An Animation Experience-Art Imitating Life!

On a recent trip to Walt Disney World I did something I have never done before…I took an Art class! And I had the best teacher-a real Disney Animator! Animation Academy is one of the lesser known attractions at Hollywood Studios but it is now one of my favorites in all of the parks.

Welcome to Animation Academy

It is located in The Magic of Disney Animation building where you can watch a video about Disney animation, view animation exhibits, experience interactive animation stations, and visit with some of your favorite Disney Characters.  Classes run about 20 minutes total and begin every half hour. There is a cast member inside the building to point you to the waiting area for the class.

Once the doors open you Walk in and choose a seat. Everyone has their own work station.

Your Disney Animation instructor is a real Disney animator! They will discuss the characters they specialize in and then ask who has been to the class before. They will try to make sure you don’t draw a character you have already drawn in a previous class. They will then bring the options to a vote. Our class voted on Pluto.  The animator walks you through each tiny step of the process. I am NOT an artist and I was skeptical that I could actually draw Pluto. Even halfway through I thought “there is NO way this will look like Pluto”. But the final product speaks for itself!

We drew pluto!

Everyone has their own style but you can always tell who the character is!

If you are lucky, you may even run into the character you drew. Minutes after we walked outside from our drawing class we saw Pluto (and Goofy) right under the Sorcerer’s hat. Pluto was really excited to see our pictures!

Pluto checks it out

(Goofy though was a bit jealous…here my husband assures him that we will draw him next time!)

Goofy is jealous

Pluto approves!

I would HIGHLY recommend taking the time to do the Animators class. I went twice and got to draw Flynn from Tangled the second time .

For more tips of “other” Disney World attractions besides the great rides, or for ANY of your Disney Planning needs contact me at or 1-800-670-4312 ext 139.

See ya Real Soon!
-Aleshia Sokoloski

Walt Disney World’s Park Hopper Option

The park hopper option can be added to any Walt Disney World base ticket and is good for the length of your stay.  This option allows you to visit more than one park in a day.  For example you could spend the morning at Magic Kingdom then “hop” over to Epcot in the afternoon. The park hopper option is an additional $35 per person to add to a one day ticket or $57 per person to add to a 2 day or longer ticket.  This cost is not per day, it is the total price per person excluding tax.

While park hopping can be useful for any length of stay, if you have 5 day or longer park passes then I highly suggest adding the hopping option.  Once you’ve experienced all four theme parks, hopping allows you to go back and hit the highlights at each park again without having to devote an entire day to one park.  This is great when you may only want to ride a couple of attractions or eat a meal in any one location.  You could spend the morning at Animal Kingdom which tends to be the first park that closes for the day and then hop over to the Magic Kingdom for dinner and fireworks.  Or spend the day at the Hollywood Studios and then hop over to Epcot Illuminations that evening.  Or use the hopping option to bounce over to another park for evening Extra Magic Hours.  The possibilities are endless with park hopping and this feature allows you the flexibility to go where you want, when you want, and experience what you want.


For the ultimate in park hopping visit all 4 parks in one day and experience at least one attraction in each!


Whether you choose to park hop or not it’s important to have a good itinerary with a solid plan of action.  This is where I come in!  One of my complementary services is to work with you to prepare a touring plan that fits your style and make sure you have ample time at each park to experience those things important to you.  I’d love to help you get started with a wonderful Disney Destination vacation.  My name is Susan Heidenrich and I am a Disney Destination Specialist affiliated with Travel with the Magic.  Contact me at  You can also follow me on facebook at for information, specials and tips and tricks on Disney vacations.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

Looking for a unique dining experience while vacationing at Disney World?  You’re in luck because there are quite a few but one that stands out to me in particular is Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant which is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, near the Streets of America.

From the exterior outside, nothing really stands out in particular.  You may even walk past it and not even realize exactly what it is.  When you walk inside the restaurant it looks as if you have entered a dimly lit soundstage with movie memorabilia scattered throughout. There are walls blocking you from seeing where the tables are at this point. There are a couple of benches and a desk where you check in but nothing too exciting…yet.  I have eaten at this restaurant several times (since it’s my son’s absolute favorite) and my experience is to expect a bit of a wait upon arrival, even with advanced reservations.

Once your name is called, you will follow the host on a walk down the hallway.  As you enter the room you will be dining in, you are immediately transported to a drive-in movie theater.  I’m always amazed as I walk in to this restaurant.  This is truly some of Disney’s best themeing, in my opinion.  The room is dimly lit and rather quiet which can be a nice break from the excitement of the parks.  You will see rows of 1950′s style convertible cars lined up facing a large movie screen. Each car has two or three rows for seating. There are also a few picnic style tables in the back of the restaurant so I would recommend requesting a car table upon arrival to add to the ambiance.  Be warned though, if you are sitting in a car table, you will not be dining face to face with your family.  More than likely you will be seated two by two with the “driver” (complete with driver’s license) in  the front and “hitchikers” in the back which can be a little cumbersome with younger children.


While dining, you will view campy horror movies that are just down right over the top and silly but it’s fun.  I was worried my son would get scared (he’s overly sensitive), the first time we dined here without knowing what to expect but he absolutely loved it. He now requests to eat at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant each visit.

Besides the ambiance, some other reasons to like Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant are the following: The food is actually quite good, the servers I’ve had have all been wonderful and the prices are rather reasonable. You can find entrees such as Shrimp Pasta, Whole Grain Pasta, Rib-Eye Steak and various sandwiches but burgers, fries and milk shakes are definitely their specialty and what I would recommend.

If you haven’t dined at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, you should!  I think you’ll be glad you did!

If you are planning a trip to Disney World feel free to email me at or you can call me at 800-670-4312 x128.


The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

The most spectacular light display returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios® each year in November and December.  As you stroll down New York Street and the streetlights fade and snowflakes begin to fall, you’ll be dazzled by the millions of lights, dancing in synchronized splendor to a high-energy holiday symphony.  I recently visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios with my family and we had a wonderful time watching this show.  If you have any questions please contact me at

Have a happy holiday!

Build your own Droid in Hollywood Studios

During a recent Mom and son trip to Disney, I was thrilled that my 8 year old son was excited to ride Star Tours in Hollywood Studios. He has been slow to catch on to the awesomeness that is Star Wars and I was beginning to wonder if he was truly part of my family (I kid!). After exiting Star Tours, we poked around a store called Tatooine Traders (Stores at the exits are just pure genius but take such a horrible toll on my wallet!).

In the middle of the store is something fairly new – Droid Factory. Here, you can build your own droid. Yes, all you Sci-Fi fans… create your own. That means you – Dads, Grandpas, Uncles… You’re safe from judgement. Here, anyway. There are 71 different pieces you can use to create your droids. Choose a dome, body, legs and novelty hats (Mickey ears on my droid? Yes, please!). When finished, they will stand around 4 inches tall. 71 pieces… This means lots of different combinations. This also means that your child (or adult) will likely have a one of a kind droid to call their own!

Once you are finished building your droid you can select the packaging. Single ($11.95) and double packaging ($19.95) is available. Note that if you plan to keep one for yourself and give one as a gift, you must put each one in a single package for purchase. We found out from personal experience that they will not give you 2 single packs and charge you the double value price. It ends up costing a few dollars more to do it this way but hey, what’s a few dollars? This way we were able to give one as a gift including packaging and we have one with packaging as well. Who knew that packaging was so important to an 8 year old?

Every droid needs a name. Not sure what to name yours? Take your time. A sticker sheet is given to you at checkout so you can flash your droid’s name right on the front cover of the packaging!

This is such a great and unique thing to do with the kids…especially the boys who have already made lightsabers and are looking for something new to do.

Contact me for more info or for a free quote today!

Erin Santamaria 1-877-377-0505 or

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