My family loves the Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom. Because the animals are “free” to roam (within limits), you get a somewhat different experience each time you ride. Most of our experiences have been wonderful, with the guides being informative and often somewhat funny. Except one time. On one trip we learned ALL THE RULES from our guide (who we refer to now as the Safari Master) over and over again. Let me enlighten you, in case you were wondering what behavior is acceptable. Trust me; I am well acquainted at this point…
7. Keep Your Arms In:Every theme park rider is used to hearing the old “keep hands and arms inside the vehicle”. It’s no different on the Safari. Because the ride is in a large, free-moving vehicle, I can totally understand this rule from a safety standpoint. Safari Master thought this rule was extremely important too and apparently had eyes in the back of her head. One guest dared putting their smartphone a few inches over the side to snap a picture and you’d think he was literally risking life and limb. “Sir, those are dangerous crocodiles down there. I don’t think they’d have any problem taking your hand along with your phone.” Um, OK.
6. Don’t Switch Seats: There are no seat belts in the Kilimanjaro Safari trucks. But for the love of all that is Africa, you must act like there are. Kids are vertically challenged and sometimes they want to switch seats with their parents for a better view of a particular animal. Or sometimes people want to be really reckless and scoot to the other side. DON’T DO IT while in the truck with Safari Master. Our truck-load of people must have been told this rule at least five times, so it must be incredibly important.
5. Don’t Put Children On Your Lap: Before starting our tour, Safari Master made it very clear that children should not be moving from lap to seat all willy-nilly. That would be akin to anarchy apparently and she was not going to tolerate it. We were instructed to have our kids choose before we left the loading area whether they were going to sit the entire time on our laps or in their own seat. The ride is like 30 minutes long or something. I felt like we were making a choice for my toddlers’ college education. They are toddlers, I don’t know what position they will prefer in 5 minutes, much less an entire safari ride. I employed many smooth and stealthy lap-slide moves on that trip, for sure. I am such a rebel.
4. Don’t Raise Your Voice: Going past a sleeping animal, Safari Master made sure that we knew to keep our voices down. Because, you know, the gigantic diesel truck we were riding in was purring like a Prius and all.
3. Don’t Make Animal Noises: Our truck came upon a bunch of zebras that were super close to the truck. It was awesome! In the excitement, some kids started calling to the zebras making what they thought were zebra noises. Safari Master cautioned “Do not make noises at those zebras! That’s just rude!” I have a different definition of rude, I guess. But lesson learned: apparently zebras are easily offended.
2. Don’t Eat: No snacking on the ride. None. Nada. We were never told why, but just don’t. (Actually I get this one – it probably is a safety and a litter thing or whatever. Not a biggie.)
1. Don’t Touch the Animals: The giraffes came super close to our truck as well at one point. Again, awesome, I know! But Safari Master nearly had a heart attack. “Folks do NOT reach out and touch those giraffes!” None of us even tried. “Folks if you try to touch them, I am not stopping for ANY more animals!” Dude, we get it. Besides, we had our invisible seat belts on so, ya know…
So that is my experience with the most rule-conscious guide in all of Animal Kingdom. Be on your best behavior, people. Riding the Kilimanjaro Safari is a serious endeavor and there is no room for any type of tom-foolery listed above. (But for real…the safari is awesome and MOST times super fun. The only real rule should be: Don’t Miss It!)
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