Disney Animation: Immersive Experience
Be Immersed In Your Favourite Moments from the Greatest Disney Animated films
WORDS BY RICHARD OUZOUNIAN | LIGHTHOUSE IMMERSIVE
“Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive.”
That inspiring quote from Walt Disney has been on the minds of all of us here in Toronto who have been working on Immersive Disney Animation for many months now. The challenge and the excitement of creating an exhibit like this is that the world of Disney has meant, and continues to mean, so many things to so many people.
As Walt Disney Animation Studios marks its one hundredth anniversary, generations of audiences around the world have deeply connected with the artistry and storytelling of this great studio. When you visit Immersive Disney Animation, it doesn’t matter whether your first experience of Disney magic was with Peter Pan or Beauty
and the Beast or Frozen, you will find your heart being thrilled once again.
Corey Ross is co-founder of Lighthouse Immersive, the company that has delighted North America with Immersive Van Gogh. His organization is the force behind Immersive Disney Animation and he has said that he likes to imagine, “Three generations of the same family arriving at our exhibit together, each one with their own special memories and dreams of what Disney means to them.
“The grandparents might have laughed through the spaghetti sequence of Lady and the Tramp, while their children can still sing all the lyrics to ‘Under the Sea’ and their grandchildren remember every last moment of the joyous journey that was Encanto.”
What he also hopes is that these happy memories become a two-way street, with Disney magic making the years disappear as everyone discovers new favorite moments to cherish for a lifetime.
But as all Disney fans know – and let’s admit it: who among us isn’t a Disney fan? – it takes a really big space for dreams to take place. Somewhere as vast as Sleeping Beauty’s castle, as huge as the vistas that surround Pride Rock, or as all-encompassing as the sweeping ocean waves that transport us to the world of Moana.
It’s a big mission, but we’d like to feel we’re up to it. The heart of our exhibition is the arena where you will be surrounded by 500,000 cubic feet of projections, creatively led by Miles Dale, producer of The Shape of Water, the Academy Award®-winning Best Picture of the Year for 2018.
He proudly says that, “Audiences who enjoyed Lighthouse Immersive’s previous productions will see that we have taken things to an entirely new level. The magic of Disney inspired us to create experiences that we had previously not imagined. With the incomparable assistance of teams from the Walt Disney Animation Studios, the journey we will be taking our audiences on is truly unprecedented.”
Favorite moments from the great Disney animated films will surround you as the immersive framework of this project lets you see every scene in 360-degree imagery and color so intense, you will truly believe you are there. Heroes and villains, glaciers and deserts, laughter and tears – they will be all around you, everywhere you look.
But before you even enter this fantastic world, there are so many other delights to enjoy. There is a mind-boggling pre-show environmental design by Lighthouse Immersive’s Global Creative Director David Korins. The man who dazzled the world of Broadway theatre with his stunning designs for Hamilton and Beetlejuice, as well as his breathtaking Emmy-nominated designs for the 2022 Oscars®, has taken on the challenge of living up to the Disney dream.
“Working on this project has been a continuous ‘pinch me’ experience,” admits Korins. “We are creating an environment that will be magical and captivating from the moment our guests enter the building.” Korins isn’t exaggerating. Audience members will follow a swirling pixie dust “wish trail” through a series of pre-show galleries that will bring them inside the secret world of
Disney animation. They will see an animator’s desk where
dreams are turned into images
and capture the moment where beloved characters like Ariel first came to life. Next, they venture into the land of storyboards, where rows of sketches turn into fully fleshed-out stories, and see how Frozen’s climactic sequence where Anna saves Elsa became a reality through 20 storyboard panels.
How does the magic happen? You’ll be able to see all the steps in the classic moment when Cinderella’s dress comes to spectacular life. See how the breathtaking backgrounds like the ones for Sleeping Beauty were created, or study a map of the world to see the many varied countries in which Disney’s animated
stories take place.
And when all those glorious sights and sounds have finished, Korins assures us the best is yet to come as “you physically enter the storied Disney vault, a hypnotic, magical space where the beloved films come to life all around you.” But they aren’t just around you, you are part of the experience. You’ll see responsive projection design that moves with the audience as they use custom LED bracelets that light up in sync with the projections. And for those moments that simply cry out to be celebrated in an intensive way, you will find yourself “swimming” under the sea alongside Ariel and discovering Ahtohallan with Elsa.
Regardless of when you first fell in love with Disney animation, this immersive experience will rekindle all the feelings you once had and will be thrilled to rediscover. Grandparents can happily learn why “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” while their grandchildren discover the awestruck wonder that exists “When You Wish Upon a Star” and the ones in the middle know the joy of looking forward and backward at the same time, learning what came before and anticipating what’s waiting ahead in “A Whole New World.”
It’s the kind of experience Walt could have been thinking of when he spoke of how animation could explain whatever the mind of man could conceive.
Our newsletters bring you the best in the visual and performing arts.
Exclusive interviews. Global Coverage. Local Perspectives.