Festival of The Lion King Returns to WDW – Which Shows Will Be Next?

in Walt Disney World

festival of the lion king

Credit: Disney

Yesterday, Disney World made an exciting announcement regarding one popular show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — Festival of The Lion King.

Returning this summer, this fan-favorite show is making a comeback (with modifications to keep both Cast Members and Guests safe during this time), which also allows certain performers and crew members to get back to work!

In case you missed it, the Walt Disney Company had to make the difficult decision to lay off tens of thousands of Cast Members across Disney Parks and Resorts in the U.S., including employees of both Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and Walt Disney World in Central Florida (Orlando). These layoffs also included a majority of the entertainment cast at the theme parks.

Festival of the Lion King
Credit: Disney

Not long after the entertainment layoff notices went out in October, Disney released a statement saying that they will, in fact, bring back entertainment when the time is right. Additionally, in yesterday’s statement regarding the return of Festival of The Lion King, Disney shared the following:

We are thrilled to be starting the process of bringing back to work more singers, dancers, technicians and other cast members, from one of the most popular shows at Walt Disney World Resort.

This statement clearly shows that Disney is anticipating bringing back even more entertainment shows as well as other Cast Members in the future — but which shows could be next?

Well, with The Festival of The Lion King performers being part of the Actors’ Equity Association, let’s take a look at some of the other shows with performers from the Actor’s Equity Association, which could be a hint at which entertainment offerings could return in the near future.

Note that Disney has not specifically announced which shows are returning in addition to The Festival of The Lion King and this is our own speculation.

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage

beauty and the beast
Credit: Disney

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage is an outdoor show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios that tells the story of the beloved animated classic Beauty and the BeastThe official Disney World website describes the show as:

The heartwarming tale of Belle and the Beast swirls to life in this lush stage performance. With colorful costumes, gorgeous scenery and the songs you’ve come to love, this sumptuous show will sweep you away—all over again!

However, due to the global pandemic, and the ongoing battle between the Actors’ Equity Union and Disney, the show was put on hold for a short period of time back in August (with a temporary Disney Society Orchestra show) before Disney made the announcement that the company would be laying off the Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage cast in October.

Festival of The Lion King performers, who were also laid off back in October, are part of the same Equity Union as Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, so we could possibly see this Disney’s Hollywood Studios show return next.

Voyage of The Little Mermaid

voyage of the little mermaid
Credit: Disney

Back in September, there was some talk that Disney was preparing to remove the Voyage of The Little Mermaid attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios completely due to a missing poster. However, Disney did confirm that this was not the case and the show isn’t going anywhere — it just hasn’t been operating due to the current pandemic.

In case you haven’t experienced this attraction, Disney World describes Voyage of The Little Mermaid as:

Enter a world where the ocean floor is full of fish and Ariel longs to stroll and dance with humans. Sing along with colorful puppets, spirited live performers, wondrous special effects and enchanting film clips.

Sebastian the crab and his hot crustacean band make a splash with “Under the Sea.” Ariel yearns to trade her tail for legs in “Part of Your World.” 

When Ursula the Sea Witch grants her wish, Ariel gets more than she bargained for—before discovering her own happily-ever-after at the grand fin-ale.

Once again, this show includes performers from the same Equity Union, so we could possibly see this show return considering we know Disney made it clear, this show isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Finding Nemo The Musical

Finding Nemo: The Musical
Credit: Disney

Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, not far from Festival of The Lion King, is another fan-favorite show — Finding Nemo The Musical. This indoor show is performed in a theater environment similar to the For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which Disney World brought back last fall.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to experience Finding Nemo The Musical, the official Disney World description reads:

Extraordinary live musical performances, delightful puppets, vibrant sets and wondrous underwater special effects immerse you in Nemo’s fin-tastic world. Join the overprotective clownfish Marlin and his forgetful friend Dory as they search for his son, Nemo.

The multiple Academy Award®-winning songwriting team behind Frozen and Coco, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, created 14 original songs just for this show—the first time a non-musical Disney animated feature has been transformed into an original musical production.

Take your fins and family and dive right into this “big blue world!”

If Disney wanted to bring back Finding Nemo The Musical, which has performers from the Actor’s Equity Association, it could be in a similar way they are doing it for both Festival of The Lion King and what they did for For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration.

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor

Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
Credit: Disney

Over at Magic Kingdom, located in Tomorrowland, is the popular show called Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, which brings Guests into a comedy show starring Mike Wazowski, Roz, and other famous monsters from the Disney Pixar film, Monsters, Inc. Disney World describes this attraction as:

Step inside the only laugh factory in Monstropolis and make your way into a comedy club hosted by Monster of Ceremonies Mike Wazowski. These scare-acters love to engage the audience. Don’t be surprised if you become part of the show!

Inspired by the Disney and Pixar animated films Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University, this attraction scares up some monster laughs.

laugh floor 2
Credit: Inside the Magic Katrina J.

The performers who were part of Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor are also associated with the same Actor’s Equity Union. Once again, this stage show is set up similar to For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration and The Enchanted Tiki Room — both of which implemented socially distanced seating in order to comply with the CDC guidelines, keeping both Cast Members and Guests safe.

They would, however, have to make other modifications to how the Guests interact as a Cast Member used to walk around with a microphone so that the performers could hear what the Guests were saying. This, of course, is not pandemic friendly so Disney would need to figure out another way to make this work if they plan to bring back this show during the current pandemic.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

indiana jones
Credit: Disney

The official Walt Disney World website describes this show as:

Watch live as the daring duo dodges deadly traps, battles bad guys, leaps from tall buildings and makes thrilling escapes straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The edge-of-your-seat suspense ends with a dynamite finale!

Along the way, get an inside look at how stunts are done with demonstrations that reveal how to safely throw and take punches, fall from tall buildings, and even wield whips in the midst of complex action sequences.

The good news about Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is that this theater is outdoors and very spacious, making social distancing much easier to implement.

However, the only downside here is that for one section of the show, performers would select random Guests from the audience to participate in one of the scenes. Due to the pandemic, this most likely won’t be able to happen; however, that doesn’t mean Disney can’t bring this show back and just make modifications to it, just as they have done with the other Disney World shows.

Turtle Talk with Crush

turtle talk
Credit: Disney

Located in EPCOT, this interactive show is another fan-favorite that has not been operating due to the pandemic. The official description reads:

Got a burning question for Crush? During this live 15-minute chat, you may get to ask it.

Take a seat at Turtle Talk theater and watch as the turtle from Disney and Pixar’s Finding Nemo swims up close. Through the amazing technology of the hydrophone, he can communicate directly with land-based dudes and dudettes about almost anything that’s on their minds.

Ask him about marine biology, his friends from the sea, his favorite foods, life on the East Australian Current—it’s totally up to you!

He may also introduce you to his pals Marlin, Nemo and Squirt—plus new friends from Disney and Pixar’s Finding Dory.

The show is improvised, so it’s different every time. It’s an ocean full of laughs for all ages!

Much like the performers who were part of the shows we have listed above, the cast of Turtle Talk With Crush, also part of the same Equity Union, was let go last year. This show could make a comeback to the theme park in the near future, but once again, Disney would have to implement social distancing measures and make other modifications to how the Guests interact.

Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire

magic kingdom castle
Credit: Disney

This one may be a bit harder to bring back with safety protocols in place; however, as we have seen demonstrated at Shanghai Disneyland, Disney World could put markers on the ground to implement social distancing. Not only could the theme park use these markers for Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, but if they wanted to start bringing back nighttime spectaculars, such as Happily Ever After, then they could utilize these social distancing markers for both entertainment offerings.

The performers in Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire are also part of the same Equity Union as the other shows we have listed above.

Disney World Shows and Performers That May Not Return Right Away

disney social distancing characters
Credit: Disney

Some of the performers that we don’t expect to return soon include those that cannot operate in a pandemic-friendly environment and could potentially cause people to gather, including the Citizens of Hollywood, the Citizens of Main Street, the Green Army Drum Corps, and Move It, Shake It, MousekeDance It Street Party (simply due to the fact that Disney already has new cavalcades in place for the time being).

So what do you think? Which shows will be next to return? Let us know your guesses in the comments below.

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