Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to hundreds of live animals, but it is also home to a couple of party animals. From time to time, guests might catch a glimpse of Baloo the bear and King Louie walking through Asia on their way to or from their meet-and-greet at Uncountry Landing, as seen here. These stars of “The Jungle Book” were among the many animals, both friend and foe, that Mowgli the man cub encountered during his reluctant journey to the man village.
Although based on Rudyard Kipling’s “Mowgli Stories, Walt Disney did not want his version of The Jungle Book to adhere to the serious tone of the source material. Instead, he ended up bringing a more swinging jungle to the silver screen. Like most of Walt Disney’s films, music plays a big role in “The Jungle Book.” Although it features a wide variety of musical styles, from pompous marches to barbershop quartets, what made this score stand out from those of Disney’s previous animated features was its predominant use of jazz music, most notably in King Louie’s song “I Wan’na Be Like You.”
To bring this showstopping Sherman Brothers tune to life, Disney called on Louis Prima and Phil Harris, two popular jazz singers and bandleaders of the time, to voice King Louie and Baloo, respectively. When combined with the talents of some of Disney’s top animators, the result was one of the most memorable musical numbers in Disney history. Not only was the film a box office hit, but its soundtrack was popular enough to receive a gold certification as well. Judging by the line that builds at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to meet them, guests of all ages still think Baloo and King Louie are a couple of Jungle VIPs.
Do you have a favorite song from “The Jungle Book”? Let me know in the comment section!