Rafiki wax figure gives visitors something to roar about

Posted by on Mar 4th, 2010 and filed under Attractions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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Buyi Zama poses by her wax likeness. Photo by Aleza Freeman.

Simba isn’t the only character we’ll be roaring about in Vegas.

If you’re a fan of the musical production, “Disney’s The Lion King,” then you’ll need to stop by Venetian’s Madame Tussauds Las Vegas. Rafiki, the wise and quirky baboon from the hit play is now immortalized at this attraction.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the musical at Mandalay Bay,” said Rosita Chapman, the attraction manager for Madame Tussauds.

My colleague and I had the pleasure of going to the unveiling of the Rafiki figure this morning. We also got to witness an upbeat performance from “The Lion King’s” South African cast members. Their lively dancing and singing made it tempting to jump in and join them!

Buyi Zama, the actress who plays the role of Rafiki in Disney’s production at Mandalay Bay, also made a special appearance. I noticed she was pleasantly surprised with the figure — she kept looking back at it and smiling. After the unveiling, we all had the opportunity to take photos of them together.

While the Rafiki you see here isn’t designed to look like the one from the original animated movie, the costume and details will leave you in awe. Designed by Tony award-winner Julie Taymor, this piece has just about every color imaginable and even comes with a horse hair collar.

For her costume inspiration, Taymor researched a variety of African totem figures and garments worn by traditional healers. To match the vibrantly-colored ensemble, the baboon’s face is painted with red, yellow and blue makeup.

Rafiki definitely adds a colorful addition to the exhibit. And who knows? Maybe Simba, Nala, Mufasa and the rest of the gang will join the Madame Tussauds family someday.

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