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A magical Disney exhibition is in Melbourne

I think everyone remembers a magical Disney movie moment from their childhood…whether it was a rare trip to the movies in the 1940s to see Bambi, with a flickering image and soft churning sound from the projector, or buying popcorn and singing along to A Whole New World watching Aladdin in the 1990s.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI entrance

This winter, The Australian Centre for the Moving Image, or ACMI, are treating Melbourne to the magic of Walt Disney Animation Studios with Disney: The Magic of Animation from Saturday 30 October to Sunday 23 January 2022.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Alice in Wonderland

ACMI is Australia’s national museum for film, television, video games, digital culture and art and they’ve brought this worldwide exhibition exclusively to Melbourne as part of part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces Series. It’s the first Disney exhibition of this type to visit Australia.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Pocahontas

As you pass through the giant, iconic Mickey Mouse ears, the exhibition gives you a glimpse behind the scenes of the creative process at Disney, from sketches to computer generated masterpieces.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Dalmations

It includes over 500 pieces of original work, with paintings, sketches and concept art carefully chosen by Walt Disney Animation Research Library for the exhibition, many of which are rarely seen by the public.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Frozen

You can expect to see work from Disney favourites Mickey Mouse’s first talkie, Steamboat Willie (1928), films such as Fantasia (1940), Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Little Mermaid (1989), The Lion King (1994), Frozen (2013), Moana (2016), Frozen 2 (2019) and in as Melbourne exclusive, the studio’s latest release, Raya and the Last Dragon (2021).

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Raya and the Last Dragon

The exhibit runs in roughly chronological order, starting with Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Mickey Mouse

The display is mostly static works on walls or in glass cases, selected movie scenes and behind-the-scenes interviews. If you’re interested in animation, digital art or film-making, these work-in-progress exhibits will be very interesting to you.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Wreck It Ralph Cake

Younger kids may not be as engaged as there are no hands-on, interactive elements nor button-mashing opportunities, though there has been an attempt to engage older kids with wall plaques posing prompts and questions for them.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Kids Wall Plaque

Kids who can’t read independently or with short attention spans may still be sufficiently entertained by the opportunity to binge-watch the many snippets from Disney’s greatest movie scenes.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Colours of the Wind Pocahontas

Don’t forget to take a selfie with a scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) that you can step inside!

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Moana

Book ahead to avoid disappointment as you’ll need to reserve a day and entry time that suits you. ACMI is usually a bit quieter at opening time, so if you’re visiting with younger kids, that’s often the best time to go.

Disney Magic of Animation ACMI Frozen Storyboard

While you’re visiting Disney: The Magic of Animation take some extra time to experience ACMI‘s free centrepiece exhibition The Story of the Moving Image. Note that the ‘Lens’ which is one of the interactive elements in The Story of the Moving Image does not work inside Disney: The Magic of Animation.

If you visit ACMI regularly, it’s worth investing in an ACMI membership. You’ll get a x2 person pass to a paid exhibition, discounted tickets for other paid sessions, discounts on ACMI programs and activities, $12 parking at Federation square, discounts at It provides discounted rates for ACMI programs and activities, $12 parking at Federation Square, discounts at the ACMI shop and free member-only screenings. On joining you receive 2 x Person Exhibition Pass for a paid exhibition and discounted tickets for other paid sessions.


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I hope this post has helped or inspired you! Subscribe to my weekly newsletter to find out more ways for your family to have fun together!

About Joyce Watts

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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