When Disney opened its Animal Kingdom park in 1995, it was a bigger play than the public may have realized. Sure, it was a cool immersive zoo theme park launching on the heels of the success of the mega-popular movie The Lion King, but it was also a way for Disney to help itself in some sense. The park would serve as an outlet for the company’s conservation philanthropy, and a natural extension of the Walt Disney company’s longstanding relationship with animals. (We are talking about a company built around a couple of mice, a duck, and a dog, after all.) Disney animators had long studied real-life animals in their natural environments to help better their sketches, and Animal Kingdom would help the company provide an in-house way to make that happen.
That’s what happened when the company started making 2019's live-action Lion King film., which is just now launching on home video. Animators working on the project flew down to Orlando where they spent weeks on-site learning the personalities of the animals, how they moved, interacted, and spent their time. We talk more about that process in the video above, where representatives from the company’s Animals In Film And TV division and the company’s conservation-minded arm talk about how the film used its access to real animals to help create more accurate animation and how the film hopes to inspire junior conservationists everywhere.