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Final Look at Camp Minnie-Mickey

Deb's Digest Blog

It is true that Camp Minnie-Mickey was basically an afterthought to the detailed plans for Animal Kingdom.

From The Making of Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park by Melody Malmberg, 1998:

"As work on the park progressed, projections of attendance were revised upward, and a new attraction was needed. A popular feature of Disney's other theme parks is the opportunity to meet characters. The designers of Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park knew they couldn't include Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse in Africa or DinoLand U.S.A.; they be out of context."

"So they created a special place for them: Camp Minnie-Mickey, a woodsy, 5-acre attraction, its charming path wandering by a chuckling stream. Open-sided kiosks, complete with lights for a family photograph, are homes for a rotating cast of characters."

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"Minnie's overgrown gazebo sits next to Mickey's rustic overlook; the bamboo-shingled and thatched jungle kiosk shelters characters from The Lion King and The Jungle Book."

"The forest kiosk, made from six trees that seem to have grown together, provides a place where characters such as Flit, the Seven Dwarfs, and Chip n Dale can greet their fans both young and old."

In the almost 200 pages of " The Making of Disney's Animal Kingdom", there are barely 2 pages about Camp Minnie Mickey.

The book does contain an artist rendering of the Pocahontas and her Forest Friends show with the caption "at Camp Minnie-Mickey, visitors encounter live animals in the friendly forest setting of Grandmother Willow's Grove".

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The opening day Guide Map described Camp Minnie-Mickey as " Set deep in the forest is an old-fashioned summer camp visited by Mickey and his pals. Come and join in on their vacation fun."

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"E - Character Greeting Areas - Throughout the day, this is where you'll find Mickey and his pals waiting to meet you in their own special vacation spots."

"F - Festival of the Lion King at the Lion King Theatre - be in the middle of this high energy, tribal celebration of song, dance and specialty performances by some of your favorite Lion King friends."

"G - Colors of the Wind, Friends from the Animal Forest at Grandmother Willow's Grove - Join Pocahontas, Grandmother Willow and a host of live animals as they search for the protector of the forest.

Festival of the Lion King is on hiatus until Summer of 2014. A theater is being built in Africa for the show.

As Jack Spence's described in his history of Camp Minnie Mickey: Jack Spence's History of Camp Minnie-Mickey, this area of the park was never meant to be permanent. The original theater for Festival of the Lion King was an open air, covered theater. Once Disney realized this enormous popularity of this Broadway-caliber show, a more permanent theater, fully enclosed with air conditioning was built.

It didn't take much to realize that once AVATAR-land was announced, Camp Minnie-Mickey would go away. The AVATAR-inspired land will encompass and expand beyond the current Camp Minnie-Mickey area and so the camp's last day was January 5, 2014.

I always had hopes this area would expand and become much more, but it never did. In fact, a little over 10 years after opening, Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends had its last show September 27, 2008. (If you have photos of this show, I would love copies to add to my archive.)

I spent some time on Saturday revisiting and reminiscing about Camp Minnie-Mickey. I spoke to one cast member that had been at Camp Minnie Mickey from the early days and we had a great chat about the area.

For you Hidden Mickey fans, check out the Camp Minnie MickeyHidden Mickeys that will be going away via Steve Barrett's website!

In fact, here's one we found in the backdrop of the old Colors of the Wind, Friends from the Animal Forest at Grandmother Willow's Grove are:

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So join me for a final stroll through Camp Minnie-Mickey.

The previous post in this blog was Looking forward to 2014.

The next post in this blog is Palm Golf Course Reopens.

Comments (15)

Kris:

I understand that Disney thought it would be good to incorporate the story of Avatar into AK for its message of sustainability and environmental protection, but I wonder if this movie is known well enough to really justify an "E-Ticket" attraction/land in AK. I have seen the movie and understood the concept, but many haven't/just don't get it. I'm sure they'll do a great job with this "land", but wonder if they could have picked something more mainstream and generally tourist friendly instead? I am happy that they will be keeping Festival of the Lion King though! Love that show!

gena yates:

So will there be a new special place for meets and greets ? Maybe they will just add more at the Rafiki Conservation area ?? Thanks for the video .....I still miss the Pocahontas show !! Do u know any highlights of the Avatar Land .....Rides or shows ??? Thanks

DEB: Here is our character location list for Animal Kingdom with the new locations included:

http://allears.net/tp/ak/ak_char.htm

Adam:

I don't much mind either way. Sure, I'd prefer something more inherently Disney was going in, but I'll live. I'm just concerned that Avatar has very little cultural lasting power. Even just three years later, does anyone still care about this movie? It'll be like a huge, costly version of the Twister show at Universal. Does anyone care about Twister anymore? But if they have to do it, and they're obviously going to do it, please call it Pandora. Avatarland is just dumb sounding. DAK has Asia, Africa, Discovery Island. Only Dinoland USA has the 'land' name, and that's because Dinoland is MEANT to be cheesy. So use the name of the location where Avatar takes place and call it Pandora.

Mary:

Sad to hear it's leaving. I do have some amazing pictures of my kids there when they were younger.

Penny from Vermont:

Sad to see Camp Minnie-Mickey go the way of Mr Toad and Toon Town but I am so glad that the Lion King show will still be around. I am very excited to see how the new theater will be themed. I took a video of the old show my last time there this fall so I can compare it to the new show. As for Avatar land...we will see about that.

Lilu:

I'm wary about Avatarland. Star Wars, Harry Potter, they're things that are so much part of the culture of americana now that pretty much everyone knows them. Avatar was just a high $$ movie ultimately. Most people I talk to these days can't even tell me the female lead's name. It'll be great for the movie's cash flow no doubt, but 10, 15 years from now they may very well be remaking the whole thing again.

That, of course, isn't reflecting on Disney. I think they'll make it magical and lovely. I just don't know if that franchise has the kind of staying power that's worth building this much into it.

Michelle:

Hi, do you know if the Pocahontas show is going to still be going on? Or is that closed now too?

DEB: Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends had its last show September 27, 2008

rocky:

We are sad to see this area go away. It was a great place to get great pics of many characters in one shot. We got pictures of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale all in under 30 minutes!!!!

We will miss Camp Mickey and Minnie!!!!!

Jill Hogg:

It would be a shame to lose the "twig" benches. I hope they keep them or use them elsewhere. I was really enchanted by them when I was there.

I've never even seen Avatar, but I'm sure they will come up with something amazing that will make me want to see it.

Kristine:

How did I totally miss that they were getting rid of Camp Mickey Minnie?!?!?! As a mom of a large family this has always been our "sit, relax, and recharge" spot at AK. You must have one of those at each park when traveling with little ones.:) My family will be so disappointed! I'm sure my husband and older son will love the new Avatar spot though.:)

I'm so glad they are keeping The Festival of The Lion King! I hope it's open early June, but am thinking Summer of 2014 means late in the summer? Thanks for this wonderful article! Love all the history and details.

Mike:

One of our favorite things to do during our December trips was to visit Camp Minnie Mickey and look at all the character Christmas trees.

DEB: Loved those trees. Here is a video of them: http://youtu.be/cRuo7s5M1hg

Sharon :

Are they going to move "The Festival of the Lion King" somewhere else?

DEB: Yes a new theater is being built in Africa for Festival of the Lion King.

Nancy Breault:

Hi Deb, Any idea when they will be opening the new Festival of the Lion King?

DEB: All Disney is saying right now is Summer 2014.

Florence:

Any news on whether Gi-Tar Dan will still be performing elsewhere in the park? I have fond memories of his entertainment from my days as a Cast Member to being a guest and having the honor of him creating and singing an impromptu song about my little girl on her first trip to WDW. :)

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 7, 2014 7:00 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Looking forward to 2014.

The next post in this blog is Palm Golf Course Reopens.

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