You Follow Old Rafiki! He Knows The Way!

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While all Walt Disney World resort hotels include some sort of nod to Disney animated characters or films somewhere on their grounds, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort celebrates animation everywhere you look. Guests staying at Disney’s latest resort are able to stay inside the worlds of some of the most beloved Disney and Pixar animated features. Here, Rafiki stands at the entrance of The Lion King section, inviting visitors to enter the Pride Lands. Behind him, Pride Rock, the iconic home of the lions, rises up from the grassland. Disney’s Imagineers studied the look and design of the original film in order to make sure to they captured the feel of “The Lion King” for the resort, but what inspired the people who made the movie in the first place?

Recreating the look and feel of an African savannah on-screen was very important to the filmmakers behind “The Lion King.” As a result of this dedication to authenticity, a group of artists embarked on a research trip to Africa that ended up having a profound effect of the film. While the artwork and photographs they amassed over the course of the trip certainly served to establish the movie’s beautiful visual style, the experience of that journey also influenced the production in many other ways. For example, according to the film’s DVD audio commentary, the “Asante Sana” chant performed by Rafiki when adult Simba first encounters him is a Swahili schoolyard rhyme that was introduced to them by their guide.

Have you ever stayed at or visited Disney’s Art of Animation Resort? Let me know what your favorite section was in the comments section!

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