Sunday, January 12, 2014

Farewell, Camp Minnie-Mickey

On January 6, 2014, Camp Minnie-Mickey was closed to make way for Walt Disney World's new Avatarland.  I have very mixed feelings about Avatarland.  Mixed, leaning heavily towards WTF.  In fairness, I haven't seen Avatar...but I haven't seen it because I haven't cared to devote a couple hundred minutes of my life to it.  I really don't know why, actually.  It seems like it's right up my alley, on paper.  Fantasy, science fiction, majestic flying creatures, glowing stuff... Honestly, I think I haven't watched it because James Cameron just seems like an arrogant jackass.  And that's totally not okay for me to judge him like that, come to think of it, so as penance, I am going to add Avatar to my Must See List, and put it in the number three spot (right behind the second Hunger Games movie and Saving Mr. Banks.  I KNOW.) 

Camp Minnie-Mickey is the first major closure in Disney's Animal Kingdom...but since it was never part of the original plans for the park, I guess it's a wonder that it lasted as long as it did.  Themed as a summer camp set in the North American woods, the entire area was originally designated as the site for the Beastly Kingdom, a never-realized (DAMN IT) land devoted to mythical creatures (and the reason for the dragon on the AK logo, as well as the Unicorn section that I always seem to park in).  Camp Minnie-Mickey was quaint, but nothing really much happened there besides the Festival of the Lion King (now being relocated to the Africa section, thank God, because it kinda bugged me to have lions in the North American Woods) and a whole lotta character meet-n-greets.  

I gained a new appreciation for the theming of Camp Minnie-Mickey when we moved to our little house on the edge of Lake Hastie.  Living in a coastal area, we are surrounded by beach-themed decor. Every third person has signs shaped like flip-flops saying "It's five o'clock somewhere!" stuck up on their walls, or an over-abundance of seashells in their yard/living room/bathroom, or you know, these dangling from somewhere or another in their house, and so Adrian and I have kind of prided ourselves on going the lake/rustic cottage route.  Well, not really.  But we talk about it a lot.  

Anyway, one thing I really loved about Camp Minnie-Mickey was these guys:


They weren't part of a ride, or attraction, they didn't mark the entrances to the character trails or anything, they were just there, a little something to look at in an area that didn't have...a whole lot to look at.

Now, like many of you, I’m not happy unless I’m planning my next trip to WDW.  In case you haven't caught on yet, my family tries to travel to Disney World at least once a year, and we're not shy about being pretty Disney-centric even when we're not on vacation.  We have spent our fair share (probably more) on Disney souvenirs over the years, and while I love adding those items to our home, I’m not really one to decorate my whole house with character merchandise, cute as is may be.  What I love about the rich tapestry of Disney, though, is that my house can “be Disney” without being obvious, that a little faith, trust and pixie dust (and a lot of hot glue and paint) can go along way towards bringing some magic back home.  These pictures, for example, gave me a great idea to add a touch of Disney whimsy to our back porch, a place where we spend about eight months out of the year.

This project was really simple, and used materials that I had on hand, two major bonuses in my book.  (Oooh, now's a good time to record for posterity one of my main resolutions for 2014:  I may only craft with materials that I have on hand.  NO MORE ASPIRATIONAL CLUTTER!!!!)  So,  I started out by laminating the prints, to protect them from the elements.  I happen to have a laminator, so that's what I used, but I have done subsequent projects for the outdoors with the peel-and-stick laminating sheets, and they have worked just as well (disclaimer: although these items are outdoors, they are on a covered porch and not subject to direct sun or rain).   I cut a piece of dark brown fun foam (waterproof!) for the backing, giving myself about an inch-wide border all the way around the print, and glued down the laminated print.   Then, in keeping with the summer camp theme,  I made simple frames out of popsicle sticks and grosgrain ribbon – how's that for whimsy?

This is a terrible photograph.  Resolved for 2014: take better photographs.
So, now my little house by the lake has an unexpected little shrine to a bygone Disney land.  Camp Minnie-Mickey wasn't much, but it was sweet, and I'm happy to have these little photos hanging up for as long as the popsicle sticks stay glued together.  But I can pretty much promise you that even when they do fall apart,  I won't ever replace them with framed photos of these guys.


  1. Avatar is pretty. If you go into it with no higher expectations than to be visually wowed, you'll enjoy it. My problem with the film is that it treats the audience like drooling idiots. It's about a search for an element called "unobtaniium" on a planet called "Pandora". And those names are the most subtle elements of the story. It is fun, however, to be able to speak lines of dialogue along with the actors even though you've never seen the movie before. Try it, you can do that, I swear.

    Having said that, I am moving toward being a little excited about Disney's treatment. The movie provides a very rich artistic framework, and since it involves little or no story, Disney is pretty free to use its talent in that area to make Avatarland much more than the movie Avatar ever was. That and the idea of Animal Kingdom being open at night have almost won me over.

    1. I really do love the concept art that I have seen for Avatarland, and I'm excited that Disney is adding a nighttime element to this park, which I consider an often-overlooked gem. So many people seem to consider this park skippable, and for me, it's about tops when it comes to the immersive experience. Like Adventureland, but on steroids. Maybe AK will start getting some much-deserved love now.

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  3. Just say not to aspirational clutter!! I would say my Holiday 2013 "look" was 98% new, and was achieved without actually "buying" anything new. Dig deep!!


So, whaddya think?