are rushed.

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    • October 4, 2019 at 11:24 am
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      So true. It’s no fun to be rushed. Being passholders, we aren’t rushed, but still have not done and seen everything.

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    • October 4, 2019 at 11:31 am
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      Thanks!! It really is a neat experience!

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    • October 4, 2019 at 11:33 am
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      If you like to draw, then yes, this is a must do!!

      Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 5:12 pm
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    oh wow! I haven’t been since 2013, looks like a lot has changed. We may have to go again!

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:21 am
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      That’s Disney….Always changing!!

      Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 10:19 pm
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    This is such a cool idea. I had no idea that Disney had this event to learn about drawing live animals. I do like your idea to create a Zootopia experience. That was a great movie!

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:27 am
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      Happy everyone likes the Zootopia idea!! Maybe someday!!

      Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 10:21 pm
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    I think all my kids would really enjoy this…learning how to draw a Disney character! I’m so excited to check this out the next time we’re in Animal Kingdom.

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:31 am
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      Fun!! I think most kids would love it!

      Reply
  • October 4, 2019 at 10:34 pm
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    I can’t wait to go back and do this. Thanks so much.

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:35 am
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      You are welcome!! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:41 am
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      Hope you get to check it out!!

      Reply
  • October 5, 2019 at 7:32 am
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    My daughter and I did this on our recent girls weekend. It was a lot of fun! I remembered something similar years ago at DisneyQuest too. We drew Scar and both our pictures turned our really well.

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:42 am
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      Awesome!! Yes, I totally forgot they did this at DisneyQuest too. I miss that place!

      Reply
  • October 5, 2019 at 11:30 am
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    This place looks like a ton of fun. I know my girls would love it.

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:47 am
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      I know we sure had fun!

      Reply
  • October 5, 2019 at 11:47 am
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    Oh fun this is a a cool addition to that area!

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:54 am
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      It really is perfect a fit!

      Reply
  • October 5, 2019 at 2:59 pm
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    Such a cool and alternative Disney experience…awesome that they cater to the artists among us…so fun!

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:57 am
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      Happy they cater to the artist, since that’s how it all began.

      Reply
  • October 6, 2019 at 7:56 pm
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    I’ve never been to Animal Kingdom but now that I’ve read your post, I need to change that asap! I’m pinning this to my travel wishlist board for future reference. Thanks!

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    • October 7, 2019 at 11:59 am
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      No way?? Yes, you must visit.

      Reply
  • October 7, 2019 at 9:08 am
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    Oh my gosh, my daughter would LOVE this. She wants to be an animator when she grows up. I think they have something similar at Disney California but not this cool with the animals!

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    • October 7, 2019 at 12:05 pm
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      My daughter does too!! We like the added animal touch!

      Reply
  • October 7, 2019 at 10:59 am
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    I am really hoping to experience this with my son who is a huge Disney and drawing fan. We never made it to this part of Animal Kingdom, but will make it a priority next time!

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    • October 7, 2019 at 12:07 pm
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      He will love it!! Hope you get there next time!

      Reply
  • October 7, 2019 at 3:35 pm
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    We haven’t been to Animal Kingdom in years. We need to go back soon. Love the scoop on the poop signs haha

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    • October 7, 2019 at 5:40 pm
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      It’s a nice added touch, right? All about education!!

      Reply
  • October 8, 2019 at 11:53 am
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    one thing i love about a disney park is that they are always reinventing and changing and making the experiences relevant and meaningful to the current patrons. very fun to see it grow and morph.

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    • October 8, 2019 at 6:35 pm
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      So true!! Keeps us coming back for more!!

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    • October 11, 2019 at 10:20 am
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      Happy they incorporated the animals into the experience!

      Reply
  • October 9, 2019 at 9:15 pm
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    This is so cool, I want to go back to Animal Kingdom to check this out!!!

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    • October 11, 2019 at 10:20 am
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      I hope you get to check it out!! It’s fun!!

      Reply
  • October 10, 2019 at 4:49 am
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    This looks like such an awesome experience! I will definitely have to keep this in mind for Payton!

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    • October 11, 2019 at 10:20 am
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      You know she will love it!!

      Reply
  • October 10, 2019 at 11:16 am
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    We have SO much to catch up on at Disney World! This experience is something our youngest son would absolutely love. So fun!

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    • October 11, 2019 at 11:44 am
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      Is there such a thing as “catching up” at Disney?? I know we are never caught up!

      Reply
  • October 12, 2019 at 11:23 am
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    I never knew they offered something like this! We will have to check it out next time we are there. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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    • October 16, 2019 at 9:00 am
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      Happy to share!! Hope you get to check it our yourself next time!!

      Reply
  • October 15, 2019 at 6:54 am
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    Interesting. I never would have thought they’d move this to Animal Kingdom. of course they make it work by drawing animals, but still seems like it should be at the Studio.

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    • October 16, 2019 at 9:01 am
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      Yeah, I’m wondering how long it will stay there. Still hoping the Zootopia attraction will happen!! That would be so cool!

      Reply

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