Disney’s Animal Kingdom attempts to make visitors feel as if they’re really in Africa, but the safe kind of Africa – the one where rhinos don’t charge cars and lions don’t drag off the weak or infirmed. Animal Kingdom’s Wild Africa Trek, debuting in January 2011, takes the park one step closer to that goal.
Kilimanjaro Safaris already offers an 18-minute tour of Harambe Wildlife Reserve, including open-space grasslands with grazing creatures and subtly enclosed areas housing dangerous carnivores. For a walking tour of Africa – and a close-up of gorillas – guests tour Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. But on Kilimanjaro, the ride vehicle buffers guests from animals; in Pangani, fences and concrete walkways do the same thing.
Wild Africa Trek – for the not inconsiderable “starting price” of $129 per person in addition to regular park admission – creates a faux safari, but allows guests to get truly close to some of the animals. (Disney’s hands are tied when it comes to safety, however, so don’t expect to pet a crocodile or ride a lion.)
According to the media release, guests will:
- Navigate “a rickety footbridge over a river chasm” filled with crocodiles and “step to the very edge of a cliff” (securely tied to keep from falling) that overlooks pools of hippos.
- Travel in small groups no larger than 12 into Pangani Forest and Harambe Wildlife Reserve with “experienced guides.”
- At the end of the tour, guests will enjoy “sample tastes of Africa” at a “private safari camp.”
On Friday, Disney began accepting reservations. To book a spot in 2011 or beyond, call (407) WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687). Pricing will “vary seasonally,” which means expensive in busy times and higher if demand is strong; but the $129 cost is offered from Jan. 16 to Feb. 26, 2011.