Can you contain creativity in 10,000 square feet? The folks at the Chuck Jones Experience in Circus Circus hope not.
With a goal to educate, inspire and entertain, the newly opened Chuck Jones Experience wants to not only introduce folks to the legendary artist, animator and director behind such favorite characters as the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote but also kick-start Las Vegas visitors and residents alike to let their creativity run amuck.
“What we wanted to do first was stimulate imagination and creativity,” said Craig Kausen, Chuck Jones’ grandson.
With more than 250 piece of original artwork from Chuck Jones including character sketches and paintings, interactive exhibits and digital films, the Chuck Jones Experience is packed with items to inspire anyone.
But it’s not just the exhibits that will challenge visitors’ imaginations. A 1,000-square-foot learning center anchors the attraction. Here, teachers from the arts and animation fields will lead hands-on projects.
“It isn’t just for children,” explained Linda Jones Clough, Chuck’s daughter. “It’s for anyone to explore their creativity.”
The journey begins with the Experience’s movie theater, where a short film features clips of Chuck Jones’ famous animated cartoons for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies and his Academy Award-winning films combined with interviews with Chuck and his colleagues.
Next, step into a recreation of Chuck’s art studio containing his desk, Moviola film editor, license plates and even his mother’s rocking chair on display.
A portion of Chuck’s library lines one wall, the variety of books reflecting his eclectic interests. Selections include Mark Twain’s letters and short stories, Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim,” A history of Christian Dior fashion and “Italian Folktales” by Italo Calvino.
“He read everything,” explained Kausen.
Struggling artists will get a kick out of a black-and-white illustration hanging to the right of Chuck’s desk. The oldest piece on display in the attraction, a 20-year-old Jones submitted it to a magazine in 1932 only to have it rejected. It was neither the first nor the last time Jones would hear that verdict, but it never deterred him – a lesson in determination for all those visiting the experience.
A prolific artist, writer, animator, director and producer, Chuck created 300 animated films in his 60-year career from “The Night Watchman” in 1938 to “Timber Wolf” in 2001. For television he produced numerous “Tom and Jerry” shorts and the classic Christmas animated special “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
From Chuck’s fertile imagination came favorite cartoon characters the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Marvin the Martian and Pepé Le Pew. His work on animated cartoons of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd and more has endeared him to legions of children and adults.
Three of his animated films — “Duck Amuck” (1953), “On Froggy Evening” (1955) and “What’s Opera, Doc?” (1957) — are in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically and aesthetically” significant. Jones won four Academy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement.
“He just couldn’t stop,” remarked Kausen on his grandfather’s immense filmography.
Kausen said Chuck could always be found with a satchel of sketchbooks nearby. “The way he took notes was with pictures.”
The prodigious amount of original artwork generated by Chuck lines the walls of the Chuck Jones Experience. With so much to choose from, the Experience couldn’t begin to accommodate even a small percentage of Chuck’s work, so the attraction will rotate art displays.
“We are proud to make Chuck’s original artwork, a lot of which has never before been seen, available to the public,” said Kausen. “Visitors will have a great time learning all about the inspiration behind the creation of some of Chuck’s most beloved and enduring animated characters such as Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Pepé le Pew and many others. It’s an animation lover’s paradise.”
A star attraction is Chuck’s last oil painting. Displayed on an easel in the exhibit, the painting was one of two rough concept pieces done for a collector. The collector chose to keep the saloon scene and Chuck gave this painting – featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd as Robin Hood and the Merry Men – to his grandson.
Interact with life-size recreations of Daffy Duck as D.W. Griffith and Bugs Bunny as his camera man filming an episode of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote on sound stage 5. Or see how you measure up to the Looney Tunes characters and peruse original sketches of your favorites.
“The idea was you would be able to walk into the mind and painting of Chuck Jones,” said Kausen.
Make sure try out the Quiz-n-ator and test your knowledge of Chuck Jones trivia. What was Chuck’s hat size? 7 and 5/8. How many dental fillings did he have? Zero.
In the Acme Workshop rooms you’ll learn how animation is created. Try out your skills drawing 12 illustrations for a functioning Zoetrope or create sounds effects for your favorite Chuck Jones cartoons at the Chuck Jones Experience Foley Stage.
And, if you need to take home a souvenir of your favorite character, the Experience has that covered too with a stocked gift shop boasting T-shirts, books, figures, artwork and more.
Chuck Jones Experience
Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Admission: $19.95 (adults), $14.95 (ages 5 – 17), children under 4 are free. Discounted admission for seniors 65 and older, military, students and Nevada residents are available with identification.