Imagineering Awesome: Pride Rock featuring The Legend of the Lion King

This post is part of the Imagineering Awesome series

This is the sixth post in the Imagineering Awesome series so if you’ve missed any of the previous posts, click on the link at right. It will open in a new window, so you won’t miss today’s entry …

Which is brought to us by my friend Nick, who doesn’t have a blog. Though he does make funny memes, which you can see on his tumblr or by following him on twitter. I normally wouldn’t harass my friends to contribute to the blog, but his idea got me totally excited, and I wanted to share …


I would like to thank Melissa Sue for asking me to contribute to her blog. I know she asked mostly Disney bloggers, which I am not. I’m sure the only reason she asked me was nepotism, which I’m cool with. IT’S ABOUT TIME IT STARTED WORKING IN MY FAVOR. Anyways …

I love Disney’s Animal Kingdom but I think it’s missing a few things, one of them being a dark ride for the whole family. A dark ride based on The Lion King would be a perfect addition to the park. It would, of course, be located in the Africa section of the Park.

The exterior would be a recreation of Pride Rock from the movie. You would walk under the famous ridge of the mountain where Rafiki held Simba up for all to see. Since money is no object here, I would include animatronic figures that would come out and recreate the opening of the movie every hour on the hour.

Pride Rock

The queue would take you through different sets of the movie including the elephant graveyard and the jungle where Simba met Timon and Pumba. The queue could feature some interactive educational facts about Africa and the animals that appear in the movie.

The load area would be decorated in the art style from the ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ part of the movie. The background music would be instrumental pieces from the movie. The ride would be a omnimover similar to the Haunted Mansion and Journey of the Little Mermaid.

You would load into you ride vehicle, which would look like a rock. I know it doesn’t sound like a very cool ride vehicle but for this ride to tell its story the way I want to, this is the most logical choice. Once the lap bar closed, ‘Circle of Life’ would start playing on the on-board speakers.

You would leave the load area, go around a corner and be greeted by Pride Rock just as Rafiki is hosting Simba into the air. Similar to the Haunted Mansion, you would only be able to see what is directly in front of you, thus the vehicles would twist and turn through out the ride to show you different parts of the story.

As you pass Pride Rock the vehicle turns to reveal Scar. He is just starring at you. ‘Be Prepared’ would play just briefly to give a little foreshadowing of what’s to come. Your vehicle would then turn to see a screen that showed Mufasa and Simba starring out over their kingdom ‘Everything the light touches is our kingdom.’ As the ride starts to turn you would hear Mufasa say ‘but stay away from the dark place. ‘Your turn completes to see another screen with Scar telling Simba about how a king would go anywhere he wants.

You then enter a huge room with ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ playing and a recreation of the scene from the movie. Simba high atop a giraffe. This is a huge room that you complete a half circle through as animals dance in front of you singing along to Simba’s big number. (Think the Under the Sea room in the Journey of the Little Mermaid or Madame Leota’s room in the Haunted Mansion.)

Just Can't Wait

In the next room, you’d see a screen with Simba and Nala running through the grass with Zazu trapped under a rhino. You turn again to see a animatronic Nala pin Simba to the ground. ‘Pinned ya again,’ she says with delight. Then you turn to find yourself in the elephant graveyard.

Your vehicle moves through the graveyard and you start to see eyes starring back at you. Then the hyenas appear before you, they are moving in on you. The ride turns to a scene of Mufasa attacking and saving you from the hyenas. Animatronics would be best for this scene.

Your rock turns to another screen showing Mufasa upset with Simba for disobeying him. ‘I’m only brave when I have to be,’ Mufasa tells him. Turn again to a screen showing Scar telling the hyenas his plan to become king. Turn again and a screen shows a scene of Scar asking Simba to wait here. Then screen showing hyenas scaring a pack of wildebeests. Then a screen showing Scar telling Musafa ‘Stampede in the gorge! Simbas there!’

BOOM!! Sounds of a stampede fill you ride vehicle as the cars turn and you start going down a hill backwards. On the vehicle in front of you is projected wildebeests racing towards you. On both sides of you ride vehicle are animatronic wildebeests racing pass you as you fall further down the hill. The scene projected on the car in front of you first shows Mufasa save Simba and then Scar letting Mufasa fall into the gorge. As you start to level out the sounds of the stampede stop.


The vehicle turns to reveal a a large recreation of the gorge with Mufasa laying motionless on the ground as a animatronic Simba tries to wake him. (I know this could be a very sad scene in the ride but Disney has played with our emotions for years so why not just go for it, plus to skip it would diminish the ride IMO.) You slowly turn to see a animatronic Scar telling Simba that Simba killed Mufasa and that he should run away. Turn to a scene showing Simba running away.

The next screen is Simba meeting Timon and Pumbaa. They tell him ‘Hakuna Matata.’ The ride then passes a series of screens each showing Simba living with Timon and Pumbaa as the song ‘Hakuna Matata’ plays. The last screen shows a grown Simba laying around with his new friends eating bugs.

The ride turns and animatronic Timon and Pumbaa are looking for food when they hear a noise. Pumbaa looks, and the ride turns turns to show a shadowy figure lurking behind them. The next two screens show Simba attacking figure only to have it be revealed as Nala. She tells Simba she happy he’s alive but also how bad things are back in the Pridelands.

The next screen shows Rafiki telling Simba that his father is alive: ‘He lives inside you.’ Then a screen showing Simba going home to face Scar. The ride turns to show the devastation done to the Pridelands. Hyenas everywhere. Turn again to animatronic Timon in hula outfit doing his best to distract the hyenas as he offers up Pumbaa on a plate.

The ride turns, and your vehicle starts to move up as you go back up to the level you started on. Everything is dark, you can hear rain and see lighting flashes as you climb. The vehicle rocks from side to side as light flashes, revealing Scar and Simba locked in battle. There would be at least five of these scenes each one would be animatronic figures that move slightly as the lighting reveals them. As you get to the top of your climb, the projectors show Scar’s downfall to the hyenas on the back of the ride vehicle in front of you.

Fight with Scar

The next room is a large scene filled with all the characters in animatronic form welcoming Simba home. The vehicle turns to reveal a second Pride Rock, just like the one from the beginning of the ride except with Rafiki holding Simba’s daughter up for all to see. ‘Circle of Life’ plays as you round the corner to the unloading area.

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed your ride. Maybe some other time I tell you my ideas for the Canada Pavilion. Lets just say it involves a dog sled roller coaster through the snow.

P.S. Disney feel free to take my idea and build it. Just fly me out for the grand opening and kick in a few nights in the dream suite.

What do you think? Are you prepared for this visit to Simba’s world? 

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