"The Lion King"'s kinks -- Disney faces the wrath of angry parents over defective CD-ROMs

By Chris Nashawaty
Updated February 03, 1995 at 05:00 AM EST

Hakuna Matata? Not quite.

<p. With more than 200,000 copies of the CD-ROM Disney’s Animated StoryBook: The Lion King leaping off store shelves during the holiday season, you’d expect every child in America to be happily humming ”Circle of Life” again. But mention the movie’s ”no worries” catchphrase to some parents, and they might just bite your head off.

Unable to get The Lion King up and running, some 10,000 parents had to deal with deeply disappointed tykes. Those angry enough to sound off took to the Internet to flame Disney Interactive for selling what they consider a defective product. A sample: ”…not just 10 min ago my daughter asked again if there was some way I (dad) could get this alleged software to work.”

But Disney maintains that the $35 disc is not flawed, and that there have only been ”a handful of complaints compared to the number of units we sold,” says Amy Malsin, director of communications at Disney Interactive.

While some buyers have complained of video glitches or crashing, most of the gripes are about one thing: The high-tech Lion King CD requires a 16-bit PC soundcard, even though the box erroneously said that either an 8-bit or 16-bit card would do. But Malsin counters that many of the problems stem from new computer owners who ”may not have read the system requirements on the package,” and claims The Lion King has been unfairly singled out: ”I think people have focused on our product. We’re not the only one. It’s the nature of the beast.”

To a degree, she’s right. Many new software programs have very specific-sometimes downright finicky-system requirements. But Disney’s ”not guilty” plea, rather than calming the storm, has only made some customers angrier. ”Ooooh, this really annoys me. I think Disney’s trying to blame the consumer for their own poor workmanship,” posted one customer on-line.

Disney has promised to ”do whatever it takes” to give The Lion King purchasers ”100 percent satisfaction,” whether that means free replacement discs for those with 8-bit soundcards, ver-the-phone assistance via an 800 number, or refunds. But with the $35 Mac version of The Lion King being shipped to stores this spring, it remains to be seen whether Disney Interactive can keep its Lion pride intact.