Festival of the Lion King Fail!

Let me preface this by saying that FOLK (as it’s known to the cool kids) is my favorite show in Walt Disney World. I never get disappointed when I see it, and I still get chills as the music dims and the first chimes of “Circle of Life” start playing. It used to be one of my favorite pastimes during my time working at DAK, and I often went with friends if I happened to end my shift early.

During the last weekend of Food and Wine, my husband and I popped into Animal Kingdom at dusk to check out the new nighttime offerings. The night was full of fails, but as always at Disney, it still ended up being a fun, beautiful night.

We realized a showing of FOLK started at 5:30, and it was currently 5:25. We booked it over to Africa and made it through the queue just in time. To our surprise, we were escorted to the front of the Warthog section and the VIP area- second row! We got excellent seats, and settled in for a great show.

festival of the lion king

I eagerly sat through the tumble monkeys and the fire twirler, waiting for my favorite part of the show. The “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” section is incredible, with aerialists flying high above the audience to the tunes of the famous love song. The dancers, dressed as birds, never cease to amaze me. Usually, the male is dressed in red feathers, and the female in blue.

Except, the female in blue never showed up. The male was left alone to dance (which was a bit silly, as the sequence is designed to be done with a partner), and I overheard a fellow audience member ask “aren’t there supposed to be two of them?” I understand things happen, and it was still a good show, but I was definitely disappointed that my favorite scene never happened. Luckily, I know I can always see this show again, but I’m sure it must have sucked for many guests who may never get another chance at watching.

As we exited the theater, I overheard the same audience member berate a bemused cast member, peppering him with questions as to why the blue acrobat never appeared. I didn’t stay to hear the answer- we were intent on heading to our next destination, Kilimanjaro Safaris.

I was really excited to ride the safaris at night for the first time. However, my excitement quickly disappeared as we approached the ride and saw that the wait time was 85 minutes. I was unable to get a FastPass since we began our day at Epcot, and by the time I was able to select additional FastPasses, the safaris were unavailable. You can only select FastPasses for one park at a time.

The friendly cast member at the front of the safari line advised us to check out the tree show and come back. Tree of Life Awakens, a new projection show on the Tree of Life, begins at sunset and runs about every ten minutes, with a new mini-show every time. We made our way back to the front of the park, stopping off at Creature Comforts on the way (aka “Starbucks”). As we stood in front of the Tree of Life with a huge crowd, we noticed bright lights shining on the tree and a projection crew setting up a stage right in front of the tree. We listened to a cast member nearby, and heard the words I was dreading:

“No show tonight folks- holiday taping is going on.”

“Who’s performing?” I asked, noticing the piano and the microphone.

“JoJo,” he responded. A lot of guests had no idea who she was, but my husband was a fan.

It turned out she was performing for a new Thanksgiving Disney Special, thus, all Tree of Life projection shows were cancelled for the evening. The wait times for the safaris were still over 80 minutes, so we decided to wait and watch JoJo. We eventually ended up being picked to be in the audience for her performance, but that’s another post!

All in all, it wasn’t the perfect night- no safaris, no projection show, and missing portions of Festival of the Lion King. Luckily, we still had a fun night and were rewarded with a beautiful sunset:

animal kingdom

Anyone else have strange experience during Festival of the Lion King?
Hugs and fishes,
-Arielle

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