Anybody who grew up on Disney movies definitely has a soft spot for The Lion King. The 1994 animated feature-length film about a young lion learning his place in the world and accepting his duty to lead his people resonated with audiences worldwide. it made nearly a billion dollars at the world box office, and is currently the (at the time of writing) 29th highest-grossing film of all time.
It wasn't just audiences that the film resonated with either. Critics worldwide applauded The Lion King, and it became one of the company's most prolific releases. Elton John received an Oscar for the film's theme song "The Circle of Life" (which he continues to close his shows with to this day), and composer Hans Zimmer did the same for his score.
The movie has been enshrined in the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," and Disney even has a CG remake lined up for 2019. In short, The Lion King is a big deal.
It might surprise you then, that at one point in time The Lion King was actually not held in very high regard by the studio. During its development, many of the senior animators actually jumped ship for another project, leaving much of the film in the hands of junior staff who had never worked on a film before!
Not only that, but the script went through several significant rewrites before ultimately becoming what it was, which much of the production staff actually weren't happy with. Several writers left the project as well, and ultimately writer Burny Mattinson said to a coworker "I don't know who is going to want to watch that one."
So what project was so much more appealing to much of the Disney staff you might ask? Pocahontas. No, we are not kidding.