Lion King at Disney parks

August 20, 2017, 9:48 AM

The Lion King is one of Disney's masterpieces. Not only is it one of Disney's biggest hits, it's one of the highest grossing movies of all time. It was met with critical acclaim, and has received many awards. It's received many accolades on Broadway as well, and has been a long, running, standing show. My question is...why didn't Disney theme parks ever build an attraction, or land, related to the Lion King?

I know Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland, have had live shows about the Lion King. "The Legend of the Lion King," and "Festival of the Lion King" have both been present at the Disney parks. I'm just wondering why Disney never build a dark ride pertaining to the Lion King? Especially since the Lion King has always been so popular with fans world wide. Disney could have built a land dedicated to the Lion King in Animal Kingdom. For example, they could have built a replica of "Pride Rock," which could have been the entrance into the land, or entrance into the dark ride.

In addition, it would have been cool if Disney recreated a jungle with a waterfall, as seen in the movie. As well as the "Elephant Graveyard." Disney could have little attractions as well for the kids. As they do in Dino Land, in Animal Kingdom. The characters from the movie also could be present throughout the land. Mainly Timon, and Rafiki. I think it would have been a cool idea.

A land based on the Lion King makes the most sense in Animal Kingdom. I'm not sure where Disneyland could fit it? Maybe California Adventure? I'm just curious as to why one of Disney's biggest hits does not have a themed land, or dark ride attraction dedicated to it?

Replies (11)

August 20, 2017, 1:17 PM

There are different mediums within themed entertainment. Attractions, theatrical productions, character greetings, etc. Disney chose theater for 'The Lion King' -- which is not surprising considering its success on Broadway.

August 21, 2017, 7:55 AM

Ewhile i agree with TH that The Lion King has been, and continues to be present in the parks in other ways, its still surprising that there is not a Lion King dark ride anywhere in the world. My guess is at Animal Kingdom, they wanted actual animals to be the main focus whenever possible, so run went with a live show instead of a ride.

Outside Animal Kingdom and Disney World, there's not really a place for a Lion King dark ride. It doesn't really fit in any of the lands at any of the Magic Kingdom parks, so that's not really an option. As much as California Adventure isn't about California anymore, there's no place that a Lion King ride would work there either, besides maybe the mismatched Hollywood section, which will probably be torn down for Marvel anyway. If the Hyperion Theatre survives the transaction to Marvel, the Broadway style show could replace Frozen if they ever decide to let that go. I do remember in Dr Strange there was a sign for The Lion King show in Hong Kong, so maybe the could squeeze that in since it has already been established The Lion King Broadway show exists in the MCU. Other than that I can't see anything related to the Lion King in DCA.

Disney seems to have no clue what the theme of Disney Studios Paris is, so they should probably figure that at before they stretch the non existent theme out any more than it alwready has been. Maybe if they can figure out the theme, they could put one there if it could fit within the parks new direction.

And I don't think a Lion King attraction of any kind could possibly exist in Tokyo Disney Sea.

So while I think it's a great idea, there's just not a good place to put one besides Animal Kingdom, which I think they would have done by now if they were ever going to build one.

August 21, 2017, 7:56 AM

Lion King also has a presence at EPCOT in The Land pavilion (Circle of Life). There's also Rafiki's Planet Watch, which is essentially an entire land in DAK themed around the Lion King.

I personally don't think the movie really lends itself to an actual ride, so the ways Disney has leveraged the property in the parks has been well done.

Edited: August 21, 2017, 8:43 AM

I agree with what everyone is saying. Yes, the Lion King is still present at Disney theme parks world wide. Which is great. It just still surprises me they never built a Lion King themed-land. They could have recreated scenery from the movie, and replicate that in the parks. I'm also surprised a dark ride was never created in respect to the movie? I also agree with everyone, Animal Kingdom makes the most sense, and would be the obvious choice for a Lion King land.

I just thought it would have been cool. Especially with the popularity the movie has received. Plus, the fact they are making a live action movie, due out in 2019. After all, they already made a Frozen ride in Epcot. The Lion King is just as popular as Frozen has been. They're making a Frozen land in other Disney parks around the world. Why not make a Lion King land?

August 21, 2017, 9:09 AM

Rafiki's Planet Watch is essentially a Lion King land is it not???

There's only one Disney Park currently building a Frozen Land (TSD), so I'm not sure where you're getting the "parks around the world" impression from.

Honestly, while extremely popular, Lion King does not really lend itself to a very engaging ride aside from a standard Fantasyland Dark Ride. Disney has far more bankable franchises (particularly with young boys, which would be the target audience for LK) like Pirates, Marvel, and Star Wars. Perhaps if the live action version is a hit like Favreau's Jungle Book, Disney might look into expanding the property's presence in the parks, but right now, I think there's more than enough Lion King.

August 21, 2017, 11:31 AM

Russell Meyer, both Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong are building Frozen lands.
It's only a matter time before other Disney parks, such as Shanghai, and Paris, deicide to build a Frozen land. As far as Disneyland, maybe a min-land? Since they don't have the room. I'm sure eventually Disneyland will at least have a dark ride featured in one of the parks.

Yes, Rafiki's Planet Watch is basically a Lion Ling Land. However, it's nothing really special. It's just a small area with a few animals. I live in New York. I'd much rather go to the Bronx Zoo, or the San Diego Zoo. Rafiki's Planet Watch is really nothing impressive.

Why does the Lion King "not really lend itself to a very engaging ride?" I agree, in a sense, that a standard dark ride would be sufficient. However, why not create a unique Lion King ride? Yes, Marvel, Star Wars, and Pirates are all more valuable franchises. Even though I wouldn't really consider the Lion King a franchise. They had a second movie. But Pirates, Marvel, and Star Wars, have had many movies made. I just remember when I was growing up, the Lion King was tremendously popular. It still remains popular today.

August 21, 2017, 12:29 PM

The Lion King is great but it does boil down to being a bunch of talking animals, and there are loads of animal-themed areas across all of Disney's parks which can handily reference several films and not just the one.

August 21, 2017, 3:53 PM

Apart from Frozen....I think the Little Mermaid (which is just a few years old) the only dark ride based on Disney's Renaissance films?

BATB, Aladdin, Lion King were all huge.

I think plenty of the films lend themselves to attractions, Lion King included. (I always thought canoe based Pocahontas dark ride would've been cool or an Aladdin cave of wonders carpet ride)

August 21, 2017, 5:10 PM

Jay R. I agree, I think all of those films lend themselves to attractions. I like your ideas of a Pocahontas ride, and Aladdin. They both would have been cool. Especially an Aladdin cave of wonders carpet ride. I hope they make a Beauty and the Beast ride. Especially since the live action movie was big as well.

August 25, 2017, 5:01 PM

I believe there's some LK presence at Art of Animation, including possibly a Pride Rock statue.

I agree with THC that Disney has leveraged the Lion King as well as they can, and it DOES actually show up around the parks quite a bit.

August 27, 2017, 6:33 PM

No Lion King land? I kind of thought the movie sparked the whole idea of Animal Kingdom (and Animal Kingdom Lodge).

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