Have you ever ridden the Kilimanjaro Safaris and wished that you weren’t on such a huge truck and that you had an animal guide with you to answer all your questions and share interesting, sometimes amusing facts?
And have you thought about how nice it would be to just sit and watch the savanna “breathe?” And wouldn’t it be nice to do just that while enjoying some African-inspired tapas and beverages?
Well, if you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you should seriously consider signing up for Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience. It has been on my radar for a while now and when Disney Vacation Club announced a special 30 percent discount for the months of February and March, we said, “Let’s book it!” The regular price without a discount is $169; AP and Disney Visa® card holders receive a 15 percent discount on most tours. (The usual discount for DVC members is also 15 percent.)
Our savanna time was 4 p.m. and we were requested to check in 15 minutes early. We went to where we thought the check-in was, at the Curiosity Animal Tours Kiosk in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, just before you reach the Kilimanjaro Safari entrance. The folks there directed us just to the right of the standby entrance for the Kilimanjaro Safaris. The cast members were strict about not letting anyone in until exactly 4 p.m.
At our designated time, we walked past the cast member with the sign to the check-in area. First up, sign the waiver. There was ice cold water and a special juice (orange, pineapple and mango) available while we waited for everyone to arrive.
Soon, all 10 of us (there is a limit of 12 per tour) followed our guide back into Animal Kingdom and around Rafiki’s Planet Watch. At this point, we found our truck waiting for us.
It is important to note that the ride on this vehicle is very rough! Rougher even than a regular Kilimanjaro Safaris vehicle. You are seated along the sides of the vehicle, so people who get motion or car sick may not do well. VERY IMPORTANT: You must stay seated until the guide tells you it is OK to stand. I have photos of the truck seating at the end of this blog.
For a while, we followed the regular Kilimanjaro Safaris route. Our guide pointed out animals and shared lots of stories and interesting facts.
When we spotted animals, we gave a shout and if possible the truck stopped to allow photos.
We started out in the forest. When most people think of Africa they do not think of forests, they think of wide open plains. But Africa has several distinct types of habitat. The forest contains animals such as the Bongo.
I sometimes wonder if the hippo pictured above ever moves… everyone seems to have the exact same photo of it!
One interesting tidbit is that there are special “water holes” for the animals to drink from.
Once in the biggest (east) savanna we pulled over and the cast member who works there came to talk to us. She had lots of details about the savanna itself and the animals. I just wish I could remember it all.
Just as we started to leave a giraffe came by to say hello.
We continued along our way and soon saw the “Boma” (in the west savanna), the next stop in our journey.
The “Boma” is a viewing platform. It is used for various tours including the Wild Africa Trek. It is spacious, covered and has two restrooms available.
Our time here was relaxing, informative and downright enjoyable.
You know you are someplace special when no one rushes to line up for beverages or food. We were all looking out over the savanna. I had flashbacks to the Lion King when Mufasa told Simba, “Look, Simba, everything the light touches is our kingdom.”
This was the “savor” part of the experience — lots of yummy snacks, shrimp, grapes, cheeses, nuts, prosciutto, edamame and desserts. There were choices of African beers and wines, as well as water and juice available.
We could see wildebeest (AKA gnu) in the distance. Nearby the giraffes were putting on a show. One of the younger giraffes was making a game of chasing the ducks that landed in the small pond. We watched the Kilimanjaro Safari trucks pass and the greater flamingos at the big Hidden Mickey watering hole. Looking out we could see the elephants.
The guides were on hand to answer any questions we had and to share more information about the savanna and conservation. They explained the photos on the tables of the villagers in Africa building a “living fence” to keep the predators away from their livestock. This effort is aided by donations from Disney.
There is also another walkway and overlook. This one features a view of the majestic lions. We were fortunate to see Frankie (so called because of his Sinatra-like blue eyes) the rhino walk by.
We spent at least a solid hour at the Boma. Once reloaded in the truck, we returned to the regular Kilimanjaro Safaris path and had one last awesome animal sighting.
Drop-off was at one of the regular Kilimanjaro Safaris stops. When the tour was over we were all given a rock. Disney donates a portion of the tour price (as they do with all Animal Kingdom tours) to conservation efforts for various animals/programs. Each tour participant places a rock in the marked area they want to support.
Kudos to the team of cast members: Morgan, Megan, Claire, Sarah, and everyone else (sorry, I can’t recall all your names).
It was a wonderful experience and the four of us in my party highly recommend it, especially now with the Disney Vacation Club discount. We all agreed we would take the tour again.
When I called to make reservations I was asked about food allergies. Once we arrived at the Boma one of the cast members asked those with allergies to identify themselves. She had responses for each person/allergy. It was nice to see things work as they should.
The particulars from Disney (the entire list is HERE):
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 must be at least 8 years of age to participate in this experience.
Guests under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a participating adult (18 years of age or older).
This experience requires guests in ECVs to transfer into an available wheelchair to participate in the tour.
This excursion occurs rain or shine, with the exception of severe weather or lightning.
Valid theme park admission to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park is also required and is not included in the price of this tour.
If you have taken any of Walt Disney World’s special tours, please leave your comments to help other guests plan their vacations.
Guests must be at least 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages. Please keep a valid form of identification on hand at all times to verify your age.