KaTonga: Musical Tales from the Jungle

KaTonga: Musical Tales from the Jungle took guests on a journey to the heart of Africa in a musical celebration of animal folklore. The show ran for seven seasons in the Morccan Palace Theater in the Morocco section of the park.

Fast Facts

Open Date: Spring 2004
Close Date: September 6, 2010
Replaced: World Rhythms on Ice
Replaced By: Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy
Location: Moroccan Palace Theater


History

KaTonga: Musical Tales from the Jungle opened in Spring of 2004 (reported as April or May) in the Moroccan Palace Theater, bringing a Broadway style musical to the park, moving away from the ice show theme from the last production there, World Rhythms on Ice.

During the show’s opening in 2004, producer Don Frantz is quoted as saying, “KaTonga is the only one-act original musical commissioned by a corporation for the theme park environment. As impressive, Busch Gardens’ Moroccan Palace Theater is the only legitimate full scale Broadway-style theater in a theme park on the entire East Coast.”

The 35 minute show combined music with puppets, acrobats, and African inspired dancing, following aspiring “griots” – traditional West African storytellers – as they practiced their craft among the cast of colorful characters. The show’s sets, costumes, lighting and puppets were a collaborative effort between Broadway and in-park designers.

During the show’s run, a KaTonga Insider Tour was available giving guests a glimpse behind the scenes, along with a special meet and greet with cast members and reserved seating at the show.

On June 29, 2010, the park announced that after a seven season run, KaTonga: Musical Tales from the Jungle would come to a close with its last performances on September 6, 2010. At the time, a press release from the park stated the show had made over 10,000 performances. A Tampa Bay Times article on closing day put the number at 8,842.

At the time of the closing, the park had already announced the next production would be the groundbreaking Broadway hit created and directed by Neil Goldberg – Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy.

 

Additional details on KaTonga: Musical Tales from the Jungle will be added in the future.


Sources:

BGTNation | Park History – accessed 9/26/2017
Tampa Bay Times | Sep 6 2010 – accessed 9/27/2017
Orlando Sentinel | May 21 2004 – accessed 3/22/2018
SeaWorld Parks Blog | Sep 1 2010 – accessed 3/25/2018
SeaWorld Parks Blog | Jun 29 2010 – accessed 3/25/2018
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay | Nov 4 2011 – accessed 4/7/2018