Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom
The current story in a short photo safari aboard a safari vehicle through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. It is 800 square miles of natural terrain including forest, wetlands and open bush country. African animals on view include: elephants, antelopes, gazelles, crocodiles, monkeys, hippopotamuses, lions, cheetahs, hyena, African wild dogs, warthogs, ostriches, rhinoceroses, ducks, storks, pelicans, flamingos, wildebeests, okapis and zebras. The game driver points out animals and provides entertainment.
The ride originally included a scripted portion where the safari truck – callsign “Simba-1” – would be contacted by a habitat warden and a scientist to hunt down poachers that had captured a mother elephant and her child – Big Red and Little Red, respectively. The poachers would have been captured at gunpoint by another cast member, a warden. This element of the attraction was eventually eliminated and replaced with scaring off the poachers after a pursuit.
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.
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 July 2010 it was announced that guests will soon be able to go on “guided treks” around the savanna. This will include areas that are not part of the regular ride experience.
On February 10, 2012 it was announced that the “Little Red” portion of the ride would be replaced with a zebra exhibit. It opened in the fall of 2012.
In 2016, Night Safaris were reintroduced as a part of the expansion of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The nighttime changes included a “sunset,” animal sounds, and the introduction of hyenas to the reserve. The ride path was shortened for the night safaris in order to avoid areas where no animals would be visible.
Here are some photos taken on our last trip into the Wildlife Reserve…