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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Attraction review: Festival of the Lion King

Welcome to a new segment for the DisneyDaddy blog. Every once in a while, I'll share my thoughts about an attraction at WDW. For this post, I'd like to discuss the Festival of the Lion King at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

---- SPOILER ALERT ---- SPOILER ALERT ----

I will get into some specifics about the show, though there aren't any real surprises that I will discuss. If you haven't seen this show and don't want to know anything about it, you might want to stop here.





OK, you've had your warning, on with the show, er, review.

I have only had the opportunity to see this show one time, so I will state right up front that there may be some elements I missed about this show.

The show warm-up is done by four castmembers clad in attire that loosely represents the "sections" of the audience they are playing to. Those four sections are: elephant, giraffe, warthog and lion. The seats are arranged in four sections, two of which I'll call the "back" (facing the entrance) and two the "front" (facing away from the entrance). As I'll explain later, it's better to get a seat in the two front sections, as they give a much better view of certain show elements.

Anyway, back to the pre-show: these four performers bring up audience members (mostly from the front or second row) to help "demonstrate" the sounds each section should make. As I was sitting in the elephant section, you can guess what sounds we were asked to make whenever the elephant section was referenced. The poor guy chosen to demonstrate our elephant sound couldn't get into the spirit, though the cast member did a nice job trying to make him not feel embarrassed. The same thing went for the three other sections.

Once the pre-show wrapped up, the main show began with five huge set pieces being wheeled into the main area. Timon (a live character) is first to enter and sort of becomes the master of ceremonies for lack of a better term. He's not the central figure, but he does guide things along.

Four of these huge set pieces are pretty much just decoration, though each has one large animatronic on it which the live castmembers interact with at times. Those are (you guessed it,) a giraffe, elephant, warthog (Pumbaa, of course) and a lion (Simba, naturally).

The fifth set piece is a large trampoline disguised as a rock formation. This is where the tumble monkey's jump swing all over the place. The other acrobatic highlight of the show is the flying bird-woman who soars several times out into the audience. She really is quite spectacular.

That's pretty much the lay of the prideland. I won't go through a play-by-play of the entire thing, but I did want to share a few points.

If you, can, it's better to sit in either the warthog or giraffe sections. They face Simba, while the lion and elephant sections face away from Simba. I would say warthog is best (especially toward the right front). That way you get a good view of both Simba and Pumbaa. The giraffe and elephant animatronics don't really do all that much.

If anyone in your party has a fear of fire, they may want to be forewarned -- there is a fire juggler in the show. He's great, but for those with a heightened fear of fire, it might be frightening.

There is a point during the show where some kids can get into the action. If your kids are interested in taking part, it's better to sit in the first few rows and be enthusiastic.

My take: The Festival of the Lion King is one of the signature attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The show runs about 30 minutes and is a great way to beat the heat (or avoid the rain). The arena is fairly large, seating around 1000 guests. The tumble monkeys are the true gem of this attraction. They perform with high energy and humor. If you haven't seen the Festival of the Lion King - it is a must-do at Animal Kingdom. I wouldn't go so far to say that it's a must-do every time, but it's a great show to see every few trips. If you do get the chance to interact with the castmembers during the pre-show - have fun! We're not laughing at you, we're laughing with you.

1 comment:

Marc said...

That's funny, because I just saw The Lion king show in NY.

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