1. The movie was originally titled King of the Jungle. Disney changed the name when they realized that lions don’t live in the jungle.
2. The original opening to the film was supposed to be a dialogue-heavy scene. The producers and animators were so impressed with composer Hans Zimmer’s score for the “Circle of Life” that they decided to change the beginning to the now iconic opening.
3. James Earl Jones (Mufasa) and Madge Sinclair (Sarabi) were also the king and queen in Coming to America.
5. When Simba collapses on the cliff, it appears that the pollen that flies off the cliff forms the word “sex,” but it was actually “SFX,” the abbreviation for the special-effects team that worked on the film.
6. Disney originally wanted the hyenas, Banzai and Shenzi, to be voiced by Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Unable to get a hold of Tommy, they instead casted Whoopi Goldberg in the role of Shenzi.
7. Reportedly, the “Be Prepared” scene was inspired by footage of Nazis marching by Adolf Hitler on a podium.
8. Lion King and Pocahontas were in production at the same time. Disney believed that Pocahontas would be the more prestigious and successful of the two films.
9. Originally, producers intended to have “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” be a comical duet between Timon and Pumbaa.
It was storyboarded and even recorded.
10. “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” was originally written as a song for Mufasa titled “To Be King.” It was reworked after they discovered the song didn’t work with James Earl Jones’ singing voice.
12. It took approximately three years to animate the two-and-a-half-minute wildebeest stampede scene.
13. In early script drafts, Scar was not related to Mufasa. However, the writers thought making the two related would be more interesting.
14. “You have no idea” is the exact same line Jeremy Irons (who voices Scar) says in his Oscar-winning role as Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune.
15. The movie’s plot is loosely based on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
16. Mufasa was originally not supposed to appear after his death.
The spirit scene was added after producers thought Simba needed a reason to go back to Pride Rock. It was also the last scene created for the movie.
17. Initially, the reason an adult Nala wandered so far from Pride Rock was supposed to be because Scar had banished her for ignoring his romantic advances.
This plot point was dropped, as it was considered improper for a family movie.
18. Although Matthew Broderick is a singer, he does not sing “Hakuna Matata” or “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”
Joseph Williams, son of legendary film composer John Williams, provided the singing voice for Simba.
19. The Lion King is the best-selling home video of all time, with over 55 million copies sold.
On the first day alone, 4.5 million tapes were sold.
20. With over 10 million copies sold, it is also the biggest-selling soundtrack ever for an animated film.