The Casual Runner

Casual Adventurer: The Lion Guard

Casual Runners know that while running is a part of our lives, it is not our entire lives. Better yet, as Casual Running allows us to be healthier and live more active lifestyles, it allows us to experience new and wonderful adventures. In this special series, we will look at fun Casual Adventurers that our Team takes on when we are away from our training, even if its only for a day or two!  Check out other installments in this series by clicking here.

The What: Lion Guard Adventure
The Where: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort, Florida
The When: Daily during regular park hours

Jambo! And Welcome to our latest Casual Adventure!

The Setup

Anyone who has been following our Casual Adventurer Series knows that Disney Imagineers have been “plussing” the Disney theme parks by adding simple, yet highly entertaining scavenger hunt games such as Remy’s Hide & Squeak and the Easter EggStravaganza.  While those events are limited to specific seasons, the newest offering can be played during any visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The Lion Guard Adventure is inspired by the Disney Junior show, the Lion Guard, which is a continuation of The Lion King. If you have young kids in your family, you already know all about it. If you don’t have a clue, don’t worry, it will not impact your ability to go on this adventure.

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The Scene of the Adventure

The Adventure can be played any day during Disney’s Animal Kingdom regular operating hours and does not have any additional cost (beyond regular park admission). When you enter the park, look for the guide maps and pick up the one marked as the Lion Guard Adventure (yes, it requires a separate map). That is all it takes to start playing. Wow, this really is simple.

Adventuring the Adventure 

Inside you will find a map of the park. The artwork and graphics are noticeably different than the typical park maps, and do not include most of the rides, just the various themed lands and a few park icons. There are 5 cartoon characters indicated on the map (located throughout the park) that correspond to the locations of the 5 statues depicting the Lion Guard characters that you seek. When you locate a statue, players are encouraged to act out their parts as indicated on the map.

The characters and their parts are described as follows:

Kion. “Fiercest. Lions like KION communicate and scare off enemies with their fierce ROAR. ‘ROAR’ like KION!”

ONO. “Keenest of Sight. Birds use their KEEN EYES in flight to hunt insects. Use your KEEN EYES and use your arms “like wings” to fly like ONO.”

BUNGA. “Bravest. Honey badgers link BUNGA, with their thick armor-like skin are fearless and BRAVE. Raise your arms and should “Zuka Zama!” Show how BRAVE you are!”

BESHTE. “Hippos like BESHTE love to rest in cool water. But on land, they can use their STRONG LEGS to out run a human. Flex your STRONG ARMS AND LEGS like BESHTE!”

FULI. “Fastest. Cheetahs like FULI, the fastest animal on land, use their tails for balance to run up to 70 miles an hour! Crouch down like FULI, ready to run your FASTEST!”

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Ok, I think you get it. The premise is pretty simple and straight forward. Once you locate all 5 statues, you are instructed to go to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where you will recite the Lion Roar Pledge and receive your prize (which is a button – no, not a pin, but a button, sorry pin traders).

Additionally, as the statues are hidden in plain sight on the ground amongst the lush vegetation of the various lands, in order to assist you, themed logo banners are posted on poles in the area near where they are placed.

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Adventuring the Adventure 

Aside from the location (Animal Kingdom as opposed to Epcot), 2 things stand out when comparing this game to  Remy’s Hide & Squeak and the Easter EggStravaganza. First, while you can play all of the games for free, the Epcot games charge a fee to obtain the map and the prize (which is a pin instead of the button given out for the Lion Roar). Second, while all 3 games are suitable for the entire family, the Lion Roar definitely does seem more geared towards younger park goers for several reasons; there are only 5 statues to find (instead of 12), so it is easier for those with shorter attention spans; all of the statues are located at ground level, which is eye level for kids; and they are much easier to find (especially with the themed banners) than the eggs or the Remy statues.

Candace and I decided to take on this adventure when we were spending a few hours in Animal Kingdom on a recent trip while we were hitting up all 4 parks in 1 day.  As we only had a limited time, we thought that it might be pushing it to complete the adventure while hitting our highlights (Dinosaur, taking pictures with a few characters, and of course, Expedition Everest! – have you checked out our full on-ride video from Everest yet? If not, you can check it out now!). Admittedly, since we were in a hurry, we did ask a cast member for help on one of the statues, because we had walked right past it on the wrong side of the land.

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The map makes it easy enough to find the general areas for the locations, and we saw the banners before we saw the statues, so I assume they were added to speed up game play. Like in the other games, it was obvious who was playing the game, which made it fun to interact with the other park guests, and offer helpful hints to them when they needed them. Though, we did not notice anyone actually acting out the character parts – perhaps this was because it was too early in the day and they hadn’t started selling beer yet?

When you find a statue, you are supposed to take a picture with it as proof on your discovery. As it was just the two of us, it made for a series of statue selfies.

IMG_4562Did we finish the adventure? Absolutely not! And I say this with pride (lion’s pride perhaps?) because finishing the adventure requires you to take the Wildlife Express train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Anyone who read Candace’s story of our attempt to ride every ride in Walt Disney World in a single day, knows that I have some rather strong feelings about the Wildlife Express – it is #14 on the list if you want to hear my thoughts. (You can read Candace’s full two part story on our WDW 46 challenge here: Part 1 & Part 2).

So, yeah, needless to say, I did not want my button badly enough to get back on the train. Once we found all 5 statues, we called it a day and headed on to our next park.

Wrapping it Up

We have been saying for a while now that these are the kind of simple, yet fun, add-ons that Disney should be doing more of in all of their parks. This game is a nice addition to a park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, that sorely needs more (and new) attractions and adventures. The only drawback is that, given the game play (fixed positions on the printed maps, the poles with the banners, etc.), the statues are not likely to move around frequently, if ever. Thus, once you play the game, it will be the same every time, thus reducing the replayability factor of it (except for young kids, who I am sure will continue to enjoy it no matter what).

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Would I plan my entire trip around this game? No. However, when you are spending a day or part of a day in Animal Kingdom, it is definitely worth picking up a map and playing along.

Once again, this game just goes to show that, even in small and simple ways, adventure is indeed out there!

Good luck and let’s hear you roar!

Check out other installments in our Casual Adventurer Series by clicking here.

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