Tale of the Lion King is a live stage show currently showing in Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theatre. Located near the Toontown Train Station, the Tale of the Lion King plays Thursday-Monday although that is subject to change as Disneyland transitions between seasons. In this post, we’ll review the show while giving a few tips along the way!
Tale of the Lion King came back to Disneyland Resort over the summer of 2022, moving to Disneyland after debuting in California Adventure in 2020 shortly before the closure. As the resort continues to add capacity, more and more shows are returning. It’s nice to see the Fantasyland Theatre in use and, not to get ahead of myself, I like this show more than the departed Mickey and the Magical Map.
Before the full-fledged review, we’ll jump into some strategy on seeing Tale of the Lion King. There are typically 5 showtimes per day – 12:30, 1:45, 3:00, 5:00 and 6:15. In our experience, there isn’t much of a difference in crowd patterns for these shows. On busy days at the park, I would imagine that the later shows are less crowded. That said, there hasn’t been a show I’ve been at that has completely filled the theater.
Arriving 15 minutes before the show should be plenty of time to get you seats in the bottom section, closest to the stage. That’s absolutely what you should shoot for as being up close to the cast is the best way to go. Walking in just before showtime is fine too, as the Fantasyland Theatre is fairly intimate and there aren’t many bad seats. In other words, not much strategy is needed but we recommend getting there before they allow guests into the seating area which is between 10 and 15 minutes before the show.
Now is the show worth seeing? As a big fan of seeing entertainment during the afternoon at Disneyland when lines get long and the sun gets hot, I recommend it. The show leans a little heavily on a typical Disney Parks entertainment trope but succeeds because of outstanding performances and choreography.
Tale of the Lion King simply retells the story of the movie, using a narrator and characters who perform musical numbers from the film. If for some reason you don’t know (who are you?), the Lion King soundtrack is full of bangers and bops so any show based around the soundtrack should succeed. Mix in some intriguing dance choreography and you’ve got an easy winner.
The highlight of the show, at least for me, is the opening number. I’ve yet to be at a showing where the vocal performance by the narrator (who sings the opener) hasn’t drawn cheers from the crowd. It’s a showstopper and that alone is worth going to Tale of the Lion King for.
After that, the show moves at a brisk pace, fitting several more songs and dances into a tight 24 minute performance. While almost all of the music is pre-recorded, there are several drummers who are live that add to the energy of the performance. All of the cast really feed off that energy and it’s a very cohesive show thanks to that. Truly, this is one of the best casts I’ve seen at a Disney stage show and Tale of the Lion King deserves praise for that and for the diverse casting.
Where the show runs into problems is in the storytelling. There really isn’t much of that going on, as Tale of the Lion King goes back to a narrator driven story when that’s not necessary. It’s similar, although a more grown up version, to what is shown at Storytelling at the Royal Theatre. It’s not a deterrent in this case but it’s definitely a crutch to the show.
The only other issue I have with the show is the strange decision during Hakuna Matata to get the crowd involved. This is clearly aimed at getting kids interested, as the moves are similar to a hand jive. But I really think this one number breaks up the show too much. It’s the only hitch in a well-oiled machine.
Overall, I think Tale of the Lion King is well worth seeing and a nice way to spend an afternoon at Disneyland. While it’s not a must-do at the park, the show is a solid addition bringing capacity and a nice place to rest during a full day. Thanks to the great performances of the cast, I think everyone will enjoy this show!
Have you seen Tale of the Lion King? Let us know your thoughts, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Planning a trip to Disneyland? Check out our planning guide to help you along the way. If you enjoy what you’re reading please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages which you can find on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!