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Vinylmation – The Animal Kingdom

Steven Miller

by , Senior Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, Walt Disney World Resort

'The Animal Kingdom' Vinylmation Series

What is your favorite animal? I think that is a question that everyone has been asked at least once in their life. With that question in mind, we created a new Vinylmation series called “The Animal Kingdom.” The series will be released on August 27 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. I spoke with Dan Howard, the Disney Design Group artist behind this series, about its evolution.

“This series has been in development for a very long time,” explained Dan. “I started work on it in August 2008, long before Vinylmation was first introduced to Guests. The idea was to sprinkle a couple of animals through each collection. It was Randy Noble who suggested this be an entire series.”

Giraffe and Polar Bear

The first animals Dan designed were the zebra and the tiger. The giraffe came much later. In the early days of Vinylmation, accessories were discussed but never implemented. It wasn’t until the emu’s neck accessory from the Have a Laugh series that accessories began to be added to figures.

The series also started as a limited release mystery series. The giraffe would have been the mystery chaser. We changed the series to an open window box to allow Guests to select their favorite animals.

I asked Dan if he had a favorite figure.

“I’d have to say the tiger is my favorite,” continued Dan. “When designing this series, I wanted to push the boundaries of design and feature some really cool graphics. I also like the lion as my son is a fan of ‘The Lion King.’”

Unique Signature

In this series, you may notice that the bottom of each figure has a unique signature from Dan. We also added a description for the series – Animals Series 1. This description will be something new added to future Vinylmation figures which will help Guests and Cast Members identify the various figures.

“I created unique signatures for each of the animals,” said Dan. “I don’t take myself too seriously. I’m having fun with design, and I wanted to make the signatures a fun little detail for Guests to discover. When I sign figures in person, I typically sign ‘Dan,’ so it made sense to continue that trend on these figures.”

Dan also added a feature that Guests have come to love at Disney Parks – Hidden Mickeys. Look carefully on each figure and you will see them like the photo below.

Hidden Mickeys

I think my favorite figure is the polar bear. It is the mascot of my university, and I like a certain television show about an island. Now I will ask you that popular question: What is your favorite animal?


  • Is there a wolf? That would be my first choice. If not the black jaguar/black panther.

  • I like the Giraffe the best, but enjoy them all. I kinda wish this one was a mystery one, as the Giraffe would have been a GREAT figure. Can’t wait to pick mine up on Sunday at Trade City USA–Vinylmation Showcase!!

  • I love the white tigers. My home town zoo got on loan whote tigers this summer and they were beautiful. If disney doesn’t have white tigers than I would say the Koyola bears.

  • we are heading to disney in 9 days my son LOVES the vinlymation guys! we are so going to pick up a few of these

  • I am soooooo excited for this series to come out. My favorite is definitely the cheetah with the giraffe as a close second. I have a question for you Steven. When will this Animal Kingdom series and the Toy Story series be released on Disneystore? Thanks.

    • @Adela – There is not a wolf in this series. There is a figure that looks wolf-like in Urban Series #3.

      @Lauren – I’m glad you like them. The Vinylmation Toy Story series was actually first introduced at the Disney Stores at the end of June. The series will be released at Disneyland and Walt Disney World on August 27.

      There are no plans at this time to carry Vinylmation – The Animal Kingdom Series at Disney Stores. Yet, you will soon be able to order both series on our Disney Parks On-line store:

  • Love them! They are awesome!

  • I have decided that I have to buy one when I go in October (and though I say this, I will end up coming home with the entire collection ;)). I read a very interesting article on you in the Disney insider a few weeks ago Steven! Will you be making any vinylmation based on “The Aristocats” ??? 🙂

    • @Alexander – Thanks for the comments. Too funny about “The Aristocats” Vinylmation. If I had my choice of a figure it would be Abraham de Lacy Giuseppe Casey Thomas O’Malley the Alley Cat. 🙂

      @Lauren – As a follow up to my note, I confirmed that the Disney Parks On-Line store will be releasing the Vinylmation Toy Story series on September 8, 2010 (for all those folks who won’t be at Disneyland or Walt Disney World).

  • Hey Steven, Is the artist who designed this series Dan Howard or another Dan?

    • @Elizabeth – I can honestly say that the possibilities are endless with Vinylmation. Seriously – I wish you could see our Vinylmation Showroom at Disney Theme Park Merchandise. Wouldn’t a series based on “it’s a small world” be the greatest? 🙂

      @Christine – O-H!

  • Hi steven – these are awesome. I hope you don’t mind me asking here, at the moment I’m working on a really exciting vinylmation project I’d love to share. It’d be great if I could mail you a teaser. Cheers.

  • Cute! There are so many now, I’m afraid you guys are going to run out of ideas!!! I vote for Small World-inspired Vinylmation next!

  • Hello from Columbus Steve – I think this is a great series – and I really love the Hidden Mickey aspect!

  • #8 – Christopher
    Dan Howard is the Disney Design Group artist behind this series.

  • I’m not really a Vinylmation collector but these are so cute and I just may have to pick up a Zebra or Giraffe when I go!

  • Ooh. We just stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge this summer and both my son and I loved watching the animals from our balcony! It was the best part of our entire trip. We haven’t purchased any vinylmation figures yet, but I think we have to have these ones!

  • I-O!! Can’t wait – 7 more days till kick off! And 81 days till I get to Disney – will you be anywhere in the Parks then?

  • I think that my father who collects Zebras MAY just be getting one of those for Christmas!!!!!!!!

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