Disney Animation Unveils Newly Renovated Studio

John Lasseter asserted that the studio is "determined" to build its legacy.

Guests including Academy members and those from the animation community mingled at Walt Disney Animation Studios' newly renovated animation building on Wednesday evening. The reception celebrated 10 years since Disney’s acquisition of Pixar, bringing Pixar’s John Lasseter and Ed Catmull on board as its leaders — and also became an unplanned viewing party for the nail-biting seventh game of the World Series.

With space lined with pictures and rare concept art from Disney animated films from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to its soon-to-be-released Moana, the studio decor puts emphasis on its history. “This studio is so proud to be the same studio that Walt Disney started in 1923,” Lasseter told the guests. “It’s a filmmaker-led studio. We are the caretakers of that heritage. … We are determined to build that legacy.”

Saying that “animation is the very soul of the Walt Disney Company,” Disney chairman Alan Horn, who also welcomed the crowd along with Disney Animation president Andrew Millstein, emphasized Lasseter’s belief that “quality is the best business model.”

Lasseter and Catmull recalled joining Disney, with Catmull saying, “The most important thing is there was an incredible group of people who want to make films that impact the world.”

Those on hand included Byron Howard, who directed Zootopia with Rich Moore; Zootopia producer Clark Spencer; Ron Clements, who directed Moana with John Musker; Don Hall and Chris Williams, directors of Big Hero 6; Peter Del Vecho, producer of Frozen; Disney’s legendary animator Eric Goldeberg; and iconic Disney songwriter Richard Sherman. (Musker watched the emotional World Series Game 7 at home with his family; the Chicago native is a huge Cubs fan, and his father worked as an usher at Chicago’s Wrigley Field after his retirement.)

Guests also included AMPAS president Dawn Hudson, Oscar-nominated directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, International Animated Film Society president Frank Gladstone and Bill Taylor, Academy governor of the VFX branch.