The Disney Animation Renaissance: Behind the Glass at the Florida Studio

Univ. of Illinois. Dec. 2022. 280p. ISBN 9780252086861. pap. $29.95. FILM
Disney Renaissance” refers to 1989–99, when contemporary classics Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King were released. Yet the crucial element of Lescher’s study isn’t Disney’s return to box office success, but the game-changing and behind-the-scenes transition from hand drawn animation to digital, and the existence and impact of Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida, a fully functioning studio that also served as a theme park attraction. Lescher (1957–2019) worked at Animation Florida, and she details the many experiments and projects that attempted to fuse 2D and 3D animation using Disney’s proprietary CAPS process. She also describes the dynamics of working on high-profile projects, while simultaneously being under a public microscope, which was intensified by the success of Aladdin, whereupon Animation Florida became a full-fledged studio, solely responsible for the creation of Mulan, Lilo & Stitch, and Brother Bear. Utilizing personal interviews and vast repositories of documents in Disney archives, Lescher’s analysis and research is thorough, and her pride in the studio is evident. But the book has the academic tone of a dissertation and may be of limited interest to the general public.
VERDICT An intriguing piece of Disney lore, but only for completists.
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