For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

By Dave Shute

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on


By Jim Korkis

Construction work was conducted on the planned two halves of Pop Century Resort (Classic Years and Legendary Years) from 1999 through 2001. The resort in total was meant to celebrate each decade of the 20th Century just as the new Millennium was about to begin.

A bridge originally named the Generation Gap Bridge was constructed across Hourglass Lake to connect both halves of Pop Century and make them accessible to each other.

However, the terrorism attack on September 11th resulted in a significant drop in tourism, so Disney stopped work on the entire because of lack of demand.

When work finally resumed on Pop Century, the economy was rebounding slowly and there was no initial need for all 5,760 rooms from both halves, which meant that only The Classic Years was initially completed and opened in 2003. Disney kept announcing the other half, The Legendary Years, would be completed since some building shells and infrastructure were in place.

In January 2010 Disney announced the resort would be re-themed into Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with construction beginning that summer. In addition, because of the success of the family suites at the All Star Music, seven new buildings (all except the three devoted to The Little Mermaid, originally intended to represent the 1940s decade, and almost completed) would be built as family suites.

The phrase “The Art of Animation” has a long heritage. In 1958, Walt Disney put together three traveling animation exhibits depicting the history and process of animation to promote the film Sleeping Beauty (1959). The exhibit was called “The Art of Animation: A Walt Disney Retrospective” and one was in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland until September 1966.

In addition, Walt had author Bob Thomas write a book about the same topic called The Art of Animation that was released in 1958 and later updated in 1991 to promote Beauty and the Beast (1991) and in 1997 to promote Hercules (1997).

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is devoted to showcasing four animated feature film favorites in a larger-than-life format, creating distinct decorative environments reflective of each film.

Research showed that modern families were more familiar and emotionally connected with films released during the previous twenty-five years especially those produced by Pixar rather than the original classic Disney Studio ones created by Walt Disney. In addition, selection was made of films prominently represented in the parks by attractions, shows, merchandise sales and more.

So the following films were selected: Finding Nemo (2003), Cars (2006), The Lion King (1994) and The Little Mermaid (1989).

The outside of each four-story rectangular building at the resort is covered in characters, backgrounds and icons from the respective films. There are more three-dimensional figures than at any other Disney resort, and they offer multiple photo opportunities like the thirty-five foot tall sculpture of King Triton done by Joni Van Buren from the film The Little Mermaid. In total, there are approximately 2,500 figures at the entire resort.

“These themes have both compelling storylines and vivid visuals which will come together to create a truly memorable, immersive resort experience,” said Eric Jacobson, Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering.

“With more multi-generational families vacationing together, guests are looking for places where they can play together and stay together. This resort was designed with the needs of families in mind, as we continue the Disney tradition of providing a great guest experience for every taste and budget.”

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim!

Much more on Disney’s Art of Animation Resort begins here.

Come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis! In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.


Follow on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!!




Have a thought or a question?...

Comment by typing in the form below.

Leave a Comment | Ask a Question | Note a Problem

My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2021 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.