Show Spotlight: Festival of the Lion King

“There’s more to see than can ever be seen…”

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What is Festival of the Lion King?

The Festival of the Lion King is a theater-in-the-round performance with every kind of entertainment you can imagine – from song and dance to animatronic figures and movie characters along with narrators re-telling the story of the beloved Disney classic animated film, The Lion King.

Visually it’s a bit of a mash-up of the movie and Broadway versions by way of the Disneyland Lion King Celebration parade (from whence it reportedly re-purposed some of its original costumes and staging!).

But as a theatrical experience – it’s phenomenal and fun! There are plenty of audience participation opportunities too, as each section of the crowd is assigned a particular animal to represent in the Circle of Life!

Who are the performers?

An aerialist dances in mid-air!

An aerialist dances in mid-air!

Just as I noted it was Genie who defined the Aladdin show at Disney California Adventure, at the Festival of the Lion King, it is all about the Tumble Monkeys – who are so terrific, I’m spotlighting them separately tomorrow!

Otherwise, there is a tremendously talented cast of singers, dancers, aerialists, and even fire dancers in their glorious multi-hued costumes that bring this joyous show to life!

When and where can I find it?

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While my pictures are from the show’s former location, the Festival of the Lion King recently re-opened in its new venue – the Harambe Theater in the Africa section of Walt Disney World Resort’s Animal Kingdom. Like the earlier staging, I understand the current set-up is also a theater-in-the-round which makes for a different kind of theatrical experience depending on where you sit! But generally some of the performers will be facing you and others will have their backs to you at various points in the show.

There are usually multiple performances daily, but check your Times Guide for the exact schedule. As the show is indoors, it should not be impacted by the weather – other than to provide you half an hour of lovely air conditioning!

FastPass+ is available for this show and while it may not be absolutely necessary, this show is a priority at this park for me, so I’d probably opt to use one of my selections on it – then again, I don’t need to go on Expedition Everest, so your mileage may vary!

Why spotlight it?

A fire dancer heats things up!

A fire dancer heats things up!

As much as I love a majority of the entertainment that is offered at the Walt Disney World Resort, I do think in general, the Disneyland Resort has higher production values in their shows. In large part, this is probably due to the West Coast parks being so close to the heart of the entertainment industry in Hollywood and attracting the highest level of production experience and performers drawn from all over the country and all over the world.

That said, Festival of the Lion King BLEW ME AWAY when I saw it. Hands down the greatest show I’ve seen at the Walt Disney World Resort.  Both in terms of quality of the performers and the production, this show is FANTASTIC! I was only sorry I didn’t have time to go right back in and watch it again after I saw it for the first time!

If we have to lose the incredibly popular, appeals-to-everyone Aladdin show in Disney California Adventure, I think this would have been a great alternative/replacement, rather than Frozen.

And as I noted similarly regarding that unique production at the Disneyland Resort – if you can only go see one show in the entire Walt Disney World Resort, this is by far the number one choice I’d recommend!

Have you seen the Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom? Do you agree that it’s the best show at the Walt Disney World Resort or is there something you think is even better?


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