Opened: April 22, 1998
Location: Camp Minnie-Mickey
Extra Magic Hours: No
FASTPASS: Not usually. When the overall crowd level is expected to be a 9 or a 10, Disney may offer FASTPASS. If they do, the FASTPASSes issued will be for the next scheduled show and they aren’t connected to the rest of the system, meaning you can collect FASTPASSes for another attraction immediately after. When you return with your FASTPASS, you’ll be let into the theater before those waiting in the standby queue, resulting in a better choice of seats. FASTPASSes are usually distributed at the machines for It’s Tough To Be A Bug because that attraction no longer issues FASTPASSes, even when Animal Kingdom is swamped.
Type: Musical theater show
Similar To: Unique in its scope and elaborateness, but similar to Finding Nemo the Musical and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage.
Scary Factor: Zero
When To Go: There are usually between seven and nine scheduled performances throughout the day, depending on crowds and how late Animal Kingdom is open. The first show in the morning and the last show in the evening are usually the least crowded. If you are planning to skip the Parade and don’t plan to visit the first or last shows, head to the show that begins around 3:30pm because that’s your third best opportunity. A lot of people will be waiting for the Parade. Although the theater is nicely air conditioned, the queue area is not and it gets hot, especially in the afternoon.
Expect to Wait: The opening of Finding Nemo the Musical has taken some of the pressure off Festival of the Lion King, but it’s still usually necessary to arrive 10 to 20 minutes prior to the start of the show during slow seasons and 30 minutes before the start of the show during peak and holiday seasons. You can cut it closer to the start of the show if you’re attending the less popular first or last shows of the day or the overall crowd level is a 3 or below and Animal Kingdom is highly recommended.
Length: 30 minutes
What to Expect: Festival of the Lion King takes place in what is now an enclosed, air-conditioned circus tent like arena with four separated bleacher sections. The show features acrobatics, animatronics, singing, dancing, fire, theater, and the most elaborate costumes and sets you’ll find at Disney World. The show has an exciting pace and there is almost too much to take in as more than 50 performers move about the stage throughout the show.
Where to Sit: The section you choose isn’t as important as the row you select. Most people will want to sit higher because it provides a better view of the various floats and sets. Those sitting in the first five to eight rows won’t be able to see much more than what is directly in front of them.
Exit: You’ll be exiting the area with about 1,000 other people into a pretty narrow walkway out of Camp Minnie-Mickey. If possible, try to be among the first to exit the theater. If you’re not among the first, you may want to hang back and let others exit in front of you. It can be an uncomfortable swarm of people if you get caught up in the middle. The Character Greeting Trails are located right outside of the theater’s exit. People invariably enter the lines for Mickey, Minnie, etc. upon exiting. The worst time to meet the characters is immediately after a show because lines are longest. See the Animal Kingdom Character Prioritization for more tips on how to meet the characters with the shortest possible waits. Otherwise, there isn’t anything to do in Camp Minnie-Mickey and you’ll be headed back up to Discovery Island with Pizzafari/Africa to your left and DinoLand/Asia/Main Entrance/Exit to your right.
Commentary: Festival of the Lion King is many visitors’ favorite show in all of Disney World. Because of the high quality of all three major shows at Animal Kingdom, it’s a tough choice if you’re only able or willing to see one. Finding Nemo the Musical may be the better choice if you prefer something closer to your prototypical musical, but the song and dance in Lion King are also spectacular. It may boil down to which film you enjoy more.