The Lion King starts with presentation of Rafiki the mandrill of King Mufasa and Queen Sarabi’s new cub to the animals of Pride Rock. As Mufasa’s brother, Scar, sulks at losing his opportunity to become king, Rafiki seeks the spirits help in naming the cub Simba.
As Simba grows up, his father teaches him about the Pride Lands and the balance that exists within things known as the Circle of Life. He also warns Simba not to wander beyond the boundaries of the Pride Lands.
When Simba visits his uncle Scar, he tells him something about the elephant graveyard. Though forbidden to go there, Simba urges his friend Nala to accompany him.
After losing their escort, Zazu, the cubs reach the graveyard. When Zazu, catches up on them, three hyenas out and try to eat them. Fortunately, Musfasa comes and saves them.
When they get back home, Mufasa reprimands Simba for his recklessness. Afterwards, he moves on telling him about the great king who watch over them from the stars.
At the elephant graveyard, Scar makes a pact with the hyenas in stealing Mufasa’s throne. After forging some plans with the vicious animals, Scar takes Simba to a gorge and instructs him to not move a muscle. Scar goes to Mufasa and tells him that Simba being trapped in the gorge. As wildebeest stampede into the gorge, Mufasa comes to rescue his son. However, Scar sabotages him and causes him to fall right into the stampede. When Mufasa dies, Scar blames Simba for his death and tells him to just run away and never return. Simba runs away while Scar orders the hyenas to get rid of him. Simba, however, manages to escape the hyenas. As Rafiki and the rest of the Kingdom grieve for Mufasa and Simba’s death, Scar takes over the kingdom.
In the desert, before he dies from heat stroke and being eaten by vultures, a meerkat named Timon and the warthog Pumbaa save Simba. The two take care of Simba and teach him their carefree way of living.
As Simba becomes an adult while living with Timon and Pumbaa in the jungle, Scar continues his reign in Pride Lands which has now become plagued with drought. However, even with all the kingdom under his rule, Scar ignores all the complaints of the hyenas and the rest of the kingdom as he contemplates about how no one loves him. When Nala comes to present her case about the ongoing famine, Scar resolves to make her his queen. Nala firmly rejects Scar and sets on a journey outside Pride Lands to search for help for her fellow animals.
One night, Timon falls in a river and is almost drowned in the raging downstream. Memory of Mufasa’s death plagues Simba and it is only moments before Timon gets swept away by the water that he recovers and manages to save him.
Meanwhile, a lioness is hunting Pumbaa in the jungle. When Simba tries to fight her, he recognizes Nala. Knowing that he is the rightful heir, Nala tries to convince Simba to go back to Pride Lands but Simba rejects the idea because of the guilt that he still feels about his father’s death.
Afterwards, Simba goes out alone to talk with Rafiki. Rafiki tells him that no matter what happens, his father still lives on. Mufasa’s spirit also makes an appearance, telling Simba that there is no true king other than him. Because of this, Simba gathers enough courage to make his way home. Meanwhile, Rafiki comes to tells Timon, Pumbaa, and Nala where Simba is headed to. They meet Simba in the Pride Lands and help him get to Pride Rock.
In Pride Rock, Simba witnesses how his mother stands up to Scar and gets hurt because of it. This causes Simba to come out and face Scar. Scar then uses Simba’s guilt to weaken his will. He further tortures him by telling him that he, himself killed Mufasa. However, his calculations prove to be wrong. Simba fights back and makes Scar confess his evil deeds. Just as he is about to get defeated, Scar admits everything that he has done but puts the blame on the hyenas. Simba shows mercy and leaves him be but Scar tries to make an attack again. Simba counteracts the attack and Scar falls from the cliff. Down the cliff, the betrayed hyenas are waiting for Scar to devour him.
As Simba regains his rightful place in the kingdom, the rest of his family and friends and the rest of the animals come to celebrate with him. The play ends with a celebration where Rafiki presents to the kingdom Simba and Nala’s new born cub.