Lion King cuts through York cornfield

In the improbable setting of a cornfield on the outskirts of York, Zulu dancers in traditional costume performed The Lion Sleeps Tonight, in the morning sunshine yesterday.

Farmer Tom Pearcy with The Mighty Zulu Nation

The annual spectacle of a giant maze carved into the corn opens to visitors today, and the land’s owner, farmer Tom Pearcy, said he didn’t want to be the only one making a noise about it.

Mr Pearcy claims the maze, which each year follows a different theme, is the world’s biggest tribute to the musical, The Lion King. The film version was released 25 years ago and a remake is in cinemas from next weekend.

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“It has been one of the most loved movies of the last 25 years,” said Mr Pearcy, dressed for the occasion as a baboon character. “I remember being captivated by the film and my kids are now looking forward to the new movie coming out.”

The Lion King themed Maize Maze at the York Maze at Elvington near York. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Dancers from The Mighty Zulu Nation were on hand to try to find their way through the maze for the launch on a 15-acre site at Elvington. Based in Huddersfield, the group tours theatres, schools, and festivals with a brand of traditional African entertainment.

Yesterday, they performed Mbube, which translates as Lion, and was the original version of the song in the musical.

The maze, which remains open through the school holidays, is believed to be the largest in Europe, and one of the biggest in the world.

Viewed from the air, its design shows the film’s principal characters, a lion, mandrill, warthog and meerkat. They cover an area equal to eight football pitches and have been carved at more than 100 times their actual size.

Previous themes since 2002 have included a Viking longboat, the locomotive Flying Scotsman, the Statue of Liberty and Big Ben.

The Lion King theme is the third in a row to be based on films, following an earlier attempt to immortalise in maize three indelible Yorkshiremen – Brian Blessed, Geoffrey Boycott and Jeremy Clarkson.