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8 Facts And Secrets About Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Tucked all the way in the back of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Kilimanjaro Safari. The ride’s conceit is a two week long safari ride through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Of course, the ride doesn’t actually last two weeks, but it does take guests through 110 acres of land in an open sided safari truck. The safari is an excellent opportunity to see and learn about a wide variety of animals. Want to know more about Kilimanjaro Safaris, here’s eight facts!

8. Picture Planning

If you want to take pictures from your safari truck, sit on the outside of your row. Particularly, if you want to get photos of the elephants, sit on the driver’s side of the truck, which means you’ll need to be in the front of your row as you wait for your truck. Also, if your camera has any kind of “sport” or “action” setting, you may want to use it to reduce blurriness. Be ready to snap away, because you’ll see different animals around every bend.

7. Nighttime Safaris

Beginning in late spring, 2016, Animal Kingdom offers Kilimanjaro Safaris after dark, since the park stays open later with the other evening entertainment options. Various areas of the safari is lit as sunset, twilight, or moonlight. Fans of the attraction will appreciate being able to experience it in a new light (pun intended), but don’t think that you’ll be able to take photos. While the ride is lit, it’s still too dark to take adequate pictures, and the animals are much harder to see.

6. Free Roaming Animals

Each animal (there are over 30 species) has free range of its own little habitat. Unlike a normal zoo, the boundaries of these habitats are not obvious to guests. That gives the impression that each encounter is purely by chance and not the deliberate work of imagineers. But the animals can move around within their own enclosure. Most notably, the giraffes and gnus are often found wandering around their savanah. Their wonderings can cause traffic jams for the safari trucks, since the trucks can’t always go around an animal standing in the road. The same could be said for zebras or rhinoceroses. Imagine, getting stuck in traffic because a rhino is blocking the road!

5. Worth Riding Again

If you can, try to fit multiple trips through the African safari during your time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Since the animals can move around, you won’t see them in exactly the same place every single time. Try riding first thing in the morning, and again around sunset, or during the afternoon with a fastpass+. Either way, consider riding at different times of the day so you can experience

4. Roots in Walt

From the early days of planning Disneyland, Walt wanted to have live animals in the park. At the time, live animals wasn’t logistically feasible, and Walt settled for audio animatronic animals and birds in Jungle Cruise and Enchanted Tiki Room. It wasn’t until Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in 1998 that Walt’s dream was realized.

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3. Training

All the animals on the reserve are trained to respond to a different type of call or noise. At the end of the day, these sounds are played over loud speakers to let the animals know it’s time to come in. Then, the animals go into barns overnight where they are fed and checked by veterinarians.

2. Elephant Music

My favorite part of the attraction is the music that gets played over the radio as your truck enters the elephant area. That song is called “Hapa Duniani” from the group African Dawn. I always find myself humming the song for the rest of the day!

1. Anti Poaching Themes

When the attraction first opened, it had quite an overt anti-poaching message. Over the years, that message has been toned down dramatically. An audio animatronic of a poached elephant, named Big Red, didn’t even make it past Cast Member previews. A tamer version where a baby elephant, this time named Little Red, was kidnapped and eventually saved, was nixed in 2007. Then in 2012, all on-ride dialogue about poaching between the drivers and a character named Ms. Jobson was dropped from the attraction. Currently, the anti poaching message survives only in the video shown overhead during the queue.

Plan to experience this attraction either in the morning, or with a Fastpass+ as the queue can get very long, and is not air conditioned.

What’s your favorite thing about Kilimanjaro Safaris? Let us know!

About Robin Swanson

Robin’s Disney journey began with Beauty and the Beast bedsheets, a Jasmine dress up set, and a purring Nala plush. As a child in the 1990s, the renaissance and classic animations alike captivated her imagination. In 2008, Robin visited Walt Disney World for the first time, and the obsession really took hold. Since then, Robin has enjoyed visiting the Happiest Place on Earth many more times. She lives in the Chicago suburbs where she is wrapping up a Masters in writing. When not at Disney World, Robin enjoys researching fairytales, eating ice cream, Netflix binging, reading and, of course, planning the next Walt Disney World vacation!