As part of Disney World’s phased reopening, experiences are slowly returning to the parks and hotels (but some still haven’t quite yet!).
You can once again hug your favorite Disney characters, dine at fan-favorite restaurants, and enjoy a FULL parade in Magic Kingdom. But, if you want to take your park visit to the next level you might be considering one of Disney World’s behind-the-scenes tours. Many of these remain suspended to this date, BUT, one of our FAVORITE tours is FINALLY back and we’re taking you along with us!
The Starlight Safari has returned to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and we couldn’t wait to head back out to the “savannah” and see if it was still worth the cost!
As a quick refresher, the Starlight Safari currently costs $89 per person and takes place two times each night with one tour at 8:30PM and another at 10PM. Disney recommends arriving at least 15 minutes before your tour, so we arrived a bit in advance at the porte-cochere in Animal Kingdom Lodge — Kidani Village to check in. Note that a valid photo ID is required and guests must be at least 8 years old participate.
Once everyone had arrived, it was time to load up into the safari vehicle! the Cast Members were equally excited to be giving tours once again, so we boarded our ride with a big round of applause.
Now what makes this tour so unique is that you get to see the animals at NIGHT when many of them are more active. And, there’s no need to worry about being able to see all the nighttime activities because Disney provides night-vision devices so you can see the animals in the dark. We were given ours once we boarded the truck.
Our guide for the safari was Noah, with Emily as our driver. Both are actually what Disney called “Interpretive Keepers,” which means they work directly with the animals AND lead tours — aka they’re the experts.
Once our safari vehicle set off, it was time for an adventure!
We were lucky enough to see a TON of animals, including zebras, antelopes, giraffes, and more! As we mentioned before, the animals tend to be more active at night, so you’ll see some enjoying their dinner, roaming the field, and whatever else animals are up to around sunset.
And, while we set off for the tour when it was still dusk, it quickly got dark enough for us to need our night vision goggles.
Now, you can see the animals with night vision goggles at night at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge without paying for the tour. But what makes this tour so unique (and worth the cost in our opinion) is that you get to see the animals at night up-close PLUS you’ve got a Cast Member who is dedicated to teaching you all about them!
Our tour guide, Noah, was SO knowledgeable, but at the same time, he was also hilarious — he made everything he told us sound so interesting as he spoke about each animal and how Disney takes care of them.
our tour lasted about an hour and a half (which is how much time Disney suggests you carve out for this experience) and we were SO happy to have had the chance to come back! It’s important to keep in mind that this behind-the-scenes tour does entail riding in a rugged safari vehicle over an open savanna (and it gets BUMPY), but if you’re looking for something unique to add to your Disney World vacation, this is a great, affordable option. Plus, you could easily make an event out of the evening for you and your family by spending time at Animal Kingdom Lodge, having a nice dinner at Boma, Sanaa, or even Jiko, and then following it up with the tour.
So, if you’re thinking about giving it a try, reservations can be made online on the Disney World website, or through the My Disney Experience app. And, as always, make sure to keep reading DFB for more reviews — and news — from Disney World!
Have you ever been on the Starlight Safari? Let us know in the comments!