Kilimanjaro Safaris

Animals from Africa freely roam through acres of savannah, rivers, and rocky hill

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Climb aboard your open-sided safari vehicle for an exciting expedition. Animals from Africa freely roam through acres of savannah, rivers, and rocky hills. Look out for giraffes, gazelles, elephants, rhinos, and lions. But beware, your adventure takes an unexpected turn when poachers are spotted.
Animal Kingdom doesn't have many rides, so calling this the best may sound like a qualified endorsement. But the animals you'll see make it a winner as long as your timing is right. They're scarce at midday during most times of year (in cooler months you may get lucky), so we recommend you ride it as close to the park's opening or closing as possible. Also, if you don't make it in time for one of the first or last journeys, the lines can be incredibly long, so consider the FASTPASS option.
Your ride vehicle is a very large truck that takes you through what pretends to be an African landscape (just a few years ago it was a cow pasture). The animals you might see along the way include black rhinos, hippos, antelopes, Nile crocodiles, zebras, wildebeests, and a male lion that, if your timing is good, may offer a half-hearted roar toward some gazelles that are safely out of reach. Predictably, the theme is heavy on the conservation front. There's even a little drama as you and your mates help catch some dastardly poachers.
Kilimanjaro Safaris, located in the "Africa" section of Disney's Animal Kingdom, is a fun, informative, and sometimes bumpy 20 minute bus ride through simulated African savannah. This is a real bus driving over real rutted dirt roads. No simulations here. Real wild animals roam freely (in most cases) through the park. Antelope crossed the road right in front front of our bus and giraffes and rhino approached to within inches, providing plenty of fantastic photo opportunities. Throughout the "safari" our driver and guide provided us with a never ending list of informative facts about every single animal we spied. This woman never failed to spot and point out even the smallest animal in the thickest brush. We didn't miss a thing.
The predators were, of course, segregated from the rest of the park animals. The last thing most parents want their kids to be seeing on a trip to Disney World is a cheetah messily devouring a cute little gazelle. Perish the thought! The animals are separated in such a way that the moats and fences are hidden within the terrain and are almost impossible to see unless you're really looking for them. The artful landscaping itself is a wonder to behold. If it weren't for the overpowering Florida humidity and noise from the park you'd almost get the feeling that you're really traveling through Africa.
It turns out that "poachers" have infiltrated the sanctuary of Kilimanjaro Safaris and are hoping to win themselves some ivory. Near the end of the safari we pass through a fake poacher camp complete with fake campfires and fake elephant tusks. Our guide suddenly decides that it's up to us to cut these criminals off at the pass. We take off at breakneck speed, yelling can be heard, machine guns blaze from the bushes, and we save the day by rescuing Big Red and her calf. How we managed to do this I still don't know. Big Red is nowhere to be seen and her calf, Little Red, is nothing more than a pathetic looking animatronic elephant staring at us from the back of a truck. After just seeing a large herd of real elephants, the little robot looks all the more fake and unreal. Bummer!
Soon after our fake rescue the ride comes to an end, leaving me just a little disappointed. Overall, other than this one small complaint, Kilimanjaro Safaris was an educational experience and a lot of fun. I felt that the safari would have been just as satisfying and enjoyable without the fictional danger added, and the whole conservation issue could have been brought up in a more straightforward way.
The wait:
Kilimanjaro Safaris has one of the longest standby lines in Disney's Animal Kingdom. Be prepared for a wait of up to 2 hours! This usually depends on the day of the week, the time of day, and even the weather conditions. The best time of day to wait in line for Kilimanjaro Safaris is early in the day before the park becomes crowded, or about an hour before the park closes. The cattle chutes seem to go on for miles. Luckily Fastpass is available.
*Fastpass is a relatively new feature used on the most popular attractions to limit the time wasted waiting in long lines. You simply use your park entry ticket at the Fastpass pick up station and return at the designated time rather than standing around and wasting valuable family fun time. Fastpass gives you a window of one hour in which it can be used, usually beginning about one to two hours after you pick it up. Plenty of time to grab some lunch or wait on line for another ride. When it's your time to return simply get into the quick and painless Fastpass return line and breeze right to the front of the crowd with little or no wait at all. It's a great feature and should be used whenever possible.

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