|Festival of the Lion King|
|The entrance sign for the Festival of the Lion King.|
|Disney's Animal Kingdom|
|Attraction type||Stage Show|
|Opening date||April 22, 1998|
|Ride duration||28 minutes|
Although currently the longest running show in Disney's Animal Kingdom (a distinction it shares with It's Tough to be a Bug), Festival of the Lion King was originally planned as a temporary attraction. When Imagineers designed Animal Kingdom, the plan called for Beastly Kingdomme to be one of the park’s main lands . Due to budget constraints however, Beastly Kingdomme was pushed back to a later time and a temporary land called Camp Minnie-Mickey was created in order to draw guests to this new land.
At the same time Imagineers were working on Camp Minnie-Mickey, Disneyland’s "Lion King Celebration" parade was ending its three year run . Eventually, it was decided that Imagineers could rescue many of the puppets and floats from the parade, and create a new stage show for Animal Kingdom. The show that they created was housed in a temporary theater which was not enclosed. The show was called Festival of the Lion King and was ready in time for Animal Kingdom's opening day.
Festival of the Lion King, as well as the rest of Camp Minnie Mickey, proved to be so successful that it eventually became one of the parks most popular attractions. The show's theater was finally enclosed in 2003, along with air conditioning being added. Outside of changes to the show's theater, Festival of the Lion King has not seen any major changes, although a new Timon costume that allowed the meerkat to move his mouth and blink his eyes was added to the show in 2009.
On January 5, 2014 Festival of the Lion King along with the rest of Camp Minnie-Mickey was closed in order make way for construction on Avatar Land (a new area of the park based on James Cameron’s film Avatar) . Despite the closure of the land, Disney announced that Festival of the Lion King would be moving into a new theater called Harambe Theater located in a new expansion of the Africa section of the park. The theater was completed in May of 2014 , and the Festival of the Lion King attraction reopened in its new home on June 1, 2014 .
The Festival of the Lion King begins with the shows' four hosts singing "Welcome to Our World". The four hosts are Kiume (meaning "masculine and strong" in Swahili), Nakawa (meaning "good-looking"), Kibibi (meaning "princess"), and Zawadi (meaning "the gift"). After the hosts introduce themselves, they tell the audience that Simba and his guests will be there any minute, but first they need the audiences' help. In order to greet Simba and his friends, the hosts decide to divide the audience into four groups, who will greet the animals by making animal noises. The first sound guests make is that of a warthog. To do this, one guest is chosen to lead the audience as they make tusks with their fingers and make a snorting noise. Next up is the lions. Another guest is chosen to imitate a lion by putting their paws up and roaring. After the lions are done, it's time for the elephants. The section that is assigned elephants put their hands up and trumpet like an elephant. Finally the last group who are the giraffes, make a noise that sounds like a sheep.
After everyone knows their roles, they all make their animal noises together. At this point, the lights in the room dim and everyone is told to listen. As wind begins to howl, various animals begin to dance on stage. After their ceremony, the Circle of Life begins to play. Simba, then addresses guests, telling them that it is time for the big celebration. At the beginning of the celebration, the song "I Just Can't Wait to be King" plays, as a parade begins. Timon, Pumbaa, the Tumble Monkeys, various animals, and other dancers then parade through the stage on floats. Finally, Simba appears atop a rock, watching over the proceedings.
Following "I Just Can't Wait to be King", Timon takes center stage to perform Hakuna Matata. He is joined by Pumbaa, who is located on the side of the theater in “the warthog section”. As Timon tries to perform his song, the Tumble Monkeys initially cause havoc. After getting the monkeys in order, Timon and Pumbaa finish the song. After Hakuna Matata has ended, the Tumble Monkeys perform an acrobatic act as the rest of the animals look on. The dance is performed to a medley of songs including: “Sing, Sing, Sing”, ”Playmates”, ”Snake Charmer”, ”Caravan”, ”Hakuna Matata”, ”Yes! We Have No Bananas” and "Hawaiian War Chant". As the monkeys begin packing up the stage, the song "Be Prepared" begins to play. As various dancers appear in dark clothing, Kiume takes center stage to sing the song. While he is singing, a fire dancer begins dancing with a flaming torch.
Following Be Prepared, two ballet dancers dance as two cast members sing, "Can you Feel the Love Tonight". During the song, the female dancer is raised into the sky, and she flies above the stage. As the song finishes Kiume appears again, telling everyone that they are all connected through the circle of life. At this point in the show, the dancers (including Timon and the Tumble Monkeys) all create a circle around the stage, as a female singer sings “The Circle of Life”. Following the song, Simba tells the audience that it's time to for them to help in the celebration finale “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. The different groups are then divided back up and given different parts to sing. The giraffes and the elephants singing the "wing a way" and lions and the warthogs singing the high part. Timon then decides that he will sing the melody. The whole cast and audience then performs The Lion Sleeps Tonight together.
After the song has finished, Timon tells the cast that it's time to take it home. They then perform a medley of the Lion King songs that had previously been featured in the show (Hakuna Matata, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, Be Prepared and I Just Can't Wait to Be King), concluding with a reprise of the Circle of Life. After the medley, the actors take a bow as Simba roars. Timon then tells the audience they were the best audience ever before pointing them towards the exit.
Fun Facts and Trivia
- The Simba puppet in the Festival of the Lion King is 12 feet tall .
- 136 African inspired costumes are used in the show .
- 50 cast members perform daily in the Festival of the Lion King .
- 7 shows of the Festival of the Lion King are performed every day .
- Several of the show's first performers went on to perform on Broadway .