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20 Facts About The Original "The Lion King" That You Probably Didn't Know Until Today

Lets just say this '90s kids' classic could have been a VERY different film.

1. Sean Connery was Disney's first choice to play Mufasa.

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2. The iconic opening lyrics "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba/ Sithi uhm ingonyama..." for "Circle of Life" literally translates to "There comes a lion/ Oh yes, it's a lion."


3. Tim Rice (who co-wrote the lyrics for the film's songs) originally wanted ABBA to be on the soundtrack. After ABBA declined, Rice asked Elton John.

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4. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" was the first song Tim Rice and Elton John completed for the film. It was also originally supposed to be sung only by Timon and Pumbaa.


According to Ernie Sabella (who voiced Pumbaa), John was NOT happy with the fact that the ballad was being done as a parody, so it was reworked.

5. "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" was almost cut from the movie because it did not fit the film's father-and-son theme.

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The song was put back in the film after Elton John (who wrote the lyrics) saw an early cut of the film and made it clear that it NEEDED to be in. In fact, John said the reason he agreed to work on the film was to write a Disney love song.

6. Disney originally wanted Patrick Stewart for the role of Zazu.

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7. There are no real lion roars used in the film, they were all done by voice actor Frank Welker (who created the distinct roars by growling into a metal garbage can).


8. The first part of the movie takes place over just two days (from the part where Simba wakes up Mufasa to where he runs away after Mufasa's death).


9. Originally they had a sequence planned out where Scar tries to seduce Nala with a reprise of "Be Prepared."


That plot point was eventually worked into the Broadway musical.

10. Real lions were brought into the studio so animators could study them for references.

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11. Nathan Lane (Timon) and Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa) originally auditioned for the roles of the hyenas, Banzai and Shenzi.


12. In fact, Timon and Pumbaa were originally not in the movie. Simba — in an earlier draft of the movie — never runs off and is instead raised by Scar (after Scar kills Mufasa).


Scar was going to also kill Simba at the same time that he killed Mufasa, but he didn't have time 'cause the pride showed up before he could break Simba's neck (dark, I know).

13. The "Scar raising Simba" version of The Lion King is the reason why Matthew Broderick was cast as Simba — as that version of the character was inspired by Ferris Bueller.


Simba was supposed to grow up with Scar as a carefree, "goof-off kid."

14. Before Matthew Broderick was cast, Ruben Aquino, the artist who animated adult Simba, wanted to give Simba a mane that looked like Jon Bon Jovi's hair.

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After Broderick was cast, they made Simba's mane much smoother.

15. Reportedly, there was a very dark alternate ending originally planned. Much of the final fight scene was the same, but instead Scar defeats Simba by knocking him off Pride Rock. Scar then dies as he doesn't realize he had caught on fire:

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16. According to the film's director, Rob Minkoff, and the film's producer, Don Hahn, Scar and Mufasa weren't actually brothers (I know, I know).


In an interview with Hello Giggles in 2017, the two said, "[While making the movie] we talked about the fact that it was very likely [Scar and Mufasa] would not have both the same parents. The way lions operate in the wild…when the male lion gets old, another rogue lion comes and kills the head of the pride. What that does is it causes the female lions to go into heat [to reproduce], and then the new younger lion kills the king and then he kills all the babies. Now he’s the new lion that’s running the pride."

17. Nathan Lane improvised the classic line where Timon sarcastically jokes about dressing in drag and doing the hula.


18. Mufasa was originally not supposed to appear again after his death.


The spirit scene was added because producers felt that Simba needed to see his father again. This was also the last scene created for the movie.

19. The 1993 teaser trailer for the film was the first time Disney ever released an entire scene as a trailer:

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20. And lastly, The Lion King is the best-selling VHS tape of all time.

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