8+ Facts Fans Didn't Know About 'The Lion King'

Oh sweet! Finally, I get to talk about my version of the phrase "Only '90s Kids Will Understand This."

This is my nostalgia bait movie, but to be fair, I think it is for most people.

1. The original name


Believe it or not, but the name for this awesome, legendary movie wasn't always as catchy as The Lion King.

In the beginning, it was called The King of the Kalahari and King of the Jungle.

2. One of the screenwriters had a funny name for it.


The movie was pitched to her as a cross between Hamlet and Bambi, so she dubbed the project "Bamblet".

3. The opening scene changed.


When they first started to produce the movie, the opening scene was just a plain old narration of someone introducing the main characters.

However, everything changed when they heard one song.

Obviously that song was "The Circle of Life."


That scene, after it had been redone, was so powerful that they actually used it as the original trailer for the movie.

It was the first time Disney had done that.

4. The relationships


In the beginning, all the animals had different relationships.

Scar wasn't related to Simba at all (which takes away from him being Claudius) and he actually led a pack of baboons.

But wait — there's more! Hold on to your seats, because these next ones are screamers.

Rafiki was actually a cheetah in the original version which...I think is less funny?

And finally, Timon and Pumbaa were friends with Simba from the start.


Which I guess takes it back to its Hamlet roots a little better.

I always thought they were supposed to be Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

5. Speaking of Timon and Pumbaa...


Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, the voices of those characters, were actually auditioning to play the hyenas when they ran into each other in the lobby of the audition place.

The producers asked the two of them to audition together and it was magic!


However, they didn't seem right for the hyenas...and then someone said:

"Hey, what about Timon and Pumbaa!"

6. Cheech and Chong


Let's go back to the hyenas for a sec. We know that Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin were cast, but that wasn't always supposed to be the case.

Apparently, it was supposed to be Cheech and Tommy Chong.

7. James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair


Speaking of reunions, before playing King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi, James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair played King Jaffe Joffer and Queen Aoleon in the movie Coming To America, also based in Africa.

8. Hakuna Matata wasn't in the original script


Originally, the song was going to be titled "Warthog Rhapsody," but it was eventually tossed out the window for the song we all know and have come to love: "Hakuna Matata."

The filmmakers wanted to focus on the carefree lifestyle that Timon and Pumbaa enjoyed, and I think we can all agree that worked better for the film.


Plus, it allowed Simba to join the song as he grows alongside them through time.

9. The original Mufasa

Eon Productions/United Artists

Originally, Disney wanted the wise, stern yet caring, ever so subtle voice of Sean Connery as Mufasa.

However, things got in the way and they ended up going with James Earl Jones.

10. "Be Prepared"


Anyone who likes history probably already knows this, but the footage during "Be Prepared," specifically when the hyenas sing:

"It's great that we'll soon be connected/With a king who'll be all-time adored," was inspired by Nazi rallies.

11. The film was Disney's first original storyline...sort of.

Original in as much as it wasn't an exact retelling of a classic fairytale.

There are those who debate this, however, citing both the influence of Hamlet as well as a Japanese cartoon called Kimba, The White Lion.

12. It's the highest-grossing hand-drawn animated film of all time.


The worldwide box office numbers rank in at just under $1 billion, which is remarkable if you stop to think about it.

People actually drew those images — absolutely nothing was CGI or 3D.

13. Disney didn't even have its best animators for the film, either.


At the time, Pocahontas was thought to be the safer bet as far as a box office draw was concerned. Disney had their best people craft John Smith and left Timon and Pumbaa to the "B Squad."

14. They brought real lions into the studio in order to help the animators learn how they moved and interacted.

This is taking things to a whole new level of realness, especially for the time that the film was released.

I don't know how I'd feel being that up close and personal to a lion.

15. The dust from the flowers doesn't really spell SEX.

According to the animators, the dust from the flowers actually is supposed to spell S-F-X.

This was intended to be a nod to the special effects department that worked on the film.

16. A few select animators actually traveled to Kenya.

"We would drive out to the savannah in open-topped vehicles to observe the animals – but there wasn’t much sketching because the animals were far too quick. Instead, we took loads of photographs."

17. Simba and Nala are related.


They have never come out and actually said this in the film, but they totally are. From what we can tell, there are only two male lions in the Pride before Simba: Scar and Mufasa.

This means, best-case scenario, they're first cousins, but more likely they're brother and sister!

18. There are a ton of hidden Mickey Mouse heads in the film.


Disney loves doing this. There's hardly a film that doesn't have at least one Mickey head hidden somewhere in the backdrop.

You'll need a careful eye, but if you pay close attention during the scene where Timon and Pumbaa teach Simba how to hunt grubs, you'll spot them!