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Over 70,000 New Yorkers visited Disney Theatrical's "Inside the Lion King" exhibit during its 16 day-long run

Over 70,000 New Yorkers visited Disney Theatrical's "Inside the Lion King" exhibit during its 16 day-long run

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Kristin T. sent me an e-mail earlier this week offering her thoughts about Disney Parks' new Limited Time Magic promotion. To be specific ...

... I can't help but think that this money could be better spent in other ways. Wouldn't it have made more sense in the long run if the Imagineers had taken the budget which had been set aside for 52 weeks of surprises at Disneyland and Walt Disney World in 2013 and used that amount to build a single new ride, show, or attraction? That way, it wouldn't be just a handful of people who were in the right place at the right time who got to experience this Limited Time Magic. But everyone who goes to that theme park.

Besides, how many Guests can one of these Limited Time Magic events actually entertain?


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You might be surprised, Kristin T. Take -- for example -- that "Inside the Lion King" pop-up exhibit which just completed a 16 day-long run in a storefront directly across from NYC's Bryant Park.


Photo by Jim Hill

When you consider the tens of thousands of people who walk up 6th Avenue & 42nd Street every single day, surely a few of those folks stopped to briefly check out the costumes from this Tony Award-winning Broadway musical ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... which were on display on those windows.


Photo by Nancy Stadler

But if you want to talk specifics (i.e. how many people actually queued up outside in the wet & the cold ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... just so that they could then get inside this 5000 square-foot display space and get a closer look at all of the costumes, puppets and props that Julie Taymor designed & had built for this acclaimed Disney Theatrical production) ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... from what Company insiders told me when Nancy & I visited "Inside the Lion King" this past Sunday (i.e. the last day that this experiential exhibit was open to the public), over 70,000 New Yorkers had trooped through this display since it opened its door on December 1st.

Which means that -- on average -- 4500 people per day paused to have their picture taken in front of that 11 foot & 3 inch-tall pachyderm costume that makes such a memorable appearance in this musical's opening number ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... as it lumbers up the aisle of the Minskoff Theatre with four performers inside during "The Circle of Life."

Me personally, what I liked best about "Inside the Lion King" is that it gave the people who toured this pop-up exhibit some real insight into Julie Taymor's creative process. How she tends to start out small. First exploring an idea for a character's costume in miniature ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... before then deciding if she wants to go ahead with construction of a full-sized, fully realized version of thatsame outfit.


Photo by Nancy Stadler

So as you wandered around, checking out the 100 or so items that were on display here, you got to see a lot of cardboard cut-outs ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... as well as some small-scale puppet / costume prototypes.


Photo by Nancy Stadler

In honor of the 15th anniversary of "The Lion King" 's opening on Broadway, Disney Theatrical really pulled out the stops. They not only did things like put this musical's more elaborate costumes & make-ups on display ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... they also revealed how some of this show's signature effects are achieved (EX: How Scar's elaborate headpiece appears to move all on its own ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... or how Taymor used wildebeest masks of varying sizes ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... to give the audience the impression that this huge herd of animals was about to trample poor young Simba ).


Photo by Nancy Stadler

Mind you, Disney Theatrical also recognized that not every member of the family would be interested in looking at countless miniature sets and/or puppet prototypes. So -- to make "Inside the Lion King" as kid-friendly as possible -- they deliberately made most of these displays hand-on. So that children could get up close to their favorite Lion King characters, finger their costumes and -- if desired -- have their picture taken while standing deep inside these displays.


Photo by Nancy Stadler

Or -- if they wanted to channel their inner Julie Taymor -- these kids could then retreat to the "Inside the Lion King" 's crafts corner. Where they could create & color their own Mufasa or Simba mask.


Photo by Nancy Stadler

My understanding is that this is the first time that a long-running Broadway show has ever mounted a pop-up exhibit like this. And given some of the truly cool items that were on display here (EX: This young Simba puppet ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... and this miniature model of the show's Gazelle Wheel) ...

.... I'm hoping that it won't be too long before Disney Theatrical mounts another one of these limited time display. Which really gave me a renewed appreciation of the art & advance prep that goes into the creation of an elaborate stage show like "The Lion King."


Photo by Nancy Stadler

And just to reiterate here: If Disney Theatrical can entertain & inform over 70,000 people with something that they set up for just 16 days inside of a New York City storefront ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... Well, it's then not all that hard for me to imagine that the Disney Parks are going to be able to surprise & delight millions of theme park goers over the next 12 months with all of the "Limited Time Magic" events that they've got in the worksfor the Disneyland & Walt Disney World Resort in 2013.

So don't be so quick to condemn, Kristen T. Why don't we all wait to see what the first official "Limited Time Magic" event (which -- FYI -- The Walt Disney Company plans on announcing on December 28th) is before we then sound off on whether this money could have been better spent on a new ride, show or attraction for the Parks.

Your thoughts?

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  • no offense, but I am willing to bet a good chunk of people who visited it in NYC were not actually New Yorkers...

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This is kind of one of those "No Win Scenario" situations. If I had said that it was mostly tourists who visited Disney Theatrical's "Inside The Lion King" exhibit, I would have then had New Yorkers point out that this storefront set-up was far from of the City's usual seasonal tourist haunts (i.e. Times Square, 5th Avenue, Radio City Musical, Rockefeller Center, etc.). Which means that it was probably mostly locals (especially on weekdays) who were touring this exhibit.

    But that said, I do concede your point, Kaz. That a certain portion of the people who trooped through "Inside the Lion King" during its 16 day run were probably not New Yorkers. As to what the exact mix of New Yorkers versus tourists / folks from Jersey & Connecticut was, I guess only Disney Theatrical knows that.

  • +2 driving all the way from Pittsburgh to see JUST this exhibit! We can't afford the show itself (just not in the budget this year, sadly) but at least I saw the exhibit. The day we were there - December 8- there was a solid 45 minute wait outside, and it was quite busy but they managed the crowds VERY well.

    The exhibit was mind blowing. Unbelievable- I loved it. They did a great job on everything!

    I didn't see the gazelle wheel when I was there, however. That's pretty neat.

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