Simba became the King Of Fast Food with the release of The Lion King in June of 1994.
When The Lion King hit it big in theaters, so did the Fast Food toys at Burger King.
The Lion King toys sold out very quickly. I was not able to get them all, even though I really tried.
The first one I got was Nala, right before the movie debuted. The second one I got was Simba.
Value Book 2 was included in the polybag with Simba. It included coupons for Payless Shoe Source, Cheerios, Mattel toys and other Lion King Promotional Partners.
Simba in this set is a cool wind up toy. He moves forward and rolls over.
After I got Simba, it quickly got tougher to find more of the toys.
I did find one Burger King that had all the toys, but you could only get one per visit, and you had to buy food. At that restaurant, I chose Timon and Pumbaa.
With relatives searching, I was also able to get Scar. The last toy I found was Rafiki. After I found him, the stores started putting signs up letting people know that the toys were sold out.
In addition to the toys, Burger King sold Lion King plastic cups.
These were a bit easier to get.
In December of 1994, Burger King re-released the toys in time for The Lion King's return to theaters.
I don't think Burger King ever re-released any other Disney Fast Food Toys.
Extreme Collectors should note that the toys issued in June included a Value Book, and the ones in December did not.
This bag is from December 1994. It was very easy to get all the toys at this time. I got the complete set on one visit, and did not have to buy any food.
Burger King sold acrylic Walt Disney Classics Glasses (including The Lion King) in December of 1994, too.
The artwork on the glasses is the same as the covers of the VHS tapes sold at this time.
In Europe and in many other parts of the world, McDonald's promoted The Lion King.
The Lion King 1994 McDonald's Happy Meal toys are my favorite Lion King Fast Food set.
I especially like the Zazu toy.
For some reason, Burger King never used Zazu in their promotions.
The four different McDonald's Lion King Happy Meal Toys each had their own gimmick.
Timon spins on Pumbaa's back, Simba pounces, the wind-up Zazu hops, and the wind-up Scar walks.
In Australia, fast food chain Hungry Jack's (Australia's version of Burger King) promoted The Lion King.
These rubbery PVC figures are pull-back toys.
In the United States, The Lion King returned to Burger King for the Home Video Release of the film.
This promotion featured finger puppets in boxes.
The characters have PVC heads and fabric "bodies" and are attached to the boxes.
The lid on the box can be closed.
I wasn't impressed with this set. Did kids think these particular toys were fun?
In all fairness, I was way past the target age when these were sold.
Burger King Kids Club Meals did not have colorful boxes with games, but the Burger King Adventures Newsletter stuffed in the Meal bag did.
Burger King had some talented artists creating their games.
Disney did not have an exclusive deal with Burger King. Simba made his first U.S. appearance at McDonald's in the Disneyland Adventures Happy Meal in 1995.
The Lion King Celebration Parade debuted at Disneyland in 1994. Components of the parade later found a home at Walt Disney World in Florida when Disney's Animal Kingdom opened in 1998 (as Festival of The Lion King). The show was also added to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005.
McDonald's also featured adult Simba as part of their Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection Happy Meal.
This Home Video promotion used a VHS Clamshell-style box that contained a Disney figure.
Timon and Pumbaa got their own animated TV series in 1995.
"The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa" aired on CBS Saturday Mornings and on The Disney Afternoon.
Burger King released a set of Timon and Pumbaa toys in 1996.
The show followed Pumbaa and Timon in their adventures around the world. Other segments in the series starred the Hyenas and Rafiki. Simba and Zazu also made cameo appearances.
I love finding hidden gems like "The Great Earthworm Race!" The artist responsible for this Burger King Kids Club Adventures 1996 game is uncredited, unfortunately. I think these are the most appealing cartoon bugs I've seen.
I guess I have a thing for cartoon insects. It's probably because they are so close to being real-life "monsters."
The creepy-crawlies that Timon and Pumbaa love to eat "taste like chicken" so it was only fitting for Timon and Pumbaa to appear at a chicken restaurant chain.
The World of Bugs took Timon and Pumbaa to uncharted territory for Disney: KFC!
These fun toys are a bit smaller than the premiums found at McDonald's or Burger King.
I only knew about this set because I remember reading about it on the Internet at the time (1996).
In 1998, McDonald's had a plush toy Happy Meal promoting The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, the illogical direct to video sequel to The Lion King. I will say that the toys are pretty nice.
Watching this movie made my brain hurt.
I will say that the film's animation, produced by Walt Disney Animation Australia, looked really good. I just thought the story was awkward, and seemed to operate on the thinking that "It's just a cartoon. Nobody will care if it doesn't make sense."
Zira's relationship with Scar in Simba's Pride is vague, though cut sequences of the movie (which can be found, in pieces, online) indicate that Zira was originally written to be Scar's mate for the sequel. Scar with Zira? I would not have bought that.
In this film, Zazu wasn't voiced by Rowan Atkinson. He was voiced by Edward Hibbert (Gil on TV's Frasier).
Because this was a direct to video project, the lions were de-clawed and neutered.
In the original ending (which you can find online) Zira struggles on a cliff. Rather than accept help from Kiara, Zira chooses to plunge to her death. Of course, this was cut. At least we know that the writers tried to do something daring with the sequel.
For the Disney 100 Years of Magic Celebration at Walt Disney World in 2002, McDonald's had a special Happy Meal featuring 100 different toys.
Three of those toys were Lion King characters.
In 2004, Disney released the third Lion King movie, the direct to DVD "The Lion King 1 1/2."
Though the film has an odd title, I think it is pretty funny. This takes place during the first movie, and parodies the original film. New characters include Timon's Mom (Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge Simpson) and Jerry Stiller as Timon's Uncle Max. The best part about this DVD is the Virtual Safari, which lampoons Disney dark rides, including Pirates of the Caribbean, the Matterhorn, and the Haunted Mansion.
The McDonald's Happy Meal toys for The Lion King 1 1/2 are inadvertently hysterical to me. My mind is in the gutter here. Must. Refrain. From. Making. Inappropriate. Jokes.
The diagram is especially funny. What is it that this toy does, exactly? Something that creates happiness.
In 2005, Simba was back for a Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Happiest Celebration on Earth Happy Meal. This set of toys featured different Disney theme park lenticular cards to collect.
Here Simba can be seen with Hong Kong Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle.
Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005. In 2008, the park got a new version of It's A Small World. This was the first version of the ride to feature Disney characters.
Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, and Mufasa can be found in the Africa section of the famous boat ride.
I would love to see Lion King rides in the Africa section of Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida. The characters wouldn't have to look like characters seen in the movie.
I would suggest that Disney could use the stylized character designs created by artist Addis Zaryan, originally developed for Disney Store merchandise years ago (including this totem statue).
I imagine a great musical dark ride could entertain visitors to the Africa section of the park hours after the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction closes for the night.
How about a Circle of Life Spinner ride? It could look like this mirror.
There could also be a Splash Battle Watering Hole Lion King ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom, themed to the Just Can't Wait To Be King sequence. It could be populated with characters that look like these Nesting Doll figures.
Addis Zaryan's designs are fun, and look like Disney and Africa and something totally new, too. With the continued success of The Lion King, I think it is time for a Lion King Pridelands section of Africa at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom in Florida!
Mickey Mouse Magazine - April 1938
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