‘The Lion King’ musical almost had this bizarre alternate ending

Can you feel the love tonight? It’s official: Broadway’s The Lion King is the highest grossing entertainment production of all time. Behind the production is Julie Taymor, the show’s director, costume designer and mask co-designer. She was even the first woman to win a Tony Award for Directing of a Musical. Needless to say, Taymor is the go-to for all things Lion King.

Yesterday, she spoke candidly at The Nantucket Project about the production, and surprised us all with this truth bomb: Taymor didn’t originally want to keep the Disney ending for the Broadway production.

“In my original idea… [Simba] doesn’t go back at all,” Taymor said, referencing his return to the Pride Lands to be crowned the king.

Okay, we’re with you. But if Simba doesn’t go back home, where does he go? “He goes to the desert,” she continued. “And in the desert, he comes out of the jungle… and he sees Vegas. No, seriously!”

Say what?! We feel like Taymor’s messing with us, but she was actually totally for real, and even has the backstory all worked out. Apparently in this alternate ending, a new villain named Papa Croc would strike a deal with Scar, Simba’s uncle, to buy all of the water on their land. Papa Croc would then create a desert oasis a la Las Vegas — so basically, recreating the real-life Papa Croc’s Pussycat Lounge. Simba vs. his jungle animals friends in a gladiator show?! That certainly didn’t happen in Hamlet, the Shakespeare play that our beloved Lion King so closely follows.

Why stray from the original happy ending that Disney created? Frankly, it sounds like Disney Theatrical didn’t quite share the same vision of turning every kid’s hero, Simba, into a vicious animal fighter. We see their point.

“It was the right thing that happened in this collaboration,” Taymor said. “Which is he knew we don’t need to go that far, but I figured out how to do the animal and the human.”

Hakuna matata, guys. The story didn’t end at Papa Croc’s in Vegas, and we’re kind of okay with that. That said, we wouldn’t hate it if a spinoff titled Lion King: Escape from Papa Croc’s came to the big stage.

Featured image via Twitter