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    Kilimanjaro Safaris

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Description And Comments

Animal Kingdom’s premier zoological attraction, Kilimanjaro Safaris offers an exceptionally realistic, albeit brief, imitation of an actual African photo safari. Thirty-two guests at a time board tall, open vehicles and are dispatched into a simulated African veldt habitat. Animals such as zebras, wildebeests, impalas, Thomson’s gazelles, giraffes, and even rhinos roam apparently free, while predators such as lions, as well as potentially dangerous large animals like hippos, are separated from both prey and guests by all-but-invisible, natural-appearing barriers. Although the animals have more than 100 acres of savanna, woodland, streams, and rocky hills to call home, careful placement of water holes, forage, and salt licks ensures that the critters are hanging out by the road when safari vehicles roll by.

Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World author, Bob Sehlinger, says: "Having traveled in Kenya and Tanzania, I (Bob) can tell you that Disney has done an amazing job of replicating the sub-Saharan east-African landscape. As on a real African safari, what animals you see, and how many, is pretty much a matter of luck. We’ve experienced Kilimanjaro Safaris more than 100 times and had a different experience on each trip."

Animal Kingdom may offer a nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris. Before the first safari truck rolled into the setting sun, Disney spent more than a year acclimating the existing animals, as well as nocturnal species such as hyenas, to life in a theme park. For the nighttime version, Disney also installed a baseball stadium–size wall of graphics displays at the far end of the attraction’s savanna grasslands.

Turned on late in the day, the displays are programmed to simulate a gradually setting sun for hours on end—providing enough light for guests to see the animals that are still roaming around. It’s hard to predict which ones you’re likely to see, however: On one nighttime tour, we found that the rhinos were noticeably more active at night, while other animals, such as hippos, crocodiles, and elephants, became virtual recluses. A Wilmington, Delaware, man had a different experience, though:

Animal Kingdom at night was the hit of our trip, and Kilimanjaro Safaris was great. We saw more animals in action than we had ever seen in the daytime, and the nighttime added just a hint of danger to the entire proceeding that made it fun.

Touring Tips

Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of Animal Kingdom’s busiest attractions, along with Expedition Everest and the two Pandora attractions. From a touring standpoint, this is a good thing: By distributing guests evenly throughout the park, those other attractions make it unnecessary to run to Kilimanjaro Safaris first thing in the morning.

Waits for Kilimanjaro Safaris diminish around midafternoon, sometimes as early as 3 p.m. but more commonly somewhat later. We recommend taking the nighttime safari after you’ve experienced the daytime version.

If you want to take photos, note that the vehicle isn’t guaranteed to stop at a given location. Drivers try their best to accommodate guests and stop when big animals come into view, but be prepared to snap at any time. As for the ride, it’s not that rough.

Kilimanjaro Safaris Wait Times

This chart shows you roughly how long you'll wait for Kilimanjaro Safaris when you visit on a day with a given Disney's Animal Kingdom Crowd Level. The blue bars represent the average "peak" wait time (that is, how long the line will be at its busiest). The bottom and top black lines represent the range of peak wait times to expect (for you fellow nerds out there: it's the 5th percentile and 95th percentile of peak wait times). Please note that these are estimates, and for a better forecast for your travel dates, see Kilimanjaro Safaris Wait Times.

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