When the Animation Courtyard section of the Disney MGM Studios opened in 1989, Disney wanted guests to be able to see how their animated films were created. To do this, the area housed the branch of the Walt Disney Feature Animation Studio. This meant that real Disney animators worked inside the theme park, animating sequences for Disney films. Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, Brother Bear and the "I Just Can’t Wait to Be King" segment of the Lion King were all animated at the Florida studios.
The animation studios were incorporated within an attraction known as The Magic of Disney Animation. The 35 minute tour showed guests a short film titled Return to Neverland which explained how animated films were created. After the film, a walking tour allowed guests to see the animators working inside the studio. After the walking tour guests watched another short film, this one a montage of Disney animated films.
On April 22, 1998 an expanded production area was dedicated. The area opened on the same day as Disney's Animal Kingdom, a fact which was referenced in Roy E. Disney's dedication speech for the new park. In 2003, Disney announced that the Florida branch of the Walt Disney Feature Animation Studio would be closing.
Due to this closure of the Florida animation studio, changes were made to the Magic of Disney Animation. In this version of the attraction, guests entered one showroom where a Disney animator showed them how films are chosen and designed. There was also an interactive area, and a place where guests could learn how to draw Disney characters. The tour at this time was about 15 minutes long. On July 12, 2015 The Magic of Disney Animation closed.
The original Animation Tour began with guests winding through halls decorated with animation sketches from various Disney movies. Guests then entered a theater where they watched a short film called Back to Neverland featuring Robin Williams and Walter Cronkite.
The film began with Walter Cronkite telling guests that they were going to learn how Disney animated its movies. Walter was soon joined by Robin Williams who told guests that his favorite movie was Peter Pan, and that he wished he could go to Neverland. Cronkite then explained to Robin, that in order to show how Disney animation works, they were going to turn him into an animated character. Tinkerbell then flew on screen and with a little pixie dust transported Walter and Robin away from the Disney Studios. After Tinkerbell flew away, the men found themselves shrunken, and in the presence of books of different genres. Walter then explained that this is where Disney animation began, with stories. He then went on to disclose that the next step in the processes was to create a storyboard.
Cronkite then disclosed that in Robin's story, he was going to be a lost boy in Neverland. The duo was then transported to a sound studio, where Robin would record his voice for the film. An animator was then shown, drawing Robin's character. Next, Robin's character was colored on a computer. Neverland was then shown being drawn by the layout artists, who drew a boat that Robin was going to act upon. The background was then sent to the computer also, so that animators could create the final scene. Walter then explained that music and sound effects completed the scene.
Inside the story, Robin was captured by Captain Hook, who tried to find out where Peter Pan was. When Robin said that he didn't know, Hook knocked him overboard where he was almost eaten by the Tik Tok Crocodile. Just as he was about to be eaten, Tinkerbell flew by and sprayed him with pixie dust. Now able to fly, Robin distracted Hook, while Tinkerbell also gave the Tik Tok Crocodile the ability to fly. After the crocodile chased Hook off, Robin briefly left the animation. After being called back to Neverland however, Robin and Peter flew off, ending the video.
After the film, guests met with an animator who gave some brief animation tips and took questions from the audience. Moving on, guests then passed by the working animation studio located within the park. Here, guests could peer down and see animators while they were at work. The Animation Tour then ended with a short montage which showcased the different Disney animated movies.
The second version of the Magic of Disney Animation began with a presentation hosted by Mushu (from Disney's Mulan) and a Disney animator who explained to guests how Disney decided what characters they use in their films. The example that the animator used was from the Disney movie Pocahontas. Originally, Disney was deciding between a hummingbird, a turkey and a raccoon named Meeko for the role of Pocahontas' sidekick. After initially deciding to go with the turkey and the hummingbird, Disney realized that Meeko the raccoon was a much better option than the turkey. The animator then explained to Mushu that the original guardians for Mulan were going to be a Gryphon and a Phoenix, before deciding that he (Mushu) should be a dragon. Mushu took exception to the inference that he was not always a dragon, and he proceeded to show guests pictures of him with his cousin Elliot the Dragon, with his baseball team the Chunichi Dragons, playing his favorite game Dungeons and Dragons, and finally a picture of him and Cher (which has nothing to do with him being a dragon).
In order to explain Mushu's past to him, a film was then shown on the screen across from the dragon. The first person to appear was Chris Sanders who did early sketches of Mushu and was also the Head of Story Development for Mulan. Chris explained that originally there were going to be two guardians for Mulan, but then it was then decided that was too much. Next, Mushu was changed to a dragon with two heads. Mushu's supervising animator Tom Bancroft then appeared on screen. He explained that Mushu was made up of the body of snake, the horns of an elk, the claws an eagle and the face of camel. Tom then went on to say that in order to travel with Mulan, Mushu had to be downsized. After Tom leaves the screen, the other animators in charge of creating Mushu appeared. As Mushu was getting "reacquainted" with them, a short film was shown which showcased the newest Disney animated characters. After the clip, Mushu and the animator said goodbye to guests ending the presentation.
After leaving the presentation, guests entered an interactive area where they could play animation games and meet the newest Disney animated characters. Guests also had the option of entering the Animation Academy, where a real Disney animator would teach them how to draw Disney characters.
Lilo and Stitch, Mulan, Brother Bear, ink and paint for the Little Mermaid and two Roger Rabbit spin-off cartoons (Roller Coaster Rabbit and Trail Mix-Up) were produced within the Magic of Disney Animation’s studios.
Several original cels from Disney films and various Academy Awards won by Disney films were on display within the attraction.
50 guests could be seated in the Animation Academy.
If you want to see the closing montage shown at the end of the original The Magic of Disney Animation click here
Following the end of United Technologies sponsorship in 1998, The Living Seas began to decline in popularity . One of the pavilion's preshow theaters was closed in 1999, and this was followed by the closure of the Caribbean Coral Reef Ride (which took guests through the Coral Reef Aquarium in the SeaCabs) in October 2001 . In order to create a resurgence of interest in the pavilion, Disney decided to tie The Living Seas in with the popular Disney-Pixar film "Finding Nemo". In December 2003 references to the film began appearing throughout The Living Seas pavilion . This was followed by the addition of a new attraction Turtle Talk with Crush on November 16, 2004. The new show featuring Crush the Turtle proved so popular that Disney chose to create a new Finding Nemo omnimover attraction for the pavilion. On August 21, 2005 The Living Seas completely closed so the new Nemo attraction could be implemented.
The new attraction titled "The Seas with Nemo & Friends" was constructed in the location that had previously housed one of the pavilion's preshow theaters, the Hydrolators, the holding areas, and the queue for the old Caribbean Coral Reef Ride. The new attraction's queue replaced the Hydrolator portion of the attraction. The removal of the third Hydrolator as well as the preshow theater allowed Imagineers to install 9 new dark ride scenes. In order to extend the original Caribbean Coral Reef Ride track into these new scenes, 280 ft of additional track was installed. The SeaCabs themselves were repurposed and turned into the "Clamobiles" that take guests through the new attraction's story.
Imagineer Jerre Kirk oversaw the creation of the The Seas with Nemo & Friends, which featured cutting edge technology. The first three scenes in the attraction was set in a coral reef. To create this environment, Imagineers used "very thin castings of fiberglass", which had never been done before . The final scene in The Seas with Nemo & Friends features the animated characters swimming with real marine life in the pavilion's Coral Reef Aquarium. To create this effect, Imagineers needed a new kind of projection technology. Disney had never projected animation into an aquarium before, however Research and Development Designer Alfredo Ayala came up with the new projection technology that allowed Disney to insert the characters into the tank using special effect glass . According to WDI Vice President Kathy Mangum:
“He [Alfredo] played with it, developed it, and set up a demonstration. That demonstration really opened up the opportunity for us to create the finale. The technology really drove what the creative application could be.” 
After much trial and error with the new projectors, Imagineers were able to create the environment that they wanted . In order to make sure the animation in the attraction was in line with the film, representatives from Pixar were on hand to help with the new attraction . The attraction's climatic scene also features Nemo and the rest of the characters singing "In the Big Blue World" which was taken from the Finding Nemo - The Musical attraction . Finally, on January 24, 2007 The Seas with Nemo & Friends was officially rededicated and opened to the public .
The Seas with Nemo & Friends begins when guests enter the pavilion. The first room that they encounter is themed to look like a beach with a pier. Sand, high grass, beach signs, and wooden fence posts can all be found here. Oceanic sounds such as waves and birds cawing echo around guests as they make there way through the room. After exiting the beach room, guests enter a room that is "underwater". The room is dimly lit and on the walls guests can see schools of fish swim by. After exiting the underwater room, guests enter the loading area, where they board their Clamobiles.
The first scene that guests enter in The Seas with Nemo & Friends takes place in a coral reef. Here, Nemo playfully hides from his father Marlin, who is panicked that he has lost Nemo again. In fact, Marlin shouts "not again!" before guests enter the next scene. In this area, Nemo can be seen swimming away from Mr. Ray and his classmates. As the entire class calls out for Nemo, one exclaims "(he's) swimming off to sea!" Mr. Ray however does not seem overly concerned, as he continues singing and calmly talking to his class.
After passing by a school of fish, guests see that Marlin has met up with Dory who predictably does not remember who Nemo is. Marlin, stunned by her lack of memory, reminds her that "We went on a huge adventure together!" Despite the clownfish's refresher, his pleas do little to spark Dory's memory. As guests continue on, they see dozens of jellyfish hanging overhead. Although Marlin is alarmed by their presence, Dory does not seem overly concerned. Instead she treats the situation like a game. At this point the Clamobiles come across a frightening anglerfish, who is trying to eat Dory and Marlin despite the fact that he is stuck. While Marlin is predictably panicked by the situation, Dory taunts the fish.
As guests move further down into the ocean, they come upon a ship wreck in a mine field. Here, Bruce the Great White Shark and Chum the Mako Shark are trying to find Nemo themselves. Bruce menacingly says, "Fish are friends, not food", but luckily Nemo swims by unnoticed. The next scene takes place in the Eastern Atlantic Current where Nemo has met up with Crush and Squirt. The three of them (as well as other turtles and the Clamobiles) quickly swim by after being propelled by the current. The East Atlantic Current deposits guests into the large aquarium, where the animated characters swim alongside real fish. Here Nemo, Marlin, Dory, Crush, Squirt, and Mr. Ray and his class sing the song "In the Big Blue World". As guests return to the surface (the unloading area), they pass by a starfish who makes humorous quips as the Clamobiles move by.