Now, if you’d like to take the tour through the three initial rooms of Art of Disney Animation, you’d better check your Programme times guide. The attraction is now listed alongside the likes of Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular with pre-determined “show times” for the start of each presentation.
This week, you can visit the attraction only at 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00, 13:30, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:00, 17:30 and 18:00.
Normally, Art of Disney Animation runs continuously right through the day, with guests waiting outside or in the pre-show area for the start of the next show around every 10 minutes, passing from room-to-room between the Disney Classics Theatre and Drawn to Animation theatres for a total show time of around 20 minutes.
These new scheduled times therefore cut the number of chances to tour through the attraction by around two thirds, not to mention leaving the attraction in the dark for the first hour of park opening, until 11am, and for much of the final hour of the day.
That said, Art of Disney Animation is far from bombarded by guests. Not really providing enough interest to most visitors for repeat viewings, the outdoor queue line, now hidden partly behind the Hollywood Boulevard façades, very rarely sees any real use. This new test for low season days could ensure that audience numbers are never embarrassingly low, whilst allowing cost savings with Cast Members potentially doubling-up roles for the first two rooms.
The continuous start times of each presentation have previously been confusing and unhelpful to visitors. Sometimes you can rush inside just as the doors are closing and end up missing the whole pre-show, other times you appear to be waiting for far too long. Even if it means fewer showings per day, this kind of transparency is probably a good step.
But isn’t it just highlighting a bigger problem with Art of Disney Animation? Looking at the concept of the attraction as a whole, switching to scheduled times means a vast amount of central floorspace in this very small park suddenly becomes useless for long periods of time, cutting capacity and adding yet another complication to visitors planning their day — if the scheduled times of Playhouse Disney, Stitch Live, Animagique, CinéMagique and Moteurs Action! weren’t enough.
Wouldn’t a much better way to present “the art of animation” be to restructure the attraction to work more like the Disney Animation pavilion at Disney’s California Adventure?
Warning, self-indulgent home-Imagineering ahead…
In California, guests enter into a central lobby area and are then free to roam through several different rooms at their own pace. In Paris, the current post-show area would be perfect for this, with a single wall knocked through (by the video screens in the pre-show, the Jungle Book artwork in the post-show) to open up direct access to the pre-show room and theatre. The post show is already accessed directly by a lot of guests, using the exit doors to drop in and out. The pre-show and Classics theatre are, however, completely cut off.
Drawn to Animation with Mushu also exists as one of those rooms in California, and is really the only part of this attraction concept which needs to be presented as a scheduled show. Its current exit in Paris, behind the Animation Academy drawing boards, could double up as a single entrance, with these new half-hourly showtimes posted outside.
Though emotional and enjoyable, the Disney Classics Theatre in Paris is largely quite pointless, simply playing a series of themed clips from Disney and Pixar animation. The theatre could be better used as a “Cinéma Mickey/Main Street Cinema”-style drop-in space playing classic Disney shorts, or ripped out entirely for other interactive exhibits.
While we’re at it, replace The Disney Animation Gallery boutique with an indoor meet and greet space, for Sorcerer Mickey. The returns on souvenir photo prints would surely be better than current sales at this tiny shop, which has recently had its original remit of animation books, prints and collectibles watered down to a samey array of High School Musical merch anyway.
Open up the current entrance and exits to traffic in both directions et voilà — an open, free-roaming covered walkthrough, exhibit and show space in Walt Disney Studios Park that’s open at all times. An equivalent to Videopolis, Liberty Arcade or the original Adventureland Bazaar. Shelter from the rain, something to fill-in between other show times and a real heart for Toon Studio.
Knocking through a wall or two here might not even be all that outrageous for the park, given all the knocking down and rebuilding that went on at Walt Disney Studios Store last year just to give that shop more light.
Rather than cutting back access to this great, covered, central space, open it up!
Images © Disney, Google Earth.