The Gorge (also known as Wildebeest Valley) is a dry, barren canyon which makes frequent appearances throughout the Lion King film series. The gorge is the site of the stampede that kills Mufasa, the ambush set off by Zira that results in Nuka's death, and the battle between the Pridelanders and the Outsiders which ends with Zira's death.
Wildebeest Valley is a dry, humid canyon found beyond the borders of the Pride Lands with cliffs off to the side. Less vegetation is known to be there due to its massive heat and dry, barren ground. Above one end of the gorge, a herd of wildebeests grazed.
- “Mufasa! Quick! Stampede! In the gorge. Simba's down there!”
- ―Scar alerting Mufasa of the wildebeest stampede occurring in the gorge
Wildebeest Valley is first seen in The Lion King after "Be Prepared" when Scar takes Simba there with Mufasa and Zazu not too far away. Scar tells young Simba of a surprise Mufasa has for him, to which Simba eagerly wants to know. Scar tells him to wait at a shady tree, so he can get Mufasa for him. To pass the time and keep Simba busy, Scar tells him to work on his "little roar."
At the top of the gorge, Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed are near a herd of wildebeests, waiting for Scar's signal to release the herd into the gorge. Meanwhile, Simba practices his roar on a small lizard, scaring it off, and notices a massive wildebeest stampede hurling toward him. The wildebeest stampede chases Simba deeper and deeper into the gorge, drawing the attention of Mufasa and Zazu. Not a second later, Scar informs the two that Simba is in the stampede. The two lions and the hornbill run toward the stampede and see Simba dangling on a dead tree limb, crying for help. Mufasa saves Simba in time and places him near a ledge but struggles to save himself.
Simba watches in horror as his father is carried away by the stampede. Luckily, Mufasa jumps from the stampede onto a cliff and climbs up. On top of the cliff, Mufasa requests Scar's help, but Scar grabs his older brother's paws and sinks his claws into them, before saying, "Long live the king!". Scar then lets go of Mufasa's paws, sending the King to his death among the stampede. Watching his father fall, Simba screams in horror and then climbs down the cliff to search for Mufasa. Simba later finds his father's lifeless body and tries to wake him up until Scar informs Simba that he's dead and that his death was Simba's fault (as Simba had roared before the stampede started). Feeling guilt-ridden, Simba runs to the end of the gorge and notices the hyenas behind him, who unbeknownst to Simba, were ordered by Scar to kill him. However, he manages to escape via a bed of thorny hedges much too dense for the hyenas to follow him through.
Wildebeest Valley first appears in the film in Simba's nightmare where he tries to stop Mufasa from falling off a cliff into the stampede, but is stopped by Scar who turns into his adoptive son Kovu and throws Simba off the cliff into the stampede. It later appears when Kovu's mother Zira and the Outsiders plummet Simba down after ambushing him. The Outsider lionesses chase Simba towards a steep hill filled with logs. With no other way out, Simba climbs up the logs and Zira's older son Nuka, wanting to please his mother, goes after him. Nuka grabs Simba's ankle, but loses his footing when the log he's standing on slips, trapping him under it. Simba clambers up the logs, knocking some onto Nuka as they bury and fatally crush him. Kovu attempts to dig him out, but Zira pushes him away and she removes the remaining logs, and is kind to Nuka for the first time in the movie before he dies. Zira takes her anger out on Kovu, giving him a scar across his eye, and blames Nuka's death on him. Kovu runs away because of the accusation and Zira rallies her pride to declare war on Simba and the Pridelanders.
On top of the gorge, Zira and the Outsiders battle Simba and the Pridelanders until Kovu along with Simba's daughter Kiara intervene and cease the fighting. After seeing Kiara's revelation of "we are one," Vitani and the Outsider lionesses abandon Zira and join Simba's side. Refusing to let go of her hate, Zira leaps for Simba, but is blocked by Kiara, and sends herself along with Kiara down a cliff with a rushing river below them. Kiara offers help to Zira, who is dangling off a cliff, aid, but Zira refuses which causes her to slip and fall into the river.
- “What this place lacks in water and shade makes up for searing heat and blinding sunshine!”
- ―Timon's description of the gorge
Wildebeest Valley appears in the film when Timon and Pumbaa try to make the gorge their permanent residence despite its immense heat. However, they encounter a brief wildebeest stampede of their own which causes them to fall to the side of the gorge to where they fall near a waterfall.
During the musical number "When I Led the Guard" in the Season 3 episode, "Battle for the Pride Lands", the gorge is seen during the flashback recapping the events of The Lion King where it shows Scar present during a wildebeest stampede, where it is explained that Mufasa died during this event just before looping to the battle between Simba and Scar.
- The gorge is seen and officially named Wildebeest Valley in the game Kingdom Hearts II.
- Although Timon says that there is no water in the gorge, in The Lion King 1½ it was discovered that the gorge is very close to a river and waterfall.
- Three characters die in the gorge: Mufasa, Nuka, and Zira.
- In The Lion Guard episode "Fuli's New Family", the Lion Guard are seen leading a herd of buffalo through a gorge away from a mudslide. It is unknown if the gorge is Wildebeest Valley or a similar gorge.
- A common gag (at worst, and a meme at best) among Lion King fans is how many characters die in the gorge, as if it were cursed. Another gag is how Simba's family hangs over cliffs frequently. This joke spawned from several scenes in The Lion Guard.
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