Many Guests were overjoyed when we announced that the Festival of the Lion King would return. This new show has a new name and a few things have changed. Is this show still a true celebration or should you ride the Kilimanjaro Safaris instead? Check out our full review below.
Festival of the Lion King
In the past, one of my “must-do” experiences in Disney’s Animal Kingdom was to attend at least one showing of the Festival of the Lion King. In my (Donna) opinion, this is simply the best show throughout all of the Walt Disney World. Frozen Singalong is lovely, but “Let it Go” Elsa: it simply can’t compete to Festival of the Lion King.
I loved the camaraderie as everyone in your seating section was given an animal sound to make during various times of the show. The beautifully colored costumes coupled with the dynamic performances made this show seem as though you were enjoying a Broadway musical.
Walt Disney used the term of “plussing” which means you take a great idea to the next level. I felt as though the Festival of the Lion King was a beautiful illustration of this “plussing” principle. The entire show was fantastic, but in the grand finale it seemed as they layered one fantastic performance upon another.
The end result was truly extraordinary. I think I spent the end of every show with tears in my eyes and my jaw dropped open as I tried to take in all of the beautiful imagery of this great show.
I say all of this to say that I am a HUGE fan of Festival of the Lion King. I was a bit hesitant to return to this renamed A Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King. Would this new show pale in comparison and leave me wanting more? Join me in my review of this newly imagined show.
What Has Changed?
The first change that Guests may notice is that they are not assigned a specific section due to where they are seated. Previously, a Guest was selected prior to the start of the show to serve as the leader for that section. This Guest leader would then help Guests practice making an animal noise for their section such as a giraffe, lion, warthog, or elephant.
Now instead of making animal noises and singing along to songs, Guests are invited to clap along. This is not a huge change, but my family always enjoyed how interactive this show was in the past.
The beautifully colored birds that would take flight throughout the show are still present. Unfortunately, they no longer take to the sky for aerobatics. In order to follow health and safety guidelines for the cast this element has been removed.
Lastly, the most notable element missing from the show is that of the Tumble Monkeys. They are currently missing in this Celebration of a Festival of the Lion King due to health and safety guidelines.
I think this is the part that I miss most from the show. My son is a teenager now, but he always loved the fun antics that these curious little monkeys found themself in.
With all this being said, what is this new show like? Is it worth adding this into your touring plan for Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King
I will admit that I was a bit skeptical when I attended this newly imagined show. Prior to the show starting, I could hear the singers warming up vocally behind the curtains. At that moment, I had chills of excitement. It had been a couple of years since I had enjoyed this show.
As the first singers came out and sang “Welcome to Our World” I was reminded of how much I had missed the entertainment aspect of the Disney Parks.
I have greatly enjoyed the Character Cavalcades, but there is just something truly special about the entertainment that can only be found in the Disney Parks.
With the pronouncement that “It Is Time”, dancers featuring costumes of brightly colored animals joined the singers.
Even though some aspects were missing with the acrobatics, it was truly a magical celebration as we were reminded of the great “Circle of Life”.
Even though seating areas were not assigned specific animals, we still enjoyed the animal floats that were brought out during the show. There is just nothing like hearing Simba let out his mighty roar.
One great element that is still in the show is that of the flame thrower. This adds a layer of Disney “plussing” to this show. “Be Prepared” is one of my songs from the “Lion King” soundtrack. The addition of the flame thrower to this dramatic song simply left me mesmerized.
One great element that is still in the show is that of the flame thrower. This adds a layer of Disney “plussing” to this show.
Was it a Celebration?
I do love the dancers featured as beautiful birds that perform “Can You Feel the Love Tonight“. Previously these dancers would take flight mid-performance. Although this element is missing, the performance was breath-taking. You may even find yourself forgetting that this was not the original choreography.
But what about the grand finale? The use of puppets, stilt walkers, dancers, and singers added layer upon layer of the fabulous Disney “plussing” to the end of this show.
Would I recommend the Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King? 100% YES!!! I spent the better part of this show crying happy tears. Happy that Disney entertainment has once again returned and happy reliving the sweet memories that my family has enjoyed here.
The Cast of this show is truly so talented. At the end of the show, I was overwhelmed by the magic of Disney. They were able to take one of my favorite shows and reimagine in such a way that is just as much a celebration as ever before.
I do hope that the Tumble Monkeys may return in the future and that more of these missing elements can return. For the time being, this who is such a great experience.
At the end of the show, I was overwhelmed by the magic of Disney. They were able to take one of my favorite shows and reimagine in such a way that is just as much a celebration as ever before.
Was Festival of the Lion King one of your favorite shows before the Park closure? Have you enjoyed the new Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King? Which is your favorite Disney Park show? Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook Page.