Take a History Tour Down the Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom

Picture this.  It’s a hot sunny day in Florida, which as we all know is about 9 months out of the year, Kali River Rapids is a quick place to cool off on a hot day!  This fast and exhilarating ride down the Chakranadi River will surely leave you cooled off after you dip, twist and turn through the numerous rapids this attraction offers.  *This ride is not for everyone and could be scary to younger guests.

Kali River Rapids is one of those attractions that really, really scares me, but I still have to ride it.  If you have ridden this before then you will understand fully why I love this ride so much, for those of you who don’t, let’s look deeper into the history of this attraction.  Fun fact: Kali River Rapids was Disney’s first river rapids ride.  Now guests can experience the Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure Park or Roaring Rapids at Shanghai Disneyland.

Kali River Rapids was originally set to be called Tiger River Run but was changed last minute before the ride opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on March 18, 1999.  Imagineers felt as if the name Tiger River Run didn’t clarify what the attraction was about and agreed to call it Kali River Rapids.

However, the name Tiger River Run goes a bit deeper.  The original intent of the ride was to allow guests to float down the river past several enclosures of various animals.  Imagineers were thinking it would be a water-based Kilimanjaro Safari version attraction.  After further investigation into the concept of the ride, there were more cons than pros to ride, such as guests would only be able to get a short glimpse at the animals.  Imagineers were also concerned that a continuous stream of boats floating by their enclosures would cause to much stress to the animals and quickly re-imagineed the concept.

Instead, Imagineers switched their focus to have the attraction focus on the effects and dangers of destroying nature through deforestation after being inspired by the Chakranadi River in the Harare Provence of India.  Imagineers then renamed the ride Kali River Rapids to focus more on the change of the theme of the ride.  Fun Fact: Kali is the Hindu goddess of “time and of the transformation that comes with death.”

Imagineers created this atmosphere by using different props to tell the story of deforestation throughout the ride, starting with the queue.  While in line waiting to board the attraction, guests who listen closely can hear sounds of loggers cutting down trees.  Guests may also be able to hear the announcer on the radio in the office warning about illegal logging.  Guests will also pass shrines, statues, ruins, and overgrown landscape.  At the temple, shoes are lined up outside which is an Asian custom to remove shoes before entering buildings.

When you first board the attraction guests can often smell the aroma of Jasmine and Ginger before climbing the 90-foot incline to the heart of the river.  The ride starts off nice as you travel through a beautiful lush forest with birds chirping, but the ride quickly turns dark as you begin to hear the chainsaws cutting down trees, the smell of burning and guests even witness the charred forest and buildings the deforestation caused to the lush jungle.

Throughout the ride, you are guaranteed to get soaked as Kali River Rapids contains 150,000 gallons of water before coming to the end of a 30-foot drop!  Fun Fact: Each raft has a different name, including the Himalayan Hummer, Kali Bumper Car or the Sherpa Surfer.

As the ride comes to an end you travel under a bridge where onlookers can squirt water at your raft as you float by, which is a fun addition to the ride that many guests were not expecting!

Is Kali River Rapids one of your favorite rides? Tell us in the comments!

Take a History Tour Down the Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom 1

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Jessica Jones

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