Hi there, WDW Radio Blog readers! I’m Alyssa Schulman, and this is my first contribution here, as I am new to the WDW Radio community. Before I dive in, I’d like to introduce myself, so you can get to know me a bit better. I am a recent high school graduate and will be attending Rhode Island School of Design this fall with the intent of majoring in illustration. My passion for art goes hand in hand with my lifelong love for all things Disney. I was born in South Florida and have been visiting Walt Disney World® as far back as I can remember, although my adventures there have become less frequent since I moved to Massachusetts at age 10. However, this increase in distance from my home-away-from-home has only made my adoration for it grow stronger. With every new park attraction or Disney film, I become further inspired to stay creative and do what I love.
I was always surrounded by Disney, in more ways than one. In addition to living just a few hours away from the parks, I also spent many a Halloween dressed as a Disney character (I made a pretty awesome brunette Aurora, if I do say so myself.), stuffed my face with Disney princess-adorned birthday cake year after year, had Disney princess themed bedding, and of course I had a repertoire of Disney films at my disposal since birth. I can even remember waking up in the dead of night and creeping into the living room like the little ninja I was, just to pop a Disney movie of my choice into the VCR and watch it while the rest of my family slept peacefully and completely unaware of my cinematic adventures. Oh yes, I was that hardcore. At the time, I was not paying attention to the detail and work behind these magical masterpieces, nor was I captivated by how the animators managed to string together each individually hand-drawn scene and movement. I was just a little kid who enjoyed exciting and enthralling tales about princesses and talking animals, with the occasional pirate or two. But as I grew older, I began to view the films in a different way. I still love them just as much as I did when I was little, but I also possess a deeper appreciation for the stories, animation, and the effort that goes into them.
Now, every time a new Disney film or attraction is introduced, I can’t help but try to find out every last available detail and watch every single behind-the-scenes YouTube video I can find about it. It is an addiction that simply cannot be cured; a craving that cannot be satisfied. But I think I can put it to good use via this blog. Throughout my posts, I plan to explore and discuss artistic aspects of Disney, whether they emerge from a film or something animated in the parks.
One of the many things I love about Disney is that it is constantly changing, growing, and improving. There are always new, exciting things to look forward to. What I find most intriguing is when classic movies and characters are brought to life in completely different ways, such as what has recently been done with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Each is a well-known classic that has been around for decades. However, despite the many years that have passed since these films have been released, fans continue to cherish them, even today, and Disney has found new ways to make them live on while utilizing modern technology to revive the old magic. All three movies were created in 2-D animation, although the artistic methods did evolve over time. Today, park guests can feel as if they have been transported into the films as the settings and characters have been made palpable and immersive with the new castles, restaurants, and rides. It’s incredible how a mere drawing from the 1930’s can be transformed into a three-dimensional enveloping adventure with life-size, vibrant, moving characters like in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, one of the must-see additions to the Magic Kingdom® Park. It legitimately blows my mind. Just look at how far Disney animatronics have come: from the basic, minimal range of motion of the townspeople in the Pirates of the Caribbean® (first established in 1973) to the flexible, life-like movement of the quirky dwarves or even the realistic flowing of Ariel’s hair in the Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid. All of these advancements come from the increasing attention to detail and going back to the original artwork, in combination with brilliant technology. It’s fantastic to see it all come together seamlessly, especially when you consider all of the various steps the artists and Imagineers go through to achieve it.
Didn’t believe me when I said I spend my time watching YouTube videos about all of this? Here’s the shameless proof. Check out this fabulous clip from Attractions Magazine about the Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disney’s California Adventure here! You can see some of the actual animators of the movie taking part in the making of the ride, literally bringing their work to life!
(Photos from the author’s personal collection.)
Have you experienced any of the New Fantasyland® attractions? Have a favorite? If not, what are you most looking forward to seeing when you do make your way over to the Happiest Place on Earth? Leave a comment below!
Alyssa Schulman is currently a student at Rhode Island School of Design. She was born in Florida but moved to Massachusetts at age 10. Alyssa’s heart has belonged to Walt Disney World® for as long as she can remember, but something very high up on her bucket list is to visit all other Disney locations. She intends to pursue illustration in the hopes of being even half as inspirational, or at least entertaining, as Disney Animation continues to be to her.