ENTERTAINMENT: Last "Lion King" roar in December 2011

Disney’s “The Lion King” has announced a closing date of Dec. 30, 2011. It’s a date that follows the development timetable of Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming Michael Jackson-themed show, although that production is still not officially confirmed for Mandalay Bay.

“The Lion King” debuted in May 2009 for an open-ended run. Today's news release says the show has been “extended 14 months,” although there was never any talk of the show closing at the end of October.

Sources close to the production say Disney had a guaranteed contract through 2012, and that MGM Resorts International agreed to a multi-million dollar payment to make the show go away a year early, presumably to give Cirque more time to remodel the theater.

Cirque announced in April that a touring version of the Michael Jackson show would debut in late 2011, with the permanent installation to follow in late 2012.

The touring edition will play the Mandalay Bay Events Center in December of 2011. Tickets are set to go on sale Nov. 6, Cirque spokesman Lou D’Angeli said today. However, the company still is not confirming the location of the sit-down version that will follow in late 2012 or early 2013.