Disney to close animation studio in Florida

Posted Monday, January 12, 2004 6:25 PM | Contributed by Matt D

Disney is expected to close its Florida animation unit and lay-off the 260 artists that work there. Some will be relocated to Burbank. The unit worked in the Disney-MGM Studios park, where they were part of a tour.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Monday, January 12, 2004 6:32 PM
Was this an expected event? I thought I remembered hearing that Disney was trying to get their name out of MGM studios for whatever reason ... or is this more of Disney hitting a very rocky period?
Monday, January 12, 2004 6:43 PM
It was somewhat expected. News leaked a couple of months ago about the closure.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 12:37 AM
crazy horse's avatar Forgive me for asking but what is the animation studio?
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 1:00 AM
It is where Disney produces most of their animated feature films. Some of the Disney animated films that have came out of the Florida studio include Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Pochahantas, Mulan, Beauty and the Beast, so on...

Since the closure of the AFFS, now all the animation that Disney offers will either be done by Pixar(Computer Animated) or the Disney Television Animators.

Jim Hill Media has a couple of interesting articles on the subject if you want more info.*** This post was edited by Dukeis#1 1/13/2004 1:07:55 AM ***

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 6:56 AM
Frankly, I can't stand the Pixar animation and won't watch those type of movies (I find it a cop-out for doing it the classic way). This really is a shame, but I suspect that we'll see animated films being produced by other companies more often now, since the talent will be available to be hired on elsewhere.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 8:16 AM
Dukeis isn't completely correct. The only movie on his last that was produced totally at the Florida studio is Mulan. Nothing from Beauty or Mermaid was done there and only part of Lion King and Pocohantas were done there.

I do find this strange seeing that the Animation Studio at WDW was expanded not that long ago. From a park lovers standpoint maybe this will allow for some expansion over toward that part of the park as the Animation building and parking took up a lot of space.

Disney doesn't want their name out of MGM. It is the other way around. That is why the new park in Paris is Disney Studios and not Disney-MGM.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 9:13 AM
This makes me ill. Disney was once based on its animation of great films. Oh I hate Eisner. They are loosing hold of the disney dream. There last couple of movies were good at the box office, but they have lost there old Disney magic in there films. I feel the park is going in the crap**r. Things are changing for the worst. What next the removal of the wonders of life pavilon. Things are changing at Disney and moving far away from the disney dream.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004 11:08 AM
Its been happening for quite some time now.

Be prepared to see a lot of *****ing on those Disney fanatic sites.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 11:52 AM
Actually, the WDFA Florida did Mulan, Lilo and Stitch and Brother Bear along with Tarzan(which was done at the now closed Paris studio) these have been the only hits Disney Feature Animation has done in the last few years. It is sad because the Florida unit has done everything they have been asked to do by the company and still ended up being shut down. If you want to find out the real story behind the closure you should head over to www.jimhillmedia.com where he has various articles about what is really going on.

Barry Short*** This post was edited by 1/13/2004 11:52:45 AM ***

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 1:34 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar Remember when I was the only one plugging Jim Hill's site? Ah, the good ol' days :)

Since the closure of the AFFS, now all the animation that Disney offers will either be done by Pixar(Computer Animated) or the Disney Television Animators.

Actually, the way I understand it is, the focus will be shifting to CG projects over traditional animation and the Disney will compete with (not use) Pixar in future projects.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 5:41 PM
Okay, let's clarify the facts here...

Yes, this was expected. Back in November David Stainton (head of WDFA) made a surprise trip to Florida to announce that A [Few Good Ghosts/Angel and her No Good Sister/My Peoples] was being shut down. The employees were told to go home until Jan. 12th, when a second meeting would be held to announce what would be happening to the studio. They were all on payroll for the 2 month period, and still had access to the building and could come in to work if they wanted to, or stay home if they wanted. Most everyone expected this to be the outcome of yesterday's meeting, so those that could were already making plans and calling contacts in the industry. Supposedly some people are being offered jobs in LA, but I don't think it's many (none of my friends or friends of my friends, anyway).

The first film that WDFA-F worked on was the Little Mermaid, though that was mostly cel painting. By the time of Rescuers Down Under they were up and running with all departments, and they contributed in some way to every Feature Animated film from Mermaid to Brother Bear (I'm not sure if they did anything on Home on the Range or not). As was said above, the films considered 'WDFA-F' films were Mulan, Lilo, and Brother Bear, though the California studio was involved in some way with all of those films.

As of now, Disney has no 2-d films in the pipeline, and in LA they've sold most of the artists desks, so it's doubtful they're considering ramping up again. They have 3 CG films in active development internally (Chicken Little, Glen Keane's Rapunzel, and the new William Joyce Project). Additionally, they have development deals with two 3d animation production studios (Vanguard, who's doing the WWII Pigeon feature Valiant, and another one in LA whose name escapes me). They have 3 CG production pipelines, then, not including PIXAR. However, it's still extremely doubtful that Disney will fail to make a deal with Pixar, and vice versa. IMHO, the two companies are best together, and will remain together.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 5:55 PM
More fuel for Roy's crusade:


Tuesday, January 13, 2004 9:32 PM
I think that Walt would have embraced the CG technology, as he was always one to look to the future and embrace newer technologies, ie... the multi-plane camera shot, stereo sound, actually, sound altogether, color etc... This is also not the first time that the studios laid off most of their animation staff- actually it is the third or fourth time in the 70 year history of the studio. Eventually, as history shows us, they will make a comeback.

The thing I think would bother Walt the most is the lack of ingenious storytelling that Disney animated features has lacked lately, and PIXAR has embraced. If the studio wants to make a comeback, they need to stop churning out cheap sequels that are watering down the market, and focus on great storytelling that reaches out to kids, adults and teens alike.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 10:39 PM
jkpark's avatar That's a shame about the closing of the studio. :(

This is off the subject, but I wish the company would finally make a film about its founder. It's time for a great movie about good ole Walt! ;)

Wednesday, January 14, 2004 8:42 AM
It is funny you mention "heart and storytelling" in the same breath as Pixar. It is widely known that Toy Story was little more than a showcase for the CG technology before Disney stepped in and gave it some heart. Pixar has taken that and run with Monster's Inc. etc.

Disney certainly seems to be on a train to nowhere with a division that was at one time the heart, soul, and reason for the companies existence.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004 12:54 PM
You know I really hope that perhaps Pixar could take over this building - it's huge and would be a nice offer for Disney to give to Pixar (as they are what is keeping Disney animation afloat these days).



Wednesday, January 14, 2004 2:54 PM
Disney going downhill. Before we know it the company will be dead. There recent use of get it now approach to gain income, is destroying there long term goals. I feel they have lost all of their imganination. Eisnor was good and did help the company grow. But now he is hurting them.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004 3:24 PM
Jeff's avatar The company will be dead? That's overreacting a bit.
Wednesday, January 14, 2004 10:04 PM
Umm, you know Swoosh, I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who works in the Pixar Building in CA who'd rather be in Orlando, FL. First of all, except for its lack of Tower of Terror or R&RC, Pixar's digs are much nicer. Plus, as the Disney guys just laid off always feared, they'd be employed by the only game in town. In San Fran they have lots of jobs options if they decide they don't want to be at Pixar anymore (but of course, very few people decide they don't want to be at Pixar anymore).

Anyway, nice thought, but not going to happen. From what I heard the nice folks at Disney Design Group in Orlando were scoping out the space in the animation building the day after the meeting back in November.

Funny, somewhat unrelated story: The employees at Disney Design Group down there were told as policy that they were not allowed to bug, bother, or annoy the animators (and other FA artists) under any circumstances. This pretty much amounted to them being afraid to talk to or even look at the animators whenever they'd see them. The animators, however, had no idea such a rule existed. They took all the DDG folks for snobs, since they'd always avoid them and refuse to make eye contact


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