Planes, Aviation Month and Disney’s Toon Studios #DisneyPlanesBloggers


Every time I have been invited to a Disney event, I get super excited about any of the animation studios portion of the schedule.  Not only because I enjoy Disney animated films, but because my daughter Gabi, who is an incredible artist, dreams of one day working for Disney herself in animation.

Planes at Disney Toon Studios

Planes, Aviation Month and Disney’s Toon Studios

With all the trips I have taken for Disney events,  I hadn’t been to Disney’s Toon Studios before.  So learning the process that went into making Planes was super special.

After being welcomed by Klay Hall, the director of Planes, we got to have a bonus screening of “Klay’s Flight Plan” as well as the “Top 10 Flyers”, both bonus features on the Planes DVD coming out today, November 12th.

I was moved and inspired to watch Klay’s Flight Plan, for Klay takes us along as he shares his love of planes with his two sons.  The passion and the learning process it took for him to truly understand what he was doing when making this film was fascinating.  I love this short documentary, and think it’s an awesome bonus feature.

After watching the films, we broke up into smaller groups to learn the process of making Planes.  We sat down with  the people of Pre- Vis Development, Jason McKinley and Thomas Leavitt.  They shared the process of making wide shots and how much goes into making it look as realistic as possible with getting as many angle shots that they possibly could.

We also got to learn to draw Dusty with the Head of Story, Dan Abraham and Story Artist, Art Hernandez.  They gave us a little feel for how they bring the characters to life, help build scenes, and how long the process takes.  I even took a shot at drawing Dusty with some help from the artists.

Dusty by Tara

Lastly, we sat with the director, Klay Hall and producer, Traci Balthazor-Flynn, and got the opportunity to interview them about the film.  Great stories and here’s a little piece from the interview.

Q – What brought you onto the project, originally?

Klay – Great question. The origin, how it all began. First  of all, it was about four and half years ago, we’ve worked on this for four and a half years. We’re just gonna finish up here, I think in three more weeks. I had just finished my previous movie with John Lasseter, and I was in that phase of what are we gonna do next? He and I had become pretty good friends and we found out that we a had a common passion about all things sort of mechanical. Trains was a big one, planes, cars, all that kind of stuff, you know.

So I was kicking around ideas and originally, I started thinking about a steam engine, really sort of a transcontinental railroad story. But it wasn’t anywhere from the world of cars. It actually was gonna deal with, humans and animals and all that kinds of stuff, and I was gonna tell this tale, this story of the railroad.  He’s very excited, we’re both history buffs as well, and it was really coming along and it was shaping up so to speak, as far as stories go, but then out of the blue one day- he (John Lasseter) likes to tell the story and it’s true, he was flying down in the jet from Pixar to Disney Studios, and an epiphany hit him on the way down. And he landed and he literally called me up, and he’s like, Klay, I know you’re working on the trains thing, and that’s cool and all that, but what do you think about doing one about Planes and making it from a vision of Cars?  And I was like, wow, totally!  I was like, John, true story here, if there’s one thing I love more than trains, it’s planes. 

Now, he was aware of my aviation passion and my background.  His dad had also served in the Navy, so we talked about the Navy, and that’s sort of how it got started.  He’s like, all right let’s start exploring the idea keeping universe of Cars now.  Because he had always looked at the cars universe as just this magnificent, huge thing. Everything out there with in engine that’s mechanical could have a personality. So this was the first opportunity to sort of crack that open and explore. That’s kinda how it all started.

There is more to come with this interview later, but this gives you a taste of how it all began.

One of the fun things about Planes, available on DVD now, is that it is available just in time for National Aviation History Month!  Here’s a clip from the other bonus we screened while at Toon Studios, “Top 10 Flyers” presented by ESPN’s Colin Cowherd. (#DisneyPlanes)

Now Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD

*Thank you to Disney for inviting me to be part of the Disney’s Planes Bloggers Event.  Having taken care of all my expenses to bring me out for this event, please know that all my opinions, excitement and fun I share are completely true.

Trippin with Tara
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