In our opinion, if you can only see one live theatrical performance while you're at Walt Disney World, Festival of the Lion King is the one to see. Located in Africa at Animal Kingdom, this is a show unlike any other. The combination of music, lighting, characters, gymnastics, and dance makes this performance worthy of a Broadway or Cirque du Soleil setting. Yet it is performed multiple times each day for the guests at Animal Kingdom.
Festival of the Lion King starts with your four hosts, who talk to the four sections of the crowd. Each section is assigned one of the following animals: elephant, lion, warthog, and giraffe. A short back and forth, including four audience pariticpants, sets things up for the remainder of the show.
Four floats enter the room, with dancers on and around them. Mats are then opened in the middle of the floor and the music begins. The four hosts are actually four dynamic singers, with two men and two women performing stunning renditions of the many of the most popular Lion King songs. Timon and Pumbaa are there, with Timon running around with the gymnasts. The gymnastic show, especially the part performed by the "monkeys", is amazing. Add that to the music and the lighting and an atmosphere is created that makes you feel that you are in the story.
Hakuna Matata, I Just Can't Wait to Be King, Can You Feel The Love Tonight, and Circle of Life are all performed. Our favorite part of the show involves the song Can You Feel The Love Tonight and the two dancers, with the woman being lifted into the sky by wire and twirling around to the music. It's hard to imagine a theme park production being inspiration, but this gets close.
If it's at all possible to make time for Festival of the Lion King, do it. Not everyone is likely to share our enthusiasm for it, but we are quite confident most people who see it will.