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Julia’s Best Week Ever, February 25, 2016: Lion Guard Defend!

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2016-02-21 09.16.59As a parent, every time Disney Junior rolls out a new show, I have a sense of dread. Some end up being wonderful shows (Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins) and some grate on my nerves (Goldie and Bear, Kate and Mim Mim). Then there are some that I think I am more excited about than my daughter. One of the latter is the new show The Lion Guard. For those who aren’t familiar, Kion–who is basically Simba’s son–has been tapped to become leader of a special forces group with four of his friends called The Lion Guard. After watching the show and purchasing the soundtrack for morning drives to school, I was pretty certain this show was going to be a hit. Disney also went with a bit of marketing push, and in addition to merchandise popping up in stores across property, Animal Kingdom also is offering The Lion Guard Adventure. Sounds like a great Saturday outing…

First, we stopped at Island Mercantile and picked up a special Lion Guard Adventure map.

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Although billed as a scavenger hunt, it is a very easy one, with large banners identifying the location of the even-larger statues. As long as you follow the map, it won’t take long to complete as you wander around. Here are the characters in the order we found them.

Ono, the keenest of sight (Egret)

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Kion, the fiercest (Lion)

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Beshte, the strongest (Hippo)

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Fuli, the fastest (Cheetah)

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Bunga, the bravest (Honey Badger)

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During our adventure, we thought about taking a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris, but with a 25 minute wait, we figured we’d skip it and instead catch a viewing of Festival of the Lion King. We even saw some “advertisements” for it on our way back.

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Although I think this is one of the best shows at Disney, I realized that I hadn’t seen it since it moved to the new theater. (You know, years ago?) The new theater didn’t seem to be much bigger, and it was a packed house. As always, it is an amazing show and worth the time.

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The new section where the theater is located does an amazing job of blending in as if it had been there since the park first opened. A lot of care had also been taken to really embrace the theme of the area whenever possible. A favorite of mine was this sign on one of the construction walls.

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I had to snap a picture of this sign from the bathrooms, because it is just a nice touch for Disney’s environmental emphasis.

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To finish up the Lion Guard Adventure, we were supposed to take a trip out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to take the Lion Guard Pledge and get our official Lion Guard buttons. There were two little snags on this plan, however: hunger and a child who really wanted to hit up the boneyard.

The first was easy enough to remedy, and gave me a great idea for an upcoming article, revisiting my article on savory snack credits. New items have been added to kiosks at Animal Kingdom, and it is probably the best theme park to use your snack credits aside from Epcot during Food and Wine Festival. Here’s a small sample of what you can find.

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Spicy buffalo chicken waffle sandwich.


Next stop was The Boneyard. Although this playground is a great place to let your kids run around and burn off some energy, there’s a lot of potential for kids to get out of your sight. If you’re a helicopter-type parent, this place can be torture. Thankfully, there’s only one way in or out, and so if you position yourself near the exit, your child won’t be able to leave without you. (And there’s always a cast member posted there to make sure no kid leaves by themselves. Granted, the problem is getting your child *to* leave, not getting them to stay.)

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In addition to the standard playground area, there is a second “dig site” area. The “sand” in the dig site is actually very fine gravel, which makes it easy to brush off. Because my daughter wears glasses, I always cringe a bit when I see some of the “sand” flying and give thanks for anti-scratch coating!

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After a half-hour playground break, it was time to finish up The Lion Guard Adventure.  The only way to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch is by the Wildlife Express train, which runs approximately every five minutes. Usually the train is only half full, but with the Lion Guard Adventure, it was closer to full than not. Thankfully, when we arrived, the line to take the Lion King Pledge wasn’t very long. The Cast Member giving the oath to kids did a great job of modifying the oath for different age levels who may not have the attention span for everything. A PhotoPass photographer was on hand to document the experience, too.

I promise to use my keen eyes to see right and wrong, to use my roar, and to be brave, fast and strong. I will protect my animal friends. I pledge to the Lion Guard, I will defend.
I promise to use my keen eyes to see right and wrong, to use my roar, and to be brave, fast and strong. I will protect my animal friends. I pledge to the Lion Guard, I will defend. (Photo from Disney’s PhotoPass)

Each of us got a Lion Guard button to show we had completed the adventure.

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There was also a photo opportunity with Rafiki, but the day was getting long and the ten minute wait didn’t look appealing. Instead, we took a look at the exhibit they had about the upcoming movie Zootopia.

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On the way out, we stopped by a new exhibit that has opened recently.

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With crowds getting heavy, it was time to head for home.

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The next morning, we decided to do one more Lion King encore — this time at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. As if they knew we were coming, the daily trivia was Lion King-themed.

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Without a doubt, Landscape of Flavors (the food court at Art of Animation) has my favorite breakfast sandwich at Walt Disney World: spinach, paneer (cheese), and roasted cauliflower on naan bread. It is just the right amount of food and has flavors that somehow work great for breakfast, even though it doesn’t sound like a breakfast offering.

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Of course having a kid at the table meant waffles were on tap. Didn’t get any Lion King waffles this time, but did get a Nemo one and a Little Mermaid one.

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Then, to walk off breakfast, we did a short tour of the Lion King area of the resort.

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Back along Hourglass Lake, there are some neat signs with fun facts about each movie that the sections of the resort are based on.

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Being a local is different from being on vacation in that life stuff still has to be done. In this case, we had to head back to the house so I could spend the rest of the weekend getting our taxes in order. Hevi Kabisa, indeed! Still, even with that “fun” on my plate, I still can say we had the best Lion King week ever!

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P.S. Do you think anyone would notice if I “borrowed” this artwork from the Lion King area at Landscape of Flavors? It would look great in my living room…






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Julia Mascardo

Former writer, editor, and social media manager of TouringPlans. Embarking on new adventures with husband, kid, and cats.

13 thoughts on “Julia’s Best Week Ever, February 25, 2016: Lion Guard Defend!

  • Oh yes, please write an article of all the new offering for snack credits. We are going in July and are on the QSDP.

    • It should appear at some point this week or next on the blog. 🙂

  • Great Job!! Loved the article 🙂 by the way after you mentioned the soundtrack of The Lion Guard I immediately went on iTunes and bought it!

    • To this day, the only soundtrack I am good with in heavy – daily – rotation is the Jake and the Neverland Pirates soundtracks.

      Of all of the recent crop of new shows on DJr, Miles from Tomorrowland is the only good one. 7D may be the worst of the worst.

      • I do like Miles from Tomorrowland, but one of my favorites is Octonauts. I’ve learned quite a bit from that show.

        I do have a soft spot for 7D because I loved Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain. The same writers, directors, and many of the vocal actors from those shows are on 7D. It isn’t one that I would want a young kid to watch because they wouldn’t get some of the jokes, but it’s a secret vice of mine. 😉

    • The soundtrack is surprisingly good — it is one I don’t mind listening to.

  • Totally agree with you about Kate and Mim Mim…UGH! Any word if they might keep this Lion Guard Adventure longer if it stays popular? I won’t be there until April and I know my son would love it!

    • Kate and PJ Masks are the worst. We wont be getting to AK until 4/8, I’m hoping this is extended until Rivers of Light so at least we would get one or the other.

      • Re: Lion Guard Adventure- WDW’s site says, “From February 7 through early April, 2016, fans of the new Disney Junior hit TV show…” Goodluck! Hope it’s open long enough for your family to get a chance.

        We’ll be there the same week & would love love love Rivers of Light to be open *fingers crossed*, but nowhere near definite.

        You may be happy to know Hollywood Studios has officially extended the StarWars fireworks “Symphony in the Stars” past March 20th… it’s now showing nightly until at least August 2016.
        The $70 dessert party is still only taking ressies until 3/20. They’ll probably extend that too, one of these days 😀

      • There will be Star Wars fireworks going on for quite some time, but the show will be changing soon. It looks really impressive! I haven’t actually gone to see the current Star Wars fireworks show in person — I’ve caught it on the road driving home from dinner one night and have watched it from my house a few times. (We can see the Studios fireworks from our second story window.) But here’s information about the new fireworks show — and I guarantee that there will be some sort of dessert party, because it is an easy way to make money.


      • We were starting to run out of room on our DVR, so I told my daughter that we needed to delete some shows off of it and I “suggested” PJ Masks. We are now PJ Masks free on the DVR. 🙂

    • I really hope they keep it around at least until the summer — it doesn’t cost much of anything to have it, and people really were enjoying it!

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