Animal Kingdom is one of the four theme parks located within the Walt Disney World Resort. It is the newest park, opened in 1998, and the most different in terms of architecture, story and appeal. While it’s main focus is being a zoological park, it is more than that – offering story-driven ride attractions you’d find in the other theme parks, a couple of thrill rides and live shows of Broadway caliber.
Let’s talk about one of these shows: The Festival of the Lion King (FOLK).
FOLK opened with the rest of the theme park in April of 1998 in Camp Minnie Mickey. Go ahead – I know what you’re thinking. How does a Lion King themed show fit within the ideas of a summer camp land? Shouldn’t it be in Africa? WDW Imagineering created Camp Minnie Mickey as the traditional summer camp reminiscent of early camping shorts Walt Disney produced.
The theatre is set as a summer camp assembly hall where campers can gather and sing songs and tell stories. FOLK is designed as a musical revue based on our favorite songs from The Lion King animated movie. FOLK is set in theatre in the round. The stage is in the middle and the seating is divided in four sections represented by one of four animals: warthog, elephant, giraffe, and lion. The large aisles between the sections serve as pathways for large set pieces to move in and out of our view.
Meet Kiume – Swahili for masculine and Strong. He is one of the four singing narrators for this tribal celebration. He is joined by Nakawa (Swahili for Good Looking), Kibibi (Princess) and Zawadi (The Gift). These singers are incredible. They have beautiful voices that fill the songs they sing with feeling and life. These characters act as our hosts for this celebration of song.
The show is divided into four “acts.” featuring songs from or inspired by The Lion King. Timon brings out the first act – Tumble Monkeys. This is a highly entertaining portion of the show. A stage piece is moved into the middle of the theatre with trampolines and high bars for the Monkeys for these playful, energetic characters to perform.
Act two brings Kiume’s singing talents to the forefront as he sings “Be Prepared.” This act is truly unique. A HUGE man comes out and performs a Polynesian fire dance while Kiume sings. It’s an incredible talent so please applaud!
Things calm down as Kibibia and Nakawa sing the love song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” An acrobatic duo take the stage to perform an aerial act themed as birds in flight. It is a sweet, light and lovely rendition of this song.
We are next graced with The Gift – Zawadi’s strong voice to perform “The Circle of Life.” The entire theatre is involved. Costumed characters fill the theatre, along the aisles and even bringing children from the audience into the show.
FOLK is one of the best live stage shows on WDW property. The singers are Broadway caliber and the performers are professional and always give a top notch performance. The Animal Kingdom’s Times Guide lists the performance times for this show. If you can only fit one show into your trip, see this one!