Tammie’s Take Thursday:  When is the Best Time to Ride Kilimanjaro Safari?

kiloLions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!  Okay maybe not bears and you can see the tigers in Asia, but if you get lucky you will see some lions.

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari is an exceptionally realistic imitation of an actual African photo safari where you and 35 of your closest new friends will aboard an open safari vehicle and be sent off into a simulated African Savannah habitat  Where you might get lucky and see…

Antelopes, Baboons, Black rhinos, Cheetahs, Crocodiles, Elephants, Flamingos, Gazelles, Giraffes, Hippopotamus, Hyenas, Lions, Okapis, Ostrichs, Warthogs, White rhinos, Wildebeests, Wild dogs and Zebras

Recently I was helping out a client in planning her itinerary and a question came up when was the best time to take a safari.  She had read that it was best to ride first thing in the morning. While I tend to agree that morning is the best, the way that Disney Imagineers have created the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction, anytime is a good time (except for in the middle of the day in the summer and I am just like the animals, avoiding the heat).

Through the careful placement of salt licks, fodder like hay and grass, and fresh water supplies, the animals are encouraged to stay close to the roads so that you can see them when you ride by in the safari vehicle. Additionally, Disney uses air conditioned rocks and other temperature “tricks” to coax the animals to stay within view of the guests on the safari ride.

Disney uses water features, moats, electric fences, and natural barriers to keep the animals within their proper areas. Additionally, cattle guards, wires, and chains are placed on the ground to prevent the animals from crossing into other areas. And of course all of this is hidden from guests.

I have ridden the Kilimanjaro different times of the day on every trip and each time the safari is different.  Recently, I rode late on a afternoon in November near Sunset and had probably the best safari ride I have ever had. I saw several animals that I had never seen before including the hyenas and the black rhino.  The animals were all quite active, in complete view and close to the safari vehicle.

On my next trip this fall, I am planning to experience the safari at night. Disney Imagineers have installed a baseball stadium–size wall of graphics displays at the far end of the tour’s savanna grasslands. When turned on late in the day, the displays are programmed to simulate the dusk of a setting sun for hours on end. It provides theme park guests enough light to see those animals still roaming around. Disney also spent a year acclimating the existing animals and new nocturnal species to life at Disney.  I understand the actual safari pace is slower at nighttime and many animals are more active, while it is almost impossible to see other animals.

There are a few things that you need to know before you take off on your safari…

  • If you are taking photos, keep in mind that the vehicle does not always stop.  Be prepared to snap at anytime. Most stops are rolling stops. Drivers do their best to stop in places where big animals can be spotted.
  • You can expect long lines beginning 30 minutes after park opening until mid afternoon.
  • Sitting near the front of the safari truck will lessen the bumping that you feel as you travel. Sitting near the back of the truck will make the ride feel more bumpy and jumpy.
  • The ride can be rough and some people get scared crossing an “old bridge” that seems to collapse under your truck.
  • The ride lasts for about 20 minutes.
  • Each safari jeep hold 36 passengers with up to 5 people across and there are not seat belts.
  • Try to sit on the left side of the vehicle (side farthest when you board your jeep) since most of the animal sanctuaries are located on that side.

1hak

I guarantee that no safari ride will be the same.  No matter matter what time of day, rest assured that it will be an “Hakuna Mata” adventure, sit back and enjoy the safari.  And when you get off you will find yourself at the start of the Pangani Forest Trail,make sure that you explore this trail for closer looks at some the animals you saw on the safari as well as few new ones.

Bonus Fun Facts

  • Kilimanjaro Safari is 110 acres and It is the largest attraction in all of the Disney parks with regard to area covered. The entire Magic Kingdom theme park is 107 acres and could fit into just this one attraction in Animal Kingdom.
  • Disney acquired all animals from other zoos and reputable breeders instead of taking them from the wild.
  • Look closely at the flamingo island during the safari, take note of the island’s shape for a Hidden Mickey.
  • The elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom produce a ton of poop every single day which Disney even recycles and uses as fertilizer on the grounds across the Disney property.
  • Each evening the animals are called into their enclosures for the night by audio cues which include drums, whistles, horns, bells, and duck calls!

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