Pros:Tons of live animals, spacious and attractive enclosures, fun narration, good repeat value
Cons:Can have very long waits
The Bottom Line: Don't even think about visiting the Animal Kingdom without experiencing this attraction!
Kilimanjaro Safaris is Walt Disney World Animal Kingdoms most elaborate ride and the centerpiece of its African animal exhibits. No visit to this park is complete without a ride on this attraction, so plan your day accordingly!
Arrive Early, or Prepare to Wait
I strongly suggest making this attraction your very first stop after park opening. For one thing, the animals tend to be more active earlier in the day. Also, if you wait even a half hour, the line will likely grow to forty-five minutes or more, and Ive seen lines as long as two hours. The other option is to use FASTPASS to reserve a ride later at a shorter time. Even if you have a bit of a wait, keep in mind that this ride is about 25 minutes long so you get a lot of bang for your waiting time.
As Disney queue areas go, Kilimanjaro Safaris offers one of the very best. The entire waiting area is constructed to help guests get in the safari mood. Artifacts and signs hung all around the waiting area inform guests they are now entering the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Signs and videos warn against poaching and feeding the animals. The majority of the waiting area is covered, which is fortunate on warm days.
Get Ready to Go!
After reaching the end of the queue, guests board large safari jeeps. The ride vehicles contain about eight to ten rows of seats, each of which fits four guests. These jeeps are actually driven by park rangers. Mechanized ride vehicles on tracks would never work because animals frequently wander across the path. Note when you board that an animal identification chart can be seen overhead so will know what you are looking at all times.
While the safari starts out peacefully enough as a simple tour of the Harambe Reserve, the plot soon thickens when a radio announcement informs the ranger that a poacher is loose on the range, threatening the safety of Big Red the elephant and her baby, Little Red. Of course, the ranger must take the jeep on a chase through puddles and over bumps in an attempt to stop the poacher and save the elephants. Its a bit corny but the bumpy ride is a lot of fun. Fortunately, the dialogue doesnt prevent the rangers from providing excellent guided tours and pointing out animals.
While the jeep journey is in process, guests are taken past a wide variety of wildlife native to Africa. Exactly which animals you will see changes on each ride, which makes Kilimanjaro Safari a great repeat attraction. Ive ridden over twenty times and I still get excited about which animals I will encounter and what they will be doing. The hoofed animals such as okapi and bongos tend to get the closest to the vehicle. Ive been on a jeep where the driver had to stop several times because they kept walking in the vehicles path. Other animals which can usually be seen include giraffes, zebras, rhinos, warthogs, and lots of hippos. My personal favorites are the lions, which are typically lounging on a large rock formation reminiscent of Pride Rock from The Lion King. All the enclosures are spacious and natural, without a cage or fence in sight. Keep your camera at the ready, because animals appear right and left and are often on the move!
*I should note that this attraction may be too bumpy for some. There are no seatbelts and the jeeps do jolt you around a bit. I think this is fun, but use your best judgment if you are pregnant or have back problems.
This is a really special attraction. It incorporates the viewing of tons of live animals with a fun and active story to create an attraction that is great for the whole family. Kilimanjaro Safaris is a massive-scale attraction that has been excellently executed. Whether you are planning a first or tenth trip to the Animal Kingdom, be sure to make this attraction part of your day.
*Planning a trip to WDW? These other reviews might be helpful...
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Best Suited For: Families