Last month, I covered things to do in Walt Disney World if you like bears and elephants—both animals with attractions named after them (Country Bear Jamboree and Dumbo the Flying Elephant). Today I’ll talk about another animal that’s been so honored: the lion. While Simba is the most famous Disney lion, lions appear in a variety of forms throughout Walt Disney World. So, here are seven things to do in Walt Disney World if you love lions.
1. Festival of the Lion King
We’ll start with the attraction with “lion” in the title. This show, which I talked about in my post on musical theater, is (obviously) based on The Lion King. You’ll see Simba and a variety of his animal friends. The audience is seated in four sections, each representing an animal, so ask a cast member if you can be seated in the lion section.
2. Kilimanjaro Safaris
Kilimanjaro Safaris is your chance to see real-life lions in Walt Disney World. Sometimes it’s hard to get a good photo of them because they’re sleeping, but you can usually spot a male and a female there. I’ve heard that the rock is actually air-conditioned to encourage the lions to sit there!
3. The Tree of Life
Here’s your scavenger hunt for today: find the lion on The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here’s a photo to help you out.
4. Circle of Life
Although I didn’t count this movie in my post on elephants, I decided to include it today because Simba is the star of the show. You’ll get to see animation inspired by The Lion King accompanied by gorgeous video of real-life animals, including lions.
5. Mickey’s PhilharMagic
As I described in my post on Aladdin, this 3-D movie is great for fans of 1990s Disney films, which include, of course, The Lion King. The scene you experience in this show is the musical number “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.”
6. The Lion King Family Suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
You can’t experience this one yet, but you will be able to soon! The family suites at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will be opening in May, with the standard rooms following in November. In this post from the Disney Parks blog you can can get a preview of what the Lion King bedrooms will look like, and here you can see artist renderings of the exterior. I can’t wait to wander around this resort! So many new photo ops!
7. For Kids: Simba’s Cubhouse at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
If your child is the one who loves lions, there’s yet another opportunity for them: Simba’s Cubhouse. Themed after The Lion King, this activity center is for kids aged four to twelve. It’s open every evening, and you pay an hourly rate per child. In exchange, they have a fabulous experience and you can enjoy some grown-up time in Walt Disney World!
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If your lion-themed day is taking place after May 2012, it can begin the night before, because you can stay in a Lion King-themed suite! Make sure to take lots of photos in and around the resort. You’ll probably want to make Disney’s Animal Kingdom your first park of the day, because early morning is usually best for animal sightings on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Check the Times Guide when you get there so you can make the first showing of Festival of the Lion King. If you have time between the safari and the show, look for the carved lion on The Tree of Life. If not, do it after the show before heading out to the next park. You can do Epcot or Magic Kingdom next. Neither movie should have a long wait. After you’ve seen both Circle of Life and Mickey’s PhilharMagic, you can head to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Check the little ones into Simba’s Cubhouse and enjoy an adults-only dinner at Boma, Jiko, or Sanaa.