The Lion King Celebration
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
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.
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.
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.
The Last Performance
The streets were packed for the Final Lion King Celebration performance
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.
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.
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.
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.