Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition

Africa, Animal Kingdom Park

  • Land: Africa
  • Type: Fun for Everyone
Where: Africa
Height: Any Height
Experience: Fun For Everyone
Duration: 22 minutes

Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition, an attraction for Guests of all ages, provides the chance to see African animals including giraffes, black rhinos and lions, as they roam the 100-acre savanna in the Africa area of Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park.

The Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition tour begins in the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, across the river from Discovery Island. Climb aboard a rugged open-sided safari vehicle for an exciting expedition through the wildlife preserve. The ride can be a bit bumpy as it crosses rickety bridges, rocky hills and rivers-but you're rewarded with spectacular animal sightings. Since animals have minds of their own, no two Kilimanjaro Safari experiences are the same. You may even catch a glimpse of one of the many baby animals that were recently born at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park.


The ride originally begins as a two-week safari aboard Simba 1 through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve in Harambe, East Africa. It is 800 square miles 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, giraffes, zebras, antelope, gazelles, crocodiles, monkeys, hippos, lions, cheetahs, warthogs, ostriches, rhinos, storks, pelicans, flamingos, wildebeests, 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.

The Ride

Walking through the queue area you find yourself in the Harambe Reserve. Overhead TVs explain that poaching has killed many animals. Soon you arrive at the boarding platform, enter your jeep and head into the animal reserve. Your driver begins radio contact with a pilot....and off you and your jeep goes, down the bumpy dirt trail and into Africa! Your driver will point out the various wildlife for you, but don't count on them to stop for your photo op, most barely pause especially during busy times.

Bongos are 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. Hippos are at the base of cascading waterfalls.

The Vehicle emerges from thick vegetation into the vast savannah grasslands. In this area you might see Giraffes, Sable Antelope, Thomson's Gazelle and Ostriches. The land is very different here and is accented by termite mounds up to 20 feet high.

On the left is a huge rock formation where the Mandrill Baboon family lives. Around the next bend are the Elephants. The radio contact picks back up as the pilot searches for Big Red and Little Red (elephants). The ancient baobab trees can be found in this area

Pink Flamingoes inhabit a tiny island that legend says is in the form of a "Hidden Mickey". 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.

Coming around the last 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 Kopje Lions. Lions do spend the majority of their day sleeping; so don't expect to see much activity.

The warthogs start to ramble across the field when the radio comes on again to alert your driver to poachers in the area. The jeep takes off, you hear gunshots and smoldering campfires. Finally, the poachers are in custody! The pilot waves to you and you'll find that Little Red is safe! This is when your safari comes to an end, as the vehicle rejoins the main roads and the Park Ranger Station comes into view.

African Animals

  • Okapi
  • Hippos - at the base of cascading waterfalls
  • Greater Kudu
  • White-faced Tree Duck
  • Northern Pintail Duck
  • Sable antelope
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Wildebeest
  • Pink-backed Pelican
  • Bontebok
  • Eland
  • Yellow-billed Duck
  • Thomson's gazelle
  • Yellow-billed Stork
  • Ankole Cattle
  • Mandrill
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Scimitar-horned oryx
  • Red-billed Duck
  • Helmeted Guineafowl
  • White-breasted Cormorant
  • Stanley Crane
  • Bongo - hiding around the first bend, look quickly or you might miss these shy creatures
  • Yellow-backed duiker
  • Saddle-billed Stork
  • Black rhinoceros
  • White rhinoceros
  • Hippopotamus
  • Nile crocodile
  • Reticulated Giraffe
  • Masai Giraffe
  • Warthog
  • Ostrich
  • Cheetah
  • Elephant
  • Lion
  • Addax

Touring Tips

  • The best times to ride the Safari seem to be first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon. The animals appear to be more active during both of these times.
  • FASTPASS is almost always a must here! One suggestion is to go get your FASTPASS when you are ready for breakfast or lunch and about the time you finish eating, it's time to ride the Safari.
  • Bring binoculars to get a close-up glimpse of the animals that may be off in the distance.
  • The ride is very bumpy and even though our driver took care to avoid some of the bigger bumps, our son was still jostled around quite a bit in his wheelchair. Smaller children will actually come out of their seats on some of the bumps.


  • The ride vehicle is 8 feet off the ground enabling you to wind your way through the grasslands and waterways of the Savanah. 32 passengers fit in this all terrain truck with a driver for your guide. The drivers are trained to spot the animals along the Safari and point them out to you.
  • Work has begun on removing the poaching storyline from this attraction. "Little Red", the audio-animatronic elephant that has been captured by poachers, will be taken out and a new savannah area will be created here instead. The new area will have a watering hole for zebras, who aren't often seen on the Safari because of their location. The refurbishment will be completed by fall 2012; the attraction will remain open during this time.
  • 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 attraction features custom-built GMC trucks riding washed-out, rutted roads and a bridge that tilts. The roadbed is actually constructed of dark brown-colored concrete embedded with permanent tire ruts.
  • Between each ecosystem are both chain road sensors and bars to prevent animals from venturing between sections. The vehicles drive directly on these obstacles.
  • Initially, there were a number of animal deaths from disease, toxic exposure, maternal killings and park vehicles. The United States Department of Agriculture investigation found no violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The pneumonia death of a hippopotamus caused a 40 minute closure of the ride.
  • When building the savannah, landscapers asked that the plants and trees be in place for 2 years before moving in the animals.


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 troup, 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.

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 2007-9, the trucks were extended with an extra row of seating, allowing for more capacity. 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. This led to a somewhat confused plot in which guests are searching for a lost "mother elephant" and eventually find her baby which, according to the story, had already been safe the whole time.

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.

Long before the safari or even Walt Disney World opened, Walt Disney wanted to use real African animals for the river attraction Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. However, due to several reasons, Audio-Animatronics replicas were placed instead.

In July 2010 it was announced that guests will soon be able to go on "guided treks" around the savannah. 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 was to be removed, and replaced with a zebra exhibit. It has been confirmed that the ride will remain open during construction, and this exhibit is expected to open Fall of 2012.

Hidden Mickey

  • The flamingo island is a huge Hidden Mickey.