Disney Animator Inspires Students

By | May 23, 2023

John AquinoVeteran Walt Disney animator John Aquino spent several days working with and advising students in Daemen University’s Animation Program.

Aquino is an environmental modeling supervisor with Walt Disney Animation Studios. His credits include “Fantasia 2000,” “Hercules,” “Frozen,” “Moana,” “Tangled,” and “Zootopia.” 

He was invited to campus by his former colleague Mike Jones, the Animation Program director and associate professor. Aquino and Jones worked together at Disney Animation for several years.     

While at Daemen, Aquino reviewed senior films, taught a master class in modeling characters and environments, and ate lunch with three animation students who were able to ask one-on-one questions. 

Aquino also spoke to the animation department and talked about how he went from working as an overnight accountant at a hotel to designing Elsa’s ice castle in Disney’s “Frozen.” He stressed the importance of staying up-to-date on industry technology and just how lucky animators are to work with a team of people to create art. 

“In this industry, you have to love what you do,” Aquino reminded students.  

“Having an amazing Disney Animation artists like John Aquino at Daemen inspired the animation students and gave them the opportunity to learn from a master modeler,” Associate Professor Jones said. “John has worked on many Academy Awarding winning films, and it was an honor for Daemen animation to host someone of his stature.”  

Aquino is currently working on Disney’s newest movie, “Wish,” which is scheduled to be released in November.