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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Is the Family Complete Now?

 by Beth Keating



May 23, 2023


It’s been several years in the making, but the trio is finally together.  Does that mean the grouping is complete, or is Disney going to try to sneak another critter into the mix on me? I’m referring, of course, to the loyal and musical pals from The Lion King, of which I have unabashedly acquired all three. (I know, it’s a popcorn bucket addiction. I’m sorry.)

Over at Animal Kingdom, Disney has been slowly dropping popcorn buckets and sippers in the likenesses of the trio of furry friends from the animated Lion King movie.  First came the Simba popcorn bucket, introduced in 2020 with a return post-COVID, and while he looked cute working on his roar, he was a bit on the wobbly side and hard to position once you got him home. Whatever, he was adorable, and a perfect souvenir from the Animal Kingdom. I ended up hanging him on a wall from his shoulder strap because he just couldn’t stand up on his own. And he’s just hung around there for the past few years, not knowing that his Pride Rock companions would be joining him later.


Along came Earth Day 2023, and Disney began offering the accompanying merch. Short-legged Pumbaa showed up in time to help kick-off Animal Kingdom’s 25th anniversary festivities. Cute and goofy looking, he joined Simba in the room, sitting nearby on a shelf, because his thick-skinned warthog self was well-balanced for sitting and waiting. And he didn’t have to wait long, because a mere few weeks later, a certain meerkat (see what I did there?) arrived, and the duo was now a trio.

Did Disney plan it that way, spreading out the arrival of my Timon sipper so that he was just a few weeks removed from the Earth Day arrival of Pumbaa, or was it meer-ly a coincidence of delays in supply-chain shipping that caused the gap? Was he supposed to be an Earth Day celebration drop as well? I’d like to think the Parks, Experiences and Products cast members were kindly spreading out my popcorn bucket addiction costs, rather than just trying to make me crazy by instigating my quick return to the parks to snatch up Timon. Timon’s carry strap even matched Pumbaa’s, with a special “Hakuna Matata” wonderful phrase and Animal Kingdom’s 25th  anniversary logo printed on it.  


Incidentally, Timon was $18.00 if you chose him with a bottled water, or $19.25 if you chose him with a bottled soda or Powerade.  He was available at a number of the snack carts throughout the Animal Kingdom, and as of my purchase of Timon, Pumbaa was still available at several popcorn carts. (Pumbaa was $22.) There were a few kiddos walking through the park with both buddies hanging around their necks.


Am I free to assume that our Lion King-themed food bucket series is complete now?  Or will Disney add a new personality to the group?  Perhaps Nala will show up… or maybe Mufasa! Now that would be a great addition. Be prepared!




Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

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