It wasn’t very long ago that we traversed the Harambe Wildlife Reserve to bring you a look at the work to construct a new Zebra exhibit in the place of the Little Red Poaching Scene that infamously brought Kilimanjaro Safaris to its somewhat dramatic thematic conclusion. During our last visit we had seen all of the props removed and land cleared and even a few sections of fresh sod put into place. But the work is now altogether more complete. Only a distant memory are the geyser pits that once lined this area, where now grassy rolling hills stand. Behind where the “Little Red” Elephant would always appear rescued now lies construction of what looks to be a pool and site for the watering hole as described by Disney during the official announcement of this new Zebra habitat.
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As for the ride itself we remain concerned that it just doesn’t have the might it would have with a cohesive storyline beyond the watered down conservation message that is already prevalent throughout the entire park and every zoo across this country. That isn’t to say that Kilimanjaro Safaris isn’t an amazing attraction on its own or that an impressive driver can’t make your ride through special, or even that the animals themselves aren’t gripping enough. However what makes a great Disney attraction stand out from any other is the complex level of details all coming together to make something holistically better and without a storyline that really draws you into what you are experiencing more often than not, the ride-throughs we’ve been on have been flat at best despite the truly impressive animal adventure you are taken on.
…what makes a great Disney attraction stand out from any other is the complex level of details all coming together to make something holistically better…
Of course the lack of storyline issues only help to highlight other problems with Kilimanjaro Safaris in its current state. The Wild Africa Trek tour infrastructure is an eye sore and especially over by the crocodile habitat where rickety bridges have been in place over them since the tour’s opening in 2011. It is difficult to achieve the escapism the attraction originally possessed when you are watching guests crossing over these bridges. You don’t have the sense of fear over crossing your own “rickety” bridge, you don’t feel like you are in the wilds of an African Reserve and at worst sometimes you are naturally more drawn to watch the people’s antics crossing the bridge than the sleeping giants with sharp teeth below. Later you have yet another bridge where the infamous falling bridge effect is supposed to occur. Needless to say this effect has had its issues throughout the years and it is a rarity when it actually occurs. It makes crossing these bridges boring and coupled with the lack of poacher storyline sterilizes the attraction from any harmless but much needed sense of peril. Still, it is our hope Disney Imagineers understand the latter and are working to put something in place of the previous storyline that although flawed provided for a more riveting ride from beginning to end.
Our concerns aside we are looking forward to the Zebra exhibit opening later this fall at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and we of course will continue to provide you with coverage throughout.