Lion GuardTwenty years after The Lion King established itself as one of the greatest animated films ever made, Disney continues to explore the pride lands with a new series aimed at preschoolers. The Lion Guard centers on Simba’s son Kion, an adorable lion cub who looks just like young Simba, but with a tuft of red hair on his head. The series officially kicked off last month, but audiences were introduced to the characters in November with an hour-long premiere event, The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar.

Kion and his best friend Bunga, a honey badger raised by Timon and Pumba, love exploring the pride lands and playing tricks on Simba’s sister Kiara. But when Kion discovers his powerful roar, Rafiki and Simba reinstate “The Lion Guard,” a league of pride land protectors that were previously eradicated by Scar. With Kion in charge, he picks his team of animal friends to help him protect his kingdom. But now they have to prove that they can actually do the job.

To the delight of Disney fans, the premiere movie remains faithful to the spirit of the original films. Hans Zimmer’s score is used on more than one occasion and the colors feel accurate, including a musical sequence that pays homage to the zaniness of “I Just Can’t Wait to be King.” The only design difference between The Lion Guard and The Lion King is that the series has tweaked the character designs, rounding them out to either be more appealing to children, easier to animate or both.

This 44-minute double-length premiere episode is now available on DVD where it shies away from the typical Disney Jr. packaging and instead presents itself like a feature in the Lion King movie series.

Bonus Features

  • “Here Comes the Lion Guard” Music Video (2:37) – The insanely catchy theme song from the series is played on city streets by Beau Black while clips from the show play.

There is also a physical bonus, advertised as a talking backpack pull. It’s a flat, plastic version of Kion’s head with a chord that allows it to be looped through the strap of a backpack. Pressing a button on the back plays the phrase “Til the Pride Lands’ end, Lion Guard defend!”

Packaging & Design

The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is housed in a standard sized black DVD case. Inserts inside include a Disney Movie Rewards code (100 points), a flier for Disney Movie Club, and the aforementioned talking backpack pull, which is attached to a cardboard card sealed in cellophane. The case comes with a foil embossed slipcover in the initial pressing.

The Lion Guard DVD is enhanced with Disney’s Fast Play. Allowing it to run its course plays trailers for Zootopia and The Good Dinosaur before the film. After the feature and bonus music video, it plays an ad for Disney Movie Rewards.

Final Thoughts

The Lion Guard is a perfect way to introduce preschoolers to the world of Disney’s The Lion King. Kids and adults alike will enjoy this premier event, which features new songs and characters in a familiar environment. The addition of the physical bonus and low price make this an easy choice to add to your child’s DVD collection.