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 Review of Killimanjaro Safaris @ Animal Kingdom
-2 Rating Posted by: Canobie Coaster on 9/4/2008 8:49:00 PM
Killimanjaro Safaris is often highly regarded and considered one of the park’s best attractions. Not only did it open originally when the park did back in 1998, but it exemplifies exactly what the park is- part theme-park, part zoo. Well, over the years it has gained a reputable following and mounds of praise from the general public and theme park enthusiasts alike. Unfortunately, I was pressed for time during by visit back in 2000, leading to me skipping this in favor of the park’s more extreme attractions, but I got a chance to experience this expedition this past summer. Well, was it worth the wait? Eh, not so much.

Situated in the back corner of the park in the Africa section of the park, Killimanjaro Safaris is quite popular amongst park-goers. Just within an hour of park opening, pretty significant crowds had already flocked to the attraction, leading to a 20 minute wait forming, which while not bad by any means, it shows exactly how quickly the line builds up for this attraction. Now maybe they don’t get much worse, but if they do Fastpass is offered to reduce your wait to almost nothing. After making my way through the very nicely shaded queue that really separates the attraction from the rest of the park thanks to the abundant landscaping featured around the attraction, I reached the boarding area.

Eventually I boarded the very nice looking tour vehicle, which was quite comfortable if I do say so myself, and was instantly notified of the animal identification key located in the vehicle. I applaud Disney for such an excellent use of space in the vehicle since it makes identifying the animals mentioned by the tour guide so much easier. Speaking of tour guides, as with all rides that use them, it’s really a mixed bag. Some are good like the one I received, but some of the other vehicles had ones with extremely thick accents that could really hamper a ride due to communication issues.

My first comment about the ride is how surprisingly bumpy it was. I personally didn’t mind it that much, but I know others were complaining, but honestly I thought the bumpiness added to the authenticity of the experience. I mean let’s be honest, a safari expedition through Africa definitely wouldn’t be glass-smooth like a ride on the highway or a B and M for that matter. Still, the bumpiness maintained throughout the attraction is very prevalent and noticeable, so be warned.

As for the ride itself, it has a very long path that brings riders face to face with a wide variety of animals ranging from elephants to cheetahs to ostriches. There just is a great variety in wildlife. However, not all of the animals can be seen on each ride, which always is a major drawback with any real animal attractions since sometimes they’re sleeping or just hidden from view like my prior experiences at my local zoos. The really disappointing fact was that I had heard that the animals are much more active during the morning hours than the hot afternoon. I can’t even imagine what they would have been like later in the day. Most of the animals simply were busy getting their beauty sleep.

What I did see though was great and I loved how well Disney created each animal’s environment, especially the lack of fencing and I really marvel at how Disney is able to safely contain them all like that. It’s just mind-blowing how Disney executed that and I’m just amazed at how the animals have never gotten into a violent brawl before. My personal favorites were the towering giraffes, massive rhinos, and frightening wildcats, with the giraffes being my absolute favorites thanks to their extremely close proximity to the ride vehicle during their breakfast.

Lastly, I really hated the whole poacher aspect that was the ride’s finale. I honestly found it far too cheesy and stupid. Personally, I would have preferred if Disney stuck exclusively to the animal tour for the entire duration of the ride since the poacher scene really hampered my enjoyment of this attraction significantly, drawing my attention away from the glamour of the African wildlife to a cheesy storyline that really lacked any major suspense or elements. This segment was simply unnecessary, and I hope Disney reverts the attraction to its original form which apparently lacked this horrid element.

The actual attraction was a neat idea, but I just didn’t think it was executed as well I had wished for with the poacher aspect and inability to view all of the wildlife being the primary drawbacks. Granted the last negative is a given with this type of attraction, I still prefer the Jungle Cruise over this since it’s just an all-around more enjoyable experience for me with the consistently-enjoyable scenes triumphing the randomness of this attraction. Still, this is an attraction certainly well worth experiencing while at Animal Kingdom since it’s the easiest and best way to see the animals offered at the park and clearly one of the park’s iconic attractions.
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