The Walt Disney Animation Studios have been going strong for almost a century now, generation immensely-popular cartoons, both feature-length and short subject, since 1923. The studio’s latest release is the acclaimed hit “Moana”, which will be arriving on home video in various forms over the next few weeks.
On Tuesday I was lucky enough to be invited to visit the Roy E. Disney Animation building, which recently reopened after a two-year refurbishment on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. Inside I found that the interior Mickey’s iconic sorcerer hat from “Fantasia” (a former office) had been transformed into an elegant spiral staircase.
The lobby of the Animation building is decorated with art from several of Disney’s recent animated features, including “Big Hero 6”, “Frozen”, and “Zootopia”.
But the main reason for my visit was for a presentation about the upcoming home video release of “Moana”, and a screening of a number of the film’s delightful bonus features. Disney had another section of the lobby decked out for the occasion.
Once inside the theater, “Moana” producer Osnat Shurer began introducing the special features we were about to see. I also noticed that the fluorescent lights above us were crafted in a very familiar shape.
During the screening, the audience of select media were treated to substantial and informative featurettes about the “Moana” creative team’s research trips to the South Pacific and the creation of the music of the movie with Lin-Manual Miranda.
We were also the very first audience to see “Gone Fishing”, an all-new short featuring both Moana and Maui, voiced by Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson as they were in the feature film. “Moana” co-director Ron Clements even joined us for a brief Q&A.
After the screening, Disney held a luau-themed reception on the upper level of the Animation building, featuring a performance by some of the dance choreographers from the movie!
During the reception I had another chance to chat with “Moana” screenwriter Jared Bush (after interviewing him in advance of the film’s release last year), as well as some of the artists and animators who worked on the film. Overall it made me very excited to watch the movie again when it become available on home video next week.
Disney’s “Moana” will be released to Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere this Tuesday, February 21st, with a Blu-ray and DVD release to follow two weeks later on March 7th.