Yesterland

The
Lion King
Celebration

 

The parade begins
with the Rafiki float
(right).

 

Daily at 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
throughout the summer season

Photo of The Lion King Celebration
Whatever you do, don’t miss The Lion King Celebration.
 
Moving to the music of “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” the parade’s six floats are masterpieces of parade design, skillfully incorporating African patterns, colors, and tribal art. The dramatic story of Simba and Nala unfolds as you watch the Rafiki float, the gazelle tree float, the bull elephant float, the rain forest float, the drum dancer float, and the Pride Rock float. There are inventive touches everywhere.
Photo of Simba and Nala on Pride Rock Float
Pride Rock float

The floats are great, but it’s the talented performers—more than 75 of them, including dancers, acrobatic pole climbers, puppeteers, musicians, and remote-control operators—who make The Lion King Celebration unforgettable.

The dancers’ costumes are remarkable. Some dancers are in ceremonial tribal costumes; others appear as gazelles, wildebeests, monkeys, leopards, zebras, and cheetahs. Stilt walkers represent elephants and giraffes, while the pole climbers suggest birds.

The parade makes four stops along its route, so pick your viewing spot carefully. You’ll be treated to a five minute “street show.” To the music of “The Circle of Life,” the performers put on an elaborate production number, strongly influenced by African dance.


The Lion King Celebration premiered in Disneyland on July 1, 1994, just days after the premier of Disney’s phenomenally successful animated feature, The Lion King.

The last performance was June 1, 1997. A new daytime parade, the Hercules Victory Tour, debuted June 27, 1997. Disneyland guests enthusiastically received the Hercules Victory Tour as a worthy successor to the fantastic Lion King Celebration.

If you miss the floats from Disneyland’s Lion King Celebration, you might want to head over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. In Camp Minnie-Mickey, look for a huge octagonal roof under which you can see the floats reused as part of the Festival of the Lion King.

The Festival of the Lion is the hit of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Four modified floats and a rolling stage transform the empty theater into a vibrant setting for a spectacular live show. The costumes, music, and choreography are very different than what you saw at Disneyland. It’s not a parade—it’s a cross between theater-in-the-round and circus. And it’s a great show.

Photo of Elephant Float at Disney's Animal Kingdom Photo of Elephant Float at Disneyland
The same bull elephant at Disneyland (left) and Disney's Animal Kingdom (right)

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© 2007 Werner Weiss — Disclaimers, Copyright, and Trademarks

Updated September 26, 2006.

Photograph of the Lion King Celebration Rafiki float: 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Simba and Nala on the Pride Rock float: 1996 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Elephant float: 1995 by Werner Weiss.
Photograph of Elephant unit at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 1998 by Werner Weiss.