Disclosure: I attended this interview as part of an all expense paid press trip. All opinions are completely my own.
The Lion Guard

The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar

This past week, we sat down with the filmmakers of The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar and learned some interesting facts. I also had the chance to watch The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar! It’s coming to The Disney Channel on Sunday, November 22, 2015 and airs at 7 PM. I have to say that it is really good and a lot of fun. My kids keep asking me when it’s coming on T.V. Soon, kids, soon.

Set in the African Savanna, the film follows Kion as he assembles the members of the ‘Lion Guard’. Throughout the film, the diverse team of young animals will learn how to utilize each of their unique abilities to solve problems and accomplish tasks to maintain balance within the Circle of Life, while also introducing viewers to the vast array of animals that populate the prodigious African landscape.


Check out the Trailer

Our favorite characters return, and bring with them the younger generation. Rafiki, Simba, Nala, and even Mufasa join the cast of this film. The newer generation includes Kion, Kiara, Beshti, Ono, Bunga, and Fuli. This 44 minute film gives us background to the history of The Lion Guard and when it disappeared. It also leads in to The Lion Guard series that premieres in January.

Photo Credit: Disney Channel/Rick Rowell
Photo Credit: Disney Channel/Rick Rowell

In sitting down with creator and Executive Producer, Ford Riley, Composer Christopher Willis, Singer/Songwriter Beau Black, and Swahili Consultant Sarah Mirza, we learned what it took to create the film and what the plans are with the upcoming series.

Photo Credit: Disney Channel/Rick Rowell
Photo Credit: Disney Channel/Rick Rowell

While watching the film, we noticed that there were some fun songs and it was confirmed by Beau Black that he “wanted the music to stand on its own for the series” and that they wanted it to be “as fun as possible. More modern, but with African influence.” There will also be a song in every episode. I think my kids are going to love that!

Photo Credit: Disney Channel/Rick Rowell
Photo Credit: Disney Channel/Rick Rowell

Rob Lowe and Gabrielle Union are the voices for Simba and Nala, and Ford Riley confirmed that there will be guest voices throughout the season. The panel agreed that each of the 26 episodes that are starting in January feel like a mini-movie. From the music to the landscape, each episode is consistent and feels like short movies. Beau mentioned that “we write the songs before the animation, because the animation is written to the song … everything seems so big and epic.”

Sarah Mirza and Ford Riley let us know what some of the Swahili words and phrases used throughout the film actually mean. I’m going to share some with you, so you’ll be ready for Sunday night.

Children will be learning an African language without actually knowing they are learning an African language because Ford has made it so fun. – Sarah

Photo Credit: Disney Channel/Rick Rowell
Photo Credit: Disney Channel/Rick Rowell

Character Catchphrases

Kion: Hevi kabisa! Totally intense!

Bunga: Zuka Zama! Pop up, dive in!

Fuli: Huwezi! You can’t (catch me)!

Beshte: Twende Kiboko! Let’s go hippo!

Ono: Hapana! Oh, no!

Song Titles

Sisi Ni Sawa (We’re the Same)

And some other fun ones

Elephant: Tembo

Rhino: Kifaru

Ostrich: Mbuni

Child: Mtoto

Welcome: Karibu

Amazing/surprising/unusual: Ajabu

Thank You: Asante

(to) Build: Jenga

The Lion Guard characters each have their own unique personalities and they have different points of view. They are at odds sometimes and have to work together. Their job is to defend the circle of life. In this context means not using more than you need. There is a conservation message that isn’t overt, but is within the story. -Ford

Animal Kingdom has been helping on every script and every premise. That way they are aware of when they are veering off of real-life. Ford wants to keep the animals true to life. In talking about that we learned from Animal Kingdom’s Dr. Jill Mellon that she receives scripts from Ford that she and her team review for inconsistencies with the animal behavior. She’ll make sure that if an animal is doing something that it wouldn’t do in the Savannah, that it’s rectified before the show is finished.

She and Ford also spoke of the fact that after The Lion King’s success, funding for hyenas basically dried up. People weren’t donating to hyenas any longer because they felt that hyenas were bad because of the portrayal of hyenas in The Lion King film. I didn’t even think of that! That’s one of the reasons that we’ll see a good hyena soon.

Dawn from Blogging Mom of 4 was trying to get some spoilers, but only got a bit of info. 😉 Ford let us know “in the first episode we’re going to see a hyena…a good hyena.” There will also be a husband and wife jackyl team, a crocodile (bad guy), and a vulture in this season.

When Dina from My Un-entitled Life asked Beau how many songs he threw out when writing for The Lion Guard, Beau said he didn’t throw out any!

“It was smooth sailing. There’s a sound that has been established for it … each character gets its own sound in the songs.”

My kids are already psyched for Sunday’s premiere and I’d recommended it to anyone who loved The Lion King. It’s a wonderful story with a good message, and your kids will be hooked from the first song.


Make a Difference

Share your best “ROAR!” with #ReturnoftheRoar and Disney will donate one dollar up to $25,000 through the Disney Conservation Fund. Post during the week leading up to the Premiere of “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar” on November 22nd.

Check out me and Dawn from Blogging Mom of 4 giving our best ROAR!

Dawn and I giving our best roar. #ReturnoftheRoar #LionGuardEvent @bloggingmomof4

A video posted by Sherry (@famluvstuff) on

Looking for something fun to do? Check out The Lion Guard Printable Activities (click and scroll to the bottom).

Want to buy The Lion Guard merchandise? Look here.

The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar premieres on The Disney Channel on Sunday, November 22, 2015 and airs at 7 PM.

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