Original “Lion King” facts

by Sarah Dubetz July 17th, 2019, 2:00 pm

In honour of the new Lion King coming out this Friday, here are some facts from the original Disney film.


1. When production first started, the movie was called King Of The Jungle. 
2. The opening scene originally featured a dialogue that introduced most of the main characters. After the directors heard the ‘Circle of Life’, they decided the song was more powerful on its own and scrapped the dialogue altogether. 
3. The opening scene was so impressive that it was used as the trailer for the film. This was the first time Disney had ever made a trailer using a full scene. 
4. The animals had different relationships in earlier versions of the script. Scar was a lone lion without any relation to Simba and led a pack of baboons. In this version, Rafiki was a cheetah and Timon and Pumbaa were friends with Simba from the very start. 
5. The movie was first presented to screenwriter Irene Mecchi as Bamblet, which would be Hamlet set in Africa with Bambi thrown in. 
6. The film’s first director, George Scribner, wanted the movie to be like an animated National Geographic feature. He left the project when it was made into a musical. 
7. The Lion King is credited as Disney’s first movie with an original storyline. All prior films were adaptations of preexisting stories. However, some dispute this claim because the movie took inspiration from Hamlet. 

8. Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, the voices of Timon and Pumbaa, originally auditioned to be hyenas. The two bumped into each other in the lobby of their audition and asked if they could read together. Director Rob Minkoff thought they were hilarious but decided they’d be a better fit for Timon and Pumbaa.

9. A hyena researcher sued Disney for defamation of character for the portrayal of the animals in the film.

10. There were multiple characters written out of the movie including a little brother and bat-eared fox friend for Nala.

11. Disney’s most important animators chose to work on Pocahontas instead because they thought it would be a more successful film. Therefore, The Lion King was made by the ‘B-team’ animators.

12. Jim Cummings (the voice of Ed the gopher) had to fill in for Jeremy Irons as Scar for a portion of ‘Be Prepared’ after he threw out his voice