Disneyland is sharing the magic of The Lion King with families in a way you’ve never seen it done before.
June is Black Music Month, and Disneyland is inviting you to come Celebrate Soulfully with experiences that honor Black heritage and culture through music, food, art, and more at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Part of that cultural celebration is Disneyland’s newest show, Tale of the Lion King now running Thursday through Monday at the Fantasyland Theatre.
A reimagining of the classic story of The Lion King, popularized by Disney’s 1994 animated film, the 25-minute show features an all-human narrative from The Storytellers of the Pride Lands. Show director Paul David Bryant decided to forego the typical costuming giving the illusion of an animal appearance to focus on the storytelling and allow the performers to shine. The story of Simba’s rise from a spirited young cub to an assertive King ready to carry on the rich legacy of his father is told through dialogue, song, dance, and live percussion, steeped in African folklore traditions.
I had the pleasure of attending a preview show of Tale of the Lion King at Disneyland just before its May 28 opening date, and was awed and delighted by the use of dance from traditional to modern and unique arrangements of familiar songs like “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
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Each aspect of Tale of the Lion King draws direct inspiration from continental African cultures – from the natural hairstyles to the custom backdrops, from the costumes to the choreography, and even the food available to accompany the show – each crafted by Black creators and contributors.
The Troubadour Tavern hosted by Dreyer’s, located just off the Fantasyland Theater, is also filled with special items that join the excitement. The options feature authentically flavored snacks like salted plantain chips and Berbere-spice popcorn inside a lion Simba keepsake, and meals like the chicken-coconut curry sweet potato – for which I admittedly went back for seconds – which features a baked sweet potato topped with a Malawian chicken-coconut curry and kale.
On top of Tale of the Lion King which will run continuously, the Celebrate Soulfully celebration continues through July 4 with special, limited-time experiences and entertainment highlighting Black Music Month.