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."
"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".
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."
"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:
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.