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July 29, 2013
Theme World: Lion King on the Move.
We showed you the construction months ago here in Theme World. Now Disney is making it official. Animal Kingdom's headliner show "Festival of the Lion King" is on the move.
In May, Ground was cleared in Africa -- behind the Tusker House restaurant -- for a theater that will be virtually identical to the soon-to-be-demolished one in Camp Minnie-Mickey.
The "tribal celebration" has been extremely popular since the park opened in 1998, and thematically it makes more sense in Africa.
Why wasn't it built there in the first place? Well, late in the design of Animal Kingdom, a large land called "Beastly Kingdom" was put on hold. That was for the "Mythical animals" talked about in Animal Kingdom's mission statement. In its place -- a temporary meet-and-greet attraction grew into Camp Minnie-Mickey. To balance crowds, imagineers and Disney's entertainment arm came up with Festival of the Lion King at the last minute by reusing floats from Disneyland's Lion King Parade. (See there was a time when parades were updated regularly at Disney Parks. They still are in Tokyo and California. )
The show was a surprise smash hit -- so much so that in 2003 the "summer camp theater in the round" was enclosed, added enhanced theatrical lighting --and air conditioning.
A lot of tumble monkeys have come and gone since 1998. Look for the show to make the move to its new home next year.
It is moving so the 15-year-old "temporary" Camp land can be bulldozed for a land based on James Cameron's Avatar. Is Avatarland still on? Officially the answer has always been yes. I've asked around -- and the seemingly-troubled project is finally expected to break ground, perhaps by the end of the year. I'll have more on that and other projects real and rumored later this week, including rumblings of more Star Wars attractions.
Speaking of Star Wars, sorry fans, the official Celebration won't be back next year. It's heading to Disneyland. While the convention isn't coming back to Florida (yet), Star Wars Weekends will be back next year around the same time at Hollywood Studios.
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See you in the parks!
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