This forgotten Lion King spin-off paved the way for changes at Disney parks!

1995's Circle of Life film at Epcot was not only a fun show but helped change the way Disney used IP at the parks!
Photo: Disney's The Lion King - Walt Disney Pictures
Photo: Disney's The Lion King - Walt Disney Pictures /
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The new Circle of Life

Opening on New Year’s Day, 1995, the new Circle of Life movie wasn’t some tossed-together entry. It boasted brand new animation by the Lion King animators, as well as Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, reprising their roles with great voice work (Cam Clarke took over as Simba).

The movie opens with a take on the “Circle of Life” song with the twist that it’s live-action animals shown. It then has Simba in the jungle, hearing Timon and Pumba cut down trees to dam up a river and create a lake for Timon’s newly planned Hakuna Matata Lakeside Village. Timon ignores how this is drying up needed savannas. 

Simba thus tells the pair the story of another creature who forgets the Circle of Life: Man. Mixing some older footage from Symbiosis with new film, Simba shows the pair man’s achievements with Timon at first thinking it’s great seeing huge dams and cities. They change their tune when they see the mass pollution around and the animals it harms.

The movie used new segments on then-cutting edge technology like electric cars, recycling and more. Taking Simba's words to heart, Timon and Pumba smash up the dam to restore the river water, and hopefully, the audience has learned a lesson.