30 years ago, The Lion King was released and it's still just as good

Celebrate 30 years of The Lion King being an absolute masterpiece.
Photo: Disney's The Lion King - Walt Disney Pictures
Photo: Disney's The Lion King - Walt Disney Pictures /

If there's one Disney movie to rule them all, it's The Lion King. Released on June 24th, 1994, the film is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Based on Shakespeare's Hamlet, the film takes the classic tale and makes it more approachable for a younger and modern audience. Additionally, the gorgeous animation makes it a feast for the eyes for viewers for all ages.

As the film celebrates its 30th anniversary, I decided to look back and see if the film is every bit as good as we make it out to be. As a millennial, I know that sometimes I can see things with rose-tinted glasses and I'll admit that but only this once.

After watching the film and seeing its impact even now, I can confidently say that 30 years later, The Lion King is still as good as it was during its initial release.

30 years later, The Lion King is just as good as we remember.

Let me start with the visuals because The Lion King is beautiful. Given how much work and effort the animators put in, this isn't surprising in the slightest. Whether you loved the design of the characters or your eyes were caught in the background, the crew made this a feast for the eyes. One scene I always remember is when Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa sing "Hakuna Matata" as the changing seasons make things even more magical.

If the visuals aren't your cup of tea, we completely get it but maybe the music is. Written by Tim Rice and Elton John, the songs are some of the best Disney has ever created. Of course, that also helped the film to translate well into a Broadway musical. Songs like "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" and "Hakuna Matata" were appealing to kids and made for fun sing-alongs.

The film also gave us one of the most romantic Disney songs ever "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" I don't know about you, but I always remember just how lovely this scene was between Simba and Nala. Seeing these two reconnect is incredible and a part of why some Disney viewers have gone on to love romance books now. On the flip side, The Lion King also gave us an amazing villain song with "Be Prepared" which is a scene that so many of us can recall and still enjoy even all these years later.

Photo: Disney's The Lion King - Walt Disney Pictures /

Considering all we've talked about, we haven't even touched on the plot of The Lion King yet. As previously mentioned, we're following Simba as a cub before he grows up and we follow his journey as he goes to take his father's place. Of course, that's an incredibly simplified version of the plot but it is an incredibly nuanced story that will appeal to viewers of all ages. There is something so undeniably timeless about this story and is part of the reason why kids are still watching it today.

Lastly, we have to talk about the amazing cast of the film as there are so many big names in there including James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Matthew Broderick, Moira Kelly, Whoopi Goldberg, and Nathan Lane to name a few. That's only some of the cast as there were so many people attached to the film, ensuring its greatness.

Even though The Lion King has gone on to produce sequels, prequels, and even, some TV series, the 1994 film still takes the cake. Given that the film has been released in theaters multiple times and will be again this year, it's obvious the film is still beloved. On a personal note, I watched and loved this film as a kid and still do. Looking at it from a 2024 lens now, I'm able to watch it with my nephew, making the experience all the more enjoyable.

No matter your age or your thoughts on Disney, there is no denying just how great The Lion King was back then and how great it still is now.

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