All aboard the Wildlife Express Train as we journey back to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
We’re excited to head back to the location, but fair warning…things look a little different this time around.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch closed back in October of 2018 and for a while; and while we knew it would reopen eventually, we weren’t too sure what the location’s fate was going to be. Disney later announced that they had BIG plans for Rafiki’s Planet Watch and the Conservation Station!
And today we can officially explore those big plans as the the Conservation Station has reopened with a new and fun activity. ANIMATION CLASSES!!
We have seen variations of this animation activity at the resorts and long ago at Hollywood Studios (and animation classes are still going strong at Disney California Adventure in Disneyland Resort). But the classes at Studios, to lots of guests’ dismay, were replaced when Star Wars Launch Bay was created.
But now, the fun and FREE Animation Experience is back, folks.
So, let’s explore changes that have been made to Rafiki’s Planet Watch Conservation Station and the Animal Kingdom’s version of the Animation Experience together!
First, we hopped on the Wildlife Express Train. The trip was the same as it was before, and we saw a few backstage areas at Animal Kingdom.
But, the spiel was different as the announcement mentioned the new animation experience and Walt Disney himself!
Now, this IS a FastPass+ option and luckily we were able to snag one! But don’t fret if you aren’t able to get one. There are quite a few class times throughout the day.
If you do have a FastPass though, you can check in at this kiosk as you’ll have a guaranteed seat.
Guests without FastPasses will be welcomed in afterward to fill in the empty spaces.
Our animation experience began with us watching a movie of a Meerkat. (Hmm…I wonder if this is a clue… . ;-D)
Then, the class began! Now, the biggest difference between this animation class and the ones that were offered at Hollywood Studios is that you’ll now only be drawing Disney animals.
And currently, the class will focus on Lion King characters as a part of Animal Kingdom’s Celebration of The Lion King that is taking place! So, we had the opportunity to draw our favorite Meerkat, of course! Timon!
Like the Meerkat video we watched at the beginning of the class, there is a little video for each animal that will be offered. The videos were actually filmed right in the park with Animal Kingdom’s residents.
AND fun fact!! Thee animators for the new live-action Lion King film actually came to Animal Kingdom and did 3D imagining of many of the animals. So….the Simba you see in the live-action was likely designed after the Lion seen on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Pretty cool, right?
The class lasted about 20-minutes and was instructor-led, just like the other animation classes have been.
We were able to see and follow along as the animator gave us steps, and the animator’s drawing was displayed on a screen.
This is the paper, pencil, and clip board were provided.
AND here is our final project!
To motivate you even further, there were also pictures around the Conservation Station of Walt and other Disney animators using live animals as inspiration for their own drawings!
The rest of Rafiki’s Planet Watch looks about the same as it used to be. Including the petting zoo opportunity! So there’s plenty to do here, and it’s still the perfect place for a parent-and-toddler getaway, or to escape the crowds for a bit. And now — you can try your hand at animation as well!
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What do you think about the return of the Animation Experience? Let us know in the comments below!