Disclaimer: Disney invited me to California on an all-expenses paid trip, in exchange for my coverage of events, which included D23 Expo and a special session, Celebration of an Animated Classic: THE LION KING panel. As always, all opinions are my own. All photos provided by D23 Expo, Disney or myself.
To think, it’s been exactly one month since I attended the incredible D23 Expo. I’m still in awe, still reflecting on all the over-the-top moments and announcements I witnessed first hand.
For all the magic I observed, there was something special in the air on that very last day of the expo. You see, Disney knows how to spread out the magic. All the pixie-dusted moments didn’t just happen that first day. Oh no. They were sprinkled throughout the weekend.
Do we have any fans of The Lion King?
On my itinerary mid-morning on that very last day – Celebration of an Animated Classic: THE LION KING panel.
Going into the panel, this is what I knew…
Join a Disney Celebration of the magic, the music, and the majesty of the animated classic THE LION KING. Producer Don Hahn, Director Rob Minkoff, and animators Tony Bancroft and Mark Henn, along with some very special guests, reveal the secrets behind the making of the timeless animated classic
It would be interesting, for sure. But there was a lot I didn’t know.
I didn’t know a certain Disney legend would make an appearance.
I didn’t know that I would be witnessing one of my favorite Disney voices of all times…live, in person.
I didn’t know we’d be singing along to a show-stopping finale, a Circle of Life performance, sung by the original artist, Carmen Twillie.
It was an incredible couple of hours watching the talented group of creators relive the entire process, from “the pitch” to casting. In the process I realized there were a lot of things I didn’t know about The Lion King. So many surprises from behind the scenes.
Here’s what I discovered…
Highest Grossing Hand-Drawn Animated Movie of All Time
When Don Hahn, executive producer of The Lion King took the stage, I realized this fact. The Lion King is the highest grossing hand-drawn animated movie of all time! Pretty impressive. Would you have guessed?
Fun Fact: Disney’s musical adaptation on Broadway also holds a record. The Lion King musical is highest-grossing Broadway show of all time, surpassing even Phantom of the Opera.
The Lion King vs. Pocahontas
At the house of mouse, The Lion King and Pocahontas were going to be made at same time.
Pocahontas was considered to be the the sure hit.
The Lion King was considered the underdog.
While I do love Pocahontas (and always will), I think The Lion King knocked it out of the ballpark, don’t you?
There’s something about an underdog story, and The Lion King going from underdog to the highest grossing hand-drawn animated movie of all time. Priceless!
Elton and the Warthog
I tell you, with all the surprises during the expo, I halfway expected Elton John to pop out from behind the stage. Though he did not make an appearance, we did get some funny scoop. You see Elton John wasn’t so sure about some decisions being made.
Elton John had said…”I don’t want a stinky old warthog to sing my song”!
He of course was talking about Pumbaa! Here’s a little treat for you, straight from my vantage point during the panel. Take a listen.
— Finding Debra (@FindingDebra2) July 16, 2017
Hyena named after Ed McMahon?
I’ve been a fan of Jim Cummings for as long as I can remember.
Do you love Winnie the Pooh? I do. How about Tigger? Me too. Darkwing Duck? That’s Jim Cummings, ladies and gentlemen, and I could listen to him all day long. What a true talent.
Of course we all know that Jim Cummings was cast as Ed (the laugh-er hyena) in The Lion King. To watch video of him creating sounds of his character (a character that really doesn’t speak, right?), you see pure genius.
His character, Ed, was named after Ed McMahon. Remember, McMahon, the sidekick on The Tonight Show, was always laughing at Johnny Carson.
Whoopi Wanted in The Lion King
Can you imagine getting a call that Whoopi Goldberg wanted to be a part of your movie? That’s exactly what happened and how Whoopi got to be part of the incredible cast.
They scrambled in disbelief after realizing this was really REAL, and found the perfect role as one of the hyenas.
The recently awarded Disney Legend, Whoopi Goldberg, apparently had had lunch with Elton John. It was a done deal…she needed to be a part of the The Lion King.
The rest is history.
Did I mention that Whoopi surprised us. Take a look…
I was live tweeting the entire event and WHOA!
— Finding Debra (@FindingDebra2) July 16, 2017
It’s A Small World Cameo?
You know the famous Disney Parks’ ride, It’s a Small World. You know the song by the same name, of course. But did you catch that the song was featured in The Lion King?
It’s the scene in which a caged Zazu sings “It’s a Small World” only to have Scar yell “No, anything but that!”
I guess I’m not the only one who gets that song stuck in my head when I hear it just once! 🙂
A little Disney humor.
Don’t remember that scene? This next surprising fact might help you out…
Coming Out of the Vault
Like I said, Disney is full of surprises. Near the end of the panel, a big announcement was made.
As we watched scenes from the original movie on the screen (with goosebumps all around), it was announced that The Lion King was coming out of the vault!
Releasing on Digital Aug 15th (TODAY) and The Lion King on BluRay August 29th! So, be sure to pre-order your copy now and you can share this with a new generation (and for some of us, replace our old VHS copies with BluRay – HeeHee)!
The Future of The Lion King – While the focus of this panel was on the original animated film, much discussion was had in the Live Action Panel earlier in the weekend about the upcoming live action film, The Lion King. So different and so beautiful. I had the chance to see scenes from this incredible endeavor. Head on over to read all about it –> Disney, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm Live Action update!
More from D23 Expo Blogger Trip:
- New Disney movies – Animation Update for Disney, Pixar, Disneytoon update
- Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm Live Action film update – so many surprises
- Disney Parks and Resorts Big News – Announcements
AND if you didn’t see how much of a Disney fanatic I am, be sure to check out my full costume in my I’m Going to D23 Expo post! Yes, I said costume! 🙂
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