In October 2015, I had the privilege to visit Walt Disney World with my family. We were only there for a few days, so we only visited the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Last year, I wrote about accessible attractions, and I would like to update some of the information on the attractions that I was able to ride on this trip. For the next few posts, I will be exploring the attractions one park at a time.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
In this post I would like to share my experience in riding three attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Kilimanjaro Safari, Kali River Rapids, and DINOSAUR.
In case you have not been to Animal Kingdom yet, when you do attend you will be greatly surprised by the amount of land that it occupies, over 500 acres! At the back end of the park, in the Africa section, is the largest attraction at Walt Disney World – Kilimanjaro Safaris. This is a unique attraction in that you travel on a safari in a self-powered, all-terrain truck which has the ability to stop and view animals when the driver wants. And yes, the animals are real, not animatronic like on Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom. You will see giraffes, lions, rhinoceros, and elephants to name just a few. The safari attraction has a couple of special accessible trucks which allow a wheelchair to ride directly on the truck behind the driver. In order to access this vehicle, there is a special gate for the handicap entrance, which is located closer to the truck loading area, so yes, you do have to wait in the line until you reach this point. Once in this special area the Cast Member will have you wheel up a slight ramp so that you are level with the truck. The side of the truck is open, and you can wheel right in. There are special tie-downs for the wheelchair, so you will be secure while bouncing around out in the wild. The truck is all open air so viewing all of the animals is very easy. Once the safari is over, the truck is pulled over to the accessible loading area where you are given a little more time to disembark. I highly recommend the Kilimanjaro Safaris as it is fun to see wild animals in their own setting.
Kali River Rapids
Next, we walked over to Asia to ride Kali River Rapids. Be warned, on this ride you are bound to get wet! The attraction involves a free floating round boat that bumps off of walls and spins as you travel on the Kali River. At one point, you are at the top of a steep drop, and then your boat goes over the drop, and a huge splash of water floods your boat. Like I said, you will most likely get wet. To access the accessible boat loading area, there is a special gate for wheelchairs or those that may need a little extra time loading into the boat. You go down a little ramp, where there is a special pull off area for a boat. You must transfer from your wheelchair for this ride. My Dad was able to pick me up and put me in the boat. There are lap belts that secure you on the boat, plus someone sits next to you if you need a little extra holding onto. Once the ride is over, and you are drenched, it’s time to disembark. For me, my Dad had to pick me up and carry me up a couple of steps, and then over to my wheelchair. Again, this is a really fun attraction and one I recommend, especially on hot, sunny days so the sun can dry you off!
My final ride that I had to transfer onto was DINOSAUR in DinoLand U.S.A. This ride takes place inside a building on a Jeep-like vehicle on a track. The ride takes you back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. I don’t want to give too much away about the ride, but it was a little scary for me. The vehicle does jerk around a lot, side to side, front to back, wiggling and shaking a lot. To board the vehicle, I had to go through a special door after standing in line for awhile. I was taken down a hallway and into an elevator in order to get to a special loading area. Again, I had to totally transfer out of my wheelchair and onto the excursion vehicle. This did involve a little lifting and maneuvering and was not that easy for my parents. After safely arriving back to present day, the vehicle was stopped near my wheelchair where I transferred off the ride and safely back into my chair. As I am not a thrill-seeker, I personally did not like this ride. Some of the dinosaurs were a little too up close and personal for me. So, this was probably my one and only time riding DINOSAUR, but I can check it off my list.
Animal Kingdom is a nice park to relax and take a safari ride, or a crazy rapid river ride and even travel back in time to when dinosaurs roamed. Since this is a newer park, the attractions are very accessible, but some do require extra help. I hope you enjoyed my experience on these three attractions. Last year, in 2015, I wrote about the theatrical experiences at AK in my series called Disney on Wheels – Takes a Ride part 2 on April 8, 2015. Please follow my posts while board accessible attractions and more as my trip continues in Epcot and Magic Kingdom.
(Animal Kingdom Theme Park logo ©Disney, Disney on Wheels logo and all other photos are from Andrew Prince’s personal collection.)
Andrew is an 18-year-old senior in high school from Ohio. He was born with cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair. He has been to both US Disney parks, several D23 events and is a DCL Gold Castaway Club member. If you would like to contact him feel free to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or look him up on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/andrew.prince.7161 and on Twitter https://twitter.com/Andrew1arp