Dale Yu: Review of Disney Animated  

Disney Animated

  • Designer: Prospero Hall
  • Publisher: Funko
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 10+
  • Time: ~20 min/player
  • Review copy provided by Funko
  • Amazon affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3seSTKS

Work together in Disney Animated like the team at the famous Walt Disney Animation Studios to create movie magic!  In the game, you need to produce five classic Disney films using detailed background art, vibrant paint colors, and lively sound to bring cherished stories to life on the screen — but the villains from these feature films will rush your deadlines and create all the calamity they can. As a team, you must use the strengths of the animation studio — heart, focus, inspiration, grit, and teamwork — to vanquish the villains and finish your films in time.

—description from the publisher

In Disney Animated, each player in your group is in charge of finishing a particular movie – choosing from: Alice in Wonderland, 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Fantasia.  Your goal is to finish the movies before the Villains of those movies stop you (because they know how the story ends…)   Each player takes the background board of their chosen movie and then the 9 Background tiles and Cel cards for it.  The Villain and Calamity cards for your movie are added to the communal pile as they will affect all the players in the game.

The Studio board is placed on the table, and the Animation deck is shuffled and placed on its place.  The paint chips are randomized onto the 4×4 grid, and the villain tiles of the movies in this game are stacked in descending year order.  Put the deadline token at the starting space on its track (a track from start to 13).  Finally a Calamity deck is made from the films in the game, and depending on the difficulty level chosen by the players – a number of Calamity cards is dealt face up to the right of the board.  Finally, the five action tiles are shuffled and placed randomly on the five numbered spots at the bottom of the board.

The game will be played in a number of rounds – the players all get a chance to act and then there is a Villain phase.  If all the movies are completed before the marker gets to the end of the Deadline track, the players win!

On a Player’s turn, there are four parts which are done:

1] Select an action tile – choose one of the five action tiles at the bottom of the board; we tend to slide it down a bit so that everyone can see which tile was chosen and which number it is associated with; this is important because that number is equal to the strength of the action.  The Magic Action tile is a wild – though you need to expend a Magic Token – in order to take said wild action.

2] Do the selected action OR Take a magic token instead of doing the tile’s action

  • Animation – draw Animation cards equal to the value halved, but rounded up
  • Background – add Background tiles to your board equal to the value of the action (i.e. number of squares).  If you cover a magic token or Action icon, you can designate any player to receive the benefit immediately. Actions happen at the current value of the action tile.
  • Ink and Paint – take paint chits (cost equal to their current row).  When done, slide all chits down as far as they will go to remove the gaps
  • Sound – Give or place your film’s tokens as allowed by the specific rules found on your player aid. (Each film works differently)
  • Magic – Discard an Magic Action tile and then take any of the above four actions at the value of the Magic Tile’s location

3] Slide Action Tiles – Take the Action tile used this turn and place it in the #1 space.  Move all other tiles to the right to fill in the gap.

4] Place/Use Characters and Remove Calamities – Characters can only be placed on a movie board if their entire background section is filled in.  Discard the paint chits as shown underneath said section to place the cel.  Once a character is placed, you can use its special power – as long as you pay a Magic Token or the shown Animation card type.  Each special power can be used only once per turn.  Calamity cards show the negative effects of the Villain; most of them can be removed if the active player discards the things shown on the bottom or takes an action tile of specified value.  A few of the Calamity cards cannot be discarded – tough noogies.

At the end of any of your turns, if your movie is complete AND you meet all the criteria noted on your player aid, you can place the Villain into your film – assuming, of course, that you can also pay the requisite Paint tokens and Animation cards.  Now, this Villain tile is no longer in the Villain stack, and it can’t attack you any more.

All the players take their turn, and then there is a Villain Phase.  First, move the Deadline marker up one space, and all players discard down to a maximum of 7 cards.  Now, apply the current Villain’s Calamity Effect on their card for EACH Calamity card left next to the board.  If you cannot pay the penalty of the Calamity Effect, you instead must advance the Deadline token one space.

Once resolved, now cycle the Villain tile to the bottom of the Villain stack, and discard any Calamity cards that remained.  Deal out a new set of Calamity cards (the number again based on the difficulty level that the group chose at the beginning of the game) and continue play.  If all the Villains are in the movies before the marker gets to the end of the Deadline track, the players win!

My thoughts on the game

So, in my mind, the combination of Funko and Prospero Hall are one of the main movers in introducing games to the mass market.  Their games are more likely to be found at Target or Amazon than a hobby store, and I think there are plenty of non-gamers who end up with their games on the table.  More often than not, there is a popular IP on which the game stands – and honestly, it is the IP which attracts the buyers more than the gameplay.  (This is all my own personal speculation). Without a doubt, the Disney logo on the cover alone will be a huge attraction for some certain slice of the population. That being said, I think it’s best to view these games through that lens – that is, games meant for Joe or Jane American.  

What you get here in Disney Animated is a very straightforward cooperative game.  The theme is fun and easy to understand.  You’re an old school animator simply trying to finish the movies.  The overall look of the game is truly beautiful.  It simply looks great.  The art from these classic movies is found on all the bits, and everything is infused with this nostalgic goodness.  If looks alone would sell a game, this would be a best seller.

When you get to the game itself, the goal is pretty easy to see – fill your movie board with all the pieces before the timer runs out.  On the first few plays, it’s a fun process; though the steps needed to complete the game are fairly linear.  You must complete the background of the movie, or at least complete entire sections, so that you can place the characters down.  Then, when all three characters make it down, then you work on setting up the board state needed to capture your villain.  Each movie is slightly different (due to unique Sound token abilities and villain capture rules) but the overall process is the same in every game.  It’s cute for the first couple of plays, but once you’re familiar with the game, you’ll find that there isn’t a lot of deviation from this straightline path.  You must do the background parts first, because you can’t place the characters until the section is complete.  You can’t use the sound tokens to set up the villain capture scenario until the characters are in place.  And everyone is trying to do this at the same time from the same starting point.  Now, if you are not overly accomplished with games, this may not be an issue at all – again, keep in mind (what I feel is) the target audience.

In general, when picking actions, the higher valued ones are usually better because they offer stronger actions, but yet, the group will have to decide when to take the less desirable actions in order to push the more desirable ones higher on the strength chart.   You’ll find that some actions are more useful than others at different times in the game; though in general, all of the players will want the same action tiles at similar times, so your team will definitely be forced to cooperate to get the right action to the right people.  The Sound action/special abilities will come into play here a lot as they each give a nice way to make the actions better/more useful.

Is it completely on autopilot?  Not at all.  There are ways to leverage the system.  First, the Magic action can be used as a wild, so as long as players have Magic Tokens, you can wait until that gets up to the 4 or 5 range and then use a token to take whatever action is best.  Second, while filling in the background areas, covering up an action icon at a timely moment can help a player get a “free” action of high value – in a sense, getting two high value plays out of an action tile’s position.  Finally, don’t forget to look at your character’s special abilities; they can be quite powerful at the right time, and if you have character actions to take – this might make the Animation card action more useful to you as you’ll need the right cards to power the abilities.

As I said earlier, there is a somewhat linear flow; and while it’s impossible for everyone to take a high value Background action on their first turn, at least the game gives you other things to do.  It is certainly worthwhile to maybe take a Paint or Animation action to try to get things to eliminate Calamity Cards – and if you’re lucky, maybe you get an additional bonus that you can save and use on a later turn. 

The only way to change the difficulty is by altering the number of Calamity cards dealt out each round.  We played our first game on the easy level and it was a close affair; but we were also learning the system.  Future plays should lead to more efficient play which will allow us to play on the more difficult levels as well.

The rules are a bit of a mishmash.  In the end, I think this is a pretty easy game to learn; especially if someone teaches it to you.  If you don’t have that someone around, there is a QR code in the rules that leads to a video teach.  I taught the game to a casual game player (who does have experience with games such as Dominion and Pandemic), and it admittedly took most of the game for him to figure out what was going on.

For someone who isn’t a gamer, the rulebook itself is not great.  There are weird uneven column breaks and it’s honestly hard to follow the flow of the rules.  Sometimes there are little example blocks to one side, but nothing to set them apart from the rest of the text, and it can be hard to follow.  The action boards that each player gets are helpful in summarizing what you need to know; but again, it’s the initial presentation that may be tough, and my experience with a casual gamer trying to learn the game on the first try only underlines the difficulties that could be had with this rulebook.

For gamers, I think this one will end up on the easy and/or repetitive side.  For non-gamers, this is a really good entry into cooperative gaming.  In that setting, even the easy mode will probably be a challenge; especially if folks have to learn how to work together and how to maximize their actions.  In the end, the game is probably going to be a great fit for the market it wants to reach – it’s beautiful on the table, not overly difficult to learn, and allows enough room for growth as a starter cooperative game.


My first game was with a couple who are not overly accomplished gamers (they own a handful of games, mostly from the Target game section), and they loved this one (definitely for theme, and probably for gameplay) – wanting to play a second game as soon as the first one ended.  They were also more than happy to accept the game as a gift to add to their game collection after we played it.  I know they have played Pandemic before, so it’s not like they haven’t played a cooperative game in the past; but I think their reaction is what many casual gamers will have with the game.  It is a bit on the difficult side for a casual gamer (at least in my opinion), but they were able to pick it up from my teach and we had a nice tight game, won on the very last turn (and only due to me drawing the right combination of cards on a last gasp Animation action!). I would expect them to be able to teach the game to their family/friends and likely generate more fans and potential buyers of it.

If you want to try it yourself, or maybe give as a gift to that certain Disney fanboi you know – here is our affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3seSTKS

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Joe Huber (1 play): I am not a particular fan of cooperative games.  Not that I don’t enjoy them – I generally do, on the whole – but they aren’t games that stick around for me, because I’m not drawn to replaying them enough to have around in my collection.  But some of them intrigue me enough to want to play again; Animated is just such a game.  I think Dale sums the appeal of the game up well – the mechanisms are fine, but don’t stand out, but the presentation is great – and does a nice job of encapsulating Disney’s multi-layer process into game form.  There is something inherently satisfying in completing your film – it might not be saving the world, but the lower stakes take nothing away from the enjoyment achieved.  I don’t know how well the game will hold up to repeated play – but given the chance, I will certainly try it a second time.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale, Joe H., Steph
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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