Fan-Favorite Disney Show Returns With Many Changes

in Walt Disney World

A group of people wearing costumes

Credit: Disney

For the first time in forever, Disney World finally brought back a show to their parks! At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Festival of the Lion King is finally back, but there are changes. 

festival of the lion king
Credit: Disney

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Disney World has had to say goodbye for now to a lot of their entertainment offerings, but finally, we are starting to see some of it return. Festival of the Lion King announced its return a few months ago and on May 8, the show soft-opened without any announcement, leaving Guests visiting the park with a special surprise!

Related: Former Disney Cast Member Speaks out on Recent Layoffs

Inside the Magic was on the scene and we will tell you all of the changes that have been made. It is important to note that the show’s grand opening will be on May 15, and the current soft opening is being used to see what further changes need to be made. So the show and experience we had could change by the time the show is fully open according to the Cast Members working the theater!

The Lion King Musical
Credit: Disney

The first piece of advice we have: get there EARLY! The theater skips every row when seating Guests and the distance between parties is quite spaced out, so the capacity is almost 75% reduced. We were in line at 4:50 pm, and were not able to make it into the 5:00 pm show, but did make it inside for the 6:00 pm show, even then Guests who had also been in line waiting did not make it in the theater.

Typically, when the show begins, the performers get the audience involved by making each section a certain animal, in this version that did not happen the show just begins. We also lose the tumble monkey section entirely and the aerial acrobats during “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, now only perform on the ground.

That being said, the joy on every performer’s face was highly noticeable, and the energy they were presenting more than make up for the cuts that had to be made for the safety of the performers. I can guarantee the performance is still just as moving, and tears will still continue to be shed.

A person standing on a stage
Credit: Disney

According to the Disney World website, this is the official Festival of the Lion King description:

The Circle of Life – Live on Stage

Join the inhabitants of the Pride Lands for a grand gala in honor of Simba, the lion cub who would be king.
As the lights dim, hear the sounds of the African savanna. A kinetic kaleidoscope of color floods the stage as colossal puppets, extravagantly costumed dancers, and incredible stilt walkers dazzle the senses.
During spectacular theatrics, you’ll relive all the classic songs from The Lion King, including “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” The spectacular finale includes a soaring rendition of “Circle of Life.”
It’s a moving and immersive theatrical experience celebrating music that has touched generations of Disney fans—and a festival you’ll want to be part of again and again!

Know Before You Go

“A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King” will be presented in a modified format to be mindful of the current environment. Adjustments to the show have been made onstage and backstage, including updates to choreography and temporarily pausing some show elements to allow for appropriate physical distancing.
Seating will be limited for the show and is not guaranteed with park admission. Guests should check My Disney Experience app, in-park tip boards or speak with a Cast Member at Harambe Theatre for queue information and show availability, which is subject to change.

A group of people wearing costumes
Credit: Disney

Although this show will be returning, many other shows such as  Citizens of Main Street, the Citizens of HollywoodBeauty and the Beast Live on Stage, the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, Finding Nemo The Musical, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, the Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, and more have yet to return.

So, as of next weekend, the show will be back in action, but if you are visiting Disney World this week, make sure to try and get into the show if you can!

What show would you like to bring back to the Disney Parks next? Let us know in the comments!

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