This land is designed to be the Disney characters’ Animal Kingdom headquarters. A small land, Camp Minnie-Mickey has a rustic, woodsy theme like that of a summer camp. In addition to a character meeting-and-greeting area, Camp Minnie-Mickey is home to a live stage production featuring Disney characters.
Situated in a cul-de-sac, Camp Minnie-Mickey is a pedestrian nightmare. Lines for the stage show and from the character-greeting areas spill out into the congested walkways, making movement almost impossible. To compound the problem, hundreds of parked strollers clog the paths, squeezing the flow of traffic to a trickle. Meanwhile, hordes of guests trying to enter Camp Minnie-Mickey collide with guests trying to exit on the bridge connecting the camp to Discovery Island. It’s a planning error of the first order, one that seems totally avoidable in a theme park with as much usable acreage as Animal Kingdom.
Word on the street is that most of Camp Minnie-Mickey’s attractions will be relocated to other parts of the park in late 2013 or early 2014 to allow for construction to begin on the Animal Kingdom’s new Avatar-themed land. Disney is mum on all of it, but we think Camp Minnie-Mickey’s Festival of the Lion King will move to Africa, near Tusker House and Dawa Bar.
Mickey and Minnie, for whom the camp is named, have already left the land, relocating their character meet-and-greet to the Adventurer’s Outpost on Discovery Island. The other characters are still in Camp Minnie-Mickey, but we expect them to emigrate shortly. The as-yet unnamed Avatar land is supposed to open sometime between 2016 and 2018.
Disney's Animal Kingdom is organized around three groups of animals. The animals of today can be found in Asia, Africa, the Oasis, and Discovery Island. Dinoland U.S.A. is all about animals of the past. Camp Minnie-Mickey represents mythical beasts and legendary creatures. It wasn't always this way. Once upon a time, the Camp area was going to be known as Beastly Kingdom with "creatures that ever, or never, were." It would have featured dragons and unicorns. Did you ever notice the Dragon's head hanging over one of the Craftsman-style ticket booths, wonder why there is a Unicorn section in the parking lot or see the waterfall that looks like a dragon just off the bridge entering the land?
Budget cuts postponed the construction of Beastly Kingdom and Camp Minnie-Mickey was born. Camp Minnie-Mickey serves the same function as Toontown Fair in the Magic Kingdom and the design principle is also the same. Toontown Fair features architecture that makes you feel like you stepped into a cartoon. When you cross the bridge into the Camp you are entering a cartoon land where you would find Mickey Mouse on vacation. The real design challenge was creating this environment with living plant materials.
The Imagineers based the landscape, architecture, and street furniture on the resorts of the Adirondack Mountains. By using the language of the Adirondack-style, they were able to get a handmade look and feel, which blends nicely with the dense foliage and puts the characters out front. To enhance the Camp theme, The Festival of the Lion King Theater is meant to look like the Camp's assembly hall. The gazebos share similar materials with each other while being customized to provide proper context for a particular character.