“The Lion Guard” animated series continues the epic storytelling of Disney’s “The Lion King” and follows the adventures of Kion, the second-born cub of Simba and Nala, and his diverse group of friends as they unite to protect the Pride Lands. The story of Kion and his friends was introduced in “The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar” television movie which premiered on Disney Channel in November 2015 and became the #1 primetime cable TV telecast of 2015 among Kids 2-5 and the #1 animated telecast across kid cable-TV networks among Total Viewers and Adults 18-49.
Created for kids age 2-7 and their families, “The Lion Guard” stories are designed to communicate positive lessons about teamwork, community and diversity. The Education and Science experts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park serve as consultants, inspiring original stories based on their first-hand experiences, and advising on the characteristics, behaviors and habitats of various African animal species. Each episode of “The Lion Guard” incorporates Swahili words and phrases and includes original songs.
As the second-born cub, Kion is destined to be leader of the Lion Guard, a team of animals tasked with preserving the Pride Lands. Instead of choosing a group of all lions to serve with him, Kion breaks tradition and calls upon some of his friends whom he believes best exemplify the heroic qualities of the Lion Guard. As leader of the Lion Guard, Kion is the fiercest. He has the power of the Roar, which allows all of the great leaders of the past to roar along with him when he needs help taming a situation. Although he is confident in his leadership abilities, Kion is very conscientious about how and when he uses the Roar as he doesn’t want to abuse the power.
The other members of the Lion Guard are: Bunga, the bravest – Kion’s best friend and co-conspirator, Bunga is a fearless honey badger who rarely thinks before he acts; Fuli, the fastest – Fuli is a confident, athletic cheetah who is always up for a challenge and the one who is able to stand up to Kion, which is why he considers her his second in command; Beshte, the strongest – Beshte is a friendly and good-natured hippo who is friends with everyone in the Pride Lands; and Ono, the keenest of sight – Ono is an intellectual egret who serves as the Lion Guard’s “eye in the sky.” Throughout the series, the diverse team of young animals learn how to utilize each of their unique abilities to solve problems and accomplish tasks to maintain balance within the Circle of Life.
Additional characters include Kion’s older sister, Kiara, who as established in “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride,” will grow up to be Queen of the Pride Lands. Kiara and her best friends, Tiifu and Zuri, are not quite sure Kion is up to the task of leading the Lion Guard at first, but quickly realize that Kion knew what he was doing when he chose the diverse team. Tiifu and Zuri, were inspired by another comedic duo – the silly, kid-favorite characters Timon and Pumbaa from “The Lion King” – who appear as Bunga’s adopted family. Many of the beloved characters from “The Lion King” will also make special appearances in the series including Simba, Nala, Mufasa, Rafiki and Zazu.
The villains in the series consist of Janja and the hyenas; Mzingo and the vultures; Makuu and the crocodiles; Reirei, Goigoi and the jackals; and Ushari, an Egyptian cobra who frequently finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“The Lion Guard” voice cast includes Rob Lowe as Simba, Gabrielle Union as Nala, Max Charles as Kion, Joshua Rush as Bunga, Atticus Shaffer as Ono, Diamond White as Fuli, Dusan Brown as Beshte, Eden Riegel as Kiara, Sarah Hyland as Tiifu, Madison Pettis as Zuri, Jeff Bennett as Zazu, Andrew Kishino as Janja, Vargus Mason as Cheezi, Jonny Rees as Mzingo, Khary Payton as Rafiki, Kevin Schon as Chungu and Timon, Gary Anthony Williams as Mufasa, and Ernie Sabella who reprises his role as Pumbaa.
The recurring guest voice cast includes Blair Underwood as Makuu, Ana Gasteyer as Reirei; and Maia Mitchell as Jasiri, a friendly hyena who rescues Kion and helps him face off against Janja and the rest of the hyenas. Jason Marsden, Andy Dick and Lacey Chabert reprise their roles as Kovu, Nuka and Vitani, respectively, from “The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride” in an upcoming episode.
Ford Riley (“Special Agent Oso”) developed the movie and series and serves as executive producer. Howy Parkins (“Jake and the Never Land Pirates”) is supervising director. Christopher Willis (“Mickey Mouse”) is the composer, and Beau Black (“Miles from Tomorrowland”) is singer/songwriter. Author and Swahili expert Sarah Mirza is the language and cultural advisor. “The Lion Guard” is a production of Disney Television Animation. It carries a TV-Y parental guideline.