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‘Festival of the Lion King’ theater emptied for Pandora ride queue

by Tharin White

“Festival of the Lion King,” a beloved fan-favorite show, did not re-open when Disney’s Animal Kingdom did back in July. The building was presumed to have been in a state of limbo, waiting for the show to begin again. Instead, it appears that the show building has been emptied to be temporarily used as a ride queue for Avatar Flight of Passage.

Empty show building for Festival of the Lion King
Photo by Amy Peña with TripGuy Travel

The Festival of the Lion King, along with other shows like “Finding Nemo – The Musical” and “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular,” were primarily run by Actors’ Equity. Due to disagreements regarding COVID-19 testing and crowding indoors, these shows did not re-open with the parks back in July.

Festival of the Lion King
Photo by Amy Peña with TripGuy Travel

Many had hoped to see the resort’s major shows return once agreements had been met. Instead, it appears that these shows will continue to be in hiatus for some time. Florida closed the theme parks when positive daily COVID-19 tests averaged 200 a day – the state now averages 10,000 positive tests a day.

The parks have not seen massive spikes directly tied to visiting the parks, but the ongoing pandemic has put a strain on the theme park industry as a whole. The Walt Disney Company had to lay off a large portion of its entertainment cast members in October as a result.

Festive Flotillas Character Boats at Disney's Animal Kingdom

In lieu of indoor options, Disney has recently added Festive Flotillas to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. These boat-based character offerings drift around the park as a form of socially-distant character meet and greet.

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