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Kilimanjaro Safaris

 

Kilimanjaro Safari is one of the best attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Why? Because of the chance to get up close and personal with all kinds of animals. Sometimes really up close. Like a good adventurer, you'll want to bring a camera or 4.

 

Kilimanjaro Baobab Tree

These massive trees, seen across your safari, are replicated Baobab Trees. The Tree of Life is modeled after this species. Photo by Judd Helms

 

While you journey through the 100-acre savanna you'll see lions, giraffes, white rhinos, elephants and many more wild animals (yes, wild animals). These animals roam freely (with some nicely hidden barriers) and are really hams when it comes to posing for pictures (sometimes).

Kilimanjaro Safaris

If you love animals, you’ve come to the right place! The magic to the Kilimanjaro attraction is how close you can get to the animals.

Queue and Preshow

Elephants are very social animals - they form close bonds within their families. Photo by Brett Svenson

 

How does one prepare for a two week safari through the Harambe Wildlife Refuge? Find out as you snake your way through the line on the way to the safari vehicles. There are several stations where you can learn about Africa and life in the savanna.
 
The line area is open air, but covered and well shaded.

Attraction

Kilimanjaro Safaris is the largest attraction at WDW, area-wise - the whole Magic Kingdom (107 acres) could fit inside the 110-acres! Photo by Judd Helms

 

The safari starts as you are loaded into the 32-passenger safari vehicles for your 2-week journey into the Harambe Wildlife Refuge. Oh, you thought the ride was only 20 minutes? No it's 2 weeks! Or at least that's what the guide says.
(Anyone here believe any of the Disney guides?)

 

You pull away from the loading docks and drive your way through the African wilds. The first area you will see is the African savanna where there are always giraffes walking around. (Sometimes the giraffes refuse to move and hold up the safari vehicles.)

 

Along the way you will cross a river that has overrun the road. You'll see hippos, lions, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, elephants, and many others!

 

When is the best time to see the animals? This is a widely discussed topic. You can see animals all day. Some say that afternoons are better because the animals are getting ready to go back to the barns and are more active. Some say the animals are more active in the mornings.

 

If you want a different experience, try riding at night! The way Disney uses the lights to replicate the setting sun and the moon is pretty fantastic! Riding at night lets you see the animals in a different way.

 

This may be the closest you’ll ever get to all of these animals!

Postshow

The Harambe Wildlife Reserve is home to 34 species of animals. Photo by Judd Helms

 

There is no real postshow. There isn't even a gift shop that you get dumped into after the ride. (A little unusual for Disney), but you do end up right at the entrance to Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.

Watch a Video!

Crowds

Giraffes travel in groups called towers. Photo by Laurie Sapp

 

Crowds can be intense on Kilimanjaro Safaris as it is one of the best attractions at Animal Kingdom. Even though lines might be shorter in the afternoon (during slower times), lines stay pretty long most of the day. Dad still suggests you hot foot it to the Safari first thing in the morning.

 

  • Dad's Plan always includes seeing Kilimanjaro Safari first thing in the morning. Having a plan is essential to avoid long lines. One of the resources Dad depends on is Touringplans.com.

FastPass+

Many of the rocks you see the lions perched on are air-conditioned (or heated, depending on the weather). Photo by Laurie Sapp

 

Any reputable safari requires a reservation! Make sure to make this one of your Fastpass selections so you don’t get stuck waiting in a long line!

Fun Facts

Be ready to snap your animal photos! You never know when you might see one of the many creatures along your path. Photo by Judd Helms

 

Here are some interesting tidbits -

  • The ride vehicles are propelled by liquid propane. They are custom built GMC Trucks.
  • The animals are drawn to areas by tricks like warm air pumped in or salt licks.

History

Kilimanjaro Safaris opened in April of 1998. In 2012, Disney made a major change to the ride. Disney did away with the storyline about poachers and a baby elephant and its mother Big Red. They added a bunch of animals which added to the magic!

The Fine Print

Cast Members actually drive these vehicles - they aren't on a track. Photo by Cliff Wang

 

Here's some small print information

  • Due to the nature of the experience, guests with service animals should check with a host or hostess for attraction and boarding information at this attraction.
  • Video Captioning, Assistive Listening Receivers, and Handheld Captioning are available on this attraction. Please visit Guest Relations for more information.
  • For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.
  • Guests must transfer from their motorized scooter or ECV to an available wheelchair to experience the attraction.

The Best of WDW - Volume 2

 

Dad's Bottom Line

The big problem with Kilimanjaro Safari is it's too short. If the ride was an hour long, it would be too short. Disney has done a great job designing the ride to let everyone see animals in their natural habitat.
 
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