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Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy to replace Katonga at Busch Gardens Tampa

By Robert Niles
Published: September 1, 2010 at 8:18 AM
Busch Gardens in Tampa has announced that it will be closing its live musical show Katonga on September 6, to replace it next year with a production of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy.

That show played on Broadway starting in June 2008. Currently, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy has two productions on the road, one at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, and the other (closing today, BTW) at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Connecticut. (That production stars former pop idol Debbie Gibson, which TPI readers of a certain age might find noteworthy.)

Here's a video look at the production, from the Cirque productions website:

Next year's shaping up to be a big one for Busch Gardens Tampa, as the park also will debut its as-yet-unannounced Cheetaka roller coaster in 2011, as well.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on September 1, 2010 at 8:34 AM
I saw this, or a version of this, when I was down at U of I. Very good BGT!

I must say that Busch Gardens seems to be Disney's main rival when it comes to shows. They seem to make pretty solid shows!

From Pyra Dong on September 1, 2010 at 8:39 AM
I agree Anthony-- i've always liked the way the Busch parks treats its shows.

Wow... i'm really curious to see how this will fit in with the park. I think I read from Screamscape that the show will begin running this December!

From Joshua Counsil on September 1, 2010 at 8:40 AM
I always contemplated the possibility of a smaller-scale Cirque show at a theme park. Clearly, most of the parks are emulating the Cirque style. I'm happy to see they finally just went with the real deal.

Good on Busch for this move. The show looks excellent.

From Pyra Dong on September 1, 2010 at 8:40 AM
Oh yes... plus I bow down deeply for anything that has the word "Cirque" in it... I wonder if this is a response to La Nouba at Downtown Disney?
From 97.102.237.73 on September 1, 2010 at 10:04 AM
I too am excited for this replacement. I do want to let other readers know who may be confused with the way this company markets itself that this is not cirque du solie putting on this show. The show itself will be entertaining for families but does not have the deep underlying meanings of a true Cirque show.
From Mike Gallagher on September 1, 2010 at 12:52 PM
Yeah, to piggyback on a previous anonymous poster. "Cirque"
is a form, like "jazz" or "sitcom." Some do it better than others, and Cirque Du Soleil is the most recognized and most successful practitioner of the form.

I work in the ticket office of the 6th largest performing arts center in the country. We presented Cirque Dreams: Jungle Fantasy a couple of seasons ago. I wish I had a dollar for every call we got from potential patrons who thought this WAS Cirque Du Soleil..I'd have enough to get into Busch to see the darn thing!

Not that I'd want to. I saw it then. It was a real P.O.S.
I can't see where Debbie..Excuse me, DebORah...Gibson fits in...hmmm.

From Tony Duda on September 1, 2010 at 1:08 PM
Good, it is past time for a new show to start. I liked Katonga many years ago when it started but for 2 years or so I just didn't care to see it.
From Jorge Arnoldson on September 1, 2010 at 1:13 PM
This looks good, but it looks like it might not be up with Katonga as the best theme park show I've seen. I can't see the point in having another themed, circus-style show in a Florida theme park. SeaWorld Orlando has some ocean themed circus show I've seen, but why put another one in a park owned by the SAME company in the SAME state?
From Daniel Etcheberry on September 1, 2010 at 2:28 PM
This look like Cirque Du Soleil lite. I went this Summer to Las Vegas and was blown away by "O". It was expensive though. Bring Cirque Du Soleil to Busch Gardens!
From 216.54.102.34 on September 2, 2010 at 7:25 AM
Busch Gardens Williamsburg presented a couple of versions of shows by the Cirque company (they were called Imaginique) that is producing the new show in Tampa. I remember how much I loved Imaginique and still miss it. I have seen Jungle Fantasy on stage and by no means does it rise to the level of Cirque du Soleil, but for a Theme Park, it will fit in nicely. Jungle Theme - Africa theme, they go somewhat together.
From Anthony J on September 6, 2010 at 2:38 PM
This will be a great addition to the Busch Gardens Tampa park and will give us a reason to head to the park for a day trip next year and not just for Howl-O-Scream.

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