Festival of the Lion King, an original interpretation of the Disney animated film The Lion King, is a live stage musical performed in Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Florida and in Adventureland at Hong Kong Disneyland. The show uses songs, dance, puppetry and visual effects to portray a tribal celebration in an African savanna setting filled with lions, elephants, giraffes, birds, zebras and gazelles. In this theater environment, Festival of the Lion King is a traveling celebration presented by Simba and his friends (including a band of four human singers). The show is in the form of a revue, and not a condensed version of either the film or Broadway show. The show features Elton John and Tim Rice's award-winning music from the movie.
The show is presented inside an enclosed theater in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Guests sit in four sections, each designated with an animal name: Warthog, Elephant, Giraffe and Lion. These animals are represented by large puppets on four parade-style floats, which were originally built for Disneyland's The Lion King Celebration parade. Guests are asked to make a noise corresponding to their animal at certain times during the show and children are sometimes pulled out of the audience to dance. The show is hosted by four performers dressed in costumes inspired by traditional African dress. Each has a Swahili name: Kiume (meaning "masculine and strong"), Nakawa (meaning "good-looking"), Kibibi (meaning "princess"), and Zawadi (meaning "the gift").
An actress in the Warthog section of the performance at the Animal Kingdom.
Due to the construction on Avatar Land (based on James Cameron's Avatar (2009 film) and its upcoming sequels) replacing Camp Minnie-Mickey (which was the show's original location). Instead of disappointing many fans by closing it forever, the show went into a several-month hiatus while Imagineers could build a new theater, the Harambe Theater, in an unused dense forest area in the Africa section of the park. When Camp Minnie-Mickey closed permanently on January 5, 2014, the area was ready for groundbreaking on January 10, 2014 to convert Camp Minnie-Mickey into Avatar Land.
Construction on the Harambe Theater was complete in May 2014. The show returned from its hiatus on June 1, 2014 in its newly built Harambe Theater location. This relocation was part of a wider expansion of Africa, which included a new path, restrooms, and new restaurant opportunities.
The show is featured in the "Theater in the Wild" in Adventureland. Similar to the theater setting in Disney's Animal Kingdom, guests sit in four different sections, each with an animal name: Warthog, Elephant, Giraffe and Lion. The show in Hong Kong has been arranged to a simplified version of the story of The Lion King along with the songs in the movie. The performance is mainly in English, but two actors dressed as monkeys summarize and translate Rafiki's lines into Cantonese in order to accommodate guests who do not speak English. Simplified Chinese subtitles, for Mainland Chinese visitors, are also projected onto the screens above each seating section. The show is presented to Simba by Rafiki (portrayed by a female actress, as in the Broadway musical) as a re-telling of Simba's life. Simba is represented by a large, elaborate puppet on a parade-style float decorated as a tribal-styled Pride Rock.
In contrast to the Simba of the Animal Kingdom production the puppet in this production wears red and black tribal bracelets and has braids in his mane.