Disney's re-creation of a dusty African village is the staging point for your safari into Animal Kingdom's version of the African savannah, where much of the park's animal population waits to be discovered.
Kilimanjaro Safaris. Disney's Imagineers set out to re-create the feel of a real African animal preserve tour, and, for the most part, they have succeeded. We board large, open-air trucks to trundle over a realistic pseudo-Serengeti past real lions, elephants, rhinos, and other African animals. The trip takes about 20 minutes and there's always something to see, although the animal's activity levels vary, with many taking naps in the sun when it's a hot afternoon. The barriers used to separate man and beast are well integrated with the landscape and usually unobtrusive, allowing us to get fairly close to the animals in relative safety. Photographic opportunities abound.
Apparently, however, the Imagineers felt that just riding by animals wouldn't be enough to keep our interest so there's an unnecessary story about elephant poachers running throughout the ride that leads to the requisite trite happy ending.
Like a real African wildlife tour the roads can get extremely bumpy. Be aware that you're going to get bounced and jostled around a bit. Kilimanjaro Safaris is very popular, and lines can get quite long here, especially early in the day. Consider getting a FastPass.
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Just past the Kilimanjaro Safaris exit is a walking trail through several ingeniously designed animal habitats. Enter the research station for an up close look at the burrows of a group of industrious naked mole rats. From there the trail winds through a free flight aviary full of exotic birds (and fish, too). The hippo viewing area is next, offering an opportunity to see them both above and below the water. A more open view of the African savannah is the backdrop for a group of meerkats (Timon in the wild, so to speak.) Then, when you reach the glass walled areas and the suspension bridge, slow down! Take a careful look around: there may be gorillas about but you often have to look carefully to see them, so well do they blend into the shadows and surrounding vegetation.
Wildlife Express Train. You catch the train to Rafiki's Planet Watch here.
Tusker House Restaurant. No longer a fast food place, Tusker House has gone buffet, with all you can eat carved meats, salads and desserts with an African flavor (nothing too exotic, and there's still a PB&J station and other less challenging eats for the kids). In the mornings it's Donald's Safari Breakfast, a character breakfast with the titular duck and friends (Reservations recommended).
Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery. Offers cappuccino, espresso, and a selection of pastries.
Tamu Tamu Refreshments. Cool off in the summer heat with ice cream or frozen yogurt. The menu here seems to be expanding since Tusker House went sit down. Limited seating.
Dawa Bar. Grab a beer or other adult libation at this authentically themed village watering hole.
Harambe Fruit Market. It's a fruit stand with healthy snacks.
Duka La Filimu. Features Kodak film, in case you need some for your safari.
Mombasa Marketplace/Ziwani Traders offer authentic African merchandise mixed with Animal Kingdom logo souvenirs and Disney gifts.
From Africa you can walk to Discovery Island or Asia, or catch the train to Rafiki's Planet Watch.