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Festival of the Lion King
Festival of the Lion King is a half-hour theatrical show featuring acrobats, dance, puppetry, stilt-walkers, and song with audience participation. This high-energy, feel-good performance is a huge crowd favorite and is usually packed full, at least during regular park hours.
The floats in this show originally appeared in the Lion King Celebration parade that ran from July 1, 1994 through June 1, 1997 in Disneyland.
According to legend, the Festival of the Lion King was meant to be a temporary filler for the quickly-developed Camp Minnie-Mickey, providing something to pull guests into that corner of the park during its early operating days. However, the show became such a huge success that it is hard to imagine it will be replaced any time soon.
The cast of this show performs annually as part of the Magic Kingdom Christmas Parade on ABC.
Festival of the Lion King is one of the can't miss attractions at the Animal Kingdom. All of the major songs from the movie are included - Circle of Life, Just Can't Wait to be King, Hakunah Matata, Be Prepared, Can You Feel the Love Tonight, and even The Lion Sleeps Tonight (which Timon is humming right before Nala attacks Pumba in the movie). No Morning Report, but then that song just wouldn't translate to the stage.
The acrobatics and flame-baton-twirling are exciting to watch. These are clearly talented performers who are auditioned carefully, not just cast members who can keep a beat.
The audience is seated in four sections, named for the four floats that are used in the show: Lion, Elephant, Giraffe, and Warthog. The four hosts enter and introduce themselves: Kiume (strong and masculine), Nakawa (good-looking), Kibibi (princess), and Zawadi (the gift). Then, each chooses a section, which compete for making the loudest call. An audience volunteer is selected to lead each section, often with embarrassing yet comical results (especially the Warthog section). The hosts then call in the floats and the center stage to the strains of Just Can't Wait to be King.
Timon sings Hakunah Matata while the "tumble monkeys" perform high-flying acrobatics on trampoline and trapeze. Kiume scares off Timon and sings Be Prepared while a performer twirls a flaming baton.
Kibibi and Nakawa sing Can You Feel the Love Tonight while a dancing couple performs a ballet - until the male partner hooks the female to a descending wire, after which she soars through the air.
All four hosts (led by Zawadi) sing Circle of Life as all the performers return to the theater.
Simba starts off the finale with a roar. The song is The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which rapidly evolves into a contest between the animal sections. The audience is encouraged to sing along while doing the hand-jive. Finally, the entire show is reprised and the show is over.
Stick around for Timon's send-off.
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