by: guide4wdw – Collin

Disney’s ever-popular and increasingly iconic Lion King series of films has become a household name across much of the nation (if not the world). However, it’s presence at Walt Disney World was at one point more prevalent that it is today. 

In 1994 Disney debuted a show they called The Legend of the Lion King. In all reality, this experience, which took place in the same location as Mickey’s PhilharMagic today, was much more complex that other film based experiences that have occupied the space. Years prior to this show, the location housed Disney’s Mickey Mouse Revue (better explained here) which was an elaborate stage show featuring animatronics from a variety of different films. After that attraction drew to a close it was replaced by the early 3D experience, Magic Journeys. After that show also came to a close, in 1994 the Legend of the Lion King debuted to guests for the very first time.  

The theater based “attraction” itself featured puppet-like figures that told the story of the Lion King live on stage. While there were no true actors in the Magic Kingdom iteration of the iconic film, it welcomed guests into a stage based performance atmosphere that combined videos and life sized figures in a condensed variation of the much more in depth movie many guest already knew quite well.

Unfortunately, 8 years after it’s original debut, the show closed in order to make room for Mickey’s PhilharMagic which brought a 4D experience to the Magic Kingdom. Of course, that particular attraction is great at absorbing guests and maintaining a fairly short wait time no matter how crowded the parks are. It also created one unfortunate “side effect” as well in that it removed a large scale reference to the Lion King from the Magic Kingdom. Of course, we still have the opportunity to experience the magic of the Festival of the Lion King stage show over at Animal Kingdom (and it is a spectacular show), but it’s hard not to wonder how interesting this experience could have been in its early years. 

While I did visit the parks throughout this time, I was very young and honestly do not remember ever witnessing this show first hand, or at least not in enough detail to make a judgment of the experience. 

As always, looking back at elements of the parks like this one not only creates a greater understanding of the location we visit time and time again, but also develops a greater story behind a location many of us have grown to love. In my own option, this history creates a deeper Walt Disney World Experience for guests that isn’t always shared openly in the parks. 

If you want to see the experience for yourself, check out the following link for a great video of the attraction: The Legend of the Lion King: Video 

Do you remember this attraction? Let us know what you thought of it in the comments below! Thanks!