If you’re like us, you can probably recite The Lion King word for word, song for song, and roar for roar. We sing car-karaoke with the soundtrack on the way to work, hold random objects above our heads to channel our inner Rafiki during meetings, and say “hakuna matata” any chance we get. All of that is normal right? Our completely reasonable obsession caused us to fall down a black hole of Lion King fact-finding:
1. The Lion King was originally going to be called “King of the Jungle.”
Fun fact: lions don’t actually live in the jungle.
2. Jeremy Irons was reluctant to lend his voice as Scar.
When he saw the animation he fell in love with the character, and we are very glad he did. We can’t imagine Scar with any other voice!
3. The wildebeest stampede took three years to create.
Three years for a six minute scene. Crazy. The CG department had to create an entirely new program so the wildebeests wouldn’t pass through each other while they were running. (If you think three years is a long time, imagine how long it would take to draw the tens of thousands of wildebeests.)
4. The beginning of the movie takes place in two days.
From when Simba wakes up his dad to when he runs away to never return happens in two days. Scar really was prepared (wink wink) with his evil plot to rule the Pride Lands.
5. Simba and Scar were animated on separate coasts of the US.
Andreas Deja, Scar’s lead animator, was working from Florida. Meanwhile Mark Henn, Simba’s lead animator, was working from California. The team literally had to go back and forth to create some of our favorite scenes.
6. Nathan Lane (Timon) and Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa) auditioned to be hyenas.
We would be far less afraid of hyenas if they were actually cast.
7. “Be Prepared” was going to be “Thanks to Me.”
The song was actually going to come later in the movie after Scar took over Pride Rock. As the story developed, it made more sense to have an evil plotting song. Bonus fact: this scene uses yellow light and dingy colors to create a feeling of an old newsreel from the 1940s.
8. Rowan Atkinson (Zazu) didn’t know the lyrics to “it’s a small world.”
He didn’t live and breathe Disney like we do. Atkinson actually had to learn and practice the lyrics for the scene when Zazu sings for Scar. Thankfully he picked them up quickly.
9. Simba, Sarabi, Rafiki, and Pumbaa are swahili words.
They mean lion, mirage, friend, and foolish.
10. The constellation Leo is in the night sky when Mufasa is talking to Simba.
Can you find it?
There you have it. Ten things you (probably) didn’t know about The Lion King before you started reading this article. Now that you’ve got a lion’s share of trivia, test your knowledge with the ultimate The Lion King trivia quiz, and check out this exclusive interview with the musical minds behind The Lion King to learn some more cool things!
It’s time for The Lion King to take its place among your favorite Disney classics. The Walt Disney Signature Collection edition of The Lion King is now available on Blu-ray™, Digital & Disney Movies Anywhere.