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This Special Feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ and The Walt Disney Company

I don't recall what I was doing on Friday, June 24, 1994, but chances are I was probably working my job as Assistant Dairy Manager of the local Hy-Vee grocery store in my then-home of Davenport, Iowa. I was a month or so past my high school graduation, and one of the summer's big movies was Walt Disney Animation Studios' THE LION KING. Aside from the buzz, I don't even remember what initially drew my attention to the film at the time, but I do remember taking a girl to see a matinee screening - not really a "date," but an afternoon adventure. It became one of my favorite films of that year, along with PULP FICTION, AIRHEADS, SPEED, NATURAL BORN KILLERS - and from the absolute opposite end of the cinematic spectrum, a tiny film called PCU, directed by the guy who played Ellis in DIE HARD. Now, with "The Circle of Life Edition" of THE LION KING being issued on Digital HD (out now for the first time) and Blu-ray Combo Pack (out 8/29) as part of The Walt Disney Signature Collection, my appreciation and love of the film burns brighter than ever after attending this summer's D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, where I was in the room for a special panel in celebration of this classic slice of Disney perfection.

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The 2017 D23 Expo was absolutely massive, and while I live-tweeted the festivities direct from the show floor, I'm still trying to collect my thoughts on everything that I've seen and heard, even now that I've been back in Illinois for a full day. At the live-action film presentation, Alan Horn, Chairman, Walt Disney Studios, introduced Sean Bailey, President of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production to give an overview of what moviegoers can expect to see across Disney, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm over the next few years. For a few projects, development is still fairly early on, but ALADDIN was confirmed to be directed by Guy Ritchie, with Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Will Smith as the Genie, with original music by Alan Menken with Pasek & Paul (La La Land) handling lyrics. MULAN will be helmed by Niki Caro (McFarland, USA, Whale Rider), and JUNGLE CRUISE marks the latest Disneyland ride to get a big screen nod, with Dwayne Johnson set to star. Those announcements simply scratch the surface, as the lineup is huge, and I've got all the details below...

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As the 2017 edition of the D23 Expo draws to a close, closing the book on another installment of "The Ultimate Disney Fan Event," the news is really just getting started. I'm still here in Anaheim, getting ready to head back to Chicago on the red eye - and much of what I've seen has yet to be revealed. I did get a rare look backstage in the growing "Hall D23," and alongside all the technical magic, much of the talent involved with the next few years of entertainment from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm was on-hand to drop the curtain on a few surprises. So what did all of these actors and filmmakers do while hanging out in the pipe-and-drape "green rooms?" They had fun, and made some videos - many of which are now on Instagram. From Jon Favreau representing THE LION KING, to the voices of the Disney Princesses, the cast of STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI, MARY POPPINS and a host of AVENGERS and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, take a look at some of what happened backstage...

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It's been exactly one year since The Lion Guard made its debut on Disney Junior, and in that time a whole new generation has been introduced to the characters and world first explored in Disney's 1994 classic, The Lion King. Appropriately, The Lion Guard focuses on a new generation as well, with Kion, the son of King Simba and Queen Nala, tasked with leading a team that serves to protect the Pride Lands and the Circle of Life. Together these youngsters, including Bunga (honey badger), Fuli (cheetah), Beshte (hippopotamus) and Ono (egret), must work to solve problems and learn respect and compassion for the diverse inhabitants of the Pride Lands. Families wishing to make their own adventures off-screen now have several options, including a few that have become among 2016's hottest holiday toys - easily securing a slot in my annual Holiday Wish Guide. What should you get for your little Lion Guard fan this season? The Rock Father has some suggestions!

Get ready for a new trip to The Pride Lands, as The Walt Disney Studios confirmed this morning that it's partnering with Director Jon Favreau for a reimagining of THE LION KING, currently "on the fast track to production." Given the success of Disney's other recent live-action "contemporary" versions of its famous tales, it was pretty much expected that THE LION KING would eventually happen, but with the massive triumph of Favreau's THE JUNGLE BOOK, he certainly proved that there's no better person for the job. 

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Here at Rock Father HQ, Disney Junior's THE LION GUARD was the gateway needed to open a door to the past and inspire interest in the source material, THE LION KING. The show has certainly resonated with our girls, and it's grown on me as well,  following the story of Simba and Nala's second-born cub, Kion, and his Lion Guard team as they continue on adventures together throughout the Pride Lands. Now comes news that a new collection of episodes are headed for DVD with the release of THE LION GUARD: UNLEASH THE POWER on September 20th. Check out the details below...

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