Perhaps you’re wondering why there wasn’t a new post yesterday. I’ve got two excuses that should add up to one perfectly legitimate excuse. One, I have a nasty cold that’s draining most of the physical and mental energy I need to write. Two, I just got back from a trip to Walt Disney World, where I got some sun, some souvenirs, and the aforementioned cold. I don’t want to leave you without any new content all week, so I’m going to share something with you, something tied in to my vacation.
The Magic of Disney Animation attraction at Disney-MGM Studios – now called Disney’s Hollywood Studios – was long one of my favorite stops when visiting Disney World. for obvious reasons. The attraction kicked off with a short film entitled “Back to Neverland” starring Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams explaining the animation process, and then gave visitors a chance to observe the real, working Disney animation studio in Florida, accompanied by short video clips of Williams and Cronkite explaining what your were looking at. The tour has undergone some changes since I first got to see it. Disney’s Orlando studio closed in 2004 and the attraction was revamped. The studio your was obviously dumped and a new film was created starring Mushu the dragon from Mulan. It’s still a good introduction to the hand-drawn animation process, but to my mind, the original film with Cronkite and Williams is far superior.
The quality of the following video is not great, since it was clearly shot while the film was being shown for an audience. But until Disney decides to release high quality movies of its old park attractions, this is the only way you’re going to see “Back to Neverland.” You may notice that the tourist outfit Robin Williams is wearing at the start of the film is the same one the Genie wears at the end of Aladdin.
Here’s a shorter clip with better video quality. The person who uploaded this video notes that the animation was done by Frans Vischer whose later animation credits include everything from The Princess and The Frog to The Simpsons Movie to The Prince of Egypt, to the criminally overlooked Cats Don’t Dance. The animator pictured in the film isn’t Vischer, but he is a real animator. He is Bruce Smith, most recently the supervising animator on Dr. Facilier in The Princess and the Frog.
So you guys watch these and enjoy while I try to beat this cold and come up with something for next week.
All footage in this article is copyright Disney