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Animation Experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Animation Experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Have you ever wished that you could draw a Disney masterpiece? Animal Kingdom’s Animation Experience allows guests to create an awesome souvenir and have a great experience with a Disney animator.

I admit that I am not a great artist, but this was such a great experience. I met one guest that was so excited that this experience had been added to Animal Kingdom. In the past she had visited the Animation Experience that was once held at Hollywood Studios. This location was closed to make room for Star Wars Launch Bay.


The Animation Experience is located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and is included with admission. This experience is located at Rafiki’s Planet Watch which requires a short train ride on the Wildlife Express Train.

Wildlife Express Train taking guests to Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Wildlife Express Train

The wildlife Express Train station is located near Kilimanjaro Safaris. The actual time of the train ride will vary based on the train’s arrival schedule to and from the station. The train ride allows you to see some of the animal care buildings. We also learned some interesting history regarding the importance of animals in the life of Walt Disney.

Along the train ride, we saw many animal care facilities including this building for the care of elephants

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Our main reason for visiting Rafiki’s Planet Watch was to participate in the Animation Experience. There are many other great experiences at this location including an Affection Section, Conservation Station, and an Animal Viewing location.

Rafiki welcoming us to Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Animation Experience

The Animation Experience is located in the Out of the Wild Building, which is a short walk from the train station.

Guests can obtain a FastPass for this experience, but this is not necessary. A FastPass guarantees you a seat for a select class. This can be helpful since this is a short train ride away from the rest of the park.

We did not have a FastPass for this experience, but we were allowed to fill in available seats after those with FastPasses had already been admitted.

Getting Started

Each guest is given a large clipboard, white piece of drawing paper with circles pre-printed, and a pencil. The theme during our trip was animal villains. Each class offered one of the following: Bruce from Finding Nemo, Hopper from A Bug’s Life, Shere Khan from Jungle Book, Tic Toc from Peter Pan, and Scar or Ed from Lion King.

Each guest is given a clipboard, paper, and pencil to be able to participate in this experience

We were excited that during our class we would learn to draw Ed the hyena from The Lion King. Our experience began with a short video showcasing the hyenas that can be found on the Kilimanjaro Safari. We also learned some interesting information about hyenas. Through this, we learned that the true animal is not really a villain as shown in the movie.

A short video to learn more about the hyena that we would be drawing

After the short video, we met our animator for our class. He sat in the middle of the auditorium. A video camera was positioned over his drawing desk. With large televisions throughout the auditorium, this allowed for easy viewing of his drawings with each step.

Our instructor for the Animation Experience

I was a bit nervous starting out. Remember I am not an artist. I generally gravitate to stick figures when a drawing is necessary. The step-by-step instructions were wonderful. We were encouraged to not use the eraser on our pencil, but to embrace the imperfections. This was easier said than done but a wonderful sense of freedom nonetheless.

About half-way through the Animation Experience, Ed began to make his appearance.

About half-way into the Animation Experience

Our animator would also share interesting information regarding the hyena as he would allow guests additional time to complete a step before moving onto another step.


By the end of the experience, I still would not consider myself an artist. I did feel proud of the finished project. It was a wonderful experience to learn more about one of the animals, to learn a few animating tips, and to understand the time and effort that goes into each Disney animated film.

A bonus is that we now each have a special FREE souvenir from our trip to Animal Kingdom.

If this is your first visit to Animal Kingdom or if you already feel that you have a tight schedule, then this experience may not be the best use of your time. The experience would take an hour with factoring in the train ride to and from and the actual Animator Experience class. If you have an extra hour to spare, this is definitely a wonderful experience to participate in.

completed drawing of Ed from the Lion King

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Lois Sauer

Friday 14th of February 2020

Debbie Melnick - I've brought empty paper towel rolls with me; roll up the drawings and put them inside. When you get home you can "uncurl" them.

Donna Farmer

Saturday 15th of February 2020

That is a wonderful idea to help to preserve the drawings without taking up a lot of space. Thank you for your suggestion.

Darby Mori

Wednesday 12th of February 2020

We did the Animation Experience in November 2019. Wasn’t sure what to expect, but turned out to be fun for all of us (2 adults, a 11 yr old and a 6 yr old). I thought it was worth a Fastpass and train ride. We arrived early, so we had time to see a stingray getting a check-up, talk with the guy preparing food for the birds, and go to the petting-zoo portion. Also saw the kimono dragon – fascinating.

Donna Farmer

Saturday 15th of February 2020

Thank you for sharing! It sounds like you all had a magical vacation.

Debbie Melnick

Wednesday 12th of February 2020

What a great experience. About what size is the final drawing so we can have something to put it in so it doesn't get destroyed?? Want to have my nieces and nephew do this when we go.

Donna Farmer

Wednesday 12th of February 2020

I hope you and your family have a magical vacation and enjoy the Animation Experience. The size of paper used is 10.5" x 12". That is a great idea to have something available to carry those home in.

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