The Lion King Did Have An Accidental "SEX" Message (But Disney Removed It)

The Lion King SEX SFX

Disney's The Lion King is considered one of the greatest animated films ever made, but did it really contain a hidden message saying "SEX"? The notion that the adult-orientated subliminal message is included in The Lion King is one of the most infamous Disney urban legends, which has largely taken on a life of its own in the 25-years since the film's release.

The moment in question comes around two-thirds of the way through The Lion King, when Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa are lying on their backs, looking up at the stars. It's then that Simba gets up, walks over to the edge of the cliff, and flops down on his belly, kicking up a cloud of dust which swirls around, eventually forming a group of letters. This is where, according to legend, the word "SEX" appears in The Lion King.

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Except, of course, it doesn't - or at least not intentionally so. Although many people might see the word "SEX" if they're expecting to, it can be otherwise difficult to the untrained eye to make out any specific letters in the dust. That doesn't mean they aren't there, but it's not as adult as people believe. Tim Sito, one of the animators on The Lion King, explained that the dust is actually forming the letters "SFX", as an Easter egg inserted by the film's special effects department (making it ironic that it's done in such an unclear way). Still, there are some people who will see "SFX", and others who will insist it's "SEX".

The Lion King 1994 2002 Changes SFX Message

The story gained notoriety after The Lion King's release when it was seized upon by American Life League (ALL), an anti-abortion organization. ALL was alerted to the alleged message by a woman from New York, whose four-year-old son had apparently spotted the word while watching the film. The group was already boycotting Disney movies by that point because of the film Priest, but it called on the Mouse House to apologize for what it deemed inappropriate sexual messaging in a number of its films, including The Lion King, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid. Disney refuted the claim, but it hasn't stopped the idea of the word "SEX" appearing in The Lion King from passing into legend.

For the 2002 IMAX re-release and 2003 Platinum Edition DVD of The Lion King, Disney decided to simplify matters by removing the letters completely. Simba still sends up a cloud of dust when he collapses on the ground, but it was changed into a more vague swirling pattern than any discernible word or letters. So there you have it, the word "SEX" didn't actually appear in The Lion King, but that also hasn't stopped people from seeing it.

More: Did The Lion King Copy Kimba? Disney's White Lion Controversy Explained

Key Release Dates
  • The Lion King (2019) release date: Jul 19, 2019
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) release date: Oct 18, 2019
  • Mulan (2020) release date: Mar 27, 2020
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