My Visit to Zootopia

I love a good 'making of' story. (This post may or may not be one of those, but that's not important right now.) And when it involves the Disney studios, I always begin by wondering, "would this production make Walt Disney himself proud?" 

This post attempts to answer that question.

A few months ago, as I wrote about here, I had the privilege of visiting the Walt Disney Animation Studios and I got to interview the creators of the upcoming Disney Animated Film, 'Zootopia.'

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Zootopia Press Day

A Press Day at the Disney Studios is as magical as you would imagine. Also, they feed us, which always makes me happy.

Foods. Photo: M. Darby

Foods. Photo: M. Darby

From the moment you drive up and see the iconic sign that lets you know you've arrived at the Walt Disney Studios, you can practically feel your own creative juices flowing. 

Photo: M. Darby

Photo: M. Darby

And on this particular occasion, a group of us bloggers were in for the adventure of a lifetime.

We were separated into groups comprised of habitat neighborhoods in the mammal metropolis of Zootopia.

Photo: M. Darby

Photo: M. Darby

And immersed in the entire film making process that will be bringing 'Zootopia' to life - and to movie screens everywhere - on March 4th, 2016. 

Zootopia bills itself as a comedy-adventure. It is directed by Byron Howard ("Tangled," and "Bolt") and Rich Moore ("Wreck-it Ralph," "The Simpsons") and co-directed by Jared Bush ("Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero"). They treated us to a few sneak peaks and explained how the story came into being and some of the challenges they faced in creating a completely animalated world. (See what I did there?)

Rich Moore, Byron Howard, Jared Bush - photo courtesy of Disney

Rich Moore, Byron Howard, Jared Bush - photo courtesy of Disney

Photo courtesy of Disney

Photo courtesy of Disney

As in any good Disney animated comedy-adventure, there's a protagonist, in this case, the eternally optimistic Officer Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin). She's thrilled to be the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals.

Concept Art for Officer Judy Hopps, courtesy of Disney

Concept Art for Officer Judy Hopps, courtesy of Disney

Judy is determined to prove herself so she jumps (see what I did there?) at the opportunity to crack a case, partnering with a scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman - can you picture it? I know. Right?)  to solve a mystery. 

Concept art for Nick Wilde, courtesy of Disney

Concept art for Nick Wilde, courtesy of Disney

During the making of the film, the studio is completely plunged into the world of Zootopia.

Zootopia - art courtesy of Disney

Zootopia - art courtesy of Disney

Inside the Disney Animation Studios. Photo: M.Darby

Inside the Disney Animation Studios. Photo: M.Darby

And, of course, the filmmakers are passionate about getting every detail completely right. As you can see from this trailer, they have absolutely done that. 

You know how sometimes you wonder if a film is going to be worth your time? Do you wonder if the filmmakers will honor the Disney legacy and make another unforgettable film? After having spent a day in Zootopia, the resounding answer is: "YES!" 

I think Walt would be proud.

Legends Plaza at Walt Disney Studios. Photo: M.Darby

Legends Plaza at Walt Disney Studios. Photo: M.Darby

Zootopia will be open in theaters everywhere on March 4, 2016. Hurry, March 4th! 

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