Thanks to the Walt Disney Animation Research Library, fans in Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia are in for a treat as Disney: Magic of Animation is here in the region for the first time!

With over 500 inspiring artworks of Disney animation, from original drawings and paintings to sketches and concept art curated by the Walt Disney Animation Research Library. Visitors can enjoy fun audio-visual displays, hands-on activities and more throughout the exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.

The fourth section "Towards New Dimensions: Digital Advances, Musical Seas"
Courtesy of Marina Bay Sands and Disney
The fourth section “Towards New Dimensions: Digital Advances, Musical Seas”
Courtesy of Marina Bay Sands and Disney

About the exhibition

The exhibition is made up of five sections called “chapters” that show the evolution of Disney animation. It starts off with “Creating Believable Characters: Bringing Drawings to Life” where visitors can see how early Disney animators pioneered new techniques that made 2D illustrations portray movements naturally. Here, visitors can view original sketches and animation drawings from Disney’s earliest works in the 1920s like Steamboat Willie and Plane Crazy.

The second chapter is called “The Magic Begins: Continual Research and Development”. It showcases Disney’s creation of the revolutionary technological tool called the multiplane camera and their exploration into new artistic principles to improve the nuances of people and animal movements and idiosyncrasies in the 1930s. Part of the exploration is drawing the right facial expressions for human characters. You can try this out yourself in front of the available mirrors. Make different faces and see if you can create your very own character with a signature expression! Yup, that’s how artists learn to draw. Visitors can also look at the world’s first fully animated film produced in Technicolor, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Other films include Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi that were made in the 40s.

Following that is “Producers of Magic: Creating Diversity in Expression and a Wider World”. This gallery takes visitors into the beautiful diverse visual worlds of talented Disney artists who created the artistic styles of films like Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Between the 1940s and 1950s, Disney also continued to develop new production technologies by taking advantage of the world’s advanced communications.

The fourth section “Towards New Dimensions: Digital Advances, Musical Seas” focuses on the 1990s digital revolution that inspired Disney artists at the time to explore new computer graphics technologies and partner with leading Broadway songwriters to create memorable film soundtracks that would evoke powerful emotions in audience. Fans can expect to see original artworks from films of this iconic era like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan and Tarzan. For Mulan fans, make sure to find the room where you can recreate the sound effects of your favourite Mulan scenes. Props are also available, so just follow the cues on the screen.

And last but not least is the final chapter of the exhibition, “Bringing People Together: Social Diversity, Messages for Our Global Future”. Here, visitors will see how Disney films use contemporary ideologies with strong social values like family bonds, cultural diversity and respect for nature in their narratives. These movies include Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6 and Moana.

Concept art of Bambi by Tyrus Wong
Concept art of Bambi by Tyrus Wong

What I like about the exhibition

There are plenty of awesome back stories about the original artworks on display. To make sure you don’t miss any of them, take your time exploring the exhibition.

One of my favourite stories that I learned from the exhibition is how Disney lead artist Tyrus Wong used to spend nights making watercolour paintings of his vision of the Bambi film. It was during the time when they hadn’t figured out the artistic style of the film yet. But after looking at Wong’s style that’s inspired by Chinese art, specifically paintings and ceramics from the Song dynasty, they chose his vision for the film in the end.

And speaking of Bambi, Disney artists even studied and filmed real-life animals to learn to draw their movements realistically. There was a photograph of the artists interacting with an actual deer as they sat around sketching.

The fifth section "Bringing People Together: Social Diversity, Messages for Our Global Future"
Courtesy of Marina Bay Sands and Disney
The fifth section “Bringing People Together: Social Diversity, Messages for Our Global Future”
Courtesy of Marina Bay Sands and Disney

How to get tickets for the exhibition?

Disney: Magic of Animation is now open till 29 March 2020. Tickets are available for purchase at all Marina Bay Sands box office and website.

Here are the ticket prices for Singaporeans:

Adult: $16
Senior (65 years and above), Student, Child (2-12 years): $12
Family package (2 kids + 2 adults): $45

You can also check out our media tour video of the exhibition: