Saturday SixWalt Disney World (FL)

The SATURDAY SIX looks at THE LION KING in Walt Disney World

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They say there are only two things we are guaranteed in life, death and taxes. However, we’re almost at the point where we can add a third item onto to that list: Disney doing another live-action remake of one of its animated classics.

This week The Lion King heads back into the movie theaters, and – similar to earlier releases this year with Dumbo and Aladdin – Disney has taken a hand drawn animated film filled with expressionistic characters and replaced them with photorealistic ones.

The Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Today we celebrate the release of The Lion King with a look at how the film has been incorporated into Walt Disney World, starting with…

# 6 – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is based around four films: The Little Mermaid, Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King. Each of the four movies has its own section of the resort with ultra-themed guest rooms, but you’ll find references to all of the individual films in the lobby area as well. By the check-in desks there is a series of pieces that show the process of The Lion King, from the earliest design sketches all the way to finished art seen in the movie. The resort’s food court – Landscape of Flavors – has a Lion King themed seating area. Meanwhile, The Lion King wing of the resort has a whole bunch of great photo ops featuring characters such as Scar, Rafiki, and Mufasa.

Art of Animation lobby. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Art of Animation lobby. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Art of Animation lobby. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Art of Animation lobby. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Seating at Landscape of Flavors food court. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King themed AOA pressed penny design. (photo by Michael Carelli)
The Lion King section of Art of Animation. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Pride Rock. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Scar. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Elephant graveyard play area. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Rafiki. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Side of one of the Lion King-themed buildings. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Artist drawing pad used to cover up the stairwells. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Carpet inside a Lion King building. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Inside a Lion King family suite at Art of Animation.


# 5 – Merch

Walt Disney World has been selling Lion King merchandise at the resort for 25 years now, but fans of Simba, Nala, and the gang have more options than ever to choose from.

A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of these plush go towards the “Protect the Pride” conservation fund. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Simba and Nala plush. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King plush. (photo by Michael Carelli)
We’ll be picking this one up at the the Outlets later this year. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Alex and Ani jewelry. (photo by Michael Carelli)
This Lion King notebook has been out for a while but is one of my favorite pieces of merchandise at WDW. Themed like an old VHS tape, this is an E-Ticket notebook. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King merchandise. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King merchandise. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King shirts. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King shirts. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King Funko Pops. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King pins. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King pins. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King pins. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King coffee cup. (photo by Michael Carelli)


# 4 – Snacks

For a limited time this summer, Lion King-themed snacks can be found at Animal Kingdom and other areas of WDW.

“No Worries Panna Cotta” from Refreshment Outpost in Epcot. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Simba cupcake at Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Peanut butter paws cupcake from Landscape of Flavors at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Simba ice cream sandwich at Tamu Tamu in Animal Kingdom. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King themed animal crackers. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Lion King-themed cookies (photo by Michael Carelli)
Jiko Circle of Life Culinary Interpretation Story Menu. (photo by Scott Sanders)
Jiko Circle of Life Culinary Interpretation Story Menu. (photo by Scott Sanders)
Hakuna Matata. (photo by Scott Sanders)
Can You Feel The Love Tonight Friandise. (photo by Scott Sanders)


# 3 – The Grub Burger at D-Luxe Burger

“Slimy, yet satisfying.” – Pumbaa, explaining the taste of grubs in The Lion King

Themed snacks are one thing, but we here at the SATURDAY SIX pay extra attention to next level bonkers food items. From Animal Kingdom poop snacks, to hot dogs served inside a baked potato, to Universal’s new Voodoo Doughnut burger, if a food sounds absolutely INSANE, we want to try it. For the release of The Lion King, D-Luxe Burger in Disney Springs came out with a Grub Burger that features a “signature-blend burger patty, fried mozzarella, fresh tomato salad, lettuce, tomato wormsbasil grasshopper, and a balsamic vinegar spider. WHAAAAAAT?!

Our review? “Slimy, and just okay.” The burger looks intimidating – if not downright disgusting – but it’s not too bad. The fried mozzarella and fresh tomato salad actually work well together.

Grub Burger at D-Luxe in Disney Springs. (photo by Michael Carelli)


# 2 – Rafiki’s Plant Watch, PhilharMagic, Fantasmic! and more…

Walt Disney World has been incorporating The Lion King and its characters in several attractions over the years. At Animal Kingdom, Rafiki’s Planet Watch recently reopened after a “refurbishment” (one in which we can’t tell what was actually refurbished),  a new scavenger hunt made its debut, a Lion King show was added to the incredible Tree of Life Awakenings, and Lion King is part of the new “We Are One” Rivers of Light nighttime pageant.  At Magic Kingdom, Donald Duck makes an appearance during The Lion King’s “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” segment of PhilharMagic, and the same song is used during a sequence in Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Mickey’s PhilharMagic.
Lion King segment during Fantasmic! (screenshot from Martin’s Vids on YouTube. The very best filmer of anything theme park related)
Young Simba on a water screen during Fantasmic! (screenshot from Martin Smith’s Fantasmic! video)
Our own Simba gets ready for the Rivers of Light show at Animal Kingdom.


# 1 – Festival of the Lion King

Walt Disney World is filled with some amazing shows, but Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom is the best of them all. Filled with memorable songs, larger-than-life characters, and some amazing performers, FOTLK is unique in that it is part show, part circus, and part parade (and extremely kid friendly!).

Festival of the LIon King in Harambe Village. (photo by Michael Carelli)
FOTLK. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Festival of the Lion King. (photo by Mike Sperduto)
Timon and an acrobat. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Zebra performer. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Fire performers. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Festival of the Lion King. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Festival of the Lion King. (photo by Michael Carelli)


HONORABLE MENTION – Kilamanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris has always been home to many of the animals you’ll see in The Lion King, but recently we found that the drivers are specifically pointing that out. The Safaris are pound for pound one of the best attractions in all of WDW, with each and every single ride being a different experience.

Kilimanjaro Safaris. (photo by Brian Carey)
“A lion sleeps tonight….” (photo by Michael Carelli)
A giraffe on Kilimanjaro Safaris. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Kilimanjaro Safaris.
This Lion possibly just saw the live action remake….(photo by Michael Carelli)

So there you have it: The Lion King at WDW! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles, or, for your listening pleasure, check out the E-Ticket Report podcast. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

6 Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Animal Kingdom

SATURDAY SIX SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: An in-depth look at theme park photography

6 Pieces of Disney Merchandise That Don’t Exists (But Totally Should)

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, hot shot Michael Carelli, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and Nick, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will  enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.

FINAL PLUG! Did you know The 2019 Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando has a special edition of the SATURDAY SIX in it?That’s right, ANOTHER NEW ONE EXCLUSIVE TO THIS EDITION!Finally, someone came up with an actual reason to read a book. ORDER this baby now!

Now we’re talking! (photo by Michael Carelli)

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