by Spencer Bollettieri, freelance writer for Theme Park Magazine
The Big Apple only gets bigger for anyone who enters “Mickey & Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure,” the latest CAMP attraction on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. The first project of its kind to result from a partnership between CAMP and Disney, the experience intends to be an interactive adventure designed to bring more than guests’ shrunken molecules together. Utilizing modern technology and old-fashioned Disney magic, what lies beyond the enchanted shelves of CAMP’s store is a larger-than-life experience for younger audiences and families.
With several locations in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, and soon-to-be Los Angeles, CAMP stores are more than a typical shopping experience. Since 2018, CAMP has encouraged play, exploration, and family-oriented adventures. “Mickey & Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure” is their latest attraction making its debut at the Manhattan flagship store and hopes to be just one of many Disney-based experiences to be hosted within their stores.
Mickey & Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure
In “Mickey & Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure,” it all begins in what appears to be any other small store you might find along 5th Avenue. With all the charm of an old-fashioned toy store and brandished with all the curiosities you might find at a novelty shop, browsing the shelves and exotic flavors at their in-house ice cream counter is just the queue before embarking.
While not an enormous store, it’s just enough to keep families busy until a friendly CAMP counselor directs you to one of the shelves. At first, it may not seem like much, a collection of glass jars like one might see stacked in pictures of old candy stores. However, being asked to empty the magic from your pockets and count to three, that’s when wide-eyed children watch as the wall opens to reveal the magical campgrounds behind them.
After venturing beyond the secret door, CAMP counselors direct families into a showroom designed to look like a cabin. With balloons on the ceiling and a calendar on the wall, a staff member elaborates guests are all invited to Mickey Mouse’s birthday party. Also in attendance (via digital animations along the walls) are Disney’s colorful cast of characters who interact with the counselors. It’s explained that before the festivities begin, Goofy wants to get a picture with a new camera given to him by Gyro Gearloose of Ducktales fame. However, suddenly, everything begins to grow in a flash, and guests realize what’s happened to them;
Goofy mistakenly shrunk everybody with one of Gyro’s inventions!
Now in pieces, guests must find the missing microchips to the shrink ray before the hour is up, or they’ll be tiny forever.
Being escorted from room to room by CAMP counselors, children are encouraged to solve simple puzzles, explore different areas, and dance to generate kinetic energy to power Gyro’s devices. Animated projections, the smell of snacks, blowing winds, and committed staff help to immerse guests in Disney’s story, making them feel as if they’re experiencing it at only a few inches high.
Highlights of CAMP’s attraction include sliding through a valley of oversized presents with Donald Duck, exploring a towering snack tray with popcorn to dig through and hors d’oeuvres to spin on, as well as a dance party atop a DJ table. As a whole, “Mickey & Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure” is a low-pressure, whimsical escape room/scavenger hunt hybrid for younger audiences, but one with some fun Easter Eggs and a touch of nostalgia for older eagle-eyed Disney fans.
The Adventure Continues
At the end of the tour is a second store dedicated to Disney. While children can scribble, draw and trace at art stations or look over models of the places they escaped from, the adults can shop. The extensive collection of branded merchandise included home comforts such as kitchenware and self-care products featuring well-known names like Crème, the usual T-shirts and bags brandishing Disney aesthetics, as well as plushies and reprinted comic collections headlined by characters like Mickey Mouse and Darkwing Duck. Like most things Disney, CAMP stocks the shelves with quality goods to make most of their partnership and end the attraction on a high note.
Disney and CAMP Partnership
Disney’s latest partnership may seem odd, considering how relatively new CAMP is. However, if “Mickey & Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure” is any indication of what they’re capable of, its unique smaller-scale attractions that’ll bring CAMP’s energetic showmanship and a taste of Disney magic to cities across the US. It’s not Disneyland or even The Disney Store, but it’s a unique experience all its own with plenty of promise as CAMP continues to establish its family-oriented entertainment.
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- Article: A Look at New York’s Cosmic CAMP Family Space Adventure (Theme Park Magazine)
Bookshelf picture by Spencer Bollettieri. All other pictures ©CAMP/Disney
About Spencer Bollettieri: As a biologist, journalist, and writer, Spencer Bollettieri has written for sites such as Screen Rant. Although mostly based out of New York, he’s traveled the world in pursuit of new stories.