One of two major stage shows at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be back this summer with some pandemic-era adjustments.
Like almost all of Disney World’s stage shows, “Festival of the Lion King” has not operated since the resort reopened in July, after a months-long shutdown due to the spread of COVID-19. The official Disney Parks Blog announced Thursday that the show’s return is “expected this summer.”
“When it returns, ‘Festival of the Lion King’ will be presented in a modified format to be mindful of the current environment,” Shawn Slater, spokesman for Disney Parks Live Entertainment, wrote in the blog post. “There will be adjustments to the show on stage and backstage, including updates to choreography to allow for appropriate physical distancing. We’ll also adjust how the audience is seated, in line with other theater-based experiences at Walt Disney World Resort.”
When it reopens, the show will be one of the few operating at Disney World using members represented by the Actors’ Equity Association.
“The ‘Festival of the Lion King’ is a favorite for cast members and guests alike, and its return offers an important ray of hope while the vast majority of our members who work at Walt Disney World remain laid off because of the pandemic,” the union said in a statement.
In October, Disney laid off 720 of the 780 Equity members working at the resort, affecting performers at other shows like Animal Kingdom’s “Finding Nemo – The Musical.” These jobs cuts were part of 32,000 mass layoffs instituted across Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products division — just after Disney executives’ salaries were fully restored.
“Festival of the Lion King” has run at Animal Kingdom since the park opened in 1998. It went on hiatus in 2014 when it moved from its original location to a new theater to make room for Pandora – The World of Avatar.
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