Poachers are now history in the Harambe Wildlife Preserve (well save for the queue video that is yet to be replaced) and in their place are wonderfully striped animals. Zebras are now once again part of the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction after they were removed in part because of their aggressiveness towards other animals in the savannah. When the decision was made to remove the poacher’s scene from the attraction the Zebras now had a new, separate space all onto themselves. Of course this left fans of the attraction with several questions. What would become of the attraction’s storyline? Would the ride have “an ending?” Would the Zebra habitat be just as beautiful or more beautiful than the other areas of the attraction? These are just a few of the questions we sought out to answer on our latest journey through the Animal Kingdom’s African animal preserve.
Make no mistake about it, Kilimanjaro Safaris largely remains the same breathtaking attraction it is and always has been, save for a few caveats. It is nearly impossible to quantify how amazing the experience of the simulated African savannah with “free roaming” animals is to guests who most will never experience the real thing in their lifetime. It is why the attraction provides moments that are genuinely breathtaking and continues to do so even to this day. But there were storyline elements intertwined with the incredible animal experiences that made this attraction follow the unique and patently Disney formula of dramatic storyline with a happy ending. Not to mention that on top of this the poacher storyline also aided in telling the conservation story of Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a unique way at Kilimanjaro Safaris that resonated and despite its shortcomings, left an indelible impression on guests. That is now gone and with it the moments where one was immersed and captivated with a storyline that we were an active participant in. Now we simply gaze upon animals grazing which in of itself is unique and special but it isn’t the Disney level experience we have come to know, love and expect. Still worse, the attraction now doesn’t have an ending, it just ends. Despite all of the latter, the new additions and removals aren’t all doom and gloom either.
…the attraction now doesn’t have an ending, it just ends.
The Zebra habitat is a standout for its animals whose beauty is quite majestic and iconic, though the same praise can not be placed upon the “watering hole” Disney has built for them. A herd of dozens of Zebras is impressive as they graze on the grassland below them and you can see the excitement on guest’s faces as they encounter these amazing creatures. But the area they replaced, the geyser run scene filled with bursts of shooting water was infinitely more detailed and dramatic whereas now the area is simple (in its worst sense) and only carried by the fact that these animals are simply stunning. Perhaps one could argue the natural habitat of the Zebra is simple but Disney’s animal habitats throughout Kilimanjaro Safaris take simple habitats and add some flair for the dramatic so as to inspire the guests driven into them. Every part of Kilimanjaro Safaris’ habitats have this flair save now for the Zebra habitat. Whether it be leaning over the edge of Hippo-filled waters, looking up at the rock boulders that claim the Lion’s territory, or just simply the striking overview of the African Savannah they all strike a sense of wonder, one that the Zebra exhibit doesn’t quite measure up to.
Kilimanjaro Safaris is a can’t miss attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that is hampered by not having a storyline…
So what is Kilimanjaro Safaris today? It is a can’t miss attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that is hampered by not having a storyline that while never perfect is missed. A storyline that while simple made all the other elements come together. In fact while I’d love to praise (and do to some extent) that Disney seems to have fixed the falling bridge scene on the attraction you can’t help but notice that it almost seems out-of-place now that most of the fun “ride” aspects of the attraction are a thing of the past. These small things add up and it isn’t the only negative one facing Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we just hope Disney isn’t done here because this isn’t their best.