Festival of the Lion King Review at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Festival of the Lion King Opened On: Originally on April 22, 1998 in Camp Minnie-Mickey. The show reopened in New Harambe in Africa on June 1, 2014.
See this page for all of the Disney’s Animal Kingdom attraction reviews.
Location: In the New Harambe section of Africa, to the left of Tusker House and Dawa Bar. Once you cross the bridge into Africa, you’ll take an immediate left towards the theater. The back exit from Pandora, near Satu’li Canteen, also leads to the theater.
Extra Magic Hours: No.
Show Length: 30 minutes.
Show Schedule: Usually once per hour on the hour beginning one or two hours after regular Park open. With 9am to 8pm hours, expect to see shows scheduled at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, and 6pm. On days with morning Extra Magic Hour, a show may be scheduled at 10am.
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 eight and ten 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.
What to Expect: Festival of the Lion King takes place in what is now an enclosed, air-conditioned theater with four separate 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: Seating is bleacher-style without backs. 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, though the first row offers a fantastic floor-level view. I typically sit in the back row, when possible, so somebody else’s knees aren’t in my back.
Festival of the Lion King offers two different dining packages. Each of the packages guarantees seats in a reserved section close to the front. Read about the meal portion of the dining package at Tiffins in this review and take a look at what to expect from the front row seats and private ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris in this post. If you order some of the more expensive items at Tiffins, the dining package basically “pays for itself.”
You can watch a full video of the show here to get a better idea.
FastPass+: Yes, low priority. The return window is between 30 and 10 minutes before a show starts. For the 3pm show, the return window is then 2:30pm-2:50pm. You’ll need to arrive closer to the 30-minute mark to enjoy much benefit. Without FastPass+, your seat would be in a similar location in standby if you arrived 30 minutes early. FastPass+ users are typically funneled into one or two sections before Disney admits standby guests. If you’re planning to arrive just a couple of minutes before showtime, FastPass+ will benefit you as you’ll be guaranteed admittance into that show. If you’d like to see an afternoon show, and you’ve used your first three FastPass+, then booking a 4th FP+ to see it may make sense. You can then spend the time waiting for the show to book a higher priority FastPass+ to use after.
What You Miss Using FastPass+:
Not much. There are a few interesting things to look at in the standby queue, but the FastPass+ line is very similar.
Total Average Experience Time with FastPass+: 50-60 minutes ,assuming you arrive 20 minutes before show time.
4th FastPass+ Availability: Because each show distributes a lot of of FastPass+, day-of availability is pretty good as people change their plans. Refresh persistently and you should be able to choose your return time.
When to Arrive: 20 to 30 minutes before afternoon showtimes given moderate or heavy crowds. You can cut it closer to showtime for the first or last shows of the day or with very low crowds.
Commentary: Festival of the Lion King is a fantastic show that embodies almost everything that makes Walt Disney World unique. The two main problems are the uncomfortable bleacher-style seats and the potential that a tall person will sit down in front of you. Otherwise, Festival of the Lion King has been awarded “Best Show” in all of Walt Disney World just about every year since its debut. It’s fantastic.