Disney Animation Lets Its Hair Down at Disney's Hollywood Studios
by John Kurowski
AllEars® Guest Blogger
Disney's Hollywood Studios recently unveiled details, concept art, and more characters for Walt Disney Animation Studios' newest production, Tangled.
Based on the classic fairytale Rapunzel, the world of Tangled seems to have everything one would expect from a Disney animated film: a beautiful princess, a dashing hero, cute animal sidekicks, and an over-the-top villain that not only carries out Disney's long legacy of film, but fits perfectly with their multibillion dollar Disney Princess brand. Located at the exit of the Drawn to Animation show at The Magic of Disney Animation attraction, the exhibit utilizes the same space that has showcased many of Disney's upcoming productions, such as Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, The Princess and the Frog, and Toy Story 3. The constant changing of this exhibition space to reflect Disney/Pixar's upcoming releases brings the park to its original feeling of an actual working movie studio.
The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios has always featured a behind-the-scenes look at upcoming/current Disney animated films, ever since the park opened. From opening day to the early to mid-2000s guests, could actually watch animators working on upcoming projects from shorts like Roller Coaster Rabbit to full-length animated features like Lilo and Stitch, to projects that never got completed like the Roger Rabbit short Hare In My Soup. From viewing actual production from before, to seeing the concept art produced in California that the attraction currently houses, the one thing that remains consistent through Disney animation lies in the details that Disney artists painstakingly place throughout their films.
The attraction always served as an educational inside look at the animation process. Currently, in the Drawn to Animation show a Disney Cast Member and an animated Mushu, the dragon, describe in detail each step of how a character makes it from a single idea on a sketch pad to a moving and speaking illusion of life. As seen in the show with Mushu, each character goes through a lot of different versions of his look, style, and sometimes even species.
The Tangled exhibit gives guests a look at the evolution of a character's creation with the film's villain, Mother Gothel.
Controlled by vanity, the character card describes her as "manipulative and over-protective" and as the story progresses she "slowly descends into madness." These classic characteristics of a dramatic theatrical villain seem like a juicy role any seasoned actress would love to tackle, which seems to be where Disney artists got the inspiration for the look of this character. Surrounding her, concept art depicting her with the same likeness of other classical actresses, like Bette Davis, can be seen.
Here, not only can guests take a sneak peek at the characters and concept art, but Disney artists have recreated replicas of props and other physical items that our new cast of characters would encounter in their world. The satchel that Flynn Ryder wears can be found in this display, containing a replica of the "WANTED" poster commissioned for his arrest. Our hero, Flynn Ryder, according to his description, "is a thief, seeking a life of money and freedom." There is also an actual model of the Magic Flower, which contains a power able to save the ailing Queen and her newborn baby, Princess Rapunzel.
Also on display is a weathered sign for an establishment that looks like it might be a tavern of some sort called The Snuggly Duckling.
To establish the look of Corona, the fictional kingdom that serves as the setting of the story, the film's directors credit Disneyland, namely the Fantasyland section, as the inspiration for the village's look and feel. Since Disneyland's Fantasyland has a quintessential fairytale look, it seems like the perfect place to tell the Rapunzel story. The artists who created the sign took a cue from many of the shops, restaurants, and attractions found in the Disney theme parks. The wood from the sign appears weathered with peeling paint, giving the impression that this establishment has been part of this kingdom for years, and that its inhabitants have been around long enough to have their own social and cultural habits.
So far, a lot of the trailers and marketing have not made Princess Rapunzel the focus of the campaign, and have instead opted to show the male lead, Flynn. Some reports blame this on Disney's trying to stay away from the princess aspect of its new animated fairytale so it would cater more toward young boys who would not want to see a girl-centric movie. Even the movie synopsis in the display starts, "When the kingdom's most wanted (and handsome) thief Flynn Ryder picks a mysterious and secluded tower as his hideout, it looks like his luck may have run out. Local Florida Disney artists who have seen the film who I have spoken to assured me to not be fooled by the film's trailers. This film is about Rapunzel and as Flynn Ryder plays a very important part in the movie, this is a princess-centered story, very similar to The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, complete with a film score by Alan Menken, the musical composer for the two earlier mentioned films.
This exhibit promises to be only the first time we will see the Tangled characters in the parks. Coming this fall to the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park, a Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder meet and greet character location will be found in Fantasyland. In Florida, the location will replace the Fairytale Garden Theatre, where Storytime with Belle is performed several times each day. The last day for Storytime with Belle is currently slated for September 12 in order to prepare the venue to accommodate Disney's newest princess... and all her hair! At Disneyland Park, concept art for the new Soundsational Parade has been published online featuring a unit made up of Rapunzel's signature tower. Plus many merchandise locations will feature the characters of the film, including plush versions of Pascal, Rapunzel's loyal reptilian friend.
Using the parks to promote Disney films is a tradition started by Walt Disney all the way back in the 1950s when props and sets from his new 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea were brought into Disneyland to both advertise his expensive, new movie and to also keep the park filled with new attractions. In Walt Disney World the introduction of new stage shows and parades tend to coincide with a new film's release date. Most recently, last year's Tiana's Showboat Jubilee ran during the holiday season to promote the release of The Princess and the Frog. Time will tell what the future of Rapunzel and Company will be within Disney theme parks, but traditionally when a new addition to the popular Disney Princess line is introduced, they tend to stay around for a long time.