The Festival of the Lion King has become a beloved show and one of the most popular attractions at all of Walt Disney World. I always recommend to friends and family that they make sure they get to see this one because it is that amazing! My husband was selected to lead the warthog section recently and I almost cried! Whether you have seen the show or not, here are several facts and secrets that you may not know about Festival of the Lion King:
10 – The show used to be located at Camp Minnie-Mickey.
The show now calls Harambe Theater in Africa its home, but it used to reside in a now extinct land called Camp Minnie-Mickey. The show had to be moved in order to make room for the construction of Pandora – The World of Avatar, and Africa made the most sense for the attraction given the basis of the show in the African savanna. New guests of Disney World will not even know what Camp Minnie-Mickey is and what attractions used to live there! At least our beloved show didn’t get cut!
9 – The re-opening of the show received an awesome special party.
When the show was ready to re-open in its new home, Disney actually created a separate ticketed event for the re-opening. This was the first after-hours ticketed event to ever come to Animal Kingdom. The event was called Harambe Nights. At the event, there were special hosts during the show and the show was extended to accommodate that different format. There was also African-inspired food and alcohol served at the event, too, so it was quite a complete evening for the guests in attendance.
8 – Simba is 12 feet tall!
It may not feel like it, but the Simba puppet on his pride rock float is actually a whopping 12 feet tall! That is one huge lion!
7 – Puppets and floats in the show were re-purposed from Disneyland’s Lion King Celebration.
When the Disneyland’s Lion King Celebration ended and Imagineers where considering attractions to offer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when the new park opened, they had the bright idea that they could re-purpose the floats and puppets that we know and love today from that event. It was an amazing way to reuse them and bring new life to them through a new attraction across the United States! Guests that never saw Disneyland’s event would never even know that they were repurposed.
6 – The show is a Broadway quality show.
Everything that Disney does is the highest quality, but this show definitely goes above and beyond. The show is so good that if it was extended to be a full-length show, you definitely wouldn’t mind paying admission for this one. We are glad that we get to experience this show as part of the admission to enter Animal Kingdom, and it is definitely one that you don’t want to miss.
5 – The show was never intended to be permanent.
When the show was created utilizing the re-purposed floats and puppets, it was created with the intention that it would be a temporary attraction. The Camp Minnie-Mickey area was meant to be a temporary area until the “Beastly Kingdom” that was originally part of the park design could be created. The attraction and the whole area became extremely popular so the area remained the same for many years. When Avatarland was decided to replace Camp Minnie-Mickey, they knew they couldn’t remove Festival of the Lion King permanently. It had become one of the most popular attractions in the entire park and known as one of the best shows across all of Walt Disney World.
4 – There are over 136 costumes used in the show.
There are over 136 costumes that were created for the show. The costumes range from the singing/voice talent to the dancers and are all inspired from African colors, prints, and fabrics. I can’t even imagine the amount of work, planning, and talent that goes into creating one of the extravagant costumes, let alone 136 of them! Then there is the cost to consider, too! The materials cost, plus the labor cost. That got expensive for them real quick!
3 – There are usually around 7-8 performances a day.
The show starts running soon after park opening and keeps going until before park closing. The shows typically run 1 per hour, so that adds up to the 7-8 shows per day depending on how long the park is open on a particular day. The shows are typically mostly full each time, too. The theater holds 1,500 guests, so on average 8,000 – 12,000 guests get to experience this amazing show per day!
2 – Timon “talks” during the show.
When the show first opened Timon didn’t move his lips or make facial expressions but had lines during the show that the actor used hands and body movement to act out. When the show reopened at Harambe Theater, his costume received an upgrade to a “talking” character. The voice still comes from the show audio, but Timon is now able to move his mouth and his eyes blink, allowing him to participate better in the show! We can’t wait for the day when all the characters have this functionality!
1 – The show has encountered a couple of problems in recent years.
The show is amazing and is a beloved guest favorite but it has also been associated with bad press, too. A more recent incident from March 2016 occurred when social media went into a tizzy over a fire at the show. The elephant float had a small fire that resulted in the show getting evacuated and remaining shows for the day were canceled. The show was back on the next day with the floats and stage already in place instead of them being brought in after the show had begun.
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