Have you ever wanted draw a Disney character like in the movies? Well now you can, at the Animation Experience at Conservation Station in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.
The Animation Experience is located inside the Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and getting there is half the adventure.
The only way to get to this area is to ride the Wildlife Express Train from the Africa section of the park. The train ride is about seven minutes long and then you walk about five minutes down a trail to get to the Conservation Station.
Tip: You can either leave your stroller at the train station, or you can take it on the train as long as you fold it up. If you have an infant or toddler, it’s worth taking it.
The Entrance to the Animation Experience is through the rear doors of the Conservation Station, near the Affection Section. Several sessions are offered throughout the day, so be sure to check the Disney website, My Disney Experience app or the in-park Times Guide.
The character varies each session, and right now they are teaching you to draw characters from The Lion King. During our session, we had Pumbaa, and each session lasts about 25 minutes.
FastPass+ is available. When you arrive, FastPass+ lines up on the right, and the standby line is to the left. The benefit of having a FastPass+ is that you are let in first, so if you want to be seated in the front (and guaranteed a spot in a specific session), FastPass+ would be a good option. However, we had a FastPass+ and sat in the last row because we had a sleeping baby in a stroller. Our session did not completely fill up, and we had a good view from the back.
As you enter, there is a spot to pick up a piece of paper and a pencil. Clipboards are already at each seat.
The Disney animator draws from a desk with an overhead camera, and you can see each of their steps on two large screens. But before you begin, you get to watch a brief video about the type of animal you are drawing. My kindergartener and I enjoyed learning about the warthogs in the park.
As an adult, I really enjoyed the experience. The cast member was engaging and offered clear directions, and the lines on the paper definitely helped. I am not great at drawing, but I think I did okay.
But how was it for younger kids? Well, not so great… My kindergartner was excited about this experience, but it ended up being too difficult for him. He tried for the first few steps but then got frustrated and lost interest.
If you have older kids who enjoy drawing, then this is a “don’t miss” experience, but it can be challenging for younger kids. Behind the rows of chairs are a couple of family-friendly tables against the wall with video screens showing nature videos. My son ended up moving to the end of our row and watching one of those videos while I finished drawing. They also ask you to park your strollers off to the side, but since my infant was sleeping, they allowed us to move one of the end chairs and park the stroller there.
Tip: If you have an adult in your party who is not interested in drawing, during your session they can take the younger kids to the Affection Section, where they can brush the goats, or to earn some Wilderness Explorer badges in the area.
Pros: You have the unique opportunity to learn to draw a Disney character from a Disney animator (the only other place you can do this is at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort). Plus, you leave with an awesome – and free – souvenir.
Considerations: While all ages are welcome, and the Cast Members are friendly and accommodating, it’s much easier for adults and older kids to follow along.
Kids Rating: out of 5. This is great for adults and older kids, but too challenging for younger kids. My kindergartener had trouble following the steps, and 25 minutes is a long time for younger kids to sit still quietly (especially at Disney!).