The Return of Wonderful World of Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

world of animation
Credit: Disney

On July 1, Walt Disney World welcomed back two nighttime spectaculars; Happily Ever After at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT Forever. The end of the night remained quiet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That changed on August 1, when Wonderful World of Animation returned. As soon as I heard that it would be back I grabbed a Disney Park Pass Reservation, and I’m glad that I did.

Wonderful World of Animation is a projections show that many Walt Disney World guests don’t know about. It opened in 2019 as part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ 30th Anniversary celebration. It is not a replacement for Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. Before the closure, it ran before the fireworks show. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is still listed as “temporarily unavailable” on the Walt Disney World website.

Star Wars: Galactic Spectacular

Reopening day started on a bit of a down note. There was no time listed for Wonderful World of Animation anywhere. It wasn’t included on the Disney’s Hollywood Studios map, and the website said “no times available”. I asked a Cast Member, who looked it up for me. She found out that it was at 9:00, which is when the park closed. I checked the website later in the day and the time was finally listed.

After a long day and a torrential downpour I left Disney’s Hollywood Studios but returned around 8:00 to see the show. I was surprised by how many people were leaving. When Happily Ever After returned a month ago there were few people leaving an hour ahead of time. That’s not the same type of show, but I wondered how many exiting guests had no idea that they were about to miss out.

At about 8:35 I decided to find a spot on Hollywood Boulevard. This is one show that you don’t want to be too close for, because you then won’t be able to see everything. The projections center on the Chinese Theater, but they are on the surrounding buildings as well. There was a crowd gathered, but it wasn’t packed. I heard a few guests walking by ask others what people were waiting for. The word of Wonderful World of Animation’s return was not out.

Ten minutes before 9:00 there was an announcement about Wonderful World of Animation and how some areas would be dark. A similar announcement ran five minutes later. Those gathered around me were as excited as I was, although there wasn’t the same level of anticipation as for Happily Ever After. I didn’t expect there to be.

Wonderful World of Animation is such an underrated show. It lasts about 12 minutes, and every second is packed! It takes you through over 90 years of animation. One moment you’ll see Lightning McQueen, and the next Snow White. It includes classics as well as some films that you might not be as familiar with.

There were some updates to Wonderful World of Animation. Movies such as “Soul” that had not been released the last time it ran were included. I’m not sure if a couple of extra burst fireworks were added. It felt like more, but it could be that I miss fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

My favorite park of Wonderful World of Animation remained the same. It starts and ends with Mickey Mouse. When the show is about to end, Walt Disney’s voice and famous “all started by a mouse” quote are heard. It’s magical.

Sometimes it’s hard to drive home after a nighttime show, the parking lots can be crazy. That wasn’t the case on August 1. I walked to my car and was able to pull right out. Again, I think that this was because so many guests didn’t know about the show.

Don’t be one of those people who hurries out of Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the end of the night. Wonderful World of Animation is worth sticking around for.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.