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 safari 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.

Having traveled in Kenya and Tanzania, we can tell you that Disney has done an amazing job of replicating the sub-Saharan east-African landscape. The main difference that a Kenyan or Tanzanian would notice is that Disney’s version is greener and, generally speaking, less barren. 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.

Winding through the Safaris is Disney’s Wild Africa Trek, a behind-the-scenes tour of Animal Kingdom that takes you into several of Kilimanjaro Safaris’ animal enclosures. As you drive past the hippo pool or over the crocodile pool, look up for a series of rope bridges towering far above the ground—you may see Trekkers on tour.

Animal Kingdom began nighttime safari tours in mid-2016 to coincide with the new nighttime shows and longer park hours. Before the first safari truck rolled into the setting sun, Disney spent more than a year acclimating the existing animals, and new nocturnal species such as hyenas, to life in a theme park. More impressive, though, was the baseball stadium–size wall of graphics displays they installed at the far end of the tour’s savanna grasslands. When turned on late in the day, the displays are programmed to simulate the dusk of a setting sun for hours on end. It provides theme park guests enough light to see those animals still roaming around.

We tried the new nighttime safari as soon as it opened in mid-2016. The pace is slower, and some of the animals—rhinos, on our tour—were noticeably more active at night. But it was also almost impossible to see other animals, such as the hippos, crocs, and elephants. We think the nighttime safari is an excellent second visit to the attraction, after you’ve seen it during daylight.

Touring Tips

Kilimanjaro Safaris is Animal Kingdom’s number-two draw behind Expedition Everest. From a touring standpoint, this is good news: By distributing guests evenly throughout the park, Expedition Everest makes it unnecessary to run to Kilimanjaro Safaris first thing in the morning. Our Animal Kingdom touring plan has you obtain FastPass+ reservations for the Safaris in the afternoon—while you wait for your FastPass+ return window, you’ll have plenty of time to eat and tour the rest of Africa.

Waits for Kilimanjaro Safaris diminish in late afternoon, sometimes as early as 3:30 p.m. but more commonly somewhat later.

If you want to take photos, keep in mind that the vehicle isn’t guaranteed to stop at any location, although the drivers try their best to do so when big animals are sighted. Be prepared to snap at any time. As for the ride, it’s not that rough. Finally, the only thing that a young child might find scary is crossing an “old bridge” that seems to collapse under your truck.

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 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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