2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: Busch Gardens Tampa's Katonga
Published: February 8, 2010 at 10:25 AM
Set in the 1,200-seat Moroccan Palace Theater, this 35-minute musical show debuted in 2004 and follows a day in the lives of aspiring storytellers, called Griots, as they strive to become masters of their craft. To accomplish this rite of passage, the performers evoke traditional African stories to entertain the audience.
I have to fess up that Katonga is one of the few nominees in this year's tournament that I have not experienced in person. So I'll turn it over to TPI reader Russell Meyer, who wrote: "I wasn't sure what to expect from Katonga, but I came out realizing that I had just watched the best theme park show I've ever seen. Many people will probably want to draw comparisons to Animal Kingdom's Festival of the Lion King, but I think Katonga's imaginative story and original score elevate it even higher than any of Disney's show offerings."
And here's Joe Lane: "As our story begins, we meet Karume, a master storyteller, who calls together the best storytellers of Africa, called griots, and challenges them to tell the best stories they possibly can. One tells the story of Whirly, a young monkey who learns about being confident (to the tune of Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry, Be Happy"). Next, we have the song of Kipopo, a caterpillar struggling to find her place in the world of insects, follows with a story about Rok Rok, a bullfrog who's taught a lesson in living with others in harmony (accompanied by the Leslie Bricusse song "Talk With The Animals"). The finale is a story from about an African crowned crane named Kilinda and a great flood that threatens to wash away two lovers. The song "Celebrate the Light" is perhaps the true highlight of the production, uplifting and inspiring--and it's original, written by Tampa native Desmond Boone who has been writing music for BGT for 25 years."
Busch Gardens visitors, what do you think about Katonga? If you haven't seen the show, here's a clip of "Celebrate the Light":