For eighteen-year-old Janelle, making whimsical animations for everyone to enjoy is her dream job. Because of her condition ― Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which affects the motor system ― Janelle’s wheelchair serves as a reminder of her restricted movement. However, her condition doesn’t restrain her creative mind from running free through her artistic drawings and paintings.
Although Janelle is limited in some ways, she excels immensely at her one true passion, which is art. In her free time Janelle draws from her imagination ― from her favorite Pokémon to ferocious lions roaring with eyes beaming with life ― if she can imagine it, she can draw it! Having a clear vision of what she wants to be in the future, Janelle’s one true wish was to visit the world-renowned Pixar Animation Studios to experience what it’s like to be an animator!
In April, Janelle and her family boarded a plane to San Francisco, eagerly anticipating their visit to the famed studio. They arrived at San Francisco at night and after a relaxing rest at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Janelle and her family were off the next morning to their first stop in their 3-day adventure -- the famous San Francisco Zoo! Home to nearly a thousand exotic animals, there was much to see and learn about the many inhabitants. The zoo also gave Janelle an opportunity to study and familiarize herself with the animals’ behaviors and movements, so that she can replicate them in her future animations! After a fun-filled day spent at the Zoo, Janelle and her family enjoyed the rest of the evening to themselves and made sure to get a good night’s rest for the main attraction, Pixar Studios!
Janelle and the family were up early the next morning to start their exclusive tour at Pixar Animation Studios. Arriving at the prestigious studio, they were amazed by the sheer beauty of the 22-acre campus. Intricate details based on Pixar’s most famous films such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo were scattered throughout the entire studio and the family wasted no time taking pictures of it all!
Greeted by Pixar representatives, Janelle and her family excitedly began their tour of the studio! They were escorted through the main building and got to learn about the animation process, including storyboarding and concept designs. The family also took a peek at Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter’s office. Decorated with countless Pixar toys and posters, the creative workplace served as a hopeful vision of Janelle’s future as an animator.
The next stop was to the Pixar’s animators’ workspace -- the place where all the magic happens! Here, Janelle met experienced Pixar animator Becki Tower, who worked on famous films like Toy Story 3® and Brave®. Becki showed Janelle the complicated process involved in creating and editing animations, by breaking down a short snippet taken from the movie Brave®. Janelle’s eyes were fascinated by the magic of animation and she was impressed by the amount of teamwork and time it takes to create such intricately crafted animations! The experience didn’t deter her from becoming an animator ― in fact, it made her even more motivated to pursue her dream job!
Afterwards, Janelle was given a specially personalized poster of Monster University and was treated to an exclusive first-look at Pixar’s next film project! Janelle was overwhelmed with the amount of care that went into making her trip to Pixar Studios so special.
At lunch, Janelle and her family were treated to their favorite Chinese food dishes, while Janelle shared some of her artwork with the Pixar team and asked lots of questions. After lunch, the family was led to a private theatre where they watched a number of Pixar shorts, including The Blue Umbrella and Hawaiian Vacation. Following the movies, the family shopped the Pixar Gift Shop and Janelle was gifted with a special Pixar goody bag filled with awesome Pixar-themed clothing and collector’s items. It was a great way for Janelle and her family to laugh together happily and enjoy one another’s company!
As the day came to a close, Janelle and the family thanked the Pixar staff for a spectacular day that they will always remember. After their final goodbyes, Janelle left the studio with renewed hope and strength to become the next big animator!
On the last day of her wish adventure, Janelle’s family spent the entire day enjoying what San Francisco has to offer and early the next morning they boarded the plane back to their Hawaii home, with memories to last a lifetime. For Janelle, this fantastic wish experience will serve as a launch pad for making her wish to become an animator come true!
Special Thanks: Pixar Animation Studios staff, Wish Granters: Jennifer Holmberg & Lani L. Brandt, Hyatt Regency Hotel & the San Francisco Zoo