Safari Driver Recalls “Keeping High-Paying Guests” Amused During Bizarre Encounter

Walt Disney World Resort — and other Disney Parks around the globe — would not operate without the efforts of their hard-working Cast Members each and every day.

disney plus day cast members
Credit: Disney

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Some Disney theme park jobs are more challenging than others and, while it might seem that the drivers at Kilimanjaro Safaris have one of the most enjoyable posts on Disney World property, they are also at the mercy of wild animals who don’t understand they are living in a theme park attraction.

kilimanjaro safaris elephants
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in the People Magazine article, one former Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park employee shared a tale about a particularly memorable encounter. The story begins:

“I drove the truck at Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom. I drove 40 guests at a time through a wildlife reserve with no fences. Most of the animals can wander right onto the road, blocking your path. Also, there are no tracks … so you’re really responsible for driving the truck, really responsible for the guests’ safety and really responsible for not running over a rhino – or, more realistically, not getting run over by a rhino. The animals are all real … many of the guests assume that they’re animatronic, but they’re not. There are natural barriers between predator and prey, so you’re not going to see a lion pounce on a zebra. But that doesn’t mean the animals can’t surprise you.”

Rhino Kilimanjaro Safaris
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The Cast Member’s anecdote continues, getting into the nitty-gritty of the situation:

“I’m driving and a rhino decides to take a nap in the road right in front of us. That means all trucks stop where they are until the rhino moves, because you’re not allowed to go off-road. We were stuck out there for more than an hour in a downpour. I know maybe eight facts about each animal, so I depleted my entire reservoir of facts within 30 minutes. The rest of it was all improv, trying to keep forty high-paying strangers entertained in an open-air truck that isn’t moving in a rainstorm for an hour.”

disney world kilimanjaro safaris giraffe
Credit: Screenshot via Disney

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Because of the nature of Disney’s Harambe Wildlife Reserve, anything can happen on Kilimanjaro Safaris — and sometimes does. This particular story is just one example of the crazy things that have occurred on the popular ride, so make sure you check it out next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.

You just might end up with your own “wild” tale!

More on Kilimanjaro Safaris

lion at disney world kilimanjaro safaris
Credit: Disney

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The official description of Kilimanjaro Safaris reads:

Explore the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, home to 34 species living in 110 acres of picturesque open plains, shady forest landscapes and rocky wetlands. Your rugged safari vehicle is driven by an expert guide, who helps point out animals and shares fascinating wildlife facts during this extraordinary 18-minute expedition.

Unique Animal Encounters
Spot a shy hippopotamus nestled in a still pond. Behold a regal lion sunbathing on a rocky perch. Drive past a gentle giraffe grazing on the tall trees or wave hello to a swinging baboon. Other amazing animals you may encounter include rhinos, cheetahs, crocodiles, elephants, hyenas and zebras—and so many more!

Since animals have minds of their own, every expedition is a unique and unforgettable experience. Be sure to keep your eyes open and have a camera ready—you never know what you’ll see on a Kilimanjaro Safaris outing.

Have you ever had an interesting animal encounter on Disney’s safari?

Let the expert team at Academy Travel help you plan your next magical vacation to Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks — Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios — and the Disney Springs shopping and dining district!

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