Lion King hailed as roaring success for Edinburgh

Cast members celebrate the show's incredible success as it nears the end of its Capital run. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Cast members celebrate the show's incredible success as it nears the end of its Capital run. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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THE Lion King has been a massive hit for the ­city after it was revealed the musical had boosted the local economy to the tune of £17 million.

The smash hit is about to end its record-breaking run at the Playhouse, having entertained more than 325,000 ­people in a four-month stint.

The Disney production played host to the biggest audience ever to see The Lion King in one city across Europe – attracting visitors from as far afield as Singapore, Brazil and New Zealand.

In total, VisitScotland estimates theatre-goers spent £17.2m on hotels, meals and activities.

And it is hoped the Capital’s theatres will remain ahead of the pack this year – with international hit play War Horse to begin its run at the Festival Theatre later this month.

Andy Neal, chief executive of Essential Edinburgh, which represents businesses across the city, said: “So often we hear that Glasgow has got the big rock bands and concerts and sometimes it gets forgotten that some of the biggest shows that come to Scotland are only shown in Edinburgh.

“There seems to be a string of shows coming to Edinburgh in different theatres – the Capital as a festival city is definitely attracting fantastic shows.”

In recognition of the record-breaking Edinburgh run, The Walt Disney Company is to present a lioness mask to the Playhouse. Designed by show director Julie Taymor, the mask will be on permanent display in the theatre foyer.

A fleet of 23 trucks was needed to transport the massive production to Edinburgh, making it the ­largest theatre production ever to tour Europe.

The acclaimed stage adaptation of Disney’s 1994 animated film was first seen on Broadway in 1997 and the colourful spectacular has now been seen by 70 million people.

The amount spent on tickets for the Edinburgh run could be as much as £16.2m based on an average ticket costing £50.

Chairman of VisitScotland Mike Cantlay said: “Disney’s The Lion King is a fantastic example of how tourism is not just about accommodation and ­visitor numbers.

“Drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors, The Lion King has brought many millions into the local economy and provided growth for Edinburgh, giving direct ­benefit to local restaurateurs, visitor attractions, shops and hotels.

“The fact that ­Disney brought this amazing show to the Capital shows a fantastic ­partnership which started with Brave in 2012 and I’m sure will continue for years to come.”

Complementing the sell-out season at the Playhouse, Edinburgh’s City Art Centre attracted almost 20,000 people to its show, Exploring The Lion King – a unique 
exhibition revealing the inspiration behind the musical.

Graham Birse, of Edinburgh Napier University’s business school, said: “Tickets were selling a year in advance of the show.

“It’s a reminder that events, especially during the winter when tourism is off season, really stimulate spending.”