Kilimanjaro Safaris offers an open-air safari through the Harambe Wildlife Park, which spans 110 acres. Consider your vacation to be more of a picture safari, with the chance to witness a diverse range of species ranging “freely” across woods, grasslands, and savannas.
The beautiful (and sometimes irritating) part about Kilimanjaro Safaris is that no two trips are the same. You could see a lot of creatures, or only a few! These are five things you should know before heading to the savannah.
(If you’re in a rush and simply want to know where it is and how long the ride lasts, skip ahead to the Nuts & Bolts section.)
- It Appearances to Be a Safari
Even before the Animal Kingdom, Walt intended to build a ride at Disneyland that included actual animals. He first introduced the concept when designing Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise. The impracticality of utilizing animals quickly became evident, and it was abandoned in favor of animatronics.
Later on, Disney World would provide something that Disneyland could not. “Here in Florida, we have something exceptional we never had at Disneyland… the blessing of scale,” Walt added. There’s enough acreage here to accommodate all of our ideas and goals.” Hence, in a way, Walt’s goal of a ride with live animals was realized when Kilimanjaro Safaris debuted alongside Animal Kingdom on April 22, 1998.
Animal Kingdom, led by main designer Joe Rohde, was groundbreaking in that it seemed alive – yet not like a zoo. It was meticulously designed to seem like an authentic African reserve. Equally crucial was providing the animals with an environment in which they could flourish. Kilimanjaro Safaris’ attention to detail and compassion for the animals is a key part of what makes this park unique.
“These areas safeguard a chunk of Africa’s disappearing biodiversity,” says an overhead sign amid the line. Please treat all animals with respect. Your protection will guarantee their existence. Thank you, Asante Sana.”
- Appearances Can Be Deceiving
All of the animals seem to be free to wander. To some extent, this is correct. Camouflaged obstacles created into the savanna, woods, and rocky hills have been deliberately placed by the Imagineers. This is done to keep predators like lions and possibly deadly animals like hippos from getting into trouble. (It also keeps visitors safe!)
But don’t worry, your excursion will be more than just a leisurely drive through the woods. You’ll encounter a vast range of sceneries and terrains, all built to house African creatures. You never know which animals you’ll encounter on your safari since animal behavior is unpredictable. This creates a unique experience each time you complete the tour!
Giraffes, hippos, wildebeests, elephants, antelope, impalas, gazelles, crocodiles, lions, rhinos, and cheetahs are among the 34 species wandering the area, according to the list-makers. As you drive through, your guide will point out which animals are visible and share information about them. This journey, like the Jungle Cruise, is unique each time since your guide’s knowledge is specific to your trip.
The Imagineers have taken a few efforts to stimulate the appearance of as many species as possible throughout your safari. Water holes, grazing sites, and salt licks are strategically positioned to “entice” animals to come into view as your safari vehicle goes by.
In excessive heat, the rocks in the preserve may offer air cooling for the animals. They may also be heated if it becomes too chilly for the animals.
- It’s authentic, which means it’s not flawless.
Kilimanjaro Safaris is designed to be as close to a genuine safari as possible. The whole thing is meant to make you feel like you’re on the actual thing. To be honest, it succeeds well in this regard.
Nonetheless, the roads are uneven as a result of the dedication to make the experience as authentic as possible! As you go through the preserve, you may expect to encounter potholes and bumps in the road, causing your safari vehicle to bounce and lurch about.
Extra fact: Kilimanjaro Safaris’ riding vehicles are custom-built pickups. They are not tied to any form of track or planned course. Your guide is driving the vehicle across the tough terrain. They try their best to avoid any particularly dangerous dips and divots on the road, but there’s only so much space to move on the trails.
While you try to capture shots, keep in mind that the car is not guaranteed to stop at any particular spot. Drivers will attempt to assist customers by stopping the truck when animals are visible from the walkway, but be prepared to snap a photo without having time to frame the ideal photograph. I have an entire roll of film (yes, that was a long time ago) of hazy photographs from our futile attempts to photograph wildebeests or lions.
Sit on the outside of the chairs for the finest shots (and Cast Members will probably recommend that little ones be seated on the inside). While both sides provide views of the animals, some believe the left side to be the better.
- The Queue Provides a Strong Contrast
I’m sure Walt would have recommendations for improving the queuing area for Kilimanjaro Safaris. To be honest, there isn’t much to view when waiting in a very lengthy line. You pass through the “booking office” at one point. That made me consider the abundance of features in the Jungle Cruise line area “office.” I would that at the very least, something of equal interest and enjoyment had been done here.
Overhead displays broadcast video about the Harambe Wildlife Preserve as you near the end of your queue. To be honest, there isn’t much else to see while you wait. Despite the overhead fans, the open-air line isn’t very pleasant on a hot, humid Florida day.
At least one enhancement has been made to the attraction, in my view. The original safari screenplay contained a storyline concerning poachers. At times, the sensation might be powerful, even frightening. I recall one area in particular when we had to cross a shaky bridge that looked to nearly collapse while we were on it. To be honest, I didn’t mind if any of these aspects of the plot were cut.
- The Bolts and Nuts
Kilimanjaro Safaris is situated in the back of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park’s Africa portion. The ride lasts around 20 minutes. Extra fact: It’s the longest non-movie or performance ride in the parks.
The safari trucks are open-air vehicles that allow you to see as much as possible. Each can accommodate 35 people, with 3-5 people in a row. The seats, as you would assume, aren’t easy chairs, but rather a somewhat cushioned bench with a back.
You must take a little step up inside the vehicle to embark. Kilimanjaro Safaris have no height limitations. ECV users must switch to a regular wheelchair.
There are very serious health warnings for Kilimanjaro Safaris. For your own safety, Disney recommends that you be in excellent health and free of high blood pressure, heart, back, or neck issues, motion sickness, or other disorders that might be exacerbated by this journey. Pregnant women should not bike. All of this is due to the previously mentioned rough terrain.
Kilimanjaro Safaris, along with Expedition Everest and the two Pandora attractions, is one of Animal Kingdom’s busiest attractions. Wait times begin to shorten in the late afternoon, often as early as 3:30 p.m. If feasible, the ride is open while it is raining, however it may shut if the weather becomes bad.
Handheld Captioning, Video Captioning, Assisted Listening Devices, and Audio Descriptive Devices are available from Guest Services with a refundable fee to make the safari accessible to as many people as possible.
Finally, Lightning Lane is accessible through Genie+.