I participated in the Lion King and Born in China In-Home Walt Disney World Press Event.
Thanks to Disney for hosting me. Opinions are my own.
One of my favorite attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Kilimanjaro Safari. Guests embark on a 22-minute tour of the “African Savanna” in a cool 36-passenger jeep to explore the home of the theme park’s beautiful animals. I highly recommend this attraction during early morning, or evening hours. It’s during these times that the animals are the most active. If you are the adventurous type, and seek an up-close encounter, I must tell you about the park’s VIP Wild Africa Trek. The trek is a private 3-hour experience that has you walking above alligators, sampling exotic food and bonding with your fellow trekkers! This is the closest to a real African safari that I was able to do it in Florida, and it was a thrilling, memorable experience!
My group arrived about 15 minutes prior to our tour time. 2:30pm is the last tour of the day. The station is located next to the Kilimanjaro Safaris. The awesome Safari Trek team greeted us, and prepared us for the adventure. Participants are weighed (there is a 250-pound maximum), harnessed and equipped with trek vests. Some tips to make your trip a safe (see more at the bottom of this post), and fun one. Closed-toe shoes are mandatory. (Do not wear flip-flops!) Wear sunblock. It’s Florida people, and you will be outdoors during the entire trip. Bring bug spray (again it’s Florida) and you can bring your DSLR (I never leave home without it) as long it’s attached to a neck strap. You can also bring your cell phone, as long as it has a case for the safari team to attach a wristlet to it. Anything you bring has to be clipped to the supplied vest, or secured by a neck strap. You’ll see why. Each guest will also receive a name tag, water bottle (which you can keep) and headphones and a receiver to hear your tour guides. Our tour guides were Nicole they were really cool and knowledgeable.
After suiting up, the guides went over safety instructions, and then led us to a private entrance. I’m all for the VIP experience, so this behind-the-scenes look was so cool! We were taught a few Swahili words which our guides would yell out when it was time to go. I honestly don’t remember them because I was too excited. Our first stop, a close encounter with a hippo. This is when our harnesses come into play. The guides hooked each trekker to an overhead track which gave us the freedom to walk out onto the landing and look into the play space. We walked out to a clearing that overlooked a huge hippo pool. You can stretch out pretty far without falling in thanks to our safety gear. Sadly, there was only one hippo out (and I heard that he’s the grandfather of baby Fiona the newest hippo at the Cincinnati zoo). The guides talked to us about the animals’ diet, basic information and answered questions.
Before I left for the Lion King Blu-ray event, I did some research and discovered that we would be walking over two suspension bridges on this tour. I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated…ok, I was scared! Walking over a pit of crocodiles was a bit too daring, but I was assured by people who have gone on the trek that it was fun and completely SAFE. Safety is a priority at these parks, but did the bridges sway? What if I fall?? One by one, we were clipped to a cable. I thought I was prepared, but the sight of the suspension bridges frightened me. They looked flimsy. Once I stepped on the bridge I realized that it was a metal bridge with netting to catch you in case you did slip. Only two people are allowed on the bridge at once, and the guides make sure to spread everyone out. You can feel some movement when another person gets on the bridge with you. I stopped about halfway across the first bridge to catch my breath. You are fairly high up, and the Kilimanjaro safari trucks pass by below. I was having fun. It was exhilarating while I tried to grab a few photos with my cameras. Try not to grab the sides too hard as the metal can be hot to the touch. I finally made my way to the second landing where one of our tour guides waited for us. The second bridge looked shorter, but this one has you walking over a crocodile pit. Friends, these alligators are BIG. And I felt that this bridge moved a little more than the first one. It was freaky looking down at the alligators, but WOW what a rush!
Once across the second bridge, I cheered on the remaining trekkers who made their way across. Once we were all together, we clipped to another track so we could get a closer look at the crocodiles. You have a bit of that flight or fright moment while walking across the bridges. The wooden planks in some areas are spaced out so you focus on your steps vs what’s below you. It’s not until I was looking over the crocodile pit when I realized how many of them were down there!!! Some had their mouths open, but I discovered that is a way for them to stay cool. Oh, okay, I thought it was because they wanted to eat us. Did you know that alligators can be 12 feet in length? That’s twice as tall as my husband.
From here, we stepped into our private jeep for the rest of the tour. We completed the walking portion of the trek which meant we could take of the vests and harnesses. I was there in August, so I was dripping sweat and I was ready to throw away my shirt. Our guides gave each of us a cold towel. What a relief!! The cold towel was the BEST FEELING!! We departed for our private snack at The Boma. Wow, this truly felt like we were in the middle of the African Savannah. Our view of the Harambe wildlife reserve was beautiful, a flamingo area was to our right and we watched as the Kilimanjaro safari went by. Our “snacks” were served to us in two-layered stainless-steel camping containers. Here is the afternoon menu:
- Chicken curry salad
- Sun-dried tomato hummus and mini pita
- Marinated tandoori shrimp
- Smoked salmon roulade with dill
- Air-dried beef and prosciutto
- Fresh fruit marinated in mint and ginger
The snacks also included an attractive, edible flower (which I didn’t try.)
The exotic snacks were more of a lunch. I was pretty full, and tried everything. We also drank Jungle Juice. This was the place to fill up bottles, stop for a restroom break and take a walk behind our lunch spot. We got a glimpse of rhinos off in the distance, as well as, a curious ostrich.
After our meal break, we loaded back onto the safari jeep to look for more animals. We saw giraffes, rhinos . The pace of this tour is slower than the KS (Please spell out here). We made some stops for a closer look. We saw a playful baby elephant who didn’t want to get out of the water. I didn’t blame him!
Three hours seems like a long-time, but it went by quickly. You are constantly moving or seeing gorgeous animals and a lush surrounding. This was a wonderful opportunity that I will never forget. I enjoyed bonding with the group, seeing the animals and getting to know our tour guides. Another perk of the tour is that the guides and a photographer take photos of each member, and of highlights from the trip. The photos are included in the price of the trip, and are uploaded to a site within 48 hours. The photos turned out great, and provide a terrific memento of the trip. So, if you don’t take your own pictures, don’t worry, there will be plenty of photos for you.
The price of the Safari Trek is $189.00 – 249.00 for adults. Here are some tips and rules from Disney’s Animal Kingdom site to make your trip comfortable:
– For your safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure; heart, back or neck problems; motion sickness or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not participate.
– Guests under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a participating adult (18 years of age or older).
– Participants must be 8 years of age or older and at least 48 inches (122 cm) tall.
– Participants must be between 45 and 300 lbs. with the harness gear on. The safety harnesses used for this experience may prohibit guests of certain body shapes or sizes from participating. – You must have physical stamina, comfort with heights, and the surefootedness to negotiate small hills, foliage and unsteady rope bridges on this tour.
– Guests seeking a less strenuous or wheelchair-accessible trek should contact Wild Africa Trek operations at (407) WDW-TOUR or (407) 939-8687 for alternative programs.
– Recommended attire includes shorts or pants, and a comfortable shirt. Closed-toe shoes with a back strap or hiking boots are required. No flip-flops will be allowed. Skirts or dresses are not recommended.
– Complimentary lockers for your belongings will be provided. You will also receive a safety vest and wireless headset, so that you can hear your guide at all times. Cameras are allowed as long as they can be securely fastened to the vest. – Please arrive on time, and allow approximately 10 minutes for the walk from the turnstiles at the front of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park to the Harambe area check-in location.
– Excursion occurs rain or shine, with the exception of severe weather or lightning.
– Tour itinerary, content, duration and availability are subject to change without notice.
– You will forfeit the entire price of your tour if you no-show, or cancel within 2 days of your reservation.
Thank you to Disney for always encouraging me to get out of my comfort zone. I don’t know if this is something I would’ve tried on my own. I got over my fear, and it turned out to be wonderful journey!!