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A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Animation Hall at 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

Legendary Hall had been built to be the central check-in for The Legendary Years, the second half of the Pop Century Value Resort. The terrorism attack on September 11th resulted in a massive drop in travel and tourism, so Disney stopped construction on building more hotel rooms because there was a lack of demand.

Over the years, Disney announced at various times that it would finish the “ghost hotel,” but never did. In January 2010 Disney announced the resort would be re-themed into Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with construction beginning that summer.

Since much of the infrastructure was already in place, Legendary Hall was converted into The Animation Hall as a prelude to the animation experience in the four sections of the resort devoted to the animated films Finding Nemo, Cars, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid.

The Animation Hall is the check-in center for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, and includes a self-service business center (a first at a Value resort), arcade, merchandise store and food court. The interior is meant to suggest how animation evolves from simple pencil sketches of a character to the finished full color version.

The examples on the wall opposite the check-in desk progress are enlarged from the actual original rough concept art of the characters from the four films represented at the resort to the final full-colored version, cleverly leading guests in the process to the Ink and Paint Shop and the Landscape of Flavors food court as well as the door leading outside to the various sections. The background music is a loop of music from the four films.

The end of the hall features the “storyboard chandelier” designed by the former head of Pixar animation, John Lasseter. The glass plates are examples of storyboard panels for an animated film and one of the drawings featuring Lightning McQueen was drawn and signed by Lasseter who directed the film Cars. When the resort opened, it was the only drawing that was signed in the hallway.

When the resort first opened, to reinforce the overall theme, those people working in the check-in area were not referred to as “cast members” but “concept artists”.

The back wall represents a color script used by animation artists to help determine the overall color palette for each scene which helps define the overall mood.

The Ink and Paint Shop’s wall fixtures are shaped like giant paint jars, arranged by color. Traditionally, specially mixed paint was once used to color the individual cels of an animated film. Today, the coloring is done digitally by computer.

Besides the usual items found in a shop at the WDW resorts, this shop is lined with art supplies up on the shelves and the walls. Paint brushes, colored pencils, and paper all represent the tools animation artists use in order to create a feature film.

Landscape of Flavors is the six hundred seat food court with an extensive variety of ever-changing offerings, divided into four sections to reference each of the four animated features represented at the resort. It features artwork of the environments of those films on the wall, painted ceiling light fixtures and more.

For instance, the ceiling fixture in the Lion King section simulates looking up through a jungle canopy while The Little Mermaid section has a painting of the grotto holding some of Ariel’s treasures that she has gathered.

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Thanks, Jim!  There’s much more on Disney’s Art of Animation Resort here.

And 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.


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