Disney has been following through my veins since birth. We were meant to be and its stories, characters, music, and art style have always touched my spirit, connected to me, made me smile. I was blessed that I was born in the age of the Disney Renaissance, a perfect House of Mouse upbringing. I cherish them all. However, there was something about 1994s “The Lion King” that resounded deeper in my soul and changed my life. Everything about it to me is a masterpiece. ^_^
This film came out when I was four years old. Soon after its release (and I saw it four times, lol! Still have it MEMORIZED to this day,) my mom and I went to JC Penny’s to get me a dress for a wedding, and along the lines of the shelves was a beanie plush Simba. I bet my eyes were twinkling as my mother smiled and said I could have one, but it took me 20 minutes to find the perfect one (although they all technically were the same.) Simba, my Simba, has been my companion ever since the tender age of preschool. He has been my protector of dreams when I sleep, seen me go through milestones as I’ve grown, been a comfort when I cried, a true friend. And he has been well-loved, with the haircut I gave him and dried chocolate milk on top, and his tail being sewn back on a couple of times.
This is what a ‘new’ one of my Simba looks like.
On March 17th, which is St. Patrick’s Day, I made it Simba’s birthday. Mostly because it was easy to remember and we would go out for the holiday so my mom could eat corn beef and cabbage. BLAH! >.< But Simba was always allowed to join us each year at the dinner table. When not showered once a year with delectable, I would get a tiny bowl at home and feed him sprinkles for GRUB, since my dad hates sprinkles because ‘they are like eating bug shell.’
My precious, cuddly buddy even got blessed in 2018 at my church’s annual Blessing of the Animals by my minister, getting a St. Francios patron medal and everything. ^_^ He truly is my animal buddy in every light.
Every type of Lion King product you can think of, I owned or still own: the color-changing breakfast spoons, bowls, plates, books, stuffed animals (kissing ones that made noises and a roaring adult Simble puppet,) bedsheet sets, PEZ dispensers, posters, stickers, school supplies like folders and pens, puzzles, necklaces, a beautiful digital clock, shoes, outfits, and every toy set imaginational (and there were A TON,) including a toy Pride Rock AND all the Burger King meal toys. I even got special permission to buy just the toys or trade a few times from the workers, even though it wasn’t allowed. I had to get three Eds to represent the three hyenas, still sad they didn’t make a unique one for all of them. HA!
I had two plastic bins that slid under my bed that I got out for years, sitting up my own Pride Lands and playing. Some of the times even did cool features when you put water in them, like a baby Simba who would open his eyes when you fed him a bottle or a baby elephant who squirted water from his trunk when you squeezed him. I like how they had animals there were not the main characters, but important to making the savannah a real place.
The first video game I ever got was when I was four. It was a Sega Genius that came with a free game. You could pick from Aladdin, Sonic 2, or, of course, The Lion King. It was a hard choice honestly for I loved all three, but I went to with The Lion King of course. We also got a pony game where you would jump up to collect silver horseshoes that pinged in order to save your kidnapped friends. That one was much easier than The Lion King one! MAN! We ‘killed’ Simba I don’t know how many times, him falling off of tall rocks or falling into the river when you didn’t time your jumps to the song just right. I never got past level four, lol! My dad says he has vivid memories of trying to get past level one and feeling resounding guilt killing Simba. Awww! This was before true saving was a thing and you only had so many lives before you started all over again.
I did get the Nintendo Switch remastered version of this and the Aladdin one. The nostalgia was real, yet it was still as hard/maybe a tad harder than my elementary days! LOL!
There also was Timon and Puumba arcade-style PC/Sega game with very fun mini-games that came out in the mid-90s that my brother and I played often. A bug version that was like BeJeweled and a colorful, crunchy pinball were my favorites. Having them make witty commentary on the sidelines made it that much more an enjoyable hoot.
Seeing him in The Kingdom Hearts franchise made me giddy! Him as my partner, my team, and I saving his world, and exploring the beautiful backgrounds of the film in video game forms, even a drawn-out, expanded look of the paradise that Timon, Pumba, and older Simba live in. Plus, lion form Sora is TOO CUTE FOR WORDS!!! 🙂
And yes; I did watch their spin-off sitcom! 😉 It wasn’t amazing, but it had some entertaining moments, especially the “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I got bugs in my tummy” jingle. That STILL gets stuck in my head randomly. HA!
I still need to try “The Lion Guard.”
The soundtrack is my heart and soul, my jams when karaoke. It erupts from my being, I meant to be part of the great Cycle of Life. I can groove to it as much as Simba and Nala during “I Just Can’t-Wait to be King!” Elton John, Alan Menken, and the rest of the musical crew placed the sun in all our hearts with their passion for the narrative.
When The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride came out when I was in the 4th grade, I was pumped for it, it took Simba to new places and helped me learn voice actors. Then 1/2 happened when I was in high school. My husband adores this installment the most, the comedic ‘what if’ tale with the two funniest characters not needed, but a treat. Speaking of the acting…CAN WE TALK AND FULLY APPRECIATE THE ALL-STAR CAST?! Jonathan Taylor Thomas is brilliant as Simba and him growing up. James Earl Jones is perfect as the wise king. Jeremy Irons and Jim Cummings brings the most powerful villain (by my choice) to such rich and devious heights. Timon and Pumbaa are amazingly voiced, pals you want along a chill afternoon with. It all is fantastic, hence why I have this film fully memorized.
I also recall seeing it released in theaters when it came out in 3D. Seeing Zazu’s butt flying in front of my face was quite a sight! LOL!
In fact, when I was in the ninth grade, I took Spanish 1. During a party day, our senorita put in The Lion King in Spanish. I was playing cards and absent-mindedly saying the whole movie in English out of being embedded into my brain. Everyone stopped what they were doing and just listened to me. My senorita winked at me but didn’t give me away, so everyone just assumed I was incredible at Spanish! LOL!
One of my fondest memories was right before I graduated high school, my family whisked me away on my trip for my graduation present up in St. Louis. When we stopped, I was in front of the glorious Fox Theater, a familiar golden-yellow banner in front I have seen a zillion times, but always dreamed of. Yet, I was there: The Lion King Broadway Musical! My parents had got the four of us front row balcony tickets. And my mom snuck my beloved childhood plush Simba in her purse and set him in my lap. It was nice to have him by my side. She also got me the full-color program and matching licensed golden tote bag. The reverting music, the creative way they implemented the masks, the compelling puppet work in the stamped scene, how the whole story was lifelike, every moment engaging. Dad even got special treatment, being at the end of the row. During the second act, a woman was swinging a bird around in circles over his head to place you inside this amazing tale more. He didn’t love that part though. Ha! It was a great experience.
Even my senior quote my parents placed for me with my baby picture in my yearbook complimented me tenderly and had to add one of my life mottos: “Hakuna Matata!” ^__^
Now, when the announcement was that Disney was creating a Live-Action Lion King, everyone tagged me in it, asking about how pumped I was for it. Honestly, although the realism art was lovely, I was not overly thrilled about it. Since Lion King has only animal characters, having creatures that looked so lifelike talking and singing and dancing just didn’t fit well. A human anchor really does help in these live-action movies, even if it is just one.
I wasn’t wrong. The voice cast was good. They stayed true to following the story. The animals looked so lifelike. But, my predicts was correct. Plus, it was hard for me not to get all offended when they tweaked the lines, even a little, especially for Mufasa since they cast the true king James Earl Jones once more. Ad how they CUT down “Be Prepared,” one of the best villain songs OF ALL TIME into a speaking line…GRRRR! They had my skin burning in anger! So, out of all Lion King official screen properties, this was my least favorite.
I would have LOVED to have seen The Lion King show at the Animal Kingdom when I went to Disney World. Maybe one day…
With nerd chic being IN now, I can now live a kawaii lifestyle as an adult. I have a dozen Lion King shirts and sweaters, Loungefly backpacks and/or cardholders, a few new pieces of jewelry, make-up bags, enamel pins, a Christmas stocking and ornament, a dozen or so official FUNKO Pops, and fan art. My friend Mallory even got me a metal Lion King Valentine’s Mailbox I love that is in my office.
This charming little Lion King and I have grown up together, aspiring towards our dreams of greatness to make those we love, especially our families proud. Sometimes, tragedy strikes, and those dreams do not come true. Your life changes course. You may meet unique individuals that change your life and help you along the way through life. Demons come back that you have to fight. Your interests versus helping others. Never forget the past fully so you can head towards a future you yearn for. All these wonderful lessons my dear Simba taught me along through songs that flow through my blood, characters that are my friends, and a world that wraps me colorful wonder while also teaching me about the trauma of loss. The circle of life.
I hope this helps you see how important Simba and The Lion King is to me, affecting my life for the better. This series lives in me and watches over everything I see, a reflection of my past, present, and future. It is a roaring staple I am so happy blessed my life.
Now, to end the article, I wanted to share some of my favorite facts about my main cat, Simba:
- Simba’s name in Swahili literally means “lion.”
- There are books that explain Simba’s family, including his great grandparents, grandparents, and in one book, another son.
- The development for “The Lion King” started in 1989. It was created by Disney’s B Team. Their A team was sent to work on what they thought would be a more profitable movie, 1995s “Ponchantas.”
- Also in the draft, Simba lost his tail by a hyena!
- In an alternative ending, when Scar and adult Simba are fighting, Scar pins Simba and whispers to him, “Good night, sweet prince,” which alludes even further to the theory this story is based on “Hamlet.”
- Simba is the first animated Disney character to have a villain as a biological relative.
- Bon Jovi’s hair was an inspiration for Simba’s grown-up mane.
- It is hinted that Simba has PTSD after seeing his father dying so tragically. This explains his nightmares and the overprotectiveness of his children.
- Simba is not good at speaking over languages other than lions. Elephant is difficult for him.
- When a lion is a baby, their eyes is often a lighter color, then they get darker as they age. That is why baby Simba has blue eyes and kid-adult Simba has brown.
Roar! Be yourself! And always, Hakuna Matata! Stay geeky! 🙂
Educator of young minds by day, super nerdy savior of justice, and cute things by night, Morgan Straughan Comnick has a love for turning the normal into something special without losing its essence. Morgan draws from real-life experiences and her ongoing imagination to spark her writing. In her spare time, she enjoys doing goofy voices, traveling to new worlds by turning pages, humming child-like songs, and forcing people to smile with her “bubbliness.” It is Morgan’s mission in life to spread the amazement of otaku/Japanese culture to the world and to stop bullying; she knows everyone shines brightly.
For more information about Morgan and her works, check out her website, which also has links to all her social medias: http://morganscomnick.com