Arts art exhibition review

An interview with Dorothy McKim on ‘Immersive Disney Animation,’ a nostalgic journey down memory lane

A riveting experience that transports the audience into the world of Disney

Immersive Disney Animation
Created by J. Miles Dale, Dorothy McKim, David Korins, and Corey Ross
Lighthouse Artspace
130 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA 02116
On display until August 13, 2023


Immersive Disney Animation, as the name suggests, is an immersive experience brought to the audience by Disney in collaboration with Lighthouse Immersive that offers versatile spaces encouraging dialogue between its audience and art forms. With the images and scenes from Disney movies projected onto the walls all around the gallery and the floors being activated with Disney themes such as gardens from Tangled or the “Casita” courtyard from Encanto, the audience experiences magical Disney moments in real time.

This experience consists of songs from various Walt Disney Animation musicals, starting with “A dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes,” from Cinderella, one of Disney’s earliest productions. While the songs are all just as magical as the “Casita” from Encanto, some of the memorable numbers include “Circle of Life,” “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” and “Show Yourself”. I felt especially nostalgic during “Circle of Life” since The Lion King was my introduction to Disney movies. I could not help but gasp in awe while watching Rafiki hold Simba at Pride Rock in front of all the animals gathered for the coronation.

Speaking on how the idea of an immersive experience came to life, Dorothy McKim, who currently serves as special projects producer for Disney Animation, said, “Disney Animation partnered with Lighthouse Immersive regarding this experience. Keeping in mind the high standards observed by both Disney and Lighthouse Immersive, we brainstormed what this show could be about. It came together organically and naturally with the theme about wishing, hoping, and dreaming.” McKim further pointed out that all Disney films have these themes which could be strung along for a 56-minute show.

Disney has produced over 61 films to date, which made the decision of what movies were selected for the show very challenging.  McKim stated that they have sequences or songs from 45 films in the show, all of which have the themes of longing for and being hopeful about the future. McKim further elaborated, “We are celebrating the 100th year of Disney Animation, and the films we pulled into this show include some of Disney’s earliest movies, which make some of the audience nostalgic about watching Cinderella or Snow White for the very first time. This is to ensure that everyone could experience what these films meant to them when they first saw them.”

Most Disney movies are musicals that do a fantastic job of taking the audience from one point to another in the story by giving us an insight into a character’s feelings, as in “Surface Pressure” in Encanto or a key plot sequence as in “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid . Talking about the musicals, McKim said, “The show comprises songs from Disney films. However, while there are several movies that are not musicals, such as Wreck it Ralph or Big Hero 6, we ensured to include montages from these films in our show”. McKim went on to say, “Watching the joy of the people that are watching our show for the first time while laughing and crying, and watching all the work we have done come together is what I love the most about this experience.”  

Immersive Disney Animation was indeed a rollercoaster of emotions, from experiencing joy at Simba’s coronation to feeling the adrenaline rush of Aladdin’s flying carpet to getting anxious while watching Ursula plot against Ariel. It was also about feeling hopeful and inspired when watching Moana’s determination to restore the heart of Te Fiti and Elsa’s resolve in her quest to find out the truth about her past. While Disney World is known for its shows, as McKim rightly pointed out, Immersive Disney Animation stands out in terms of being able to pull the audience even more into the Disney world by creating images from the movies all around the audience and placing the audience at the center of it.

Overall, I would highly recommend visiting Immersive Disney Animation at the Lighthouse Artspace. This one hour experience not only offers a unique perspective into Disney musicals, successfully transporting the audiences into an enchanting world of fairy tales and enabling a dialogue between the two, but also gives insight into how Disney movies came to be produced. This experience is also being expanded to other cities like Houston, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. While regular tickets start at $36, you can visit in groups of ten or more to get discounted tickets starting at $29 per person. The Premium Plus tickets also include an interactive wristband that lights up in sync with the different iconic scenes and songs, and you get to take a Disney poster home with you. Trust me when I say it is worth every penny!

The interview has been edited and cut for clarity and length.