In the film Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King are chopping down trees and clogging up rivers to build the Hakuna Matata Lakeside Village. Simba comes to them and explains how their actions are harmful to nature. This lesson is explained with live-action footage, some left over from Symbiosis.
WDWNT the Magazine Issue explained "The incredibly boring Symbiosis film would be replaced in 1995 with “Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable.” Footage was recycled from Symbiosis into the new film, but by adding animated sequences and a character-driven narrative to the film (inspired by The Lion King)", adding "The 1990s were a decade in which conservation became a hot-button topic, and Circle of Life was there to keep Epcot’s finger on the pulse, so much so that the film holds up quite well and covers environmental issues still facing us 17 years later. "
The film opens with Mufasa's voice saying that each and every one of us is connected in the great circle of life. After that comes a montage of animals and some clips left over from the previous attraction, Symbiosis, to the song Circle of Life. The main story focuses on Simba. Simba, now king of the Pride Lands sees Timon and Pumbaa clogging up rivers to build a non-ecological resort called Hakuna Matata Lakeside Village. Simba shows them that other creatures nearby need water as well, but Timon and Pumbaa see their plan as compensation. Simba decides to show them how another creature (man) is similarly forgetting how each and every one of us is connected in the great circle of life. He explains to them that at first, their amounts were small, so they only took what they needed to survive, which at that time wasn't much. However, as human population increased, necessities for living space, power, and food in turn increased. Timon and Pumbaa are initially excited by man's developments, but Simba shows them the price that came with the humans' necessities. He explains that humans have also caused harm to the environment with their excessive needs through activity such as deforestation, endangerment of species, and pollution. He says that once humans realized what they were destroying, they began to repair the damages through recycling, alternative energy sources, and conservation programs. He explains that humans have also helped other creatures in nature by studying them to learn their needs. Touched, Timon and Pumbaa decide to help the humans give back to nature, but Simba shows them that they already can at home. Timon and Pumbaa unclog the rivers, thus giving the water back to the other creatures on the savannah. The film ends with a shorter montage to the end of the title song.
Total Orlando described it as "light and easy...amusing and enjoyable...'edutainment'", adding "10 out of 10 to Disney for making a fairly dull subject seem fun". It noted it was a fun way to get kids interested in the environment and concluded "it's not on our 'must see list' but it's ok if you are in that area and you've done most of the main parts of Epcot". The site awarded the short film 3/5 stars.