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Secrets of a Kilimanjaro Safaris Driver at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

animal kingdom safari driver

This is the latest in a series of articles on Theme Park Tourist in which we’ll talk to Cast Members at Walt Disney World to understand their roles and the part that they play in “creating the magic” for guests. The interviews will offer an insight into Cast Members’ day-to-day roles, the training that they undergo and the aspects of their jobs that they find the most rewarding. We might even uncover a funny story or two. Kilimanjaro Safaris is a live safari adventure that embodies the heart of what Animal Kingdom was built to be. The ride was one of the opening day attractions at the park, and continues to be one of its most popular draws. The signature attraction at the park, Kilimanjaro Safaris takes guests on a real off-roading adventure past real animals (with seemingly no fences) that takes place on a parcel of land equal in size to the entire Magic Kingdom park. Among the animals that are on show are lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinoceros and cheetahs. The Cast Members that work on Kilimanjaro Safaris play a crucial role in the ride experience. In particular, they are responsible for actually driving the safari trucks, and for pointing out the various animals en route. It’s one of the most unique and coveted roles at Walt Disney World – where else can you go on a mini-safari every single day? Amy Ziese worked as an Attractions Cast Member on Kilimanjaro Safaris in 2006 (Amy has previously shared with us her experiences of working as a Housekeeping Cast Member ). She was kind enough to speak with Theme Park Tourist about her experiences of working on the ride – and you can read her thoughts below.

Landing the role

Amy was working on the Dinosaur attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when she was told that Kilimanjaro Safaris (KSR to Cast Members, for Kilimanjaro Safari Ride) was short-staffed: “Anyone who was interested could be cross trained and eventually transfer to work over there. I’ve always loved KSR and was excited to try a spieling role, not to mention the thrill of working on an attraction with live animals. One of my managers at Dinosaur had previously worked there and encouraged me to go for it.”

Training up

Since Amy was a cross-train from Dinosaur, she had already completed Daklamation, which is the class for new hires at Animal Kingdom. She went straight into attractions training for Kilimanjaro Safaris: ” We began by practicing the spiel while we were off the truck and driving the truck without worrying about talking. After a couple days of that, we put it all together and once we were able to take a couple solid trips, we started going with guests on the truck.”

“I trained along with one other person, who was also a cross-train from Dinosaur. For some trips we would take turns with one of us spieling and the other one driving to help us get the hang of it. She was a better driver and I was stronger at spieling, so she would practice talking while I focused on driving for several trips. We also had to learn all the positions off the truck, but these were much easier, particularly since we had both worked in attractions previously.”

Day-to-day duties

Working on Kilimanjaro Safaris wasn’t simply a case of driving the safari trucks all day long: “Every KSR cast member rotates through all the positions. So you take your turn on the truck, but you’ll also work as a greeter, grouper, strollers, and other positions. Every day was different so you never knew exactly what positions you would land most or when.”

“Obviously driving the truck is one of the most challenging positions. While you’re trying to spot all the animals and point them out to guests, you’re also maintaining the appropriate distance between yourself and the next truck, keeping an eye on guests to make sure they stay seated, slowing down just enough for guests to try and get some great pictures, and keeping an ear on the radio in case there are any special situations (like animals in the road that will slow you down and keep you stuck in one area for awhile).”

The “old” Kilimanjaro Safaris

When the ride opened to the public, it retained the story that included the disappearance of “Big Red” but didn’t show the elephants death. It did, though, include a fake elephant known as “Little Red”, who was “rescued” by the guests on the safari. This version of the ride included a fast, bumpy chase in which the guests pursued and stopped the poachers and evetyone went home with a compelling lesson about the dangers of poaching in Africa. The chase was one of Amy’s favorite parts of the attraction: “I was lucky enough to work KSR when the bridge was moving and you got to chase down the poachers, so there was a lot of bumpy driving and a thrilling element of urgency there at the end when you could really get into the role of tracking those poachers down.” In 2007, the story was toned down. The guests were told of a baby elephant wandering the park and were asked to keep an eye out for it. Though they still found the elephant and briefly encountered the poachers, the message wasn’t so stark. Finally, in 2012, Kilimanjaro Safaris lost the last lingering message about the harsh realities of poaching in Africa. Poachers and Baby Red have disappeared along with all radio chatter between the tour guide and the game warden that warned of poaching and set up any kind of story line. The bumpy chase is long gone, and even the unstable bridge that would rock from side to side remains stubbornly secure.

Kilimanjaro Safaris trucks are very real. “It’s not a secret, but I think a lot of guests didn’t really believe that the trucks were free-moving,” says Amy. “We take them off the ride path and park them in a big parking lot backstage every night. They don’t go very fast, so it’s agonizing taking them on and off and driving the backstage roads at that pace, but they are absolutely real, free-moving trucks.”

The reason that the trucks don’t simply cycle around on a track is very simple: “The animals here are free roaming. Drivers will often need to swerve to one side of the road or another to scoot past a stubborn giraffe. While they can’t leave the road entirely, there’s enough wiggle room to help them navigate the savannah safely.”

Avoiding the residents

Spotting the animals.

How do Kilimanjaro Safaris drivers make sure the animals are visible in the vast landscape? “Sometimes you can’t,” says Amy. “The lions are notoriously difficult to spot. Transplants from a cooler environment, the big cats had a difficult time transitioning to Florida. The spot where the lions now lay is the location of an air conditioning vent.”

Amy’s favorite aspect of the role was commentating on the safari for guests: “I love spieling, so talking about the animals was my favorite part of working at KSR. After I memorized the basic spiel, my trainer gave me some extra fact cards that I would memorize as well so I could insert interesting little tidbits into the spiel when appropriate. Every safari is different and you never know what animals you’ll see or what they’ll be doing, so you have lots of opportunities to customize the experience for the guests.”

“If you happen to hear someone close behind you talking about their favorite animal, you can try and toss in a few extra facts about it to give them a better experience. It’s also great to have the opportunity to really see all the animals at their best at one point or another. Many guests have to suffer through a poor view of the lions because they like to lounge around in the cooler spots. When you make enough rounds of the safari, though, you’ll have the opportunity to see them when they’re sitting up, moving around, and looking really spectacular.”

Not all aspects of the role were quite so enjoyable, however: “Animal Kingdom is probably the hottest park on property. It tends to feel much warmer there than it will in other parks because of all the lush foliage. There’s a lot of humidity down there among the dense plant life and you can really feel it. Working through a sweltering day was probably one of the least enjoyable parts of being at KSR, particularly because the attraction doesn’t have any indoor positions.”

The less glamorous animals

Guests aren’t only interested in spotting lions or elephants while they are on their safari: “One of the funniest things I experienced working at KSR was the particular animals that guests would react to. Many times you would be looking at a pool of hippos and hear all the guests shouting ‘Look! A duck! There’s a DUCK!’ We couldn’t keep them out, of course, so native wildlife like that would get in, but it was amazing to me that people would look right past the amazing creatures we have from across the world and lose their minds over the same birds you’ll see wandering absolutely everywhere in the parks.” Thanks to Amy for sharing her memories with us. If you’d like to learn more about Cast Members’ roles and experiences at Walt Disney World, sign up now to be notified when Creating the Magic: Life as a Disney Cast Member is released.

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Kilimanjaro Safaris

An open-air safari bus drives in a river past 3 elephants

A Truly Wild Adventure

Explore the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, home to over 30 species living in 110 acres of picturesque open plains, shady forest landscapes and rocky wetlands. Your rugged safari vehicle is driven by an expert guide, who helps point out animals and shares fascinating wildlife facts during this extraordinary 18-minute expedition.

Unique Animal Sightings Spot a lounging hippopotamus nestled in a peaceful pond. Behold a regal lion sunbathing on a rocky perch. Drive past a towering giraffe grazing on the tall trees or a white rhino relaxing in the cool mud. Other amazing animals you may encounter include cheetahs, crocodiles, elephants, painted dogs, zebras—and so many more!

Since animals have minds of their own, every expedition is a unique and unforgettable experience. Be sure to keep your eyes open and have a camera ready—you never know what you’ll see on a Kilimanjaro Safaris outing.

animal kingdom safari driver

Related Activities

Wild africa trek, disney animals at walt disney world resort, even more magic – as you wish, guests also viewed, safety, accessibility and guest policies, times for kilimanjaro safaris.

animal kingdom safari driver

simplifyorlando.com

Ultimate Guide to Kilimanjaro Safaris (Animal Kingdom)

If you love animals, you are going to love the Disney Animal Kingdom Safari ride.   Kilimanjaro Safaris magically takes you on what feels like a real African Safari in this amazing experience. 

Kilimanjaro Safaris allows guests to explore the Harambe Wildlife Reserve in an open air vehicle.  Disney’s wildlife reserve is 110 acres with over 30 species of real animals.  You’ll drive through wide-open plains, forests, and wetlands. 

giraffe with safari vehicle in the background at Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Each ride vehicle has an expert guide, who shares tons of interesting facts about the creatures you are seeing.   The bumpy ride is about 20 minutes long, making it the longest ride in the Disney parks.  

Kilimanjaro Safaris is a very engaging ride as you never know what animals you’ll get to see up close and what they will be doing as you pass by.  

hippo on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney provides salt licks along the path to attract animals to points where you can see them.  You’ll also pass by watering hole areas as well as great views of a lot of animals on the African savanna.  

Kilimanjaro Safaris is the closest thing to a real African safari.  We’ve ridden this ride many MANY times and it’s always different.  

Different cast member tour guides share different bits of information, the animals are always on the move, so sometimes you get a great view of an animal up close, sometimes there’s new baby animals to see, and sometimes you get to see your favorite animal eat lunch, etc.  

Regardless, you can count on getting a unique experience every time you ride!

giraffe with safari vehicle - Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom - everything you need to know

When Should you Ride Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris?

Kilimanjaro Safaris is the main attraction of the Africa section at Animal Kingdom, so the lines can get long at times.  

The best time to ride, in my opinion is late morning or late afternoon.  

Kilimanjaro Safaris entrance

It’s a bit tricky because the safari doesn’t always open right away, so you can’t count on rope dropping this one first thing in the morning.  

You also want to avoid riding it in the heat of the day because many times the animals are hidden because they are wanting to cool off.

The best thing to do is to get in line right before it opens (Which varies day to day) OR ride it around late afternoon when the lines have gotten shorter.  

giraffe on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Many people leave this Disney park early to park hop to another one, which eases up some of those long lines!

Ideally, if you have Lightning Lanes, I would schedule a ride around 10:30 am as the lines are likely long, but the animals are active – you can skip that long line with your lightning lane passes.

If you don’t have that Lightning Lane access – save this ride for late afternoon.

What animals are on the safari ride at Animal Kingdom?

ride vehicle sign of animals on the safari ride

Here’s a list of the animals you will see on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

You’ll see:  

  • African Wild Dogs
  • Ankole Cattle
  • Black Rhino
  • Common Eland
  • Hippopotamus
  • Nigerian Dwarf Goat
  • Nile Crocodiles
  • Pink-Backed Pelican
  • Saddle-Billed Stork
  • Scimitar Oryx
  • Spotted Hyena
  • White Rhinos 

 This list does change from time to time, but in general, you can expect to see a LOT of different animals on this amazing ride.

animal sign on safari vehicle

How bumpy is safari ride at Animal Kingdom?

The ride vehicles for Kilimanjaro Safaris are open-sided safari vehicles.  Your tour guide drives his/her big custom made safari truck over fairly rough terrain.  

The safari driver does their best to avoid potholes, but the path is pretty rough and bumpy.  

Disney advises that guests need to be in good health, no high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems.  

They also say that expectant mothers should not ride as there can be unexpected jolts on the ride.

In addition, Disney warns that this could cause motion sickness.   For what it’s worth, my son and I are prone to motion sickness and neither one of us have ever had a problem on this ride.  

lions on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Has the Animal Kingdom Safari Ride Changed over the years?

Kilimanjaro Safaris has definitely changed over the years.  If you remember riding it many years ago, you might remember a Poacher storyline.  

Over time, Disney dropped that storyline in favor of not scaring child with imaginary poachers and instead, giving you more information about the amazing animals on this ride.

elephant on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom

General Information

Theme Park: Disney’s  Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Area of the Park:   Africa

Age Range Appeal:  all ages – Kids, Tweens, Teens, Adults

Queue Description:   The standby queue for the Disney Animal Kingdom Safari Ride is fairly simple. It can get very hot as it is outdoors. Lines can get long mid-morning and mid-day.  

Queue Length:   This ride often opens up later in the morning, not always at rope drop.  Lines tend to grow mid-morning to mid afternoon.  Then lines tend to drop as early as 3:30pm.

Ride Height Requirements:   No heigh requirement but kids under age 7 must be with a person age 14 years or older.

Pregnant mothers and those with health conditions are advised not to ride due to the bumpy nature of the ride.  

Scary Factor:   Low – it’s a slow ride, but there are unexpected bumps and jolts as you ride along on the rough terrain.

Official URL:   https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/animal-kingdom/kilimanjaro-safaris/

Kilimanjaro Safaris Video

More Animal Kingdom Information

Want to learn more about Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Be sure to check out our other articles.

You can find all the best rides at Animal Kingdom here. We outline all the details on the must-do rides and of course, the one ride you should avoid.

Eating gluten free? You can find all the best Gluten Free Dining Options at Animal Kingdom here.

You’ll want to learn all about Avatar Flight of Passage here. This is such an incredible ride in the World of Pandora section of Animal Kingdom.

You can find all our Best Animal Kingdom Tips and Strategies here for having an amazing day in the park!

Be sure to check out our handy list of Disney’s Ride Height Requirements . Find out before you go, which rides your kids are able to ride.

Learn all about the Best Souvenirs at Disney World here. So many cool ideas for a memento of your amazing Disney vacation.

If you are in the thick of starting to plan your trip, be sure to read Best Day of the Week to visit Disney World .

And of course, don’t forget to grab our free printable Disney World Packing List . Everything you need to remember to pack for the perfect Disney vacation!

Be sure to pin the image below to save this Disney Animal Kingdom Safari Ride info for later!

Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom - must see tips - giraffe on safari

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Theme parks, disney cruise line – what you need to know, cruise line ships, disney private islands, recent walt disney world, recent disneyland, disney world reviews, other park reviews, recent reviews, allears style, newsletter home, kilimanjaro safaris africa animal kingdom, {"@context":"http:\/\/schema.org","@type":"breadcrumblist","itemlistelement":[{"@type":"listitem","position":1,"item":{"@id":"https:\/\/allears.net\/attraction\/","name":"attractions"}},{"@type":"listitem","position":2,"item":{"@id":"https:\/\/allears.net\/attraction\/search\/walt-disney-world\/all\/all\/all\/","name":"walt disney world"}},{"@type":"listitem","position":3,"item":{"@id":"https:\/\/allears.net\/attraction\/search\/animal-kingdom\/all\/all\/all\/","name":"disney\\'s animal kingdom"}},{"@type":"listitem","position":4,"item":{"@id":"https:\/\/allears.net\/attraction\/search\/africa\/all\/all\/all\/","name":"africa"}},{"@type":"listitem","position":5,"item":{"@id":"https:\/\/allears.net\/animal-kingdom\/kilimanjaro-safaris-africa-animal-kingdom\/","name":"kilimanjaro safaris"}}]} attractions > walt disney world > disney's animal kingdom > africa > kilimanjaro safaris, recommended by, ride length, motion level, individual attraction selection, ride seating photos & advice, kilimanjaro safaris highlights:.

  • Disney Genie+ Attraction
  • Animal Kingdom’s flagship attraction — no height requirement!
  • 20+ minute safari adventure with real elephants, lions, giraffes, and more!

animal kingdom safari driver

Introduction | Attraction | Ride Logistics  | Shopping | Interesting Facts

Introduction.

Feel transported halfway around the world to a 100-acre African savanna as you board Disney’s Kilimanjaro Safaris trucks. This 20+ minute attraction takes you on a tour of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve as you spot real African animals such as elephants, lions, giraffes, rhinos, gazelle, crocodiles, and more!

Kilimanjaro Safaris is located in the back of Africa, past the Dawa bar and Mombasa Marketplace.

animal kingdom safari driver

Walking through the queue area you find yourself in the Harambe Reserve .

Soon you arrive at the boarding platform, enter your truck , and head into the animal reserve. Off you go down the bumpy dirt trail and into the reserve!

Your driver will point out the various wildlife for you. Not all the animals are visible all the time. There is a game spotting guide above your heads in the truck that can help you identify the animals you see.

animal kingdom safari driver

The first section of the reserve is called the Little Ituri Forest.  Bongos are often hiding around the first bend – look quickly or you might miss these shy creatures. Passing the local watering hole you might see the Black Rhino . On the right, the rare Okapi   which is an animal who appears to be wearing zebra pants, but he’s actually related to the giraffe. 

animal kingdom safari driver

As you continue, you’ll pass through a watering hole where Hippos may be at the base of cascading waterfalls, and you’ll cross a creaky bridge over a group of Nile Crocodiles . 

animal kingdom safari driver

The Vehicle emerges from thick vegetation into the vast savannah grasslands. In this area you might see Giraffes , Sable Antelope, Thompson’s Gazelles, Ankole-Watusi Cattle, Wildebeest, and more!  To the left, you’ll pass a rocky area where Hyenas or African Wild Dogs may be spotted. The land is very different here and is accented by termite mounds up to 20 feet high.

animal kingdom safari driver

On the left is a huge rock formation where a Mandrill Baboon family lives (they can be harder to see!).  The ancient baobab trees can be found in this area.

animal kingdom safari driver

Around the next bend are the Elephants . Greater Flamingoes inhabit a tiny island that’s in the form of a “Hidden Mickey”.

animal kingdom safari driver

More watering holes, you might see the white rhinos wallowing in the mud. There are other hoofed animals: the kudu , scimitar-horned oryx and the long-horned eland along with sharp-eyed cheetahs up there among the rocks. 

animal kingdom safari driver

Coming around the next bend, your attention will quickly be drawn to the high rock formation on your left, where the King and Queen of the Savanaah reside…the  Lions!  Lions do spend the majority of their day sleeping; so don’t expect to see much movement.

animal kingdom safari driver

Past the lion, you’ll see  warthog burrows (and possibly their residents!) to your left. Keep an eye out for the Ostriches as well! 

animal kingdom safari driver

This is when your safari comes to an end, as the vehicle rejoins the main roads and the Park Ranger Station comes into view.

To take a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris, check out this AllEars TV Video:

RIDE LOGISTICS

Lightning Lane  access for  Kilimanjaro Safaris  is available  with the purchase of Genie+ . If you choose not to purchase Genie+, going first thing in the morning will likely provide you with a lower wait time. 

Time:   The safari lasts 20-30 minutes. The drivers are not allowed to go off the track, so you could experience short delays as animals cross the safari trucks’ path.

animal kingdom safari driver

Warnings:  For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.

The ride vehicle is 8 feet off the ground enabling you to wind your way through the grasslands and waterways of the savanna. 32 passengers fit in this all-terrain truck with a driver for your guide. There is some padding on the seat bottoms and tops .

Taller or larger guests may find the seating cramped with confined leg room.

If you want a less bumpy ride, ask to sit in the front of the truck. The ride feels bumpiest in the back. 

animal kingdom safari driver

Accessibility:  Must transfer to wheelchair. Guests in wheelchairs should follow the signs to head to the special boarding area. You will need to either transfer from your wheelchair to a seat, or transfer to a standard wheelchair.

Video Captioning, Assistive Listening , and Language Translation Devices are available.

Due to the nature of the experience, those with service animals should check with a cast member at the attraction for boarding information.

The drivers are trained to spot the animals along the Safari and point them out to you. Photography, however, is a challenge — if possible the driver will briefly stop for your photo op.

If you have questions about the animals, ASK. Though there is an assigned script, every safari really is different depending on where the animals are and who your driver is.

In general, the best times to ride are morning or at sunset, when it’s cooler. The animals are often out in the rain as well.

animal kingdom safari driver

When Animal Kingdom is open after dark you can journey through the African savanna amid the “magically extended orange glow” of the setting sun. This is best seen at dusk. Once the sun sets, the savanna is dark, making it difficult to see animals.

REMAIN SEATED AT ALL TIMES!   Because the drivers are not allowed to stop on the ride path, the truck is always moving (the trucks are governed so the maximum speed is only 10 mph, though it feels faster). Animals can move in front of the vehicle at any time causing the driver to slam on the brakes and causing you to go flying. There are many mirrors on the trucks for the drivers, so just because you can’t see an animal doesn’t mean the driver can’t.

If you want to take good pictures sit on the end of the rows, you get better shots. You can also get better shots if you sit in the back row, where you can carefully turn around for photos.

The Mombasa Marketplace is located just before the main entrance of Kilimanjaro Safaris. Here you’ll find unique African goods, as well as Animal Kingdom and The Lion King specific merchandise.

animal kingdom safari driver

INTERESTING FACTS

You won’t see any visible walls or fences here. Disney has done a remarkable job of hiding all the barriers that keep you and the animals safe.

When building the savanna, landscapers asked that the plants and trees be in place for two years before moving in the animals.

The details of the savanna were carefully crafted to give the illusion that it had “always been there”, right down to the ruts in the road that make the truck jolt and bump!

The hippos are actually the same ones you will sometimes see on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. The hippo barn resides in between Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and the savanna river.

The original version of Kilimanjaro Safaris included a heavy-handed anti-poaching storyline, but it was slowly faded out and by 2012 was gone completely. 

Here are some animals you may see on Kilimanjaro Safaris:

AFRICAN FOREST Black Rhinoceros Bongo Egyptian Goose Helmeted Guineafowl Northern Pintail Nyala Okapi Pink-backed Pelican Saddle-billed Stork Yellow-backed Duiker Yellow-billed Stork

SAVANNAH WEST Hyenas Wild Painted Dogs Grant’s Zebra Greater Kudu Greater Flamingo Impala Mandrill Mhorr’s Gazelle Nile Crocodile Nile Hippopotamus Reticulated Giraffe Sable Antelope White-bearded Wildebeest

SAVANNAH EAST African Elephant African Lion Cheetah Eland Ostrich Scimitar-horned Oryx Warthog White Rhinoceros

animal kingdom safari driver

How long is Kilimanjaro Safaris?

The ride takes 20 Minutes Find all the attractions by their length

Will Kilimanjaro Safaris make me motion sick?

The motion level is Low. Jeep ride through the animal savannas. You will be jostled on the ride. Near the end, there are some sharp quick turns. Details on handling motion sensitivity on your visit

Is Individual Attraction Selection available for Kilimanjaro Safaris?

No Kilimanjaro Safaris is not eligible for Individual Attraction Selection Find Individual Attraction Selection attractions

Is Kilimanjaro Safaris included in Genie+?

Yes Kilimanjaro Safaris is included in Lightning Lane Multi Pass Find more Genie+ attractions using our search

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The entrance to Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, USA.

Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: The Ultimate Guide

posted by Charmaine Cortes on December 26, 2022 // last updated on June 12, 2023

Are you planning to visit Kilimanjaro Safari Disney World with your family or loved ones and want to learn more about it? Then you have come to the right place!

In this article, we will provide you with an overview of everything you need to know about Kilimanjaro Safaris. This safari ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park will transport you across the globe into an African Wildlife setting.

In this Ultimate Guide, we will cover all the basics from the history of the Safari, how to ride it and some further frequently asked questions about the wildlife park. Read on to find out more!

About Kilimanjaro Safaris

The kilimanjaro safaris ride, kilimanjaro safaris accessibility, interesting facts.

animal kingdom safari driver

Walt Disney had a lifelong dream of adding live animals to his Jungle Cruise. Back then, this was not possible until the Kilimanjaro Safaris opened its gates in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in April 1998.

The park in Walt Disney World wanted to differentiate itself from a zoo from the beginning. While it had live animals, it was more focused on conservation and experiencing the animals in their (somewhat) natural habitat.

Since 2016, visitors can enjoy special sunset safaris where they get to enjoy African animals after dark.

You will find Kilimanjaro Safaris located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, which is part of Walt Disney World.

Make your way past the Tree of Life to the back of Africa, all the way past Mombasa Marketplace and Dawa Bar. As you cross the bridge, you will get to Kilimanjaro Safaris.

The queue will lead you through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve before you enter your safari vehicle and head out to experience the African Savanna without leaving the States!

animal kingdom safari driver

The Kilimanjaro Safaris vehicles are open-air trucks that can accommodate up to 35 guests. Each vehicle can seat three to five guests in one row.

The Savanna provides a bumpy ride along a dirt trail and is different from the other smooth theme park rides at Disney. So buckle up.

You will be provided with a game-spotting guide. Be on the lookout, as not all wildlife will be visible at all times.

A Kilimanjaro Safaris ride is approximately 20 to 30 minutes long and leads through 100 acres of Savanna. During this time, you will be able to spot about 34 different species. Among these, you will find famous members of the African Animal Kingdom:

  • Hippopotamus
  • Sable Antelopes
  • Thompson’s Gazelles
  • African Wild Dogs
  • Termite Mounds

Each expedition through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve is completely unique. The animals are all free roaming and are, therefore, always in a different place or sometimes in hiding.

If you are looking for a specific unique experience, you can visit Kilimanjaro Safaris at night! During those nighttime safaris, you will be able to experience the wildlife in a completely different setting. Some animals tend to be more active during the night, so we recommend trying out both times.

The ride with Kilimanjaro Safaris is longer than some other rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so factor that into your time at the park, so you don’t miss other rides.

Since you will be dealing with real animals, we recommend behavior that suits the setting. No loud noises or erratic behavior as this can scare the wildlife. Small children are to be watched at all times. In general, this might be a better experience for children above the age of six.

Fastpass/ Lightning Lane:  Yes

Time:  20 -30 minutes

Height Restrictions:  None

Age Restrictions:  None

Handicapped Accessibility:

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris is Wheelchair Accessible

To access the safari ride, you can wheel up a ramp and ride into the truck itself. Your wheelchair will be tied down and secured, so you do not have to worry about bouncing around during the ride through the wilderness.

  • Other guests need to take a small step into the safari vehicle.
  • no high blood pressure
  • no heart, back, or neck problems
  • no motion sickness
  • no other severe conditions

Disney does advise against expectant mothers or people that aren’t in good health riding with Kilimanjaro Safaris, as the rides can get bumpy, and there is also no option for an emergency exit while in the safari vehicle.

Service Animals:

Kilimanjaro Safaris allows service animals to be taken into the premises and on rides. However, the park advises visitors to do so with caution. The animals might be completely new to this wildlife experience and might act differently.

animal kingdom safari driver

 In the beginning, Kilimanjaro Safaris included a lot of information about poaching in their ride and even had a specific section in the park set up to educate about the illegal hunting of wildlife.

These days, Kilimanjaro Safaris is more focused on the educational part of the conservation of the African Savanna and its wildlife.

The ride is designed to be as realistic as possible. Therefore, the roads are quite rough (as mentioned previously in this article). You need to be ready for some rough and rugged terrain during your safari adventure at Kilimanjaro Safaris.

How big is the Kilimanjaro Safari Park?

Including the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, the Kilimanjaro Safaris Park is about 1.5 miles.

While this might not sound too lengthy, keep in mind that you will follow winding roads that are extremely bumpy. On top of that, the Kilimanjaro Safaris area is about 110 acres big. Plus, the safari trucks will drive extremely slow. This is also to ensure you will see enough wildlife.

Can you pet animals at Kilimanjaro Safaris?

This is a clear no. You are dealing with wildlife from the African animal kingdom at Kilimanjaro Safaris. These animals are wild. They are no pets. A direct encounter with lions is to be treated with respect and can end in a dangerous situation should you mistake them for a house cat.

Should you or your children wish to pet animals, we recommend visiting the petting zoo at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Are all animals real at Kilimanjaro Safaris?

Yes, the animals are all real. The tour however does include some fake elements, such as:

  • Ostrich Eggs
  • Moonlight during the safari ride after sunset
  • Termite mounds

When Is The Best Time To Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris?

We recommend purchasing your Harambe Wildlife Reserve pass early in the morning and heading straight to the open-air safari experience. The animals tend to be more active during the morning hours as well as after sunset.

During midday, most animals will hide in the shade or be less active because of the heat. It will also be more strenuous on visitors, as this is an open-air vehicle and you might not feel too comfortable in the hot climate.

Does the Weather influence the Safari?

Kilimanjaro Safaris is an open-air safari. So the rides are in some way influenced by the weather. The animals might not be bothered by the rain, but they might be less active in extreme heat. So plan your visit accordingly.

Since this is an open-air safari, we recommend dressing for whatever weather you might encounter. If there is a possibility of rain, dress warm and take a raincoat. Should the weather be pleasant with sunshine, we recommend a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.

Check your forecast and come with the necessities to make the ride enjoyable.

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Complete Guide to Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom

Complete Guide to Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom

Board a safari truck and get your cameras ready! Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom gives you the experience of a real-life African safari, but at Walt Disney World.

As you travel through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve you will learn about conservation, the importance of taking care of animals, and, of course, get the chance to see amazing creatures, like elephants, hippos, and giraffes.

Now, let’s explore our guide to Kilimanjaro Safaris .

In this article

Kilimanjaro Safaris Quick Facts

  • Location : Animal Kingdom, Africa
  • Height Requirement : None
  • Suitable for: Everyonest
  • Attraction Length: 18 minutes
  • Do we recommend? Definitely a high priority attraction you must experience.
  • When to Visit : Typically at opening/within the first hour, or later in the day toward park closing.
  • Lightning Lane Available: Yes
  • Scheduled Refurbishments
  • Tip(s) : Visit first thing in the morning at park open. The line gets really long, really fast, and the animals seem to be out more in the morning. The next best time to visit is at sunset for park closing. Crowds level off earlier at Animal Kingdom, wait times may be reduced, and animals can be out feeding.

Description : You board safari vehicles that are driven by guides who really do drive (no tracks) and are very knowledgeable about the animals. As you make your way through the savanna, the guides provide lots of information based on what you see along the ride. Sometimes have to stop to wait for animals to clear the path.

No two rides are the same as the animals are free roaming and on their own schedule. We would recommend experiencing the safari twice in your park day, if possible.

Everything You Need To Know About Kilimanjaro Safaris

You can find Kilimanjaro Safaris in the heart of Africa. Here’s the location on the map.

kilimanjaro safaris map location

Download the PDF

AK Map Front Mar2023

How to Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris has a Standby Lane and a Lightning Lane. There is no Single Rider Line.

kilimanjaro safaris lightning lane

Like most attractions, standby lines typically are the lowest first thing in the morning and at the end of the evening. The middle of the day will see the longest lines.

Even though it’s not listed as an available attraction for Early Theme Park Entry, sometimes Kilimanjaro Safaris is open during the 30-minute early entry.

kilimanjaro safaris line

Kilimanjaro Safaris Standby Lane wait time jumps quickly after park open and can see sustained wait times well over 60 minutes for most of the park day.

Do I need to use Genie+ at Kilimanjaro Safaris?

Kilimanjaro Safaris is available with Genie+ and we highly recommend using it at this attraction for anyone who has purchased Genie+ or if it’s a must-do.

This is a highly popular ride at Animal Kingdom, given that it is a long ride time and suitable for all ages.

Many park guests make it a top priority of their park day. So unless you do this ride first, right at park open, plan to reserve a Genie+ time for Kilimanjaro Safaris.

If you want to try and experience the Safaris twice in one day, we would recommend using the Standby Lane at park open and then using Genie+ to ride it again later in the day.

Make sure you check out our touring strategies for Animal Kingdom for more Genie+ advice.

Rider Switch/Child Swap

You cannot use  Rider Switch  for Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Rider Switch is Disney’s system allowing guests with small children to take turns riding bigger rides, while another person/people wait with the little one.

There also isn’t Single Rider available here.

What to expect when you ride

The Kilimanjaro Safaris queue is outdoors, with part of it shaded. It paints the scene of an African tour company with its straw, thatched roof.

kilimanjaro safaris queue at animal kingdom

While there isn’t  an interactive queue , the line is themed to the attraction.

kilimanjaro safaris queue at animal kingdom

You can learn the African Swahili names to your favorite animals on displays as you move through the line. You can even hear the safari trucks driving by as you walk through.

Ride vehicles

Kilimanjaro Safaris ride vehicles can fit a total of 35 individuals. Each row can seat three to five guests, depending.

kilimanjaro safaris ride vehicles

There is no seatbelt or safety restraint, but there is a door on the right side of each row that closes for security and safety purposes when you’re on the ride.

Motion Sickness

Kilimanjaro Safaris is far from a thrill ride, but it can get rough at times with the trucks bouncing up and down along the paths and bridges.

Sometimes you might even have to brace yourself, so you don’t slide in your seat.

We have a  guide on motion sickness  that’s filled with information and tips, so feel free to check that out.

Accessibility information

Guests in ECVs or power wheelchairs must transfer to a manual wheelchair. There are wheelchair accessible vehicles with built-in ramps.

Those using an ECV who don’t wish to transfer to a vehicle bench, must transfer to a Disney-provided manual wheelchair.

kilimanjaro safaris accessibility information

You will be seated in Row 1 right behind the tour guide. A bench is located directly next to the wheelchair space and additional companions will be directed to sit in the rows behind the wheelchair space.

Those using ECVs or wheelchairs can remain in their mobility devices until they reach the accessible boarding and unloading area, which is not long after the stroller drop-off area.

kilimanjaro safaris ecv and wheelchair loading area

This area is where ECVS and other mobility devices can be parked. They will be waiting in the same space when guests return from their safari.

Keep in mind that each safari vehicle only holds one occupied wheelchair at a time, so anyone needing this type of access could have an additional wait compared to those who transfer to a vehicle bench.

Handheld captioning , assistive listening, and video captioning is available for guests.

Service animals are also permitted, but with caution.

On the Ride

Spoilers ahead! If you want to go in knowing absolutely nothing about Kilimanjaro Safaris, feel free to skip this section.

After walking through the queue you and your party finally make it to the boarding lanes awaiting your safari tour.

kilimanjaro safaris loading zone

You can’t miss the sound of your safari truck approaching. A warm greeting from your tour guide “Jambo,” which is Swahili for “Hello.”

After boarding your safari truck, your group will take off entering the Harambe Wildlife Reserve.

harambe wildlife reserve kilimanjaro safaris

Be alert and have your cameras ready, because these are live, free roaming animals, so you never know what you will see or how close the animals will get.

No tour is ever the same!

You start off in the forest seeing the Okapi, the closet living relative to the giraffe. You’ll next approach a watering hole where you can catch sights of animals like the saddle billed stork, bongo, kudu, and black rhinoceros.

bongo on kilimanjaro safaris

Heading out of the forest your truck will enter a river where you can spot hippopotamus’. The only way to exit the river is by crossing over an old, shaky bridge.

Under the bridge, down low you’ll spot a crowd of Nile crocodiles. But not to fear, you’re with an expert driver and guide! Your truck makes it over the bridge safe and sound.

Exiting the river your safari tour will enter the savanna marked by a big Baobab tree.

giraffe and zebra on kilimanjaro safaris

As your truck makes its way down the savanna you will spot many animals like zebras, African wild dogs, giraffes, wildebeest, and cattle. Some animals may cross in front of or come right up to the truck. Be sure to look out past the truck under trees and in the shaded areas to spot animals.

Leaving the savanna your guide will spot a couple of fallen down trees. That means the mighty elephants are near! On the way to find the elephants you pass a family of Mandrill monkeys.

Your truck approaches another old shaky, bridge, worse than the last one. Your tour guide crosses successfully with care.

elephant on kilimanjaro safaris

In search of more elephants you enter the red clay pit. Sure enough you may be able to catch sight of the elephants! Females are usually found with their young, while the male elephants stick more to themselves. If there are new babies on the tour, your guide will be sure to point them out.

Driving through the watering area of the red clay pit, you will see a flock of flamingo. Did you know flamingos start off gray in color? Be sure to listen to the tour guide to hear what makes flamingos pink!

flamingos on kilimanjaro safaris

Approaching the mud pit you will spy white rhinoceros. Up in the shade you’ll spot a couple of cheetah, the fastest land mammals on earth.

Next up, the highlight of every tour, and sometimes the hardest animal to see, are the lions up on the rock. Since lions are nocturnal animals and sleep most of the day, your best chance to see them awake are on safaris later in the day near park closing.

white rhino on kilimanjaro safaris

Are you ready for more? Your tour is still not over! Next up be sure to look out for warthogs, ostrich eggs, and Bontebok antelopes.

Before your safari comes to an end, you’ll see some super adorable Nigerian Dwarf Goats, who are originally from Nigeria and considered to be of high value because of the high protein milk they provide.

lion on kilimanjaro safaris

You leave the reserve and head back to the village of Harambe. After the vehicle comes to a complete stop the doors on your right side will open, allowing you and your party to exit.

Keep in mind that each time you ride is different, because you never know what animals you’ll see or how they’ll act. This makes the attraction super unique.

kilimanjaro safaris animal location map

Is Kilimanjaro Safaris kid-friendly?

Overall, Kilimanjaro Safaris is kid-friendly. After all, it doesn’t even have a height requirement. It should be fun for most kids to see the different animals. And, don’t worry, there aren’t any dark or scary moments.

That said, the ride can get rough at times thanks to the paths, bridges, and the safari vehicle itself. This could be either fun or upsetting to little ones. But, for the most part, the ride is kid-friendly.

Be sure to check out our full guide on several other  things that might scare little ones at Disney World .

Strollers are not allowed on the Kilimanjaro Safaris vehicles. You’ll need to park your stroller in the designated stroller parking area at the attraction entrance.

If you forget to park your stroller or want to take it into the line, you can, but know you’ll have to park it mid-way. There is an area with Cast Members waiting, who will take your stroller and park it for you.

Kilimanjaro Safaris first opened in 1998, the same year as Animal Kingdom. Actually, both the attraction and the park opened on April 22, aka Earth Day.

Animal Kingdom is the largest of all Disney World theme parks. It spreads out over 500 acres, which also gives the animals plenty of room to roam and live.

kilimanjaro safaris savanna

The Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction itself spans 110 acres with the Harambe Wildlife Reserve serving as home to 34 species!

Your guide drives around as they gives facts about the animals you encounter along the way during the 18-minute journey.

kilimanjaro safaris elephant and ride vehicle

When the ride initially opened, there was a poachers storyline and even a rickety bridge that threw some excitement into the mix. But, both of these elements were removed and now there’s more of a focus on the actual animals and the importance of conservation.

Former Imagineer Joe Rohde is responsible and to thank for not only breathing life into Kilimanjaro Safaris, but Animal Kingdom as a whole. Without him, this park wouldn’t be is what is today.

There’s no doubt Kilimanjaro Safaris is a fantastic experience and the closest thing many will ever get to experiencing an African safari.

Other Fun Details

  • If you want an even more in depth and VIP tour of the savanna, you can sign up for the 3-hour guided Wild Africa Trek tour , where you will embark on some adventurous activities and see animals even more up close. This tour is priced separately and must be booked in advanced.

animal tours disney's animal kingdom

  • For an additional price, Up Close with Rhinos is a 60-minute tour giving you the chance to go backstage at Animal Kingdom to meet and learn more about white rhinos, with help from a guide.

up close with rhinos name badge animal kingdom tour

  • Take some time to visit the Gorilla Falls Exploration walking trail, located near the exit of Kilimanjaro Safaris. It runs along parts of the driving tour and gives another look at many of the animals you saw on the drive, along with different ones like gorillas and meerkats!

gorilla falls exploration trail animal kingdom

  • Pay attention as you drive by the flamingos for a fun Hidden Mickey.

Other Attractions in Africa

  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Wildlife Express Train (takes you to Rafiki’s Planet Watch)

Disney Insider Tips

Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safari Ride

By: Author Kristi

One of the top 5 attractions in Animal Kingdom is Kilimanjaro Safari. This is an open-air safari that takes guests on a trip through the 110-acre Harambe Wildlife Reserve. What is amazing about the Animal Kingdom safari is that you get close to animals in their natural environment.

animal kingdom safari driver

Kilimanjaro Safari

The Kilimanjaro Safari is a 20-minute ride in an open-air truck. The truck has bench seating and if you have a party of less than 5 you will all be able to sit together in one row.

The best seats are always the outside seats. Either side will provide a great view of the wildlife, but I always prefer to sit on the far left.

animal kingdom safari driver

The safari takes you on a ride through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. This part of Animal Kingdom is the largest in all of Disney World.

 At 110 acres, it is larger than all of Magic Kingdom.

animal kingdom safari driver

Animals are sectioned off into different areas of the reserve and your Animal Kingdom Safari driver will explain different animals and their habitats as you approach them.

There is also a spotting guide posted at the front of the seating area.

The key about enjoying the Kilimanjaro safari ride is to have low expections.

Lioness on Safari at Animal Kingdom

You never know which animals you are going to see. Some animals might be hiding or sleeping during your time in the reserve.

See Elephants on Kilimanjaro Safari

The animals you will see are free roaming. This means they could be up close to your vehicle or farther away.

Seeing Giraffes Up Close on Kilimanjaro Safari

You may find that your vehicle even has to stop to let animals pass!

How to Avoid Lines for Kilimanjaro Safari

The lines for the ride can be ridiculously long. If you don’t want to wait in a long line, the best things to do are either ride it when you arrive at the park or get a Lightning Lane pass for it.

If you do have to stand in the line, it is covered and shaded with fans located sporadically.

animal kingdom safari driver

When is Best time to Ride the Kilimanjaro Safari?

Each time you go on the Animal Kingdom Safari you can have a different experience. This is because animals have different eating and sleeping schedules throughout the day.

Some believe that best time to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari is first thing in the morning or before dusk. We have done the safari both morning and afternoon.

What I can tell you is that we saw animals up close both times, but often they were different animals.

Sleeping Lions on Safari

During the summer in the late afternoon, we saw an amazing amount of wildlife, but certain animals (like the lions) were in the shadier areas where they are not easily visible from the safari vehicle.

Semi Private Safari Tours in Animal Kingdom

If you want an even closer experience with the animals in Animal Kingdom, you can always pay for a semi-private tour. These are a few that you can choose from:

Wild Africa Trek Tour at Animal Kingdom

Wild Africa Trek Tour

If you are a big fan of Kilimanjaro Safari, you should consider the Wild Africa Trek Tour . On this private tour, you will embark on a guided expedition that takes you up close with exotic wildlife species.

This tour is only available to children 8 and older. You will get a private safari ride and photo CD.

Elephants on Safari in Animal Kingdom

Caring for Giants

During this 60-minute experience, get to meet with those who care for the African elephant herd. They’ll give you a glimpse into their day-to-day responsibilities as they provide fascinating facts about the elephants.

While you will not get to touch them, you will get closer to them than any other place in the park.

Rhinos in Kilimanjaro Safari

Up Close with Rhinos

On this hour-long guided adventure, the rhinos’ keepers will take you to see these massive creatures as few people ever do.

You will learn about the species’ behavior and biology and discuss the challenges that threaten populations of white Rhinos in the wild.

Have you been on Kilimanjaro Safari? What was your favorite part of the trip?

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Disney Wiki

Kilimanjaro Safaris

  • 3 Animals Seen
  • 4 Incidents
  • 5 Construction
  • 8 References

The ride originally begins as a two-week safari aboard Simba 1 through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve in Harambe , East Africa. It is 800km 2 of natural terrain, including Ituri forest, wetlands of the Safi River valley and the open bush country of the Serengeti Savanna. During most of the ride people view the common African animals including elephants, giraffe, antelopes, gazelles, crocodiles, monkeys, hippos, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, zebras, crocodiles, storks, pelicans, flamingos and okapis. The tour guide points out animals and provides entertainment. During the journey, the driver is in radio contact with reserve warden Wilson Matua, who is flying over the reserve on his daily routine. It all takes a turn when poachers are spotted in the reserve, and it's up to Simba 1 and the guests, with support from the air and other rangers, to stop them.

History [ ]

Kilimanjaro Safaris typically operates until sundown. However, during the holiday season of 1998, the safaris were continued at night and dubbed Kilimanjaro Night Safaris. Though many animals were asleep, or unable to be seen at night, the attraction had a completely different script and storyline. This "new" attraction featured additional animal sounds, reflectors hidden in the foliage to resemble animals' eyes, and an actual African dance group, who performed around a bonfire in the area normally occupied by the attraction's elephants. Kilimanjaro Night Safaris only ran during that initial holiday season. After this time, it was deemed that the additional costs, plus the fact that animal visibility was poor (eliciting many Guest complaints), made Night Safaris unfeasible to continue regularly. Cast members can still switch the voice tracks on the trucks to hear the nighttime version of Wilson and Miss Jobson, however it is not considered part of the current Safari storyline.

In 2004, much of the savanna's drainage system had to be replaced. The attraction remained open during the rehab, with green tarps covering the construction sites to keep the animals out.

In 2007-8, work began to extend the trucks with an extra row of seating, allowing the trucks more capacity. Though not all the trucks have the extra row, it is known they will be finished by 2009. Also, the safari script/story, along with the Wilson/Jobson story has significantly changed. There is less of a story about "Little Red", and more about the animals in the Reserve and the need to find a lost elephant at the end.

The ride originally featured a cast member in the role of a gun-toting reserve warden who captured the poachers and saved Big Red and Little Red. This element of the attraction was eventually eliminated. During Cast Previews of Disney's Animal Kingdom, there was a "Dark Ending" in which the safari vehicle encountered the slaughtered corpse of Big Red. This scene proved too shocking for families and children, and thus was eventually changed to give the attraction a happier ending.

On August 15, 2015, at the D23 Expo , an expansion known as Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris , was announced, extending the operating hours of the attraction, as well as adding new landscapes, and two new species of animals, including African wild dogs and hyenas. [1]

Animals Seen [ ]

  • Okapi ( Okapia johnstoni )
  • Greater kudu ( Tragelaphus strepsiceros )
  • White-faced tree duck ( Dendrocygna viduata )
  • Northern pintail duck ( Anas acuta )
  • Nyala ( Tragelaphus angasii )
  • Sable antelope ( Hippotragus niger )
  • Greater flamingo ( Phoenicopterus roseus )
  • White-bearded wildebeest ( Connochaetes taurinus )
  • Pink-backed pelican ( Pelecanus rufescens )
  • Bontebok ( Damaliscus pygargus )
  • Eland ( Taurotragus oryx )
  • Springbok ( Antidorcas marsupialis )
  • Yellow-billed duck ( Anas undulata )
  • Thomson's gazelle ( Eudorcas thomsonii )
  • Yellow-billed stork ( Mycteria ibis )
  • Ankole Cattle ( Bos taurus africanus )
  • Mandrill ( Mandrillus sphinx )
  • Egyptian goose ( Alopochen aegyptiaca )
  • Scimitar-horned oryx ( Oryx dammah )
  • Red-billed duck ( Anas erythrorhyncha )
  • Helmeted guineafowl ( Numida meleagris )
  • White-breasted cormorant
  • Stanley crane ( Grus paradisea )
  • Bongo ( Tragelaphus eurycerus )
  • Impala ( Aepyceros melampus )
  • Mhorr gazelle
  • Yellow-backed duiker
  • Saddle-billed stork ( Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis )
  • Black rhinoceros ( Diceros bicornis )
  • White rhinoceros ( Ceratotherium simum )
  • Hippopotamus ( Hippopotamus amphibius )
  • Nile crocodile ( Crocodylus niloticus )
  • Reticulated giraffe
  • Masai giraffe
  • Plains zebra ( Equus quagga )
  • Mountain zebra ( Equus zebra )
  • Warthog ( Phacochoerus africanus )
  • Ostrich ( Struthio camelus )
  • Cheetah ( Acinonyx jubatus )
  • African bush elephant ( Loxodonta africana )
  • Lion ( Panthera leo )
  • Addax ( Addax nasomaculatus )
  • African wild dog ( Lycaon pictus )
  • Spotted hyena
  • Nigerian goat

Incidents [ ]

  • Tuesday, July 13, 2004 is known as "Black Tuesday". The final waterfall scene became overfilled due to a drainage block. When many of the trucks went through, it short-circuited the microphone and "puck" system. After a two-hour closing to figure out how to resolve the issue, it re-opened with trucks maintaining a driver, and another cast member standing in the first passenger seating row talking to the guests. Cast members from throughout the park were asked to help if they had knowledge of the animals/safari. Though it created some havoc, it is a story told by and to all cast members of the attraction.
  • February 10, 2008, a fire broke out in the engine compartment of one of the ride vehicles.

Construction [ ]

  • The attraction features custom-built GMC trucks riding washed-out, rutted roads and a tilting bridge. The roadbed is actually constructed of dark brown-colored concrete embedded with permanent tire ruts.
  • The flamingo island is a huge Hidden Mickey .
  • Between each ecosystem includes both chain road sensors and bars to prevent animals from venturing between sections. The vehicles drive directly on these obstacles.
  • The entire Magic Kingdom park could fit comfortably inside of this single attraction.
  • Walt Disney originally wanted the Jungle Cruise to have real animals. So, in a way, the Kilimanjaro Safaris is a spiritual successor to that original idea.
  • The music snippet that is heard when driving past the elephant area is called "Hapa Duniani" and is performed by the vocal group, "African Dawn."
  • The lions in Kilimanjaro Safaris originally were from an Oregon zoo and had a hard time adjusting to Florida's heat. The animals would often retreat from visitor's view to a shaded area. To counter this problem, Imagineers installed air-conditioning systems around the lion's promontory, thus giving visitors a better chance of seeing the kings of the savannah.
  • On the African savanna, acacia trees appear to be the mainstay of the landscape. Kilimanjaro Safaris, however, is pulling a switcha-roo on its residents by carefully trimming Florida's native southern live oaks to mimic flat-topped acacias. Disney claims the giraffes don't mind on the substitutes.
  • When you pass the lions on Kilmanjaro Safaris don't worry about being in harms way. Hidden from visitor's view, an 18-foot-deep, 21-foot-wide moat separates the lions from other animals and the rides vehicle path.

Gallery [ ]

A Disney's Animal Kingdom guide map featuring a Kilimanjaro Safaris lion

References [ ]

  • ↑ http://www.comingsoon.net/extras/news/472595-d23-disney-reveals-more-star-wars-land-details-plus-toy-story-land-and-avatar#/slide/1
  • 2 The Emotions

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Kilimanjaro Safaris Guide

Kilimanjaro Safari

On Kilimanjaro Safaris, guests will embark on an African safari in one of the most ambitious attractions ever developed by Walt Disney Imagineering.

Ride Information   Restrictions   Accessibility   Location   Fun Facts   Top 5 Tips

Ride Information

Opening Day: April 22, 1998

Type of Ride: African safari

Age Recommendation: All ages

Duration of Ride: About 20 minutes

Typical Queue Time: Long; often peaks at over one hour

Single Rider Line: No

Chicken Exit Available: Yes

Baby Swap Available: No

Type of Vehicle: Safari truck

Type of Restraint: None

Attraction Open During Early Theme Park Entry: Yes. See our Early Theme Park Entry page for more information.

Ride Photo Available For Purchase: No

Kilimanjaro Safari

Ride Restrictions

Height Requirements: None

Flash Photography or Video Allowed: Yes

Safety, Accessibility, and Guest Policies

Accessibility: 

  • Guests must transfer from wheelchairs
  • Video Captioning
  • Assistive Listening
  • Handheld captioning
  • Service animals permitted with caution

Guest Policies: Children under age 7 years must be accompanied by a person age 14 years or older.

Shopping: Near Kilimanjaro Safaris in the Animal Kingdom’s Africa section, guests can purchase apparel, plush dolls, and collectible ostrich eggs at “Ziwani Traders”; and African wines, art, crafts, and instruments at “Mombasa Marketplace.”

Dining/Refreshment: Dining options abound near Kilimanjaro Safaris. Guests wanting a counter service lunch or dinner can enjoy chicken skewers, vegetable stacks, gyros, fried sausages, and ribs at Harambe Market . Those preferring a sit-down meal should make ADRs for a buffet breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Tusker House . At Tusker House guests can choose between a variety of American and African dishes served amidst entertainment from Donald Duck.

Restroom: Find facilities convenient to Kilimanjaro Safaris at Mombasa Marketplace.

Smoking Location: Smoking is permitted in designated smoking areas only. Disney parks are smoke-free.

Kilimanjaro Safari

Kilimanjaro Safaris Fun Facts

Did you know.

  • Guests can encounter more than 34 African animal species on Kilimanjaro Safaris, including antelopes, baboons, cheetahs, crocodiles, elephants, flamingos, gazelles, giraffes, hippos, hyenas, impalas, lions, ostriches, rhinos, warthogs, wild dogs, and zebras. Each safari vehicle is equipped with pictorial guides of all the animals you might encounter during your wildlife adventure.
  • The fictitious African village, Harambe, where Kilimanjaro Safaris is located is a homage to real African villages that sit adjacent to vast preserves. Harambe is Swahili for “working together.”
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris’ savannah encompasses 110 acres, rendering this single attraction larger than the entire Magic Kingdom park, which only occupies 105 acres.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris’ savannah is called “Harambe Wildlife Reserve.”
  • As Kilimanjaro Safaris is located in a theme park, precautionary boundaries, including berms, moats, fences, wires, and chains, are overtly or covertly implanted throughout the savannah to keep the animals in their respective habitats.
  • Devices such as air-conditioned rocks, cool breezes, salt licks, cooling or warming waters, and food help guide the animals toward the vehicle routes.
  • Guests experience Kilimanjaro Safaris in 10-ton, open-sided GMC trucks, with a camouflage exterior, and seats up to 32 passengers. Cast Members actually drive each vehicle and provide educational commentary throughout the safari.
  • The attraction replaces its plants daily to account for the animals’ consumption.
  • Guests can experience two related tours, Wild Africa Trek and “Starlight Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge,” for an additional cost. The latter experience begins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge , not the Animal Kingdom Park.

Kilimanjaro Safari

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris’ 1998 debut marked the realization of Walt Disney’s idea to utilize live animals in an adventure attraction. Disneyland ’s Jungle Cruise originally intended to fill this role in the late 1950s. Animatronic animals replaced the live animals in the version of Jungle Cruise that guests enjoy today.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris’ development entailed much research. In 1990, Imagineer Joe Rhode ventured to Kenya and Tanzania to view animals and experience authentic East African safari tours.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris toned down and then eliminated an overt poaching plotline. First, during the Cast Member previews in 1998, complaints arose over the grotesque depiction of a fake elephant named “Big Red,” who was killed by poachers. Imagineers immediately wrote Big Red out of the attraction. The attraction debuted with a tamer plotline, where poachers kidnap an animatronic baby elephant called “Little Red” and, subsequently, get apprehended. Then, in 2007, this version was altered to limit the dialogue related to poaching between the safari driver and a naturalist named Ms. Jobson. In 2012, the entire poacher storyline, including the related props, were eliminated from the attraction. A zebra habitat replaced the space that the props originally took up. In early 2013 the addax antelope replaced the zebra in this space to allow for better viewing.
  • Save for a trial during the 1998 holiday season, Kilimanjaro Safaris ended its tours at sunset, regardless of park closing time, until 2016 because of lighting and animal sleeping issues. Beginning in the summer of 2016, with the debut of nighttime entertainment at the Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris will commence extended hours.

Hidden Mickeys:

Top 5 Kilimanjaro Safari

Top 5 Tips for Kilimanjaro Safaris

  • Consider experiencing Kilimanjaro Safaris multiple times as the live animals render each journey different.
  • Guests wanting to view the Lions should ride either in the morning or closer to park close when the sun is not as intense.
  • Take photos of the savannah and the animals.
  • Hang onto your belongings. Anything dropped from the vehicle cannot be retrieved.
  • Following Kilimanjaro Safaris, guests can view more African animals, such as gorillas, hippos, naked mole rats, and birds, by walking the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail .

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The Best Time to go on Kilimanjaro Safaris

by Chad Kennedy | Published on Aug 6, 2018 | Last updated Aug 22, 2023 | Animal Kingdom , Parks

kilimanjaro safaris best time disney

Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of Animal Kingdom’s most popular rides and a unique Disney World experience, taking you on a journey to see some of Africa’s amazing wildlife. With so many different areas and animals on the safari, it can be hard to see them all in one ride. Choosing the right time of day will give you the best chance to see as many animals as possible.

This really is one of the most unique and entertaining rides Disney World has to offer. That’s why it’s high on my list of 110 Disney World Must Do’s .

What is the best time to go on Kilimanjaro Safaris?

The best time to go on Kilimanjaro Safaris is first thing in the morning or right at sundown. Certain animals are more active during specific times of the day or even at night, so choosing a time close to sunrise or sunset is best for animal activity with enough sunlight for you to comfortably see.

I’ve been on Kilimanjaro Safaris more times than I can count. The beauty of the ride is that it’s always a different experience. There are just so many species of animals running around inside the preserve that it’s impossible to predict exactly where they’ll be at any given time. The large size of the preserve also factors in to the unpredictability.

P.S. – We also have a big list of Animal Kingdom tips and secrets . It’s extremely helpful for planning and getting the most out of your trip.

kilimanjaro safaris wildebeest

It’s worth noting that Central Florida gets very, very hot, especially during summer afternoons. Many animals will take this hottest time of day as an opportunity to relax and escape the sun. On the flip side, some animals are simply more likely to make their way to the water during the hottest hours.

It’s almost impossible to pinpoint the perfect time to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris, but from my personal experience, your safest bet will usually be early or late in the day. My best advice would be to enjoy the ride at several different times. You’ll be surprised at how different one safari ride can be from another.

All that said, don’t stress yourself too much over timing. There may be “optimal” times to enjoy the ride, but there isn’t a “bad” time. These animals are accustomed to people and many drivers will tell you that the animals will often “show off” for the tour. You’ll get to see plenty of action no matter what time of day you choose to ride.

Kilimanjaro Safaris Tips

  • Ride first thing in the morning:  A morning ride is good for two reasons. First, the animals tend to be a little bit more active early in the morning. Second, you’ll avoid peak wait times. Kilimanjaro Safaris is very popular and wait times are often very high from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM.
  • Ride right at sunset:  A sunset ride is great for seeing animals. Many of the animals start moving around a little more as the sun starts to go down. This time of day strikes a nice balance between active animals and enough daylight for good visibility.
  • Ride late at night:  Even though the darkness can limit your overall visibility, nighttime is one of my favorite times to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris. It’s worth noting that nighttime rides are only available with special tours, which makes it even more exciting. Many areas of the preserve are partially lit, so it’s not like you’re going to be totally blind. This is often the best time to see more activity from the lions and other somewhat nocturnal species.
  • Don’t avoid the rain:  With Kilimanjaro Safaris, rain is usually your friend. Most of the animals love the rain and become far more active when it’s raining. So don’t avoid Animal Kingdom just because it’s raining. The Safaris’ trucks have large roofs, so don’t worry too much about getting wet. If you want to stay totally dry and comfortable, simply come equipped with some good rain gear. (Click to see some of our rain gear recommendations)
  • Sit on the left side of the truck:  Many of the best areas on the safari will be seen off the left side of the truck. You can’t always control where you end up, so don’t worry about it too much if you can’t get to the left side. But if you can, try to put yourself in a position to slide all the way to the left side of the truck. Keep in mind that you’ll be entering your truck row from the right side of the vehicle.
  • Don’t forget your camera: If there is a Disney World ride that’s especially awesome for photography, it’s Kilimanjaro Safaris. Make sure to bring a good camera, like the ones we recommend in our Disney World Gear Guide . There are so many cool opportunities to get interesting, unique shots during the ride. A camera with a good zoom lens and image stabilization will be a big help to you while you try to capture the perfect moments.

kilimanjaro safaris lions animal kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris Highlights

  • Lions:  It’s not surprising that the lions are the most popular part of Kilimanjaro Safaris. The problem is that, like most cats, they sleep a lot. Rides during the early morning, dusk, and especially nighttime will give you the best chance to see the lions up and about.
  • Elephants:  In my experience, seeing the elephants is usually the most hit or miss part of the ride. Sometimes they are all right out in the open. Other times they are nowhere to be found. They are one of the most interesting animals in the preserve and it’s fun to watch them play in the water.
  • Giraffes:  The giraffes are one of the least timid animals on the preserve. They’re also one of the most reliable species on the ride. You’ll almost always see a big group of giraffes interacting with each other, often very close to the truck.
  • Cheetahs:  The cheetah enclosure has a fairly heavy amount of foliage, making it somewhat difficult to see the cheetahs if they aren’t walking around. If the cheetahs are up and about, they’re usually pacing around in the front of the exhibit and you shouldn’t have a problem spotting them.
  • Black and white rhinos:  The rhinos are one of the most interesting animals in the more “open” part of the safari. The areas they inhabit allow you to get a better view than many of the other popular animals. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a chance at seeing a rhino extremely close to the truck.
  • Hippos:  You’ll see the hippos early on in the ride. They’re most often sitting still in the water, but it’s really cool to see them when they are walking around outside of the water.
  • Ostriches:  The ostrich is one of the more comical animals running around in the open part of the safari. I’ve been on the ride a number of times where an ostrich came very close to the truck for and gave everyone a show.

Jill

This was very helpful for our trip planning! I’ve read lots of basic things about this attraction, but this gave me more insight to help plan. My kids are the most excited about seeing the animals. Thank you.

Magic Insiders

Thanks Jill! Kilimanjaro Safaris is definitely one of the “can’t miss” rides at Animal Kingdom (and at Disney World in general). There’s really not a bad time to ride, but it’s always nice to avoid some of the peak crowds and have the best shot at seeing more animals. No two trips through the Harambe Preserve are the same, so you’ll almost always have something unique that stands out from ride to ride.

Morgan

What is the latest time to ride the safari in June? My family will be eating dinner at Boma at 6:45 and will go to Animal Kingdom for Rivers of Light. We hope to ride the Safari before Rivers of light at 9:15 (using fast pass).

Hey Morgan!

To my knowledge, Disney hasn’t released the official June hours for Kilimanjaro Safaris yet, but I would guess that it would operate until 8:30PM. My advice would be to check into Boma 15 minutes early (or earlier, if they’ll allow it). That way, you’ll give yourself a little bit of extra time. If you can make it to Animal Kingdom by 8:00, I think you’d probably be safe to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris and still make it to your Rivers of Light FastPass. Try to find a FastPass for Kilimanjaro Safaris in the time slot before Rivers of Light!

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Hi, I'm Chad. I'm a Disney World local, fortunate enough to be constantly up close and personal with all things Disney. Thousands of hours at parks, resorts, and restaurants have given me a special connection to the magic. I built Magic Insiders in order to share my years of experience with you.

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Awesome Facts and Secrets About Animal Kingdom Safaris

in Walt Disney World

kilimanjaro safari when animals take over

One of the best things about visiting Walt Disney World Resort is the wide range of Parks that Guests can visit and enjoy. Whether you are stepping into the land of fantasy at Magic Kingdom, traveling the world at EPCOT, entering the movies at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or jumping into the animal world at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, each Park has its own immersive qualities.

mickey and minnie animal kingdom

Related: Disney Removes Jambo House Availability Into 2021

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Guests can truly forget that they are in Central Florida as they enter Africa, Asia, Pandora, and more! Not only is the landscaping at the Park lush, and the attractions are perfectly themed, but Guests can actually go on a safari within the theme park at no extra cost, and it is a jaw-dropping experience.

Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom allows Guests to enter the savannah and see animals of all kinds while having their own personal tour guide show them the way, answering all questions throughout. The animals are roaming free and are not caged, nor are you on a track, so everything that happens here is real.

lion at disney world kilimanjaro safaris

Today, we will dive keep into all of the safari opportunities available at Animal Kingdom . Of course, you will learn how to find Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom; you will discover all safari types at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well as find out the cost of a safari ticket at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Let’s hop into our safari vehicle and explore!

How to find Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Safari Disney's Animal Kingdom

Where are the Kilimanjaro Safaris located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

If you want to experience Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom, you must enter the theme park and head to Africa. The attraction is located in the back of the land and will have yellow signage to indicate its entrance. This means that when you enter the theme park, you will want to make a left at the Tree of Life and follow the pathway all the way back into Africa.

lion at disney's animal kingdom

What are other attractions around the Kilimanjaro Safari?

In Africa, Kilimanjaro Safari is the only “attraction” in the area in terms of feeling the closest to a ride. Still, there are plenty of other offerings that are highly interactive and pair nicely with the other offerings in the last. Firstly, A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King is now available for Guest to enjoy, and it is steps away from the attraction.

Related:  Attraction Guide to Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney World

Guests who visit the show will be amazed by the stunning vocals, costumes, acrobatics, and dance numbers. Plus, you will surely be singing along to all your favorite tunes from The Lion King . Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail will allow Guests to walk around on foot and see all of the animals on the trail at their own pace. The animals will be behind glass walls and barricades, unlike the safari option.

tree of life 2

At Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Guests can board a train to meet animals up close and personal. The Conservation Station will allow Guests to see animals close up and watch scientists and veterinarians at work. The Animation Experience, which is in the same room, will allow Guests to learn how to draw a Disney character. My personal favorite, the Affection Section, is where Guests can pet animals such as goats and walk around with them.

What food options are near the Kilimanjaro Safari?

If you are hungry in Africa, we have got you covered! Tusker House Restaurant has African-style cuisine, and it is a character meal where Guests can meet Donald, Mickey, and Goofy! Dawa Bar is right outside of Tusker House, and they make excellent cocktails! Tamu Tamu Refreshments is a great place to grab a cold beverage, and at times, a snow cone. Looking for quick service? Harambe Fruit Market and Harambe Market have many options for Guests to choose from.

Caravan Road

Safari types at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

What are the different types of safaris that you can go on while visiting disney’s animal kingdom.

If you are looking for an animal-filled day at Animal Kingdom, your day does not need to end after getting off Kilimanjaro Safari. There are more safaris and tours available for Guests to enjoy. The only catch is that although Kilimanjaro Safaris is free, the others are not.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Below is a full list of all the different safaris available to Guests. Please be sure to check the Disney World website to see if the safari or tour you’re interested in attending is available during your stay.

  • A Truly Wild Adventure Explore the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, home to 34 species living in 110 acres of picturesque open plains, shady forest landscapes, and rocky wetlands. Your rugged safari vehicle is driven by an expert guide, who helps point out animals and shares fascinating wildlife facts during this extraordinary 18-minute expedition. Unique Animal Encounters Spot a shy hippopotamus nestled in a still pond. Behold a regal lion sunbathing on a rocky perch. Drive past a gentle giraffe grazing on the tall trees or wave hello to a swinging baboon. Other amazing animals you may encounter include rhinos, cheetahs, crocodiles, elephants, hyenas and zebras, and many more! Since animals have minds of their own, every expedition is a unique and unforgettable experience. Be sure to keep your eyes open and have a camera ready—you never know what you’ll see on a Kilimanjaro Safaris outing. Go Wilder at Night Venture onto the savanna for a safari tour after dark—and see the animals in a whole new light. Previously off-limits to visitors after sundown, this unforgettable journey through the reserve allows you to witness rarely seen nocturnal animal behaviors. Strategically placed lighting evokes both the setting sun and rising moon, so you won’t miss a moment. And as always, your friendly safari guide is on hand to share expert knowledge.
  • An Experience You’ll Never Forget Delve into the wondrous world of our Park’s largest inhabitants. During this 60-minute experience, you’ll meet with dedicated animal specialists who provide for the care and wellness of our African elephant herd. They’ll give you a glimpse into their day-to-day responsibilities as they provide fascinating facts about the elephants. African cultural representatives will also be on hand to share stories of Disney’s conservation efforts dedicated to preserving wild populations throughout their homeland. Throughout this experience, you’ll be able to observe the elephants from approximately 80 to 100 feet away. So you’ll enjoy a closer encounter with the elephants than you would during other in-park experiences.
  • A Unique Encounter Get ready for your close-up with the white rhinoceros—Earth’s second-largest land animal. In this 60-minute guided adventure, the rhinos’ keepers will take you backstage to meet these massive creatures as few people ever do. As your guides introduce you to the Park’s white rhinos, they’ll offer fascinating insights into the species’ behavior and biology and discuss the challenges that threaten populations in the wild.

Lion King Sequence to Be Added to Tree of Life Awakenings at Animal Kingdom

Please Note: This tour requires a separate admission ticket to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.

Indulge In Gourmet Eats Work up an appetite during your trek, and then enjoy some first-class, African-inspired snacks.

Sample Menu

Air-dried beef and prosciutto Smoked salmon roulade with dill Fig cake with Boursin cheese Brie cheese and apricot Berry yogurt and dried cranberries Fresh fruit marinated in mint and ginger Afternoon

Baby animals Animal Kingdom

What Animal Kingdom safari options work best for children?

If you are traveling with little ones, some safari options are best suited for your group. Kilimanjaro Safari is perfect for kids as there is no walking involved. Caring for Giants and Up Close with Rhinos are both suited for children as well.

Related:  Rhinos Fight At Kilimanjaro Safaris, Bump Into Ride Vehicle

expedition everest animal kingdom

What safari options are best for teens and adults?

Of course, the three I just named are not solely for kids, as they are meant for Guests of all ages. Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience is not meant for kids, so it may be something that teens and adults would enjoy more. Also, it is not a safari, but the Wild Africa Trek is also perfect for adults and teenagers.

disney animal kingdom

Cost of a safari ticket at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

What is the cost range of safari tickets at disney’s animal kingdom.

If you want to do a few of the safari’s available at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, below is a full breakdown of the pricing for each location and tour. This could help you see what is in your price range in terms of add-ons, or, perhaps, will let you decide that Kilimanjaro Safari is all you need!

  • Kilimajaro Safaris – Free (included with Park admission)
  • Caring for Giants – $30.00 per person
  • Up Close with Rhinos – $40.00 per person
  • Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience – $169.00 per person
  • Wild Africa Trek – $189.00–$249.00 per person

Baby Rhino at Animal Kingdom

What are some potential additional costs for the Safaris at Animal Kingdom?

If you want to do a safari that costs money at Animal Kingdom, any additional cost will likely be due to added food or drinks on top of your package. Not all tours come with food or drinks, but additional items will be extra for those who do. Please note that all pricing is per person, so the larger your party, the more the tour will cost.

Best time to go on a safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

What is the best time of day to go on an animal kingdom safari.

Because animals have different sleep patterns, different times of the day can be better or worse, depending on the animal you want to see. My safari driver told me in the past that visiting in the early morning is often best as the animals like to come out when the weather is a little cooler. As the temperature rises, some animals may hide or seek shade at times in the day. Sundown is also a great time to check it out, along with when it rains, as well.

That being said, you will always see some form of an animal when you ride Kilimanjaro Safaris!

Disney's Animal Kingdom Entrance

What is the best time of year to go on a Disney safari?

As we previously, mentioned, when the weather is a little cooler out, you are most likely to see the most animals. June through September is when Florida is at its hottest, so visiting at a time aside from then may be your best bet!

Baby rhino at Disney's Animal Kingdom

What is the most time-efficient way to see all of Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

If you want to do everything at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to strategize. Animal Kingdom is a huge Park that takes a lot to walk through and has a lot to offer, so you must be aware of what is available for you to do and know your way around the Park by studying the map.

Pandora - The World of Avatar

If you want to catch the shows, be sure to know what showtimes are available, so you know when to watch. It is also best to know what rides are near each other. There is no use jumping from DINOSAUR to Flight of Passage in Pandora, as that will take a lot of walking. Try to ride attractions that are close by to each other.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Some attractions, such as Expedition Everest, will have a long line, but there is a Single Rider queue that you can use to cut down on some time! Make a reservation if you want to guarantee to dine, or be sure you have your Mobile Order ready to go on your phone. Look up menus before arriving so you know where you want to eat.

Angolan baby monkey at Disney's Animal Kingdom

If there is a massive line, such as Flight of Passage, do it last—no point in wasting Park hours in line when you could be doing other things. As long as you’re in line before Park close, you will get on the attraction!

What are the parking options at or near Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

At Animal Kingdom, Guests can choose between standard theme Park parking or preferred parking, which will be parked closer to the entrance.

donald duck

So, now you are a safari expert and will be ready to go the next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Do you have any tips when it comes to Kilimanjaro Safari? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris – The Ultimate Guide Updated

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Want to know more about the Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris?

One of the most immersive of all the Animal Kingdom rides, the Disney Kilimanjaro Safari takes you on a journey through the African planes.

In Orlando Florida.

This highly unique experience is one of the highlights of any trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It truly is an adventure that you cannot find anywhere else in North America.

Discover what you need to know about Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris so that you and your family can get the most out of this immersive attraction.

disneykilimanjarosafaris

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari Guide

The Disney Imagineers have successfully created the Harambe Wildlife Reserve in Animal Kingdom park.

Walt Disney himself always wanted to have live animals incorporated into his theme parks.

Whilst in Disneyland this dream was kind of realized in Jungle Cruise (Walt originally wanted real animals for this attraction), Disney’s Animal Kingdom finally achieved that dream.

The area where your Kilimanjaro Safari Bus will take you is vast.

110 acres of vast.

And it is home to 34 different species of animal including lions, hippos, giraffes, and elephants.

What is the Disney Kilimanjaro Safari Ride Like?

Kilimanjaro Safaris

The first experience of any Disney ride is the line area!

The advantage of the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride is that the queue is well-shaded.

There are some things to look at along the way, including some videos about conservation. But mostly the best thing about this line is that it is in the shade!

It can get very very hot in Orlando and it can be a challenge to wait in line at the height of the heat. There are a few spots where you can even sit down on a small wall which gives your feet a bit of a rest!

This is one reason not to ride Kilimanjaro Safari in the heat of the day – the queue will be a lot easier to deal with if it is a bit cooler.

A short way into the line you will have to put your stroller in the parking place.

A Cast Member will be there to guide you to the exact spot.

Then by the time you get back, your stroller will have moved of course!

Animal Kingdom

Photo Credit

The Disney Animal Kingdom Safari ride vehicles are custom-built GMC and Ford trucks.

Lots of guests think that Kilimanjaro Safaris is on a track, but it isn’t. Those safari vehicles are true off-roaders controlled by the Cast Members!

Each ride vehicle holds up to 32 guests in 9 rows each seating up to 4. There is no height requirement for this Animal Kingdom ride.

It is very much for families, but as I discuss below, it is very bumpy.

Take notice of the warnings.

If you have a health condition or are pregnant give Disney’s Kilimanjaro Safaris a miss!

Passing Hippos

Is there a best place to sit on the Disney Kilimanjaro Safari ride?

There really aren’t any bad seats, but the best is the front and the back row.

However, be aware that the further towards the back you get, the bumpier the ride!

If you have small children they should not be at the edge.

Giraffe Models

In front of you, there are signs which help you recognize which animals you may see on your safari.

The most popular sitings are those of elephants, giraffes, gazelles, rhinos, crocodiles, hippos, and lions.

Animal Kingdom Safari Overhead Sign

The safari guides always make sure that they keep you entertained as well as educated. And they will try their best to point out the sometimes very well camouflaged animals.

If you can be organized enough it is a great idea to take some High Powered Binoculars with you.

I went on the safari ride for years before I actually did this. It made a huge difference to what you can see.

There is usually plenty of time to take photos of the animals. Your Cast Member guide will do their best to point out the best photo ops.

Animal Kingdom Safari Ride Fun Facts

mufasa mufasa mufasa

Don’t worry. Of course, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has things well designed so that you are not going to get up close and personal with a lion. Big trenches separate humans from the dangerous animals.

Jurassic Park this is not.

Disney has some great tricks to keep the animals visible and happy.

Ever wonder why the lions are always sitting out on the rocks? Yes, they are mimicking what they do in the wild, but what most people don’t know about the rocks is that they are air-conditioned!

The lions originally came from a much cooler park in Oregon, so they needed a little help cooling down in the hot Florida sun. If it ever gets too cold, the rocks can be heated too!

Disney also knows how to get the animals as close as possible to you. How do they do this? The usual incentive for food and water.

They place food, watering holes, and salt licks close to the vehicle paths.

The emphasis is on safety both for humans and animals.

You might think you can reach out and touch that giraffe but there is a large system of trenches, bridges and fences on all the savannas to keep humans from the animals and to keep the animals from predators.

Many years ago there was a story about poachers with a graphic illustration of the fate of Little Red, a baby elephant. This storyline has not been seen for almost a decade as many considered it too upsetting for a Disney attraction.

Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris Best Time To Ride

Baby Rhinoceros on Kilimanjaro Safari - Animal Kingdom - Walt Disney World

What is the best time to ride the Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris? This Animal Kingdom ride is popular. And popular means lines.

The best tactic for the best time to ride Disney Kilimanjaro’s Safari? Arrive early. I know that’s always the advice, but it works.

If you can arrive at the Animal Kingdom at rope drop and then go straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris you will most likely be beating the crowds. Even better is if you have Early Entry at 8 am. You can really get ahead of the crowds.

Kilimanjaro Giraffe

The attraction is right at the back of the park. If you plan to be there early look at a map of Animal Kingdom so you get your bearings as to where you are going.

There are plenty of signs in the park, but it is always good to have an overall view.

There is another great reason to ride Disney’s Kilimanjaro Safari as early as possible. The animals are much more active in the morning.

You are more likely to see a greater selection of active animals than in the afternoon when it is hotter.

 Kilimanjaro Safaris Wait Time

Maclean the African Elephant on Kilimanjaro Safari - Animal Kingdom - Walt Disney World

The Disney Kilimanjaro Safari wait times will vary from anywhere between 10 minutes to 120 minutes, This depends on the time of day as well as whether it is peak season or not.

As we have said, the lowest wait time will be as soon as the park opens.

If you leave it until 11 am you are likely to hit the peak wait times of at least 70 to 90 minutes.

Really try and avoid that time of day as it is likely to be the worst.

Kilimanjaro Safari - Animal Kingdom - Walt Disney World

If you don’t get to the attraction early in the day, the next best time to ride Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris is usually around 3 pm onwards.

A lot of people head for the attraction earlier in the day and have cleared that area by mid-afternoon.

The wait times for this Animal Kingdom attraction are somewhat better now that Disney’s Animal Kingdom has extended opening hours. It used to only ever be open 9 am until 5 pm.

Now the hours are often extended into the evening so this also gives a chance to experience the safari ride at night.

Kilimanjaro Safaris at Night

Welcome to Harambe Wildlife Reserve

Now the hours are often extended into the evening so this also gives a chance to experience the Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris at night.

This is a very different experience from touring during the day.

If possible you should try and ride once in the early morning and then go back late in the evening.

The least busy times will be just before the park closes.

Giraffes on Kilimanjaro Safari - Animal Kingdom - Walt Disney World

Adapting the experience for nighttime was not an easy task. Disney had to spend more than a year preparing the animals and the environment for the nighttime Kilimanjaro Safaris.

They introduced some new animals, such as the nocturnal hyenas, to be better suited to the nighttime experience.

They also added a huge wall of graphic displays to enhance the Kilimanjaro Safaris at night. This is so that guests can actually have enough light to see the animals.

The graphics cleverly mimic a gradually setting sun over an extended period of time.

This is so that the animals can adjust to the environment and the guests can actually still see the animals which are up and about in the evening.

The Kilimanjaro Safaris at Night is definitely a different experience than during the day. Ideally, you should do both. If you have to choose just one though, I would say go in the morning. You are likely to see more active animals.

Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris For Pregnant Ladies

I visited Disney World many times while pregnant. It’s a very pregnant lady-friendly place!

However, there are some Disney World rides that recommend that if you are pregnant you should not ride.

Zebras

Disney’s Kilimanjaro Safari Ride very clearly states that pregnant ladies should not ride.

This is going to be very much an individual decision. There are some rides at Disney World where it is very obvious that a pregnant woman should not ride.

You probably aren’t going to want to sign up to ride Space Mountain, Expedition Everest, or Rock N Roller Coaster when you are pregnant.

That’s obvious.

But Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of those Disney World rides where you are thinking shall I or shan’t I?

African Elephants on Kilimanjaro Safari - Animal Kingdom - Walt Disney World

My personal experience is that when I was pregnant with my youngest son I did go on the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride. After about 10 seconds I realized that for me, it was the wrong decision. Kilimanjaro Safari is bumpy!

I remember just wanting it to end almost as soon as it started.

I am fortunate and have experienced the Animal Kingdom Safari Ride many times. However, at that time I really wished I hadn’t. It’s fine normally to speed through the African planes in your safari vehicle over all the bumps, but when pregnant I just wanted to be somewhere else!

Will you be experiencing Disney’s Kilimanjaro Safaris on your next visit to the Animal Kingdom?

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Alison Meacham is the founder of EverythingMouse Disney Blog. For over 15 years she has shared her love of Disney Parks, Disney Cruises and Universal Orlando.  In over 30 years of Disney Travel she has spent countless months in Disney Parks and has sailed on over 45 cruises. A British native and now a United States resident she splits her time between California, Florida and the UK. And spends a serious amount of time sailing the seven seas. She helps over 200,000 people per month follow their Disney travel dreams.

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8 facts and secrets about kilimanjaro safaris in disney’s animal kingdom.

Posted by: Robin Swanson July 4, 2016

animal kingdom safari driver

Tucked all the way in the back of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Kilimanjaro Safari. The 18-minute ride’s conceit is a two week long safari through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve – 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 are 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

Animal Kingdom offers Kilimanjaro Safaris after dark! 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 savanna. Their wandering 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!

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About Robin Swanson

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Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (A Resorts Gal Guide with Photos)

“Come see nature in its wildlife on the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.” That sounds like one of the quotes you might find in the Harambe area of the park. Unfortunately, most of us will probably never have a chance to take a “real-life” safari. Kilimanjaro Safaris will probably be the closest opportunity we’ll ever have to enjoy such an experience.

Disney Imagineers took an exotic real-life experience, scaled it down, and made it available to guests of all ages. Years later, the safari remains one of Animal Kingdom’s busiest attractions. Below, we’ll discuss the details of experiencing this attraction and a few tips for the best times to ride. We live close to this park and visit often for the sole purpose of riding the safari.

giraffes and Wildebeests grazing on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Here are a few quick reference details for the safari.

Accessibility:

  • Must Transfer to Wheelchair. (A Wheelchair Access Vehicle is available.)
  • Designated transfer and load areas are also available.
  • Video Captioning
  • Assistive Listening
  • Handheld Captioning
  • Service Animals Permitted with Caution

Disney Warns: For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back, or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride.

a saddle billed stork on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris Review

Kilimanjaro Safaris is located in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It will be straight ahead after you cross the bridge from Discovery Island to Africa, toward the back of the park. A standby entrance is available for guests at the attraction’s entrance. The queue is mostly shaded. Some areas are covered, but it is almost entirely outdoors.

the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris with a 20-minute standby wait displayed

A separate Lightning Lane entrance sits to the right of the standby queue.

a sign that says Lightning Lane entrance for Kilimanjaro Safaris

The original queue had overhead televisions that told the story of Big Red and Little Red, elephants who were being hunted by vicious poachers. However, the entire poacher storyline was removed some time ago. Today, the ride focuses on conservation and educating guests.

A few photography tips are posted in the queue:

  • It is not possible to stop the vehicle for photographs.
  • Have your camera ready. Animals might appear at any moment.
  • Please be considerate and do not block the view of others while snapping photographs.

Your driver will likely share a few other tips:

  • Have your camera set to a sports mode setting or comparable for best results.
  • If you have a zoom lens, consider using it for long-range shots.

a sign that shares photography tips in the queue of Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom

It is important to note that Kilimanjaro Safaris usually closes earlier than the rest of the park. We like to ride the safari a couple of times on our visits. One of the best times to ride is the last hour of the day. So make note of what time the safari closes the first time you ride. We rarely experience a wait when we return later in the day. (Of course, if you’re visiting during a busy time of year, like Christmas or Easter, that may not be the case.)

a sign that tells how long Kilimanjaros is open for the day

At least 34 species of animals call the Harambe Wildlife Reserve home. The reserve comprises over 110 acres featuring open plains, shady forest landscapes, and rocky wetlands. A sign hangs above the rows of the safari vehicle that lists most of the animals you might see.

a sign on the safari vehicle that shows all the animals that call the Kilimanjaro Safaris home

Below, we see a safari vehicle ahead of us entering the reserve.

the beginning of the ride where the safari truck is entering the reserve at Disney's Animal Kingdom

After entering the reserve, an Okapi is one of the first animals you’ll usually see. An Okapi is a beautiful animal that resembles a zebra at first glance.

An Okapi hiding behind a tree on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

However, the Okapi is part of the giraffe family. For a closer look at an Okapi, visit Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail after you finish the safari or at some point in your day. Gorilla Fall’s entrance is on the immediate right when you exit. It’s a gorgeous trail with animal encounters, unique scenery, an aviary, and gorillas.

We also often see gazelles, impalas, and bongo in this area. Here is a bongo that was close to our vehicle.

A Bongo in the bush on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Black Rhinoceros are usually out toward the beginning of the attraction.

a black rhino against a red clay embankment

Black Rhinos are considered critically endangered. Unfortunately, they are hunted and poached for their horns. The most distinguishable difference between black and white rhinos is their hooked lips.

a rhinoceros on Kilimanjaro Safaris

After passing the rhinoceros area, you’ll enter the waters of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Hopefully, you’ll get to see a bloat, which is a group of hippos.

a bloat of hippos seen from Kilimanjaros Safaris

You might also see a few vultures in this area. If you see them like this, with their wings spread out, they are probably sunbathing, which helps keep their feathers healthy.

vulture with wings spread completely on Kilimanjaro Safaris

However, don’t get too distracted with the vultures. You might see a hippopotamus doing a little sunbathing, too.

a hippo crawling out from the water on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Occasionally, baby animals are born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to see several. Below is a picture of a baby hippo named Augustus. He was born a few years ago and, when he was old enough, moved to another zoo.

a mother and baby hippo sunbathing on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Right past the hippo area, there’s an area on the left-hand side where you can look down and see Nile crocodiles. They are pretty significant, and it is rare to see them moving.

a Nile crocodile on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Next, you’ll pass a Baobob tree, and the driver will give you a spiel about how it grows upside down. While this is happening, you’ll come out into a large, open savanna. Here, you will find a variety of animals grazing a replica of the Sub-Saharan East-African Landscape. The views are often stunning.

a view of the savanna from the safaris truck with many animals grazing

Below is the Springbok, my favorite animal on the safari! These little guys are adorable, but don’t let their genteel looks deceive you. They can reach speeds up to 55 miles per hour. Not only that, but they also do something called pronking.

a Sprinkbok grazing the savanna of Kilimanjaro Safaris

I’ve only seen them in action once on the safari, and it was amazing. Everyone, including our driver, was blown away.

a Springbok with giraffe in the distance

Zebras are another animal you might see on the African Savanna.

a zebra wth a safari truck in the background at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Make sure to look all around. Some animals are easy to see, while others hide in plain sight.

a Eland at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Check out the massive horns on these Ankole cattle. Fortunately, they aren’t as heavy as they look. According to the safari driver, they resemble honeycombs.

Ankole cattle with giant horns on Kilimanjaro Safaris

When you reach the savanna, one of the first things you’ll see is an enclosure on the left-hand side. This den is usually home to African Painted Dogs. They are usually napping in their den. In the past, we’ve also seen hyenas in this area.

painted dog den as seen from safari truck on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Occasionally, you might see a few awake. But from my experience, those times are few and far between.

painted dogs roaming the savanna at Kilimanjaro Safaris

As you curve around the savanna, you’ll see various animals coexisting.

Savanna with animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Lately, there have been quite a few zebra.

a view of zebras on the safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom

The giraffes are Masai giraffes. If you time things right, you might even see some babies. But really, it’s just a matter of luck. Did you know they are up and walking within minutes?

a mother and baby giraffe on Kilimanjaro Safaris

If you want to see Reticulated Giraffes, visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge . They have both Masai and Reticulated Giraffes on the resort’s savannas.

a tower of giraffes at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Giraffes are known for taking care of each other. It is not uncommon to see them form a group called a tower.

a group of giraffes resting among palm trees on Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney World

Here is one of the babies looking out onto the savanna.

a young giraffe looks out to the savanna at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Sometimes, they walk right up to your vehicle.

a giraffe close to the safari vehicle on Kilimanjaro Safaris

If you don’t see any on the main portion of the savanna, don’t worry. They are often grouped together in this area ahead on the left.

a tower of giraffes

After passing the main giraffe area, you will likely see a lone male elephant.

a lone male elephant on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Male elephants hang out alone, separately from the rest of the herd.

an elephant eating in a viewing area on the safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Across the way, you might catch a glimpse of the Mandrills at play. They are on the left-hand side and can be challenging to spot. For example, there are two in the picture below.

Mandrills on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Unfortunately, the drivers rarely mention them on the safaris I’ve been on lately. Nobody puts the Mandrills in a corner. Up ahead, you’ll catch up with the rest of the elephant herd.

an elephant on the safari at Disney

Usually, there are 4-5 elephants around the water. Below, you can see Stella, who was once the youngest of the herd.

a mother and baby elephant on Kilimanjaro Safaris

But now that award goes to Baby Cora, born in 2024.

animal kingdom safari driver

Visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom so often has been a special blessing in my life. I know so many babies and have watched them grow up over the past few years.

two elephants

One thing that’s not always mentioned on the safari ride is that most of the animals have formal names. I understand how it would be tough to keep them straight, but knowing a few of them and being able to recognize them on the safari feels kind of surreal sometimes.

Elephants

As you pass the elephants, you will see a watering hole for the flamingos. Look closely, and you might notice that the island is a hidden Mickey.

a flamboyance of flamingos on Kilimanjaro Safaris

From time to time, you might see a few newborn flamingos at the watering hole. You can tell which ones they are because they are covered in grey feathers. These babies were less than a week old when I took these photos.

close up view of the flamingos

After passing the Mickey-shaped island, some rhinoceros are usually roaming nearby. They are often close to the safari vehicle.

a rhinoceros close to the safari truck

One day, a pair of them walked alongside our vehicle. They were so close that I could have reached out and touched them.

a white rhino on Kilimanjaro Safaris

But of course, that would be very dangerous, and they are so large I couldn’t imagine!

a white rhinoceros at Disney

Sometimes, when it rains, you might see them wallowing in the mud. Seriously, who doesn’t enjoy a little time at the spa?

two rhinoceros resting in the mud at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Next, you’ll come across a large fenced area in the trees. This is where the cheetahs are located. They are, in my opinion, the most challenging animal to see on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Usually, the cheetahs are lying around in the shade. So look for a pile of spotted fur. You might see one walking around from time to time. This would be an excellent opportunity to use that zoom lens. So far, this is the best photo I’ve taken of a cheetah.

a cheetah resting in the grass on Kilimanjaro Safaris

After the cheetahs, you’ll approach the lions’ den, where you’ll get to see lions. Unfortunately, they’ll probably be sleeping—it’s what they do.

a group of lions resting on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Sometimes, you might see a lioness perched high on her rock overlooking the kingdom.

a female lion perched at the top of the den

But you will most often see them sleeping. Lions are nocturnal animals, so your best bet for seeing them active is to take a safari later in the day.

two sleeping lions at Disney's Animal Kingdom

They often begin to make a unique noise in the evening. So, if you have the opportunity and the safari is open later, I’d ride it once during the day and then again before dark. Here’s the one time I took my zoom lens.

a large male sleeping lion

After you pass the lions, there are a few small encounters. You might see a family of warthogs or more grazing animals. Often, you’ll see rhinoceros and zebra in the area.

animals grazing

A couple of ostriches are usually out and about.

ostriches on Kilimanjaro Safaris

At the very end of Kilimanjaro Safaris, you’ll see an area with Nigerian Dwarf Goats.

Nigerian Dwarf Goat habitat at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Okay, I use the words “usually” and “might” a lot in this article. But the truth is these particular animals are usually in these areas. However, don’t expect to see every one of them on one go-around. For example, I’ve passed the lion’s den many times without seeing any lions at all. Most of the photos used in this article were taken over hundreds of rides.

Here are a few commonly asked questions about this attraction.

How long is Kilimanjaro Safaris?

Disney’s website notes that a safari ride is approximately 18 minutes. That timing is a pretty accurate average with a few exceptions. Those exceptions are the activity of the wild animals on your safari. For instance, you will stop and wait if an animal walks out on the road.

There have been times when I’ve been on a safari that lasted as long as 30 minutes due to animals blocking the road. This is their habitat, and we are only visitors, so the safari drivers wait for the animals to naturally move out of the way.

a safari vehicle passing a rhinoceros at Disney's Animal Kingdom

What is the best time to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris? 

I’m not too fond of this question because the popular answer is early morning or later in the evening when it cools off a bit. So yes, animals might typically be more active at these times.

My answer, though, is anytime! These animals are not getting paid to put on a show. They aren’t slacking off in the heat of the day. Every single safari experience is unique and different. The saying “No two safaris are alike!” is true.

One of my favorite times to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris is during a light rain shower. The temperatures drop, and some of the animals are a little more active than normal.

Should we ride Kilimanjaro Safaris at night? 

Unfortunately, Kilimanjaro Safaris is no longer offered after dark. It was offered for a limited time in the evenings, but Disney no longer offers it due to so many guests’ complaints about the animals’ poor visibility.

Should you use Lightning Lane to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris?

Yes and no! It depends on what time you plan to ride the safari and how crowded the park is on the day of your visit. If you’re there during a high crowd time, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of Genie+ and use Lightning Lane for Kilimanjaro Safaris.

However, if you don’t purchase the Genie+ upgrade, I recommend riding the safari as early as possible. Then, get in line again later in the day when wait times tend to drop. When it rains, the wait times for Kilimanjaro Safaris drop significantly. However, during inclement weather, the attraction and queue close.

Additional Animal Experiences at Kilimanjaro Safaris

In addition to Kilimanjaro Safaris, there are a few other animal experiences related to the safari. These options are all an extra cost.

  • Caring For Giants provides a more up-close experience with the elephants. You can learn more about Caring For Giants on Disney’s website .
  • If you want to go all out and spend a couple of hours on safari, you might elect to book the Wild Africa Trek .

The Resorts Gal Spin on Kilimanjaro Safaris

We give Kilimanjaro Safaris the green light! This is a must-do attraction, and for us, it never gets old. We often visit the park later in the day just to ride it! This is the one attraction that we think guests need to experience multiple times. It’s educational, inspiring, and entertaining. Where else can you go on safari?

Our traffic signals:

Green Light:

This is an attraction that you must do regardless of the wait. Or it’s an attraction that we deem suitable to experience anytime.

We recommend stopping to check the posted wait times and making a quick judgment call on whether or not to wait.

Whatever you decide, I’m sure you will have an excellent day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Have fun on Kilimanjaro Safaris!

For more planning articles for Disney’s Animal Kingdom , you might enjoy:

  • Na’vi River Journey in Pandora
  • Expedition Everest Roller-Coaster
  • Adventurer’s Outpost (Meet Disney Pals)
  • Finding Nemo Musical at Animal Kingdom

Additionally, if you’re planning a stay at the Walt Disney World Resort, you might enjoy browsing our Disney World Resort Reviews . For resorts near the Animal Kingdom, try these:

  • Disney’s Kidani Village Review
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Review
  • Coronado Springs Resort Review
  • Gran Destino Tower Review
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Review

In the comments:

Have you ridden Kilimanjaro Safaris before? What animal do you hope to see? Share your thoughts about this attraction in the comments below.

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Hi, I'm Amber the owner of Resorts Gal. We have stayed at every single Disney Resort Hotel. Our philosophy? We believe you can have an incredible time at the resorts without ever setting foot in a theme park. We live near the parks and visit weekly and would love for you to follow along.

How is social distancing being handled on the vehicles?

Hi, One row per group and there are plastic dividers hanging between each open air row.

Excellent article too.✌❤😷

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COMMENTS

  1. Secrets of a Kilimanjaro Safaris Driver at Disney's Animal Kingdom

    Kilimanjaro Safaris is a live safari adventure that embodies the heart of what Animal Kingdom was built to be. The ride was one of the opening day attractions at the park, and continues to be one of its most popular draws. The signature attraction at the park, Kilimanjaro Safaris takes guests on a real off-roading adventure past real animals ...

  2. Kilimanjaro Safaris FULL Ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom ...

    We had the best Safari driver ever on the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park! Not only was he a great speaker, but we saw plenty of animals - including quite a few giraffes that ...

  3. Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Glimpse real African animals in their natural habitats during an 18-minute open-air safari tour in the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park in Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida.

  4. Ultimate Guide to Kilimanjaro Safaris (Animal Kingdom)

    Here's everything you need to know about Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Must-see list of safari animals & cool facts & tips!

  5. Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom

    The drivers are trained to spot the animals along the Safari and point them out to you. Photography, however, is a challenge — if possible the driver will briefly stop for your photo op.

  6. Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Kilimanjaro Safaris is a safari attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom on the Walt Disney World Resort property in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It simulates an open-sided safari ride through the savanna of East Africa .

  7. Guide to Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom

    In this post we give an overview of Kilimanjaro Safaris, a safari ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park in Walt Disney World. We cover the basics of the ride, how to ride it, and our thoughts on the experience. Read on to learn more!

  8. Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom: The Ultimate Guide

    Here's a Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom ultimate guide before you visit.

  9. Complete Guide to Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom

    Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom gives you the experience of a real-life African safari, but at Walt Disney World. As you travel through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve you will learn about conservation, the importance of taking care of animals, and, of course, get the chance to see amazing creatures, like elephants, hippos, and giraffes.

  10. Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safari Ride

    One of the top 5 attractions in Animal Kingdom is Kilimanjaro Safari. This is an open-air safari that takes guests on a trip through the 110-acre Harambe Wildlife Reserve. What is amazing about the Animal Kingdom safari is that you get close to animals in their natural environment.

  11. Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Kilimanjaro Safaris is a safari attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It is an open-sided safari ride through the savanna of East Africa.

  12. Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Kilimanjaro Safaris in the Africa section at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom theme park. Information, location, description, tips and more.

  13. The Best Time to go on Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of Animal Kingdom's most popular rides and a unique Disney World experience, taking you on a journey to see some of Africa's amazing wildlife. With so many different areas and animals on the safari, it can be hard to see them all in one ride. Choosing the right time of day will give you the best chance to see as many animals as possible.

  14. Awesome Facts and Secrets About Animal Kingdom Safaris

    Let's hop into our safari vehicle and explore! How to find Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom

  15. Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom 2023 Ride POV ...

    Enjoy a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom! The animals seemed very active on this afternoon and was able to get some solid shots of them!

  16. Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Want to know more about the Disney Kilimanjaro Safaris? One of the most immersive of all the Animal Kingdom rides, the Disney Kilimanjaro Safari takes you on a journey through the African planes. In Orlando Florida.

  17. IAmA Safari Driver at Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom. AMA

    IAmA Safari Driver at Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom. AMA. Here is some background: I work at Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom. I have been there for three months on the Disney College Program and am hoping to keep this as a permanent job. It is seriously the greatest job in the world. Ask me anything about the animals, the trucks ...

  18. 8 Facts And Secrets About Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney's Animal Kingdom

    The safari is an excellent opportunity to see and learn about a wide variety of animals. Want to know more about Kilimanjaro Safaris, here are 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 ...

  19. Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom (A ...

    Kilimanjaro Safaris is an incredible attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom that allows guests to see live animals on a savanna experience.

  20. How to get a job as a Kilimanjaro Safari driver at DAK?

    Safari doesn't require a CDL, but it wouldn't hurt your chances to have that on your resume. A degree in a biological or animal science would also be beneficial, as there are also positions in the walking trails and behind the scenes tours. Keep in mind that lots of people move to Orlando to work at Disney.

  21. The Secret History of Disney Rides: Kilimanjaro Safaris

    Remember when we explored the secret history of Jungle Cruise and how it started with Walt Disney wanting to use real animals? Well, the idea of Kilimanjaro Safaris actually stems from that! Although the safari ride didn't debut until April 1998 with the opening of Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Disney Imagineers kept this in mind to create an attraction featuring real animals.

  22. Guide to Disney World

    In Africa at Disney Animal Kingdom. As you pass over the bridge from Discovery Island, this attraction is straight ahead. Note well that the Fastpas entrance is at the far right side through a small obscure entrance.

  23. Animal kingdom safari ride different?

    I rode the safari ride last week at animal kingdom, it's been about 12 years since I last went. I swore there was a hydraulic bridge that dropped a little and the driver was acting trying to get us out of there.