It's hard to wrap my mind around "Disney Animation Studios" after so many years of "Disney Feature Animation." But then, it used to be "Walt Disney Productions." The only constant in our ever-expanding universe is change...
My morning jaunt through the hat building found me talking to the first floor crew. Finalers are still training on software for Bolt (aka American Dog). Work on the Goofy short (How to Build a Home Entertainment Center That Really Rocks...I'm pretty sure that's the title.) is nearing completion...
Upstairs on Floor #2, Ron and John have moved into bigger, more opulent offices for Princess and the Frog. Until recently, they were up on the third floor in large broom closets.*
*A Brief History of Animated Feature Directorships at Disney:
See? An old Disney director's room. With a very young director. Behind a desk big enough to play badminton on.
In the olden days (pre-1986), Disney animated feature directors had big rooms with "director desks" the size or Rhode Island. They presided on the second floor of the original animation building. The directors had assistant directors in nearby rooms, storyboard artists, all the accoutremonts befitting their rank. There were no "story rooms" per se, just large rooms with board artists. From time to time, directors would go into these rooms and launch into story meetings where a half dozen or more staffers would magically assemble and watch the board artist tell his boards, then everyone would spitball ideas as the director methodically tore the board apart.
In the Katzenberg Disney Flower Street Days (1986-1994 in nearby Glendale. And not to be confused with the Katzenberg DreamWorks Flower Street Days -- down a few blocks at the DreamWorks campus right now), directors had smaller, sometimes windowless rooms, and board artists were sometimes in more distant locations. This was "the warehouse period" of Disney Feature Animation.
Lastly, there was the "Hat Building" period (mid-'90s to present, back in Burbank). Directors would start with the germ of a feature idea up on the third floor and develop their property in small, windowless rooms (sound familiar?).
But when the feature idea had ripened to adulthood (or at least budding adolescence), executives would smile upon it, and the feature idea would be "green-lit for production."
Then the directors would move down to the second floor of the Hat Building into unit suites where the offices were large and artwork, displays and whimsical figurines of the green-lit feature were abundant, decorating the entrance to the unit.
And so it went, for many years. And the directors' desks were the size of Rhode Island.