Lion King House of Horrors

Who doesn’t love the Lion King?  It is non-stop cuddly creatures from the opening number until the very end of the movie.  Snuggly lions, huggable warthogs, squeezy giraffes.  Just sitting in the movie theater makes you want to save all the animals in the world, to spread a message of peace, love, and harmony.  We all feel that way.

Except for that cold-hearted rat Jim Henson.

Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog
I think we can all agree that the only things missing are the horns and the pitchfork.

This guy may be all comedic bears and witty pigs on the outside, but inside, he’s a purveyor of destruction, a sadist that makes Michael Vick look like Jack Hanna.  He’s everything we hate about the Great White Hunter, slaughtering majestic beasts for his own selfish and horrifying gratification.

You probably grew up thinking Jim was an honorable guy, a favorite uncle.  But you obviously never gave serious consideration to the fact that this guy gutted frogs and stuck his hands up their dead carcasses.  So maybe I’m not the crazy one.  Maybe denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

Jim Henson Creature Shop sign on Tour Corridor at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Axis of Evil

That’s his name on the building.  Him and Tim Allen, that other homicidal maniac.  If children knew the horrors these two were responsible for, PETA would be picketing Sesame Street and Buzz Lightyear would be the hottest selling toy in Darfur. It looks all innocent on the outside.  It’s just the old building that once housed the walking tour portion of the Backlot Studio Tour.  Hasn’t been used in years.

Now we know why.

Parkeology recently got a look behind the closed doors.  Some of you younger readers may want to avert your eyes.  These pictures are not for the squeamish.  What you will find below are the corpses of some of Disney’s most beloved characters, slung into the corners of an old prop warehouse.

Scar Puppet from the Legend of the Lion King at Magic Kingdom
Not too bad, until you wonder why his head is so off-center from that snowy white chest. And what’s with that eye? That’s not a scar, that’s a shiner.

One eye half closed, the other smashed shut, the exposed pink flesh of a long ago wound…  Scar was definitely a villain, but this is disconcerting.  Henson has the old carcass propped up with the coat hangers and filing cabinets.

Pumbaa puppet from the Legend of the Lion King at Magic Kingdom
Everyone knows that the only good warthog is a decapitated one.

By that glassy look in his eye, I would say Pumbaa didn’t meet a good end.  Maybe it has to do with all those wicked looking electrical wired jammed up behind him.

Banzai Hyena puppet from the Legend of the Lion King at Magic Kingdom
Usually when you mount animals on the wall, you don’t try to poke wires under their paws.

Does this hyena look happy to you?  I picture Henson sneering from the ground, chomping a cigar, saying “Who’s laughing now?”

Simba puppet from the Legend of the Lion King at Magic Kingdom
Simba looking like Mufasa after the wildebeest stampede. Like father, like son.

Simba looks like he woke up on the wrong side of a herd of wildebeest.  Actually, it doesn’t look like he woke up at all.  Here Lies The King of the Jungle, snuffed out all of Henson’s enemies.  I won’t even pretend to understand why there’s a dead turtle nearby, with a magnet stuffed under its shell.

I can sense your skepticism.  It took me a long time to come to grips myself.  But the evidence is there.  We always wondered why Philharmagic suddenly replaced Legend of the Lion King over in Fantasyland.  We always thought it was because the Lion King puppet show (like most Disney puppet shows) was kind of crappy.  Turns out, Disney was just covering for a bloodthirsty puppeteer who decided he wanted a few trophies.

Comments (11)

  1. Out of curiosity, who did you get in contact with to get access to the puppets? This may be a long shot but I wonder if they would sell these puppets and for how much as, as an amateur puppetry and pop culture historian, I feel like them just sitting there is such a waste

    • we were offered a tour during a special event.

  2. You are aware that the Reason Benzi has poles up his arms were because he was a puppet? Do your research. This show closed down to make room for others, and at least they didn’t destroy them like stitches great escape. It feels like your emplying that these were real characters, when in reality, they’re just puppets. Stop making people think that these two great guys were monsters. They had nothing to do with this. If tween me can prove you wrong, then your content needs a major overhaul.

    • Yes, these are puppets. You made reference to being a tween, so I can understand your confusion and concern. I can assure you that nobody thinks Jim Henson and Tim Allen are actually bad guys because of what we wrote. This blog post (for better or worse) is just employing a particular style. Read it again in high school and you’ll understand it better.

  3. This is so sad! *tears* I have been collecting Lion King merchandise for years and I have wanted nothing more than to go to a Disney Theme Park and see the animatronic characters in action. But now that I see this… I don’t think I could watch at all… those were such lovely and realistic creations and this is the respect they get?! I want to sit down next to Simba and start petting him. Maybe he will wake up? *Hopes*

    • It does indeed look rather awful when you see them up close. Especially Simba. I keep expecting Scar to show up any moment to ask what I’ve done. What will my mother think?

  4. I KNEW there was something bothering me more than just the fact that he looks dead. That haircut… I’m horrified.

  5. Funny looking turtle, but at least it’s to scale. What I really want to know is why Simba has a Justin Beiber haircut. Simba is way cooler than Justin Beiber. That’s just adding insult to injury, if you ask me.

  6. Definitely a ladybug on TOP of the magnet. But where the magnet prongs are pointed looks like the edge of a turtle shell to me. But that ladybug does look suspicious! I wonder if it’s in on the massacre.

  7. That’s a ladybug, not a turtle!

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