This Sunday, at 2 p.m. at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, attendees will be treated to a special preview of The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, the television film airing in November on The Disney Channel. The movie will serve as the precursor to the animated Lion Guard television series, which is set to premiere in 2016 on Disney Junior. But you don’t have to be sitting in the Anaheim Convention Center to get a taste of the series, the latest installment in the beloved Lion King franchise, because a new clip has just debuted—a clip that you can watch below!
The clip cannily sums up the premise of the new film (and eventual series), with Kion (voiced by Max Charles) leading a group of animals called The Lion Guard. Traditionally, this group has been comprised of the bravest, fastest and strongest animals of the Pride Lands, but Kion “breaks with tradition” and recruits his friends. This means that the new Lion Guard is comprised of a motley crew that includes Bunga (Joshua Rush), a blustery honey badger; Ono (Atticus Shaffer), a smarty-pants egret; Fuli (Diamond White), a confident cheetah and Beshte (Dusan Brown), a friendly hippo. Yes, this sounds very promising.
Even more promising is the voice cast that executive producer Ford Riley and his talented team have assembled. Not only does The Lion Guard include original stars James Earl Jones and Ernie Sabella, reprising their roles as Mufasa and Pumbaa, but also great new talent like Rob Lowe as Simba and Gabrielle Union as Nala. (Kevin Schon reprises his role as Timon from The Lion King’s Timon and Pumbaa television series.)
What makes The Lion King even more interesting is that the Education and Science experts from Disney’s Animal Kingdom have been advising on the project, letting the storytellers in on the “characteristics, behaviors and habitats of the African animal species” and continuing the series’ theme of preservation and respect for the natural surroundings of Africa.
Quite frankly, we can’t wait. The concept behind the serious is adorable and ingenious, allowing for genuine education about serious issues to be presented in an easily digestible platform (a spoonful of sugar, after all), and the animation is gorgeous and evocative. Something tells us that the time in between The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar and the premiere of the series will seem awfully long.