10 Unknown Facts About The Lion King

10 Unknown Facts about the Lion King

Did you know Simba had a brother? And that Adolf Hitler influenced a scene in the film? You might be a little confused right now wondering when this all happened during the movie but don’t worry, the answers are below. At the very least you know what the phrase “Hakuna Matata” means: No Worries for the Rest of Your Days. It was and still is one of the most popular motto’s that many people love to live by today. Immortalize this saying and show your carefree spirit with an ‘Hakuna Matata’ tank top in Black or White (Also available in T-shirts).  While your order is shipping, read on to find the answers to the questions above and 8 more interesting facts about The Lion King.

1. A Twist of Fate

During the original production of The Lion King, Disney was also simultaneously creating PocahontasThe Lion King was considered the lesser project of the two, and its animators were referred to as the B-Team.  Pocahontas’ A-Team were given more focus and priority, as it was thought to be a more serious and monumental film. (I bet some of those animators on the Pocahontas team wish they did the Lion Kind :D)

Pocahontas shocked

This was probably the face the animators made when they saw the ‘Lion King’ 1st Week numbers.

2. Revising, Revised, Revisions.

Generating an acceptable script for The Lion King was not a simple task.  It reportedly went through three years of revisions and resubmissions before coming to a halt.  Some of these revisions featured Simba’s brother, Meetoo, as well as a bat-eared fox named Bhati and a rhino who made no appearance in the final version.  Other characters underwent drastic changes, such as Zazu who was originally a tickbird accompanying the aforementioned rhino.  Scar also originally had no relation to Mufasa.  Even after the script was “finalized”, changes were made often during production.

Simba and Nala under Waterfall

Its took more than 600 Animators and Artists to create ‘The Lion King.’ More then a million drawings were created for it. Talk about revisions!

3. Prince Bambi of Denmark

The successful pitch for The Lion King was summarized as “Bambi in Africa”.  It was frequently referred to as Bamlet during production due to the fact that its plot was loosely based off of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  The name of the film went through a few changes – most notably King of the Jungle, until it was pointed out that lions actually populate savannahs and forests with drier climates – almost never jungles.

 4. One Last Time

Up until the very last minute of production, Mufasa did not make another appearance in The Lion King once he perished at Pride Rock.  The team felt that it would evoke a more sentimental reaction and provide more plot continuity if Simba had a chance to see his deceased father one last time before heading back to the place of his birth.  This was the very last scene to be animated for the film.

Can You Believe this scene almost  didn’t happen?

5. No Sweat

The wildebeest stampede scene was a technological masterpiece and testament to artistry.  Animators spent almost three years generating various wildebeest models, setting up scenes with random paths for copies of said models, then fine-tuning each model with 2D editing tools to achieve the desired effect.  The total runtime of this scene is approximately two and a half minutes.

Yes, THIS  Scene took 3 Years to animate.

6. Pocahontas, I’m gonna let you finish, but…

The Lion King was the best selling home video of all time.  It sold a record 55 million copies, and on top of this, its soundtrack is also the number one most purchased soundtrack for animated films. (The soundtrack sold over 10 Million copies in the US. Frozen has sold 2.5 Million so far and we wouldn’t be surprised if they caught up to the Lion King.)

Lion King VHS Tape cover

Don’t front, you still know where this is at home.

7. The Truth About Scar

Disney artists have cited Adolf Hitler as a reference for Scar.  Particularly, the scene for the song “Be Prepared” was animated to reflect the sight of marching Nazi soldiers.

Scar's Be Prepared Scene In the Lion King

Its crazy to think they referenced Hitler for this scene.

8. A Nod to the King

In a subtle yet noteworthy cameo, Mickey Mouse appears in the form of a bug.  It is procured during the scene for the song “Hakuna Matata” and is shown to have ears similar to King Mickey’s.  Subtle inserts such as this are common in Disney films.

Mickey Mouse in the Lion King

You have to squint, but its Mickey. (Its hard to noticed this while watching it at normal speed.)

9. Best Decision Ever

The song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Elton John, was originally meant to be sung by Timon and Pumbaa.  Elton John composed the song with Simba and Nala in mind, and was shocked to hear this.  Although the last lines are still sung by the two comedic characters, the team was convinced that it should be changed.  This decision earned the song two awards for best original song, from the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards In 1994.

They almost had Timon and Pumbaa sing this whole song…. Talk about ruining the moment.

10. First-Hand Experience

Many of the animators and artists on the team for The Lion King took a trip to Kenya.  They spent two weeks studying the wildlife and landscapes, making sketches and coming up with character designs.  For those who did not make the trip, actual lions and baboons were brought into the studio. (Wild right?)

Simba on Pride Rock

If the artists and animators didn’t take that trip to Africa, scenes like this may never have happened.


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