Disneyland’s ‘Tale of the Lion King’: What to Expect


Disneyland offers a production called The Lion KingThis has never been done before. The animated film’s 1994 debut was adapted to the stage in an award-winning Broadway musical. In 2019, the film will be reimagined as a live-action film. But Tale of The Lion KingThis brings the story alive in a way that is unlike any other. The show was originally created in 2019, but shows were cut due to the coronavirus epidemic. This show is now available to Disneyland guests, thanks to the fact that the world has reopened. The 30-minute live show is told from Simba’s perspective. Instead of having the cast transform into animals or puppets, it uses real people as the cast. 

It celebrates African culture through its music, choreography and costumes. Paul Bryant, Associate Show Director of the show, said that it was fitting to have an all-Black cast. Bryant is most excited by the show’s departure from the traditional version. Bryant promises the Broadway show will be nothing like what you saw on Broadway.

“It’s not [like the original or the play]. And the thing that we’re so proud of is the fact that we are telling the same story but in a different way with this whole storytelling aspect of the story. It’s not like we’re not trying to be the animals within the cast,”Bryant stated his convictions in an interview during an advanced live viewing of the production. “We’re not trying to necessarily turn into puppets or all of that other fun stuff either. And even in some of our other resorts where we have The Lion King or whatever the titles may be and all those shows, there are aspects of people trying to pretend to be animals. And our main goal was not to even go down that road. Instead, we wanted to be storytellers, where you can sit around the campfire and tell a story and keep everyone engaged. This story is different than any other version of The Lion King, no matter if it’s on Broadway or in Hong Kong, Florida, or Paris – I think they have one as well. But it’s all the same story. But I like the fact that in our cast, they are people, they’re human beings who have been telling this story time and time again. And every time you tell it, it changes a little bit.”

The major difference in the 2019 original production is also the brand-new choreography by Marcel and Kevin Wilson. They are icons in Broadway as well as the pop world, having created choreography for Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, and other celebrities.

“Kevin and I come from such a versatile background in dance and we love all different styles of dance. So we definitely wanted to incorporate that in Tale of The Lion King. We had the hip-hop, the jazz, the contemporary, all of these styles of dance helping to further the story as people watch the show,”Marcel shared his knowledge with us.

Kevin loved being able to use live music as a tool to enhance his dancing. “We even incorporate tap dance. You didn’t see necessarily tap in there with actual tap shoes per se, but what we use is the benefit of tap dance was the musicality, the rhythm, and the timing that was offered,”He concluded.

Shemika Draughan, a hairdresser who is skilled in braiding and high-textured hair, is responsible for creating the hair and makeup. Shemika draws inspiration from the African diaspora tradition. Draughan was thrilled to have a daughter who loves braiding and textured hair. She sees herself in the cast as a true representation of her. This show is a fitting fit for Disneyland’s Celebrate Soulfully campaign which aims to bring Black culture to the park.

Tale of The Lion KingThis theater offers a traditional experience for the audience with a menu prepared by Natalie Willingham, Disneyland chef. There are small bites and beverages available just like in a traditional theatre. This time, however, the food represents African culture.

The perfect seasoned curry chicken will be served over sweet potatoes yam and kale. Non-alcoholic beverages with infusions sweet tea, lemon and ginger will also be available. To bring together the show and food, Chef Natalie extensively researched Caribbean flavors. 

“It was kind of the region of Africa. So, it’s actually Malawian spices. Malawi is a region in Africa. We actually tried a bunch of different curries and different spices,”She explained. “We used a Berber spice, which you’ll find in Ethiopian cuisine. You can make both into a curry. We preferred the Malawian. Then I added some coconut chicken, kale and sweet potato. It was only items you would find in Africa. It was again based on the region and their methods. Then we added our own twist. 

The show runs four times per day from Thursday to Monday at Fantasyland Theatre, Disneyland Park. You can find specific showtimes on Disneyland.com and the Disneyland app.

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