Five Wild Facts About Kilimanjaro Safaris

Britta StephensAnimal Kingdom, Blog

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Walt Disney World makes it so simple and easy to travel the world all while staying in one place. There’s the World Showcase at EPCOT, while Hollywood Studios brings us to the glamour of the west coast. But the Animal Kingdom brings us the most special experience of all—real live animals! Join me as we travel through Kilimanjaro Safaris to and check out all the animals!

Kilimanjaro Safaris is my absolute favorite experience at Animal Kingdom.

From the conservation efforts to the fun facts about the 30 species of animals that coexist in harmony, you will absolutely feel as though you are on a legitimate African Safari.  So hop in a Jeep, and let’s explore the African wild and snap some pictures along the way!

1. Walt’s Dream Come to Life

Elephants Kilimanjaro Safaris

Unlike Jungle Cruise, these animals are not animatronic—they’re the real deal! Photo by Judd Helms

Walt had so many hopes and dreams for the parks that he never got to see, but the amazing thing is how many have been brought to life even after his passing.

Live animals in the Disney theme parks were just one of these aspirations. In the Disney community, I hear folks say ‘I wonder what Walt would think of X new addition?’ My guess is that he would be ecstatic, but not surprised at all—making dreams come to life is what he did best. 

2.The Happiest Place for Animals!

If you’re anything like me, you may have often wondered how animals of all different species and levels of the food chain coexist in seemingly perfect harmony with no visible barriers. 

Giraffe

This giraffe is relaxed knowing he’s safe from any predators. Photo by Laurie Sapp

That’s because these barriers, while invisible, are distinguishable to the animals (and of course, the Imagineers) but give the guests an even truer sense of a real African safari. With animals feeling safe enough to relax yet curious and stimulated enough to make appearances, everyone’s happy!

3. Animals on Display

You may have noticed that while there is no guarantee that you will see all or even most of the animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris, there is a good chance that a fair amount of them will be in view thanks to a little Disney magic. 

Since giraffes and cattle tend to be on the more introverted side, Imagineers have hung salt licks and feeders in their savanna so as to coax them into view of the guests. And those lions you are bound to find snoozing on a cool rock, seemingly no matter the time of day? 

Lion

The rocks are even heated when it’s chilly out! Photo by Laurie Sapp

That is because the team at Walt Disney World figured out a way to pipe cool air into the rocks, specifically the ones that are most visible during your safari.  Happy guests, very happy cats. It’s a win-win!

4. A Trackless Trek

Kilimanjaro Safaris Jeeps

The Cast Member is really driving this ride vehicle! Photo by Cliff Wang

We are so accustomed to many things we experience at Disney being on a track that we tend to assume every boat, doom buggy and yes, even Jeep is operated the same way. This, however, is not true of the Jeeps on the Kilimanjaro Safaris. 

Your tour guide is actually driving your ride vehicle, which costs upwards of $100,000! Talk about an expensive ride! This is most likely due to the fact that while boundaries exist, rhinos and giraffes will be well, rhinos and giraffes, and there is no guarantee that one of the little fellas’ won’t wander in the middle of the road. 

Your Cast Member has to be able to stop and start the vehicle at the will of nature. Literally every detail is centered around the animals in this attraction, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

5.From Sunup to Sundown

Of course, there is no guarantee which animals you will see and when on your African trek. You do, however, have a much better chance of spotting as many of these gorgeous loves as possible if you take a ride during different times of the day. 

With some animals being shy, nocturnal, or just plain stubborn (I’m looking at you, Mr. Rhino) the more you visit the safari, the better chance you’ll have of spotting as many species of animals as possible. Not to mention Kilimanjaro Safaris on a cool(ish) African evening is a breathtaking, surreal experience. 

Rhino

Some animals get really up close and personal with the Jeeps! Photo by Judd Helms

So many things make Kilimanjaro Safaris one of the most popular attractions in all of Walt Disney World, but what makes it so special to me as a Disney lover is that it is one of Walt’s greatest dreams to come to life. 

He may not have gotten to see this attraction or Animal Kingdom for that matter, but the fact remains that without one man’s dream—we wouldn’t be experiencing the beauty of live animals in Disney theme parks, and Animal Kingdom itself would still be a sleeping dream as opposed to the very real dream come to life it is today.

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About the Author

Britta Stephens

Britta Stephens is a contributing writer for WDW Magazine, Disney blogger, hairstylist, and dog mom x2. The first book she ever read was Hans Christan Anderson’s The Little Mermaid and she's been a fan of Disney endings ever since. When she’s not fostering kittens, she can be found reading literature from a dog’s perspective and singing the opening of The Lion King to her greenhouse plants.