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Is the new Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King a Celebration or a Disappointment?

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Is the new Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King a Celebration or a Disappointment?
Credit: Donna

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

Photo: Disney

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.

Credit: Donna

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.

Credit: KtP Writer Christina

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?

Credit: Donna

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.

Credit: Donna

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.

Credit: Disney

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

Credit: Donna

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.

Credit: Donna

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”.

Credit: Donna

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.

Credit: Donna

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?

Credit: Donna

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.

Credit: Donna

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.

Credit: Donna

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.


7 COMMENTS

  1. The “flamethrower” is a Samoan Fire Knife Dancer. At the end when they all perform together – you can see they are knives when they are unlit. The guy who was doing it before was a world champion. I have not been back to see it yet so I do not know who is doing it now. The Spirit of Aloha Fire Knife performer was also one of the best of the world. Another show lost, another example of Disney dishing out watered down entertainment.

  2. The tumble monkeys have been auditioned for individually in the past. It has not been an entire act that moves from job to job as one. Though I cannot see a health and safety concern to have that part of the show cease, based on other allowances etc…, I do hope that for whatever reason, this part of the show returns. Nevada continues its state-wide indoor mask mandate and its contemporary circus acts are up and running…

  3. I was disappointed in the show as well. I remember seeing the flying birds and the monkeys. I asked about the monkeys and I was told that they got a contract with another company and that’s the reason why they’re not back has nothing to do with health they’re out of work for so long they had to find another job.

  4. I have to agree with Gwen Speas. My children were disappointed. They loved being part of the show before the change, now they are just spectators.

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