Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of the most popular rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but if you haven’t yet tried this attraction, here’s some information about why you shouldn’t miss it the next time you visit Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney was always interested in wildlife, and while he was still alive, wanted to create an attraction where guests could ride through the habitats of different animals. In fact, the original Jungle Cruise attraction was meant to be filled with real animals rather than the animatronics which eventually made their way into the scenes. However, at that time, there was no way the imagineers could find a way to safely create such a scenario.
Ultimately, the idea came to life when Kilimanjaro Safaris was built for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The ride takes guests on an eighteen to twenty minute jungle trek through a 110 acre wildlife preserve, which is filled with more than 30 species of African animals. In fact, the space consumed by Kilimanjaro Safaris is so large that the entire Magic Kingdom could fit within this one attraction. This space not only allows the animals to have a large habitat to roam within, it also creates a fully immersive experience for guests to feel as though they have been transported to Africa itself.
Guests are loaded into a large open air safari truck with many rows of seats. Above each row of seating is a chart of animals that you may see along the way along with the name of each animal. Children may enjoy matching up the animals they see with their proper names. The driver of each vehicle provides guests with a running commentary as to what animals are visible throughout the attraction and where you can get the best view of them.
One of the best parts about Kilimanjaro Safaris is that you never have the same ride experience twice. Depending on the time of day, weather conditions and temperament of the animals, you may see different animals each time, or the same animals may be doing different activities or hanging out in different locations. I highly recommend riding this attraction in the beginning of the day, especially in the summer months, because some of the animals tend to get lazy once the Florida heat is in full force.
There is no way I could mention all of the animals within this attraction, but some of the favorites include hippopotamus, rhinoceros, giraffe, okapi, alligators, lions, and ostrich. All of the animals are kept apart from potential predators/harm through invisible barriers, so the guests do not see things like gates or cages. It is an amazing feeling to seem so close to a lion, though in reality, the lion’s perch is surrounded by a large unseen mote.
Some animals, like the cheetahs, can be difficult to spot, but others are hard to miss. For instance, the flamingos roam in full visibility on their own island. They have their own surprise though- the flamingos island is shaped like a giant hidden mickey. Towards the end of the attraction, guests have the opportunity to see the elephant families, usually with a baby elephant or two in tow. This is always my favorite part to see. However, younger animals can be found in many areas of this attraction, and your driver/guide will usually point them out. Whether you want to spend the ride taking photos or just enjoying the scenery, you will not want to miss this unique ride experience.
One of the nicest things about this attraction is that it’s safe for all ages to ride together. So it fits the quintessential Walt Disney principle that families should be able to enjoy things all together. The ride is wheelchair accessible as well. Kilimanjaro Safaris normally runs from park opening to sunset each day, though Disney World recently announced that evening safaris will begin soon. This new version of this attraction puts the savanna into an eternal sunset and Guests will be able to see animals unique to this safari. I look forward to the opportunity to see this attraction in a whole new light.
What is your favorite part of Kilimanjaro Safaris?