Even though it’s been out since 1994, Disney’s, The Lion King, still remains one of the most successful animated movies of all time, and its characters are some of the favorites in and outside of the parks. So, why not take advantage of this? Why not remodel Camp Minnie Mickey at Animal Kingdom into Simba (and Mufasa’s) “home”, the Pride Lands. Of course, they would have to keep the ever popular Festival of the Lion King show, but the entire area around there would be made into a mockup of different scenes and features from this popular movie.
The way I figure it, they could do this two different ways. 1) It could be a re-creation of several of the different scenes and attractions from the original movie and feature the characters from the movie at those attractions. 2) It could be a zoo type exhibit with Lions, Meer cats and Warthogs. Optionally, they could have hyenas too. Either way, they really couldn’t go wrong here.
Here are a few ideas I came up with for a remodel of Camp Minnie-Mickey into The Pride Lands.
Pride Rock – Rock-work featured in the movie could serve as the “weenie” or as the entrance to this area. It could serve as a platform where guests could go onto and look out over a big, real-life lion exhibit. If used as the “weenie”, it could serve as a building to host the following attraction.
Mufasa’s Theater – dark ride, or circle vision dome type theater with a view of the stars where Mufasa is your guide and points out different features and past leaders of the Pride Lands.
The Badlands/Elephant Grave Yard– Rollercoaster/dark ride thru the bone yard with laughing hyenas, stampeding wildebeest and of course Scar.
Pumba The Flying warthog – Traditional flying spinner featuring Pumbaa
Timone’s Meerkat Mayhem – Tunnels, maze and playground area resembling meerkat environments but big enough for kids and adults to run around and play in.
Hakuna Matata – Restaurant featuring Timon and Pumba and some of their “creative” foods and flavors.
Lion exhibit – this could be added with real life lions, and their cubs too.
Meerkat, Warthog & Hyena exhibits – meerkats are such funny little critters that are interesting to watch, warthogs, well… not sure
The one thing I don’t like about this idea is the fact that it would devote an entire land/section to one particular movie. I know it’s been done in other sections in Disney parks, like The Living Seas with the Nemo overlay, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a great idea. I think a land/section should, when possible, have multiple influences in determining what attractions are hosted there. I think this just adds to the variety and flexibility for future design changes. Even so, the Lion King is rich enough in story and characters and has remained popular over time and I believe it would lend well to this area of the park.
Update: 8/10/12 – It’s been rumored that James Cameron’s Avatar/Pandora “land” will be built in the area of Camp Minnie Mickey, and that The Festival of the Lion King theater will move to the area of Harambe in Africa. With the success of Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure and the highly immerse attractions they built for this, I think a similar, highly themed mini-land/area with attractions dedicated to The Lion King would fit well in Animal Kingdom and be a big draw.
Re-visiting this post, I noticed I made a terrible mistake in that I made no mention of Festival of the Lion King (FOTLK). This show would indubitably be kept. Perhaps in lieu of Mufasa’s show mentioned above, the Pride Rock theater would most likely house this ever-popular show.
Update: 1/4/13 – Plans have been revealed by The Daily City for re-locating The Festival of the Lion King theater to the area behind Tusker House and Dawa Bar in Harambe Village. See more at the following link – http://www.thedailycity.com/2013/01/walt-disney-world-animal-kingdom.html?m=1
Update: 3/21/13 – Construction has begun at Animal Kingdom, on the new Festival of the Lion King theater, mentioned above. You see more about at The Disney Blog – Construction Begins on New Festival of the Lion King Location.