Found in the heart of Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park’s Asia, Kali River Rapids® takes guests on a thrilling and soaking ride through the exotic jungle. While guests get a thrill, they are also educated about a major environmental threat, and shown just what the consequences of certain actions against nature look like.
Opening on March 18, 1999, Kali River Rapids® quickly became one of the most popular attractions in Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park and can be experienced by any guest over 38” tall. Focused around the Chakranadi River, which mean “river that flows in a circle” in Sanskrit, the attraction was named after Kali, the Hindu goddess of time and the transformation that comes with death. Rather ominous sounding, no? Don’t be alarmed – this attraction is loads of fun, but be ready to get absolutely soaking wet. I’m talking squishy shoes hours later wet. A good thing to keep in mind is that there are several options for keeping guests’ belongings dry while experiencing the attraction. There are now lockers located outside the entrance to the queue which can be used to store items safely for two hours as well as small compartments in the center of each attraction raft which have a plastic covering that snaps shut.
For those guests who are ready for an adventure and don’t mind getting wet, Kali River Rapids® offers an intricately detailed experience from the moment the queue begins. The queue takes guests through temple ruins, showcasing beautiful statues, carvings, artwork, and buildings honoring Asian culture and history. After moving through the temples, guests enter Mr. Panika’s Shop and the offices of Kali Rapids Expeditions – The BEST in Adventure and Site-Seeing! These shops also feature amazing details, so guests should look all around them to take it all in. A great detail to be found near the offices is a cluster of canoe paddles bearing the names and signatures of the Imagineers who contributed to the attraction.
While passing through the Kali River Expeditions offices, listen for the ominous noise of chainsaws in the distance and a radio transmission warning of illegal logging – glimpses into what is to come once you board the attraction. Clearly, guests are going to be shown a conservation message and warning about the destruction of deforestation.
Once through the offices, the loading platform appears and guests board twelve person circular rafts for their journey down the Chakranadi. They are immediately swept up a massive hill and emerge in a serene and exotic jungle scene. Bamboo can be found in abundance, and the sounds of wild animals surround you. A beautiful waterfall cascades nearby with a rather interesting rock formation. Since the attraction was originally going to be titled Tiger River Rapids Run, it should come as no surprise that a massive tiger can be found emerging from the rockwork from behind one of the waterfalls.
After passing through the lush jungle, guests are suddenly met with a barren burning wasteland. There is destruction everywhere and guests are introduced to the Tetak Logging Company who has begun to destroy the top of the mountain for their business. One of the company’s trucks can be found trying desperately not to slip backwards over a cliff. The scene is destructive to the core and offers guests just a small glimpse into the powerful destruction that comes with deforestation.
Suddenly, guests realize that they are headed for the cliff themselves and are soon plummeting down a twenty foot drop where, depending on how the raft is positioned, one person is going to be soaked to the bone. However, at the bottom of the drop guests find themselves back in the lush jungle and bump their way through some choppy rapids. Along this last portion of the attraction’s track are some beautiful elephant carvings and statues as well as a small bridge overhear featuring water soakers. Guests nearby the attraction can use these soakers, shaped like elephants, to try and get those experiencing the attraction just a little more soaked. After the elephant statues, guests find themselves at the unloading platform and back on dry land.
Okay, time for me to fess up now. I haven’t experienced Kali River Rapids® in over five years. It’s a really fun attraction, and every trip to Walt Disney World® I tell myself that I am going to finally go on it again. However, I always visit in the fall and can never convince myself that I want to get completely soaked in the cooler temperatures – hence why I barely have any photos of the attraction, too! That being said, I’m trying to work up the courage to finally get myself on the attraction again this fall – most likely armed with a poncho. Any encouragement is more than welcome in the comments section!
All in all, Kali River Rapids® is a thrilling trip down an exotic Asian river, wrapped up in a conservation message demonstrating to guests the true scope of the devastation of deforestation. If you haven’t experience the attraction in a while like me, or even if you’ve never experienced it at all, get back on board next time you are in Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park! I know I will!
Are you a big fan ofKali River Rapids®? What is your favorite part of the attraction? Any words of encouragement to get me back on it? Be sure to let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.