I am always up for a terrific safari, aren’t you? Zebras, ornamental grasses, Kudu, termite mounds…bring it on! However adventurous my nature, I do really like certain safety precautions in place. Take for example a friend who went on a “budget” safari in Tanzania. She paid a much lesser price for a super special “budget safari” that enticed her with romantic mosquito netting, mint tea, and basically no safety precautions. Once they dumped her off the bus, she was able to basically able to walk right up and pet the lions if she felt like it! No, this type of safari is not for me dear reader.
Now that you know my penchant for seat belts and extreme caution around large felines, you will completely understand why I absolutely LOVE Disney’s Night Safari at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This is a wonderful evening tour of the savannah at the AKL’s Kidani Village Resort. *Do not confuse this with the new night Kilimanjaro Safari at the Animal Kingdom Park! This one is a small group VIP tour and much more of an education experience for animal lovers.
To start our adventure, we took the complimentary shuttle van from Jambo House over to Kidani Village and checked in at 9:45 PM for our safari at the Sanaa Restaurant desk . We then joined our small group of ten people and two guides for our evening on the savannah. After tying on our glow-in-the dark entrance bands we were brought out the jeep that would take us out to the animals. The jeep has open sides so that you can see everything easily and take lots of pictures.
Our guide Rebekah was amazing from the start, and the main reason why our nighttime safari was such a wonderful experience. She was very down to earth and extremely knowledgeable and made us feel so at ease. She actually loved our questions and taught us a ton about the night habits of the animals. She also showed us how to use…
Night vision goggles!!!
Every person on our hour-long tour received their own pair of night vision goggles to survey the savannah with. It was so fun to gaze out the sides of the jeep and spot animals all over the place doing their “night things” in the darkness. My favorite and first animal encounter of the evening was spotting zebras sleeping on their sides like little rag dolls in the grass.
The jeep stopped at various points throughout the tour so that could take photographs through the night vision goggles. It’s a little bit tricky and the images are never quite as sharp as when you look through the goggles with your own eyes, but after a bit we got some very nice images of the animals. The trick appears to lie in keeping the lens of your camera tightly within the rubber eyepiece and NOT zooming out too far, which makes the image fuzzier.
We saw lots of animals on our Nighttime Safari, including giraffes, kudu, ostrich, gazelles, zebra and several exotic large birds. Rebekah taught us great things that I probably would not have learned anywhere else. She taught us the difference between horns and antlers (antlers can be lost, horns, not so much!) She taught us that giraffes love sweet potatoes and that kudu have certain behavioral traits for establishing dominance. She also showed us that animals love them a big old pile of dirt! The best toy in the world is…a big pile of dirt to play and make holes in (tell that to your kids when they are begging you for Disney toys on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom).
We also got to hold an ostrich egg on the jeep and Rebekah told us that ostriches are a bit flaky and “don’t listen”…and we got to see that in action!
The evening ended with a ride past the animal barn. It was neat to see how part of it is raised up to accommodate the height of the giraffes. On the ride back to the front of the resort Rebekah also pointed out the bat house. You can thank the bats for the scarcity of mosquitoes at Disney! They eat them right up.
We were rather sad to leave the warm glowing lights of the Kidani Village Resort and all of our new animal friends. We were also sorry to have to give back the night vision goggles.
But we are glad to have returned them if it means you can enjoy them on your own Night Safari!
Disney’s Night Safari is a one hour VIP Tour booked in advance by reservation at (407) 939-8687 and costs approximately $70 US per adult. Children 8 years and over may also attend.