NEW YORK (AP) — It's a mainstay on Broadway and now "The Lion King" has proved it's a king on the road, too.

Disney Theatrical Productions said Wednesday that the show's total touring box office gross in North America has reached $1 billion. Producers estimate that more than 15 million theatergoers in over 70 cities across North America have seen the show since 2002.

Says Jack Eldon, a vice president at Disney Theatrical Productions: "We remain overwhelmed by the enduring response to the show and are enormously thankful to our patrons — new and returning — for their continued enthusiasm and support."

By way of comparison, three national tours of "The Phantom of the Opera" have been seen by 31 million people and grossed over $1.5 billion in combined box office sales.