“The greatest magic of all is the magic of nature.”
-Dr. Scott Terrell (Director of Animal & Sciences Operations at Disney Parks)
The new live action Lion King movie was released on July 19th, and Walt Disney World is coordinating some amazing conservation efforts to coincide with the film.
PROTECT THE PRIDE
On Friday, a couple members of our WDW Magazine team had the opportunity to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom for an inside look at all the new Lion King themed activities, snacks, and merchandise. Huge thank you to Disney for inviting us to the Protect the Pride media event so we can give you this inside look.*
We’re excited to share all that we learned and saw with you!
We started our day with a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris, and let me tell you, most of the safari animals are early risers! I’ve never seen them so active before—incredible! We also got to see Dakari, Kamari, and Kinsey, Animal Kingdom’s resident lions, lounging together in their habit.
This was a special safari trip because Disney wanted to let us know about the Lion Recovery Fund (LRF), a part of the Wildlife Conservation Network. Since the release of the animated version of The Lion King, half of Africa’s lions have disappeared—only around 20,000 remain. The goal of the LRF is to restore the population of lions across the continent by the year 2050.
From now until July 25th, Walt Disney World will donate $2 to the LRF for every person that rides Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Throughout the late morning, we were able to enjoy several special Lion King themed activities throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The whole park is filled with so many fun new things to do!
Here are a few things we discovered:
- Conservation Station – A new Animation Experience, where you can learn to draw a character from The Lion King.
- Discovery Island – A wild Hakuna Matata dance party complete with Lion King character interaction.
- Gorilla Falls Trail – A new Lion King Wilderness Explorer badge.
- Africa – A fun new Lion King scavenger hunt throughout the streets of Harambe.
- Rafiki’s Planet Watch – A 20 page activity booklet to take home with you. (Tip: This would provide great entertainment for kids while waiting for a table service meal.)
- Throughout the Park – Several new Lion King backdrops perfect for photo ops.
- Rivers of Light – New Lion King elements added to the show.
To beat the heat, we took a few opportunities for shopping throughout the day, and we found lots of incredible Lion King merchandise.
Spirit jerseys, backpacks, lion ear headbands, coffee mugs, fashion tees, beach towels, toys—there’s something for everybody with roaringly good taste!
There’s even an exclusive designer print from Dooney & Bourke available for a short time.
Our favorite merchandise find was the colorful, limited edition Simba and Nala plushes though. Only 40,000 of these cute plushes exist, one for each lion in the ultimate Lion Recovery Fund goal.
These plushes are available in Animal Kingdom and in Disney stores worldwide, and for each purchase, Disney will make a $5 donation to the LRF.
SNACKS AND DINING
We sampled some delicious Lion King treats throughout Animal Kingdom!
My personal favorite was the new Simba cupcake, a vanilla cake with rich vanilla filling, a thick layer of yellow buttercream icing, and an adorable candy topper complete with a frosting mane.
Other snacks include a Bugs & Grubs Ice Cream Cone, a huge Simba Ice Cream Sandwich, a fruity new Dole Whip treat, and more!
At lunch time we learned about a brand new dining experience coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom called Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night. This unique progressive dining experience draws inspiration from the “big five” animals throughout the park—leopards, buffalo, elephants, rhinos, and lions.
Guests will be treated to gourmet food and beverage selections at multiple stops on their journey, and they’ll even be able to experience a virtual reality trip to the savannah!
This experience is available on select Wednesday nights starting July 24th, and the price is $125 for adults and $99 for kids. We had the privilege of trying some of the desserts featured in Circle of Flavors, and I guarantee this is an experience that animal loving foodies will not want to miss!
If you’d like to get involved in conservation efforts sponsored by the Lion Recovery Fund before your next trip to Walt Disney World, check out the social media hashtag #ProtectThePride or visit the Protect the Pride website for more information.
*We received park tickets, dining cards, and meals during this hosted media event.