The multi-award winning Lion King musical almost featured an alternate ending so bizarre that you'll find it difficult to believe that the director isn't trolling us all, and I doubt Mufasa would be looking down from the sky so proudly if this insanity came to pass...
According to Julie Taymor, she once considered straying from the much-beloved ending of the Disney classic, where Simba claims Pride Rock as his own, to send him hurtling out of the desert into the madness of Las Vegas instead. Taymor told a bemused audience at The Nantucket Project that:
"In my original idea… [Simba] doesn’t go back at all. That never happened. He goes to the desert. And in the desert, he comes out of the jungle… And he sees Vegas."
Although the audience laughed like it was a joke, Taymor revealed that she was deadly serious about the Simba meets slots theme by revealing that she had even designed new characters to facilitate his journey.
Taymor explained to the flabbergasted audience that she had dreamed up a dastardly crocodile named 'Papa Croc' who had done a wicked deal with fellow villain, Scar, to buy all of the water in the world and funneled it all to one location to create a desert oasis: Vegas.
Simba was supposed to fall under Papa Croc's spell due to his loneliness and pining for a father figure after Mufasa's death, she explained:
"And here comes Simba, the wild beast from the jungle, and he falls for Papa Croc because he doesn’t have a father."
The naive and trusting Simba would have been Papa Croc's devoted sidekick for a while, until it was revealed that his fatherly love was just a farce to entrap Simba in a gladiator-style fighting pit as entertainment for the Las Vegas punters.
Needless to say, the head of Disney Theatrical wasn’t too impressed with a musical that ends in the beloved Simba fighting in a brutal bloodbath to win his bread and butter, so the entire idea was shoved in the Elephant's Graveyard where it belongs.
While Taymor acknowledges the idea was crazy, she hasn't totally let the madcap scheme go yet, she ended her speech about the alternate ending by teasing that:
"I still think it would be fun to make."
I'd watch it...