Take a walk on the wild side at Animal Kingdom’s Festival of the Lion King.
This big, Broadway-style show features all of your favorite songs from the 1994 Disney animated classic, The Lion King, as well as aerial acrobatics, colorful characters, and plenty of fun. You will leave the Harambe Theater singing with the whole family!
Keep reading for our complete guide to Festival of the Lion King.
Festival of the Lion King Quick Facts
Festival of the Lion King is located in the Harambe Theater in Africa, near Tusker House Restaurant. Below is the location on the map.
How to Experience Festival of the Lion King
Festival of the Lion King has a Standby Line and a Lightning Lane. There are different shows throughout the day. You can check the My Disney Experience app for daily showtimes.
Do I need to use Genie+ at Festival of the Lion King?
Genie+ is available at Festival of the Lion King.
The show features plenty of seating, however, it is popular and Genie+ availability may run out before the last show of the day.
So, if this is a must for you and it’s a busy park day and/or you don’t want to line up early (about 20 to 30 minutes) to grab a seat, Genie+ might be a good option.
Be sure to check out our touring plans for Animal Kingdom for more Genie+ advice.
Rider Switch/Child Swap
Since Festival of the Lion King is appropriate for all ages, Rider Switch is not offered. Plus, Rider Switch isn’t normally offered for shows and reserved for rides.
You can learn more about Rider Switch via our handy guide.
What to Expect when you Watch
Depending on where you stand in line, guests will have to wait in an open-air queue in the sun or the covered queue inside the Harambe Theater to experience Festival of the Lion King.
This queue can get very hot during those higher temperatures and sunnier days. So, if you want to avoid standing in a line outside of the covered queue, you’ll want to plan accordingly.
Since you are seated in a theater for this experience, those in wheelchairs and ECVs may remain in them. Guests using wheelchairs and ECVs will be seated in a special area in the theater.
Handheld captioning, assistive listening, and sign language is available for guests.
In the Show
If you prefer to experience Festival of the Lion King without spoilers, make sure you skip over this section!
The Festival of the Lion King begins with the show’s four hosts, Kiume, Nakawa, Kibibi, and Zawadi, singing “Welcome to Our World”.
Simba and his guests are on their way to join the party, and it’s up to the audience to welcome them by making animal noises. The audience is divided up into four sections.
The first sound guests make is that of a warthog. Next up is the lions. Then the elephants and finally the last group who are the giraffes, make a noise that sounds like a sheep – because believe it or not, that’s what a giraffe sounds like. Who knew?!
As the audience does their best animal impression, the lights in the room dim and the wind begins to howl. “The Circle of Life” plays as Simba announces that it is time for the big celebration!
The party starts to the sounds of “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.” Timon, Pumbaa, the Tumble Monkeys, and other dancers then parade through the stage on floats, before Simba enters on his own float.
Timon takes center stage to perform “Hakuna Matata” along with Pumba who is over in the warthog section. But the Tumble Monkeys have a different idea and start to create chaos. After getting the monkeys in order, Timon and Pumbaa finish the song.
Then the Tumble Monkeys perform an acrobatic act to a medley of songs including ”Hakuna Matata”, ”Yes! We Have No Bananas,” and “Hawaiian War Chant”. As the monkeys begin packing up their equipment, “Be Prepared” plays.
Kiume takes center stage to sing the song while a fire dancer wields a flaming torch.
The tone of the show then shifts from foreboding to romantic. Two ballet dancers dressed as birds take to the stage as Kibibi and Nakawa sing, “Can you Feel the Love Tonight”. During the song, the female dancer ascends into the sky, before rejoining her partner.
As the song finishes the cast creates a circle around the stage, and Zawadi sings “The Circle of Life” before the audience is encouraged to join in on “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” part of the show’s finale.
The different groups from the beginning of the show are then divided back up and given different parts to sing. The giraffes and the elephants sing the “wimoweh” and the lions and the warthogs sing the high part.
The cast concludes the show with a medley of The Lion King songs, ending with a reprise of the “Circle of Life”. The performers take a bow as Simba roars.
Is Festival of the Lion King Kid-Friendly?
While there are some darker moments, including fire juggling, this show is one that the whole family must see! Kids will love the music and seeing characters from The Lion King.
Strollers are not allowed in most queues or theaters at Disney World, including Festival of the Lion King. Instead, you’ll need to leave your stroller in the designated stroller parking area at the entrance to the show’s queue.
Festival of the Lion King is currently the longest-running show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (along with It’s Tough to be a Bug). However, it was originally supposed to be a temporary attraction.
When Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, Imagineers had originally planned to open a land called Beastly Kingdom. Due to budget constraints, however, the opening of Beastly Kingdom was pushed back and a temporary land called Camp Minnie-Mickey was created.
This was the original home to Festival of the Lion King when it debuted in an open-air theater the same day that the Animal Kingdom did in 1998.
This show features props and floats reused from Disneyland’s “Lion King Celebration” parade which had recently ended its three-year run before the show opened. It became so popular, that the theater was enclosed in 2003 and air conditioning was added.
On January 5, 2014 Festival of the Lion King along with the rest of Camp Minnie-Mickey, closed in order to make way for construction on Pandora – The World of Avatar. However, Disney announced that Festival of the Lion King would be moving into the new Harambe Theater located in the expansion of the Africa section of the park.
The Festival of the Lion King attraction reopened in its new home on June 1, 2014.
Other Fun Details
- Festival of the Lion King is inspired by the classic Disney animated film, The Lion King (1994).
- The Simba puppet on the float is 12 feet tall!
- 136 African-inspired costumes are used in the Festival of the Lion King and are worn by the 50 cast members that perform 7 to 8 shows daily.
- Several of the show’s first performers went on to perform on Broadway.
- When the show first opened, Timon didn’t move his lips or make facial expressions. Instead, he used his hands and body movements to act out his lines. When the show reopened in 2014 at Harambe Theater, his costume received an upgrade to a “talking” character. The voice still comes from the show audio, but Timon can move his mouth, and his eyes blink.
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