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Oct 18, 2012
I returned yesterday from visiting Disney solely to experience the Festival of the Arts.  My daughter and I rented points to stay at a studio at the Boardwalk Inn which was very convenient, comfortable and relatively inexpensive for Disney.  This event was completely amazing.

Every day we were there had an 11:00 seminar which was $39 minus a 20% passholder discount.  We pre-purchased those seminars months ago, but it seemed that 2 of the 3 were not full.  There were additional free seminars at 1:30 and 4:30.  You could pick up those tickets an hour in advance.  Getting a ticket guaranteed you a seat, but you could stand in the back and listen without a ticket.

On Friday we attended Sculpting a Mixed Media Action Figure.  Even though my action figure ended up looking like a misbegotten cousin of Nosferatu we had a good time.  I would like to think part of the problem was that this was the first day of the festival and they were remiss at figuring out how to put close-ups on the monitors, but my previous forays into 'art' belies that hypothesis.  We received a great Festival of the Arts shopping bag to take home our creations.  This bag was not for sale anywhere.

Saturday at 11:00 we attended a Flower Arranging class.  Disney Floral conducted it and the women who led it were talented and engaging.  Even my arrangement looked great.  We made the arrangement in a mug we got to keep and again got one of the exclusive shopping bags in which to carry it back.  And carry it back we did.  It was heavy and unwieldy so we were very grateful to be staying on the boardwalk.

At 4:30 we attended The Power of Storytelling with Noah Elias.  This was one of the 30 minute talks and was very inspirational but I would say a bit weak on content.

Sunday morning at 11 was Pencils, Paint & Pixels – How Women Transformed Walt Disney’s Animation by
Mindy Johnson, Author of Ink & Paint – The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation.  Wowowow.  This women was a wonderful orator who had a wealth of information about women in animation. She was incredibly passionate and engaging.  I realized at this talk how little I understood about the animation process.  I really enjoyed learning about it and the wonderful women of whom she spoke.  For example, did you realize a woman created the Creature from the Black Lagoon but was subsequently blackballed for her success?  The industry abounds with such stories of both injustices and uncredited successes.  We again got the shopping bags and this time a limited edition card with Tinker Bell drawings signed by Marc Davis (one of Disney's famous Nine Old Men), his wife Alice who also was was an animator, and Mindy Johnson, the presenter.

From Animated Films to Theme Parks
Lon Smart, Creative Concept Artist, Disney Entertainment.  Lon's animation credits are substantial; he worked on the hyenas in The Lion King, Mushu in Mulan, John Smith in Pocahontas and so much more.  He was AWESOME.  When Disney closed it's animation studio in Florida he transitioned to a job as Creative Concept Artist for Disney parks.  He gave insight on the thought process Disney goes through when designing new attractions, signage, decorations, etc.  For example he designed the scarecrows at MNSSHP.  He explained that for design purposes Main Street at MK is a place where people live.  The residents got together and each made scarecrows for their different establishments so we have the baseball player scarecrow for Casey's Corner, a scarecrow holding a lollipop for the Candy Shop, etc.  There was so much more information and insight!  

Principles of Background Art and Matte Painting in Animated Films
William Silvers, Former Walt Disney Feature Animation Studios Senior Background Artist
Again wow, what a wealth of information.  He worked in Florida on backgrounds for Mulan, Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear.  When Florida closed shop he went to work for ILM on Star Wars 3 backgrounds. He gave insight as to the role of technology in film animation.

I can not overstate how much we enjoyed this mini Chautauqua-type event.  We attended the Disney on Broadway concert with Jenn Gambatese, the original Jane in Broadway's Tarzan and Kevin Massey who played Tarzan on Broadway.  There were dining plans for this event but we had no problem securing seats without, perhaps because it was freezing.  I am feeling a bit overly-effusive for dispensing so many accolades but this half hour concert was fabulous.  

We enjoyed most of the event food we sampled and ate at Monsieur Paul and Flying Fish as well.  We worked on the mural that everyone can do for free and received free postcards for doing so. They gave out free Belle art prints on card stock at the American Pavilion.  

I can't wait to go back next year.  For a Disney event, this was SO great and inexpensive if you're a passholder already.  And (maybe because we went the first weekend,) you could monetize this event if you so desired. The free Belle drawing are selling briskly on ebay as are the free postcards, event pamphlets, limited edition pins, etc.  I don't see any of the shopping bags listed but you have to do a paid event to receive these so they're fairly limited.  I am far too lazy and uninterested to sell my merchandise but I thought this was worth mentioning.  

If anyone has any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.
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