My family and I just returned from a vacation at Walt Disney World and for one evening of our trip we booked Savor the Savanna from the Enchanting Extras collection. If you love animals and wish you could spend more time on Kilimanjaro Safaris then this experience is for you. My son and husband are huge animal lovers. My oldest has been watching the Magic of Disney's Animal Kingdom on Disney Plus and has grown up watching National Geographic specials. I remember on our first visit to Disney he told me he wanted to work at Animal Kingdom so I knew we had to work our way thru the tours at Animal Kingdom.
What is Savor the Savanna?
Savor the Savanna is a private, 2 hour safari along the same trail as Kilimanjaro Safaris. It takes place two times each day. Currently it's 3:15 and 4:30pm. This experience is for a maximum of 12 guests in your own truck with a personal guide. Your guide will provide SO MUCH detail and history on the animals and the park in general. Our guide was Ashley and she was fabulous, even though she went to Ohio State (my husband and I met at Penn State which is a Big 10 rival!) Her knowledge and love for the park, animals and her job really shined bright. You are also given the opportunity to ask questions along the way. It's pretty much Kilimanjaro Safari times one hundred! We booked the 4:30pm tour and since we were a party of 8 a family of 4 joined us. They loved the experience so much this was their second time!
You need to arrive at least 15 minutes early to check in which is located right outside of the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris at the Curiosity Animal Tours kiosk shown below on the bottom left. The minimum age is 8 years old so they went around and asked all the kids how old they were. They require each adult over 18 to sign a waiver which can include up to 2 children. Then we collected our name tags and waited for our truck to be ready. Once the truck arrived we headed towards the private boarding area which is just past the entrance to Rafiki's Planet Watch.
Inside the truck there are benches along the two sides and front. Ashely sat up front in the middle so she could communicate with the driver but we could fill in on either side or next to her. Under the benches was a big storage area to keep all your belongings so they don't slide around the truck as we travel. Her rule, tushies on cushies while the truck is moving! The 8 year olds got a big kick out of that but once the truck came to a complete stop Ashley gave us the ok to get up and move around to get a better view.
We started out the same as every safari seeing the Okapi, hippos and crocodiles. There are some areas along the route where the truck can pull to the side so we could get a longer look at the animals. From these pull offs you can see the large regular trucks go on by while we casually enjoyed our time!
Once we arrived in the large east savanna we were able to stop and hear from one of the cast members, Amy who cares for the animals. She spent over 15 minutes with us answering our questions and telling us about what she does day to day and the animals behaviors. It was great to learn how much effort they put in to keep the area as much of a natural habitat as possible, unlike most zoos which keep animals in small confined areas. They also work really hard to avoid domesticating the animals. They want them to use their instincts and behave as they would if they were in the wild. I highly recommend The Magic of Disney's Animal Kingdom if you want to learn more about how they care for the animals.
We spent a lot of time in this savanna. Ashley would direct the driver to different areas and allow us to park and move around the truck to get a closer look. My favorite was an area tucked up beyond the trail where all the giraffes were. We got really close and watched then eat but we had to be pretty quite so we didn't scare them.
Savor and Overlook
After the giraffes we headed towards the 'Savor' portion of the trip which takes place at the Boma or viewing area up on the hill. You've probably seen it every time you've been on the safari! We spent about 45 minutes here. It was beautiful and so relaxing!
Erin was our food guide and Ashley helped as well. Erin spent a few minutes going over all the food and beverage options and where they came from, how it's cooked etc. Again SO MUCH DETAIL! Everything is African inspired. The food is prepared at Tusker House and the desserts at Tiffin's. There was Tandoori shrimp, Garlic and Leek Hummus, Pita bread, Torta or caramelized bread, Curry Chicken Salad plus an array of meats, fruit and cheeses. For dessert we had Deconstructed Smores, Chocolate Fudge Cake Pops and a Passion Fruit Cake. There was about one for every person so we each took something different and had a taste of all the options.
The beverages to choose from were two beers; Honey Bee Citrus Blonde Ale and Old Elephant IPA, four wines; Painted Wolf Pinotage, Cedarberg Merlot Shiraz, Kanonkop Dry Pinotage Rose and Cederberg Bukettraube and finally water or POG juice for those looking for a non-alcoholic option.
They also have binoculars to get a closer look at the savanna and Ashley and Erin continued to answer questions give us even more behind the scenes information. We had plenty of time here. The site lists the food as tapas style but there was plenty to eat. I was afraid we'd still be hungry afterwards but I would consider this a light meal which is a nice change for a Disney vacation. The portion sizes at most restaurants are so large it's nice to not feel completely stuffed after a meal!
The final portion of the Boma portion is heading to an additional viewing platform which overlooks the lions. Ashley joined us and taught us some more facts about lions and answered even more questions even debunking some things we've heard. She explained the fencing and how they keep the animals where they want them to be. A few times on the tour she mentioned the live action remake of the Lion King. Did you know that they used many of the animals right here at Animal Kingdom as a real life inspiration for the animals in the movie? Instead of travelling to Africa they just came to Orlando!
The Final Leg and Review
After we spent a little time looking at the lions it was back in the truck for the last leg of the trip. We we're back on the Kilimanjaro Safari trail but we were able to pull off again a few times to get a longer and closer look. On the right is where we stopped in front of the lions and we learned about the male lions' mane and what they feed them.
When the tour was over we were dropped off in the same place where we boarded and exited thru the entrance to the Wildlife Express Train. Each guest was given a wooden coaster which states Savor the Savanna on it.
Savor the Savanna can be booked 60 days out just like other dining and experiences at Walt Disney World. Currently it costs $174 per person but if you have a Disney Visa card the rate is $147.90 plus tax. Reservations are highly recommended since space is limited.
I feel it was well worth the cost. The two hour safari with a private guide was worth that, then add in the food and beverages and it's easily something we would all do again. When reflecting back on our trip in fact, almost all of us said it was our favorite thing. Kilimanjaro Safari will never be the same, we've been spoiled!
I can't rave about it enough, the cast members, food everything was perfect. If you have any questions just let me know, I'd be happy to answer them but my recommendation is book it!
Looking to book a Disney adventure in your future? Reach out to me and I'd love to help! I've stayed at almost every resort on property, done multi-generational trips, trips with friends, taken the boys by myself and even done girls trips. I've been taking my kids since they were 18 months and 3 so I know what it's like to travel with kids at every age plus I'm a former cast member so I have lots of knowledge to help you have the best trip ever!
Melissa Lenox is a Gold Level Vacation Specialist and blog editor with Coasters & Castles Travel. She is a former entertainment cast member, loves Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel, Chip 'n Dale, great food and planning trips for others! Follow her on her pages below or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to plan your next adventure!
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