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The Lion King Celebration

My Thoughts

Parade approaches I'm having a bit of trouble expressing my thoughts on the Lion King Celebration. I was addicted, maybe even obsessed toward the end, with the parade. But I can't put a finger on what exactly it was about the parade that made it so important to me. Unless it was everything.

The Lion King Celebration was like no parade ever done at Disneyland before (or since). There are so many ways in which it excelled: the music, the floats, the costumes, the choreography, the audience participation. And of course, the performers that made the parade possible and gave it their all week after week. I really appreciate their contribution. Each and every person associated with the Lion King Celebration should be very proud of the work they have done.

Pole Climber For me, the most powerful and stirring part of the performance came at the end of the Circle of Life. After a clap of thunder, the performers started to leap around the floats, while the Wildebeests pushed the Gazelle Tree in a circle so all the wind chimes hanging from the top made a beautiful sound. Then many of the performers would twirl bird-shaped ``kites'' at the end of long poles in the air while several others released live white pigeons at the very end to fly off into the distance.

My Obsession

Gazelle Tree I can't remember when I first saw the parade or what I thought of it. But I do know that for as long as I can remember, I've been telling people not to miss the Lion King Celebration and I've made sure all of the guests we've visited Disneyland with over the years have seen it if it was performing. And everyone has been impressed.

When I heard that Disneyland was going to produce a video of the parade, I was thrilled that I would be able to have a professionally photographed memory of the parade. And when the video was finally released, I bought a copy right away. Since the parade's return at the end of March 1997 (it had been on hiatus from Noveber 1996), I've videotaped it myself twice and taken several rolls of film of still photos, some of which are represented on these pages.

As I watched the parade over and over again, I started to recognize many of the performers, to the point that I could tell if they were absent for a day or swapped positions. They grew familiar to me, almost like close friends. Silly, isn't it? Quasimodo's line from the song ``Out There'' kept running through my head: All my life I've memorized their faces, knowing them as they will never know me.

Gazelle Dancer Closeup Crane

The Last Performance

The streets were packed for the Final Lion King Celebration performance at 4:30 on June 1, 1997. More people than I'd seen in weeks. Even though it was not announced as the last parade in the Disneyland Today flyer, it seemed as though virtually everyone knew. People cheered for the performers and clapped almost continuously during the parade.

Gazelles The final parade on June 1 was the culmination for me of several weeks of weekly visits to Disneyland to see the parade as much as possible before the final deadline. I typically watched the parade (at both 2:00 and 4:30) on Main Street near the Gazelle Tree (my favorite float), usually on the right side (Simba's right). The Gazelles and the Tribal Cranes were my favorite groups of performers. 3 Cranes

On the last day, after the parade stop on Main Street, my wife and I pushed through the crowd to watch the show at the Central Hub, then I quickly dashed through the castle to the Small World area to get a few final photos of the parade as it passed by one last time. Then I followed the parade behind the rope as it approached the gates. Everyone was clapping and cheering on a job well done. And then it was over. It was an odd feeling.

Zebras and Cheetahs I'm not one of those Disneyland addicts that believes that attractions should never be removed from Disneyland, but I am still sad when a favorite is ``removed from service''. But at least I have a lot of memories and momentos to keep.

I hope you enjoy visiting this cyber-tribute to the Lion King Celebration.

Comments? Feedback?
Send some email: Allyn Fratkin <allyn@fratkin.com>
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The Lion King Celebration Parade and logo image above are the intellectual property of the Walt Disney Company. The text and photographs shown on these pages are Copyright © 1997 Allyn Fratkin.