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