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The text version of this document is available at


I) Introduction: Abbreviations, etc.
  1. What awards did TLK win?
II) The Characters
  1. How do you spell all the names?
  2. Who did all their voices?
  3. What IS Timon, anyway?
  4. What's that cub's name? / What about the sequel?
  5. Genealogy: Who's Nala's father?
III) The Language
  1. Characters' Names
  2. "Hakuna Matata": What does it REALLY mean?
  3. Rafiki's Chant?
  4. What Language is it on the Soundtrack?
IV) The Music
  1. What's on the Soundtrack?
  2. Isn't that Ladysmith Black Mambazo I Hear?
  3. What's This I Hear about a Second TLK CD? (Rhythm of the Pride Lands)
  4. So What Are the Words to Timon's "Hula" Song?
  5. What are the full lyrics to Zazu's "Coconuts" song?
V) Resources
  1. Text, Sound, and Image Files on the World Wide Web
  2. Scripts
  3. The Art of The Lion King (book)
  4. The TLK Mailing List
VI) Unfortunates
  1. Similarities to Tezuka's "Jungle Taitei"
  2. The Songs are Substandard
VII) Oopsies
  1. How did Rafiki Levitate Up That Cliff?
VIII) Miscellaneous
  1. Doesn't this plot sound familiar?
  2. Injokes in TLK
  3. Hidden Mickeys in TLK
  4. Hey! I saw "SEX" in the clouds!
IX) TLK at Home
  1. Where can I get the video?
  2. Are there missing scenes in the video?
  3. What about the LD?
  4. What's this about a whole new "Morning Report" song on the DVD?


Welcome to The Lion King FAQ. For those readers who don't know, if that's possible, "The Lion King" is the biggest (as of September 1995) animated Disney film in history, and in the opinion of many, their best ever. Most people who haven't been living on Neptune for the last few years know what the plot of "The Lion King" is, but for those who need a refresher... here is the plot as found in the Film Notes, originally from the Buena Vista Productions website:

    "The Lion King" follows the epic adventures of a young lion cub named Simba as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and his destined role as king of the jungle. As a carefree cub, he "just can't wait to be king," and spends his days frolicking with his pal, Nala. His father, King Mufasa, the revered ruler of Pride Rock and the lands that surround it, teaches him about the "circle of life" -- the delicate balance of nature which bonds all animals together -- and cautions him to prepare for the day when he will be called upon to lead. Mufasa's evil brother, Scar, hopes that day will never arrive and schemes to do away with the king and Simba so that he can assume the throne for his own tyrannical purposes. He and his hyena henchmen -- Shenzi, Banzai and Ed -- lure Simba into the path of a wildebeest stampede in which Mufasa is killed trying to save his son.

    Scar convinces Simba that he is responsible for his father's death and urges him to run far away from the Pride Lands and never return. A frightened and guilt-ridden Simba flees into exile where he is befriended by a wacky but warmhearted warthog named Pumbaa and his free-wheeling meerkat companion, Timon. Under the dubious guidance of this nature's odd couple, Simba adopts their "Hakuna Matata" (no worries) attitude towards life, living on a diet of bugs and taking things one day at a time. The cub matures into a young adult and is able to put his past behind him until a beautiful young lioness, who turns out to be his childhood friend Nala, arrives on the scene. She tells him of the hard times and suffering that have come to the Pride Lands under Scar's reign and beseeches him to take his place as king. With the help of Rafiki, a wise shaman baboon, Simba realizes that his father's spirit lives on in him and that he must accept the responsibility of his destined role. In a climactic battle with his uncle and an army of hyenas, Simba attempts to reclaim his rightful place in the "circle of life."

Some statistics: "The Lion King" was released twice in the US, once on June 24, 1994, and again on November 18, 1994. From those two running times it grossed some $313 million in the box office alone, placing it fifth on the list of high-earning films of all time (after E.T., Jurassic Park, Forrest Gump, and Star Wars). Considering it cost only $40 million to produce, this is quite remarkable.

A few abbreviations will be used in this FAQ. The most common, pretty clearly, will be TLK: "The Lion King." Others are:

CoL:      "Circle of Life"
IJCWtbK:  "I Just Can't Wait to be King"
HM:       "Hakuna Matata"
CYFtLT:   "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?"
ROTPL:    Rhythm of the Pride Lands
JE:       "Jungle Emperor" by Tezuka
1. What Awards Did TLK Win?

Academy Awards:  Best Music - Original Score 
                 Best Music - Song - CYFTLT 
            nom. Best Music - Song - HM 
            nom. Best Music - Song - CoL

Golden Globe:    Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical 
                 Best Original Score - Motion Picture 
                 Best Original Song - Motion Picture - CYFTLT 
            nom. Best Original Song - Motion Picture - CoL 

Grammy Awards:   Best Male Pop Vocal Performance - CYFTLT 
                 Best Instrumental Arrangement with Accompanying Vocals - CoL 
                 Best Musical Album for Children 

BMI/PRS:         Most Performed Song from a Film - CYFTLT 
                 Robert Musel Award (Most Played Song) - CYFTLT             


TLK has a wealth of memorable characters, just as in any Disney film. However, since not only is it an animal movie with certain creatures of unfamiliar description, but it is also set in Africa and is complete with names that sound unprecedentedly foreign to English-speakers, the capacity for confusion on this front is considerable. In fact, some of the MOST frequently asked questions-- or, more appropriately, the most frequent errors in reference-- are regarding things like the names and species of the various characters in TLK. So, here goes.

1. How Do You Spell All the Names?

2. Who Did All Their Voices?

Nearly all the voices in TLK were done by notable vocalists, already famous for their work in big-screen productions or Broadway.

Foreign language cast listings can be found at

3. What IS Timon, Anyway?

This is a listing of the respective species of all the characters.

4. What's That Cub's Name? / What About The Sequel?

At the very end, Rafiki presents a new cub, Simba's and Nala's, to the expectant crowd of animals just as he had earlier with Simba himself. This new cub is Kiara, their daughter and heiress to Pride Rock. This sets the stage for the plot of "Simba's Pride", the direct-to-video sequel due to be released on October 27, 1998.

Full synopses of the plot and casting is available at, as well as at many other "Simba's Pride" websites.

5. Genealogy: Who's Nala's Father?

Jeff Leadbeater has provided the following speculation on this subject:

One of the biggest questions about The Lion King is "Who is Nala's father?". These three theories are the most likely ones.

1) Scar Paternity Theory

        ?-+-?                  Ahadi                   ?-+-?
          |               -------+-------                |
          |               |             |                |
        Sarabi----+----Mufasa         Scar-----+-----Sarafina
                  |                            |
                  |                            |
This theory suggests that Mufasa and Scar co-ruled the Pride Lands, and therefore shared the reproductive responsibilities. As a result, Mufasa mated with Sarabi and fathered Simba, and Scar mated Sarafina and fathered Nala.

Evidence that proves this comes from the movie itself. When Scar took sole possession of the Pride Lands, he should have killed Nala, since that is the custom. The fact that Nala wasn't killed supports Scar's paternity of Nala.

2) Mufasa Paternity Theory

               ?-+-?           Ahadi            ?-+-?
                 |               |                |
                 |               |                |
                         |               |
                         |               |
In this theory, Mufasa is the sole ruler of the Pride Lands. As a result, only he was allowed to mate with the females. Therefore he sired both Nala and Simba.

3) Improbable Timing Theory

        ?-+-?           Ahadi         ?-+-?            ?-+-?
          |               |             |                |
          |               |             |                |
        Sarabi----+----Mufasa           ?------+------Sarafina
                  |                            |
                  |                            |
In this theory, the former king (the one before Mufasa) mated with Sarafina just before Mufasa took over. Then Mufasa mated with Sarafina. When Nala was born, they were unsure who the father was, so they just decided to consider Mufasa her father.

Since we never see anyone claim paternity to Nala, we cannot say who was her father. Until we get more evidence, these are the most likely theories.

On June 14, 2004, the creators of The Lion King gathered in Glendale, CA, for a Tenth Anniversary Panel discussion, where Brian Tiemann asked directors Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers point-blank the answer to the foregoing question. Minkoff's immediate response was "Roger [Allers]"; but after further discussion, both directors acknowledged that Nala's father, while still not known definitively, was either Scar or Mufasa.

Despite this "canon" claim, James Maxwell and Raymond Down, Jr. maintain that Nala's father cannot logically be either Scar or Mufasa; they present an argument toward this thesis at


Given TLK's setting, in Africa, and the thoroughness with which its creators designed the entire movie, not to mention the fact that Hans Zimmer injected a great deal of his trademark African musical style into the score and songs, it stands to reason that there would be a great deal of linguistic correctness involved in TLK. Unfortunately, this also entails a lot of confusion as to how the African languages in TLK work. This section should help address that issue.

1. Characters' Names

Many of the characters' names are in Swahili and actually mean things. Here is the listing of all the names that have translations (source: the original set of Skybox trading cards; meanings of dubious certainty are indicated with *).

A note from the Internet Movie Database (reported by Kovara):

"Vitani" was originally "Shetani." It is possible to hear characters refer to her by that name. It means "Devil" in Kiswahili, however, and Disney may have thought it was inappropriate, thereby changing it to something a little less offensive. "Vitani" has no meaning in the Kiswahili language,from which most of the characters' names are drawn."

And from Chumvi Mtembezi:

"Vitani" has meaning: "At War" or "In War"; in Kiswahili.
By the way, "vita" means "war" in Kiswahili.

2. "Hakuna Matata": What Does It REALLY Mean?

This phrase, the motto of Timon and Pumbaa, means nearly what they claim it to mean: literally translated, it is "There are no concerns here." The words have an implication of location as well as of the concerns involved. The pronunciation used in the film is also correct, according to Yaacov Iland, contrary to previous claims that the emphasis should have been placed on the first syllable of each word.

3. Rafiki's Chant

One of TLK's most frequently asked questions is "What does Rafiki's 'squash banana' chant mean?" Well, here it is:

	Asante sana!		[Thank you very much!]
	Squash banana!		[...Squash banana.]
	Wewe nugu,		[You're a baboon,]
	Mimi hapana!		[And I'm not.]
So Rafiki is correct in his explanation of what the chant means, at least for the last two lines; surely we could expect no less.

Again, this is in Swahili, except for "nugu" (which is Kikuyu, the most common native language in Kenya, rather than Swahili, which is more of a regional lingua franca). As to the history of the chant's usage: when the production team was in Kenya to research story elements and study lion and other animal behavior, Brenda Chapman (who worked on storyboards) heard their guide singing it to himself, and wrote it down. The guide told her it was well known as a meaningless local schoolyard chant, and she felt it would work well as a part of Rafiki's character.

4. What Language Is It on the Soundtrack?

Listeners to the soundtrack, both to "Circle of Life" and the instrumental score, will hear a large amount of African vocal material used. This is a result of the majority of the music being arranged by Hans Zimmer, who incorporates a lot of such material into his scores (such as "The Power of One") through his collaborator and lyricist, Lebo M.

The vocals are in Zulu, not Swahili. This observation is supported by several points:


1. What's on the Soundtrack?

The TLK Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, sold in a deep blue CD or cassette case with an image of Simba looking into the sky, contains the following tracks:

  1. "Circle of Life," Elton John and Tim Rice. Sung by Carmen Twillie. Arranged and produced by Hans Zimmer. Features improvisations by Lebo M.
  2. "I Just Can't Wait to be King," Elton John and Tim Rice. Sung by Jason Weaver and Laura Williams, with Rowan Atkinson. Arranged and produced by Mark Mancina.
  3. "Be Prepared," Elton John and Tim Rice. Sung by Jeremy Irons, with Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings. Arranged and produced by Hans Zimmer.
  4. "Hakuna Matata," Elton John and Tim Rice. Sung by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, with Jason Weaver and Joseph Williams. Arranged and produced by Mark Mancina and Jay Rifkin.
  5. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," Elton John and Tim Rice. Sung by Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Sally Dworsky, Joseph Williams, and Kristle Edwards. Arranged and produced by Mark Mancina.
  6. "This Land," Hans Zimmer. Features African vocals by Lebo M.
  7. "...To Die For," Hans Zimmer.
  8. "Under The Stars," Hans Zimmer. Features African vocals by Lebo M.
  9. "King of Pride Rock," Hans Zimmer. Features African vocals by Lebo M.
  10. "Circle of Life," Elton John and Tim Rice. Sung by Elton John.
  11. "I Just Can't Wait to be King," Elton John and Tim Rice. Sung by Elton John.
  12. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," Elton John and Tim Rice. Sung by Elton John.
The first five tracks are songs directly from the movie. Tracks 6-9 are instrumental score movements, by Hans Zimmer and unrelated to the songs; they are excerpts, since the actual movie score is more extensive than what is included on the soundtrack. The last three tracks are Elton John's "Radio" versions; both CYFtLT and CoL were #1 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart for several weeks (11 for the former, 8 for the latter).

Early promos for the movie promised seven original John/Rice songs, not five. One which was cut, "Warthog Rhapsody," has been released on the new "Rhythm of the Pride Lands" CD. As to the other: Evidently Mufasa was to sing a song entitled "To Be King," which was supposed to be geared toward teaching Simba what it means to have the responsibility of kingship. It was cut, presumably because they just couldn't think of a way for James Earl Jones to SING without sounding ridiculous.... :)

2. Isn't That Ladysmith Black Mambazo I Hear?

No, though it's not a bad guess. Ladysmith is a South African a cappella musical group who does music inspired by mining songs born there. They are quite famous now, having done the accompaniment to Paul Simon's "Graceland" and "The Rhythm of the Saints" albums. However, they are not the group we hear on the TLK soundtrack.

The African vocals in TLK are created by Lebo Morake, the lyricist who has assisted Hans Zimmer in his African-themed movie scores, such as "The Power of One." He is the one who sings the improvisations we hear at the beginning of CoL, as well as at the very end and in various other parts of the score. He leads a chorus made up in large part of African vocalists who lend to the spirit of the music with their familiarity with the Zulu language.

3. What's This I Hear About a Second TLK CD?

A "sequel" soundtrack to TLK was released in the US on February 28, 1995: Rhythm of the Pride Lands. It consists of almost all new songs inspired by TLK, including a couple of others that are already in existence and even one that was cut from the movie in production. The track listing is as follows:

  1. "He Lives In You," Sung by Lebo M.
  2. "Hakuna Matata," sung by Jimmy Cliff.
  3. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," sung by Lebo M.
  4. "Kube," sung by Lebo M.
  5. "Lea Halalela," sung by Khululiwe Sithole. By Hans Zimmer.
  6. "It's Time," sung by Lebo M.
  7. "One by One," by Lebo M.
  8. "Warthog Rhapsody," sung by Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella. By Elton John.
  9. "Lala," sung by Lebo M. By Hans Zimmer.
  10. "Busa," sung by Lebo M. By Hans Zimmer.
  11. "Noyana," arranged by Lebo M.

There have been many mixed reactions to this CD. Some, including that of the writer of this FAQ, are overwhelmingly positive; other people have reported returning the CD to the store after being unimpressed by the music. For those who wish to see for themselves, ROTPL is available at most music stores at the regular CD price.

4. So What Are the Words to Timon's "Hula" Song?

Here they are, cut directly from the Script (see section V.2):


If you're hungry for a hunk of fat and juicy meat
Eat my buddy Pumbaa here because he is a treat

Come on down and dine
On this tasty swine
All you have to do is get in line
{Parenthetical parts are Pumbaa singing; the apple is at his feet.}

Aaaare you achin'
(Yup, yup, yup)
Foooor some bacon?
(Yup, yup, yup)
Heeee's a big pig
(Yup, yup)
You could be a big pig too.


5. What Are the Full Lyrics to Zazu's "Coconuts" Song?

The following is transcribed and annotated by Michael Razzano (

Down at the English fair
One evening I was there
When I heard a showman
Shouting underneath the flair...

Oh, I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts,
There they are all standing in a row.
Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head
Give 'em a twist, a flick of the wrist,
That's what the showman said.

Oi! I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts
Every ball you throw will make me rich.
And there stands me wife, the idol of me life, singing
Roll a bowl a ball a penny a pitch.

Singing roll a bowl a ball a penny a pitch,
Singing roll a bowl a ball a penny a pitch,
Roll a bowl a ball
Roll a bowl a ball
Singing roll a bowl a ball a penny a pitch.

I've done a little research, and this is some of what I found:

-It's classified mainly as a folk song, and consequently has been altered to generate several different versions. For example, my Dad remembers singing the song as a kid and singing "Rowl a bowl a bowl a penny a piece", while the more likely version of "Roll _or_ bowl a _ball_ --a penny a _pitch_" fits the song much better. The transcription in [an earlier version of] the FAQ says "Roll _a_ bowl a _bowl_ a penny a pitch", which doesn't really make sense, either. Also, "the English Fair" is "Barnum's Fair".

-The song also has the alternate title of "Roll Or Bowl a Ball --a Penny a Pitch".

-The song-- under the title "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts"-- was performed by Monty Python, which served to revive its popularity in the 1970s. Rowan Atkinson was peripherally associated with the Monty Python group early in his career, and his memories of Eric Idle's performance very likely influenced Atkinson-- or one of his fans on the production staff-- to suggest the song's inclusion in The Lion King. -Fred Heatherton wrote the song, which has a copyright date of 1944. My father said that he first saw it in a movie, but failed to remember which movie it was. I, too, was unable to find it given the date and a lack of online information about the song. If you're up for a challenge, or already know, I'm still looking.

The song was also featured on the Muppet Show:

More information here:


1. Text, Sound, and Image Files on the World Wide Web

The largest archive of multimedia from TLK is The Lion King WWW Archive, located at Links to other TLK sites can be found there, covering such things as foreign sound files, fan-fiction, and other "fringe" material.

2. Scripts

The TLK Script, which is as complete and error-free as possible by this time, is available on the Web in three formats at:

3. The Art of The Lion King

A valuable resource for fans of TLK and its wonderful artwork is available in Hyperion Press' The Art of The Lion King. It is somewhat rare, but indispensable. TLK was the first film with which Disney (through its Hyperion publishing arm) produced an accompanying Art book; those for more recent movies have been larger and crisper in layout, but for a first outing, TAoTLK is stunning. Following is a set of information provided by Matt Robinson:

The only two versions are the "standard" edition and the "limited edition". The standard is US$50, CA$60, or 35 UK pounds depending on your country. The limited edition seems only to be available on the other side of the pond from me and is $250. It is signed by the producers/directors and other people from the TLK production team. There's also a sericel included.

Hyperion Press publishes both books, both are hardcovers, both should be virtually identical save for the autographs and sericel.

The ISBN of the standard edition is 0-7868-6028-6

You can't miss it among the other books, it's bigger than A4 paper (at least 35cm x 25cm) and the cover sticks out like a diamond in the rough (oops, thats Aladdin - and The Sword in the Stone =)

The book is also almost an inch thick, with a bold blue dust jacket with gold lettering. It's hard to miss if it's on the shelf; if it isn't, ask the clerk to order it.

4. The TLK Mailing List

A mailing list keeps the Lion King fandom together in a tight-knit, good-natured discussion community which grows continually. It has taken over from as the standard forum for mature discussion of the movie, with a great many posted messages per day about ongoing topics on and related to the movie. To join, simply send an e-mail to, with no subject, and put the following in the body of the message:



1. Similarities to Tezuka's "Jungle Taitei"

A Japanese animated series, first aired in 1966, has been touted by its creators and many anime fans as the unrecognized (by Disney) source of the story and much of the rest of TLK. They do have a point, to be honest, although Disney officially denies all knowledge of "Jungle Emperor" (abbreviated JE here), as it was called. (The title of the series in the USA was "Kimba the White Lion".) The similarities are unsettling:

There are in fact more of these parallels. A complete synopsis of the similarities between TLK and JE can be found on the Web at:

Yet, as Matt Robinson points out to me, Tezuka's team has admitted that many of these visuals and concepts, for instance the lion on a rock and the monkey in a tree, are stereotypical enough for a coincidence to be conceivable, and for these parallels to be inevitable.

The storyline of JE, however, is refreshingly different from TLK's, enough so to render any claims on that front of plagiarism by Disney ludicrous.

Following is some information brought to my attention, once again, by Matt, which sheds some light on the respective attitudes of the Tezuka and Disney Companies, as well as the storyline of JE.

But, while some see obvious references and influences to Tezuka's work in "Lion King," the story itself is quite different.

In "Kimba," the cub's mother dies aboard a ship and Kimba escapes, swimming back to shore. While trying to go home, he visits cities and realizes that mankind has created a wonderful civilization of laws--quite different from the law of the jungle.

In "Lion King," Simba leaves the pride after mistakenly believing that he had a role in his father's death.

In "Kimba," the hero battles poachers and trappers, a magic serpent and even the monster of Petrified Valley. He defends his domain against "the insect invasion," "the red menace" and "the gigantic grasshopper." Aiding his efforts are his animal friends, Dan'l Baboon, Pauley Cracker, Tadpole, Samson and Roger Ranger, who is a human.

In "Lion King," however, there are no human beings and Simba fights hyenas and Scar.

The character of Scar, the power hungry "black sheep" brother of Mufasa, is particularly intriguing to some observers. In the TV series, the villian Claw, who has a scar above his eye, takes over the throne in Kimba's abscence.

Takayuki Matsutani, president of Tezuka Productions in Tokyo, said there is some similarity between the animated creations on two counts: the son grows up to be the king's successor after his father's death, and the symbolic scene where Simba stands on a rock in "The Lion King," whereas in the Japanese version, the opening scene has Kimba standing on a rock. He also agreed there were similarities in the baboon, the bird, the hyenas and te evil lion.

"However, quite a few staff of our company saw a preview of 'The Lion King,' discussed this subject and came to the conclusion that you cannot avoid having these similarities as long as you use animals as characters and try to draw images out of them," Matsutani said.

"If the Disney Co. had gotten a hint from 'The Jungle Emperor,' Osamu Tezuka, a founder of our company, would have been pleased," he continued. "And, we feel the same way, rather than making a claim."

"Therefore, our company's general opinion is 'The Lion King' is a totally different piece from 'The Jungle Emperor' and is an original work completed by the Disney production's long-lasting excellent production technique."

Asked about the apparent similarities, Minkoff said that whenever a story is based in Africa, it is "not unusual to have characters like a baboon, a bird or hyenas."

A further reference for those interested in the debate is offered by Marc Hairston:

For the Lion King/Tezuka debate, you should also refer folks to the chapter: "Jungle Emperor: A Tale of Two Lions" in Frederik Schodt's new book "Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga" (Stonebridge Press 1996. He worked as a personal translator for Tezuka and this is part of his section on Tezuka's contribution to manga (comic books) and anime. They *used to* (I haven't checked recently) have this chapter up on the Stonebridge website. Anyway, it's a well written and accurate summary of the controversy and some speculations on what Tezuka himself might have thought about it.

2. The Songs are Substandard

Another common complaint about TLK is that its songs are not up to the standards set in The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin. This is not surprising. Howard Ashman, the extraordinarily gifted lyricist who worked with Alan Menken (the composer) in the three above-mentioned films, passed away before the completion of Aladdin, and Tim Rice, who is in the opinion of a great many fans a decidedly less-talented artist than Ashman, had to take over. Rice was responsible for some of the songs in Aladdin, and stayed on to write the lyrics for the TLK songs.

Disney also hired Elton John to write the music for the songs in TLK, which was a move many regret, since the style John uses is considerably more geared toward pop music than Broadway musical numbers, which TLK and most previous Disney films have looked for.

In synopsis, the musical combination in TLK, for the songs, was an experiment, one that perhaps did not work as expected. Moviegoers expecting to hear songs like the ones they enjoyed in the past few movies were in many cases disappointed.


Lion King Mistakes

With special thanks to Phil Pollard, who painstakingly compiled this list, here is the Oopsies list directly from his home page. (I have edited some misleading typos.) It covers some, but not all, of the errors committed by Disney in bringing the film to the screen.

We all make mistakes. Considering the amount of work that goes into producing a Disney film, these tiny mistakes are a credit to the Disney name in that they are the worst that can be found.

Excluded from this list are any instances where blood or injuries disappear in good taste. Yes, it would have been accurate for Mufasa's entrails and body to be smeared up half the gorge from the stampede, but it does not constitute a mistake.

The Mistakes

  • Seeing Spots.

    When Simba was a newborn he had a few cub spots on him: four on his head and three on his side. We see this when he first appears and Sarabi licks him awake, and Rafiki anoints him. He must have grown up really fast and have lost them, because an instant later, when Rafiki lifts Simba to the crowd, the spots are gone.

  • The Cat's eyes.

    All the lions and lionesses have yellow tinted backgrounds on their eyes by day. In most of the night scene's, they turn closer to white. One notable exception is the fight scene where they stay yellow for all the cats for some forgotten reason. The mistake appears when Sarafina is comforting her daughter Nala as Scar talks about Simba and Mufasa's deaths. The eyes have a yellow tint, and then for one brief camera switch are pure white.

  • Zazu's flippin' feathers.

    Poor Zazu. Throughout most of the film he has three tail feathers when standing and four in flight. This is due to the two center feathers forming a large feather when standing. The problem is, when he is first seen at the presentation of Simba and several times in the Stampede he has from 4 to 8 tail feathers.

  • Meerkat's Stripes

    Every meerkat that appears, including Timon, has 5 horizontal stripes down its back. The center or third stripe is slightly larger. Even for a side view, these stripes are still visible. However, when Timon in singing the introduction to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," His stripes aren't visible from the side. This occurs twice between camera switches.

  • Rhino's Ear

    In the song "I Just Can't Wait to be King," Zazu flies into the back of a rhino. Look carefully. The rhino's ear is drawn on its shoulder.

    [However, it is the FAQ writer's opinion that in this case, given the surrealism of the style used in this scene, and given that the rhino's head and neck are for that reason indistinguishable from its shoulder, this is not a "goof" but a mere stylistic flourish. -BT]

  • Flickering Flames

    There is a -single- frame missing in the fire at the end. It is -extremely- hard to see. This was lost due to a chain being lost on the CAPS hard drive.

  • Whisker's Whiskers.

    When a character is created, he/she is given a character model for all to refer to. In this movie, all the adult lions had 5 whiskers on each side of the face. The lionesses have none. When Simba was shown as a newborn he has none. Later, when just a young cub, Simba has 3 whiskers on is right side and 4 on his left. At least that's how it was supposed to be. Excluding long shots, where details are not added, the number and appearance of whiskers on Simba, Mufasa, and Scar changed over 80 times. Often, it was a case of whiskers disappearing for a few seconds. From close ups to mid shots, they disappeared. Three times the 3/4 combo on simba went to 4/3. In some scenes where Simba was with Scar, and the Scar crew was probably animating, Simba had a 4/5 combo. Most of the times the number would change during camera switches. A few times it would change when a character panned off and the back on. And even once or twice, they disappeared on a simple pan. This is a relatively large mistake but it is easily missed. Hopefully no one got fired.

    CHARACTERL/R# of times(comments)
    Simba0/024(as cub)
    0/011(as adult)
    4/33(cub - reversal of sides)
    4/52(cub - Scar lead)
    Mufasa0/010(excluding ghost appearance - no pupils, no whiskers)

  • Pawing Around

    When we see Simba lying, near dead, on his side in the desert, both of his paws are placed in front of him. But, when Pumbaa and Timon show up, one of his paws is lying on his head. (Remember Timon lifing it up?).

[The FAQ writer notes here that, as Matt Robinson notes, Pumbaa could easily have nudged Simba while the camera was on Timon; that's how he knew Simba was still alive. Or, also a possibility, Simba could have involuntarily moved his paw over his face, while unconscious, to fend off the buzzards as they closed around him. -BT]

Phil Pollard (

Here are a few more errors not included in the list above:


1. Doesn't this plot sound familiar?

Disney makes no secret of the fact that TLK is very similar to Shakespeare's "Hamlet" in a large number of instances. Some parallels include:

Understandably, though, the parallels end at many key spots. In TLK:

Also, as noted by Gregory Gietzen, there is a similarity to "King Henry IV, Part I"; in that play, young Prince Hal shirks his duties hanging out with two buffoonish friends, who parallel Timon and Pumbaa quite strikingly.

2. Injokes in TLK

Dave Cleary has put together a rather good list of injokes used in TLK: links and references to other movies or music or what-have-you. Without further ado:

1. Scar says "You have no idea" to Young Simba. This line comes from "Reversal of Fortune" and was spoken by the Claus von Bulow character in that movie. CvB was played by Jeremy Irons, who also voice Scar in TLK. (Irons won an Oscar for his CvB role, BTW).

2. Zazu sings "It's a Small World After All" (the Disney themepark signature tune) to Scar, who reacts very negatively to it. Zazu also sings "Nobody Know the Trouble I've Seen," which is sometimes associated with movies about prisons or slavery.

3. in the soundtrack, quotes from Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus" and the Gregorian Chant "Dies Irae" both occur in spots in the movie dealing with death. The texts of both compositions deal with the subject of death.

[Actually "Dies Irae" isn't a Gregorian chant; as pointed out by Megan the Phantom Girlie, the melody we hear in the soundtrack is adapted from the most common musical rendering of the traditional dirge. It's also heard in the "Swing Your Razor Wide, Sweeney" lines in Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd". -BT]

4. after Pumbaa, Timon, and Zazu drive the hyenas from the cave in the last fight scene, they do the "Arsenio whoop," a noisy yell done with a shaken fist that was popularized on "The Arsenio Hall Show" in the late 1980's-early 1990's.

5. Rafiki's kung-fu imitation while battling the hyenas during this last fight scene is reminiscent of Bruce Lee and other kung-fu actors.

6. a few posters have mentioned that Zazu's comment about Scar early in the movie ("He'd make a nice throw-rug...." etc.) is very much like something out of the TV show "Blackadder," which featured Rowan Atkinson. Whether this comes directly from that show or not, I don't know. (Christopher Saunders, a Blackadder fan, assures me it does not.)

7. in the Elephant Graveyard scene, the hyenas drag Zazu off to a thermal vent, unceremoniously stuff him in it, then shoot him skyward; while being dragged off there, Zazu shouts "Oh no! Not the 'Birdie Boiler'." This is highly reminiscent (of all things) of a couple of 1950's Warner Bros. cartoons that starred a bulldog and black cat (one of these cartoons was entitled "It's Hummertime!"). In these cartoons, when the cat does something wrong or loses a bet, he has to suffer punishment in a clever Rube-Goldberg-like manner, each of these being given a colorful name. In all of these, the dog drags the cat off to the "punishment" and the cat shouts, "Oh no! Not 'Roll Out the Barrel'," or "Oh no! Not 'The Thinker'," or whatever the punishment is called. There's either a borrowing going on here or a big-time coincidence.

8. to me, at least, the humorously confused exchange between Nala, Timon, and Pumbaa ("Who's got a scar." "No, no, no, it's his uncle." etc.) reminds me a lot of the humorous cross-talk scenes of Abbott and Costello (such as their famous "Who's on First" routine).

As far as reference to TLK in other movies and TV shows, I can think of four right away:

1. someone recently posted a reference to TLK in an episode of the TV show "ER" in which a group of kids are told they can go watch the movie (the kids cheer, BTW).

2. There's a scene in the movie "Toy Story" where a car radio is playing "Hakuna Matata."

3. on the cartoon show "Animaniacs" [episode #74], there is a brief parody of the opening presentation scene called "The Tiger Prince." On another cartoon [episode #74], Wakko Warner decides to change his humorous stock-in-trade facial expression. One of the options he attempts is a tongue-hanging-out dead ringer for Ed the hyena.

4. on an episode of "The Simpsons" [episode #32], Lisa sees a cloud that sprouts various shapes, first of a deceased friend of hers, then of a Mufasa-like head that asks for "Kimba, uh I mean Simba" to avenge him, then of Darth Vader, then of James Earl Jones saying "This is CNN." The heads all pop up one next to the other.

For further references to TLK appearing throughout popular media in recent years, please see the TLK Sightings section:

3. Hidden Mickeys in TLK

There is a near-comprehensive website for Hidden Mickeys; its Lion King section can be found at

4. Hey! I saw "SEX" in the clouds!

There is an ongoing debate over whether or not the word "SEX" appears in swirling dust at one point in the film. The scene in question is midway through the movie, where Simba has just left a conversation with Timon and Pumbaa in which they have been mocking (in a friendly fashion) his thoughts on what the stars are. He flops down on the edge of a nearby cliff, stirring up some milkweed floss as he does so. As the floss swirls into the air, some claim to be able to see the word "SEX" in its swirling patterns.

It is not known for certain whether the word was planted there intentionally or not, or even if it exists at all; nonetheless, it has gained the attention of such groups as the American Life Leage, who have taken to boycotting Disney on the grounds that it is promoting "evil" themes in its productions.

Internal Disney sources (e.g. animators) claim that the word is not "SEX" at all, but "SFX"-- an abbreviation of "Special Effects". This certainly seems a plausible explanation. And as Patrick Swartz notes, "I recently discovered that the reason behind the phrase SFX "appearing" in the clouds is that it was a dare from the SFX department of the movie towards the animators and visual effects department. Sounds pretty convincing to me."

Screen shots of the scene in question can be found at


1. Where can I get the video?

The Lion King is widely available in DVD and VHS formats, through all popular video outlets. See the following site for information about all the various formats in which the movie can be obtained:

2. Are there missing scenes in the video?

No. Nothing is missing from the video that was included in the film release. The message at the beginning, informing the viewer that the film has been "edited" for home video use, means simply that since TV screens are of a different aspect ratio than the big screen, the video has had portions of the left- and rightmost areas of the picture cut off throughout the movie. This does result in the loss of some effect in the more impressive "virtual reality" shots, such as the long camera arc with Zazu in CoL; but for those of us who can't live without TLK in some form or another, now that it's gone from theaters, not to mention those people who require closed captioning to enjoy it properly, the video is indispensable.

One note, again brought to my attention by Matt Robinson: there is a hidden visual trick in the widescreen film, which is cut off by the VHS formatting. Near the end, where Scar is rationalizing to Simba after the latter challenges him to "step down or fight," Scar points upwards to the hordes of hyenas crowded onto the rocks above. Just off the screen on the video but visible on the film, where the rocks come down into a V-shaped notch, one of the hyenas drawn in silhouette is actually a schnauzer.

Counter-note: Carrie (a.k.a. "Collie", contends that the "schnauzer" isn't one at all, but just another hunchbacked hyena. She provides visual backup of this at

Counter-counter-note: Ash De Brie ( says, "It isn't a hunchbacked Hyena. Here is proof actually. I own the widescreen version, and was able to get a shot that clearly shows the jagged "edges" of the sillouette is too jagged to make any sort of hunchbacked hyena. Also, if you bend your monitor screen forward (to make the screen much brighter) You can see the Schnauzer even has a dog nose at the tip, darkened in blacker ink." Image at

Also, and also brought to my attention by Matt :), there were a couple of scenes which were included in storyboards but were cut from the production film. The following text is lifted directly from a post by Matt, with his permission.

No, but there WERE at least two other scenes that got past the brainstorming, and storyboards, but didn't arrive in the film, namely the Warthog Rhapsody scene and song, and the scene after Simba has gone home and Timon argues whether he should bother going to help him. This was (understandably) cut out to keep Timon's character as lovable as possible. has brought the following interesting note to light, regarding cut scenes and story development:

Also missing is a scene where Scar (after Mufasa's death) puts the make on Sarabi, and gets rejected by her. It may have gotten as far as the script and I think storyboards, but never got animated.

Andreas Deja wanted that scene in the movie to show Scar was straight. (He was sensitive to the speculations about Jafar in Aladdin) He also thought it would add to the story if he had a reason besides being king, to kill-off Mufasa. "Sparky" Katzenberg thought it would be just "too much" for the kiddies and kept yanking it all the times it kept getting brought up.

Here's a discussion by Erin Hughes (Veda) of a whole suite of scenes that were possibly in very early theatrical releases but were evidently cut out or altered before the movie made it to general release:

I saw TLK when it first premered in Montreal, Quebec (Canada) in theaters. There is missing footage from the VHS version! It is not easy to remember all the parts from that long ago, but here are the parts that are very clear in my memories...
"In the scene where Pumbaa trails off from Timon after a horned beetle, he comes across the fallen log. After hiding behind a tree and crouching under one side of the log, he slowly rises his head and stares at the beetle right before he attempts to eat it. At this point, seconds before Nala enters the picture, the beetle squirt black ink in Pumbaa's face then flies off. At this point, Nala is shown stalking & preparing to pounce from the shrubs. As Pumbaa screams, the ink is gone."
"When Simba decides on returning to the Pridelands; in the VHS version he is shown racing across the desert, then appearing in the Pridelands on a cliff. In the theater, this part was much longer running. It showed Simba racing out of the jungle, then faded to the desert, then faded to the thorns (by the gorge) then Simba arrived on the rock in the Pidelands."
This part was more confusing...
"When Simba confronts Scar at the end of the movie at Pride Rock, Scar points up to the many hyenas on the cliffs and says, "You see them?" Then the hyenas all dive off the cliff and attack Simba.
(The part where the hyenas are on Simba is in the VHS movie).
"Scar looks over to the lionesses and says, "They think I'm king." I cannot back that up, it is just in my memory from the theater experiance. Because after Scar says, "They think I'm king" Nala says, "Well, we don't". I do not remember that part in theaters.
I may be one of a select ,many to have seen TLK in theaters upon the first day of release. Approximately 6 months later a griend of mine went to a theater in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and saw TLK in a theater. She did not see the parts that I have stated above. When the VHS version came out on VHS, she said that there was no difference between that of the VHS & the theater.

3. What about the LD?

The Laserdisc release of TLK, which is THX-encoded, letterboxed, and available in both CLV and CAV editions, was released on September 19, 1995. The CLV edition costs approximately $29, and the CAV edition-- which includes large amounts of deluxe promotional material (namely, cut scenes, early promos, song demos, development animation, character development, and those six lithographs and that "Making of The Lion King" show that were included with the deluxe video edition), typically costs $129.

4. What's this about a whole new "Morning Report" song on the DVD?

The Lion King was released as a "Special Edition" DVD on October 7, 2003, and long-time fans were surprised to see that a newly animated song had been inserted into the "Morning Report" scene—a song matching the one in the same spot in the Broadway Musical. The DVD release contains a feature that allows the viewer to watch either the "original theatrical release" with the shorter, prose "report" by Zazu, or the "Special Edition" with the song in place. The song alters the flow of the narrative, changing the nature of Mufasa's "pouncing lesson", and many fans prefer the original version and are grateful that it is included on the DVD. See for more details.

FAQ written by Brian Tiemann (

Special thanks to all those who provided info included here, including Buena Vista Productions, Matt Robinson, Phil Pollard, Melissa Martin, Jeff Leadbeater, Dave Cleary, and the readership of rec.arts.disney and as well as the patrons of FDCMuck and the TLK-L.

Update History

v4.32 9/12/13. Updated Rafiki's chant to the correct spellings and more accurate details on the linguistics involved.

v4.31 8/11/10. Added an "oopsie" submitted by Vadercat.

v4.30 3/16/09. Revised the section on Characters' Names to indicate that the sourcing on some of the translations appears not to be canonical or accurate; thanks to for the pointer.

v4.29 3/1/09. Added an "oopsie" submitted by Patrick L.

v4.28 1/29/09. Added a note describing the "Morning Report" song as added to the Special Edition DVD.

v4.27 5/12/07. Added a link to the Foreign Language Cast Listings.

v4.26 4/19/07. Adjusted the text regarding the "Asante sana" chant to better indicate that the chant was a preexisting schoolyard rhyme rather than something the guide made up.

v4.25 1/4/06. Added a link to the Down/Maxwell Theory of Nala's Paternity.

v4.24 11/27/05. Added an Oopsie addendum from LK Rendevour.

v4.23 8/24/05. Added an Oopsie from Agus.

v4.22 3/2/05. Added an alternate interpretation of Rafiki's chant, from Matt Silvia.

v4.21 3/2/05. Added two more Oopsies from Brenna Tereck.

v4.20 2/25/05. Added another Oopsie and updated the Hidden Mickeys link, both thanks to Shoka.

v4.19 2/2/05. Updated notes about pronunciation of "Hakuna Matata" based on feedback from Yaacov Iland.

v4.18 11/18/04. Added some more Oopsies.

v4.17 10/19/04. Updated the Video Availability section to reflect the current availability status.

v4.16 9/17/04. Added a few miscellaneous comments by Ash De Brie.

v4.15 8/11/04. Revised the section linking Rowan Atkinson, Monty Python, and the "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts" song.

v4.14 7/27/04. Added the "final word" on Nala's parentage theory, following the 10th Anniversary panel with the TLK creators.

v4.13 4/17/04. Added clarification about "Dies Irae" from reader Megan the Phantom Girlie; added Oopsie from The Funmaster about the shadows of Scar's hyenas.

v4.12 1/22/04. Added three new "oopsies" submitted by Bonete.

v4.11 4/23/03. Added Pegasuss' clarification on sable antelope vs. gazelles.

v4.10 8/31/02. Added a link to a local page with screenshots of the "SEX" debate.

v4.06 8/29/02. Added another "oopsie" from Loa.

v4.05 5/30/02. Added a note about "SEX in the clouds" from Patrick Swartz.

v4.04 12/15/01. Added another "oopsie" from Eva.

v4.03 7/30/01. Revised the transcription of the "Coconuts" song.

v4.02 5/14/01. Added some more "oopsies" from Michael Urban.

v4.01 3/26/01. Added a list of possible cut scenes from very early theatrical screenings, submitted by Erin Hughes (Veda).

v4.00 9/6/00. Moved most of the Injokes & References section out to a new section called "TLK Sightings".

v3.99 5/29/00. Added more "oopsies".

v3.98 2/14/00. Added more injoke references, thanks to Steffen Kilb.

v3.97 1/9/99. Updated the information on the TLK video, which is now out of print.

v3.96 12/18/98. Added a few more injoke references to TLK, from Daniel Gallo.

v3.95 9/22/98. Changed the speculation surrounding the "Simba's Pride" plot to a link to

v3.9 7/20/98. Added Timothy Oltrogge's counterpoint about the infamous Schnauzer.

v3.8 7/11/98. Added some more Oopsies.

v3.7 6/3/98. Updated information on "Simba's Pride".

v3.6 3/25/98. Added information about the awards that TLK has won.

v3.5 11/21/97. Added a note about a further Shakespeare/TLK connection, noted by Gregory Gietzen.

v3.4 10/18/97. Added a new blooper from Paul F. Ginnetty Jr.

v3.3 9/19/97. Added Greg Ludwick's lyrics to Zazu's "Coconuts" song.

v3.2 8/12/97. Overall code revamp; added a section on the "SEX in the clouds" debate, and fixed a couple of broken links.

v3.1 1/21/97. Added info on the Tezuka debate.

v3.0 12/23/96. Reorganized a few locations; redid the Music controversy.

v2.9 11/22/96. Added info about the TLK Mailing List.

v2.8 4/24/96. Redid the Names controversy yet again.

v2.7 4/15/96. Added the list of injokes in TLK, compiled and posted to by Dave Cleary.

v2.6 3/7/96. HTMLized by Bobby Peck (

v2.5 2/28/96. Added information about the sequel, "Simba's Pride," and how what is known about the storyline affects our assumptions about the name of Simba and Nala's cub.

v2.4 1/7/96. Redid the controversy about the cub's name.

v2.3: 12/23/95. Fixed the Hidden Mickeys list URL, which was out of date since Josh Wilmes moved his site.

v2.2: 9/30/95. Since I've now actually bought the CAV LD, I know what's on it. :) I added stuff to X.3 about it. That's probably the end of the LD info...

v2.1: 9/19/95. Updated stuff about the video and LD, now that the release dates have passed.

v2.0: 9/14/95. Updated several bits of dated information relating to video release scheduling, etc.

v1.9: 9/1/95. Added a bit to the "Missing Scenes" section (X.2), provided by

v1.8: 8/15/95. Fixed some formatting inconsistencies (like the -=-=-=-) dividers and do forth). Also revised the box-office gross statistics-- they were wrong. :)

v1.7: 8/9/95. Added the improved flowcharts and discussions in Section II.5, the Genealogy, courtesy of Jeff Leadbeater.

v1.6: 7/18/95. Added Section V.3, The Art of The Lion King, with info provided by Matt Robinson.

Web design © 1995-2010 Brian Tiemann | Last revised: Friday, 15-Jun-2018 00:05:08 EDT