Opening Date(s):
April 21 and April 22, 1998
Harambe, Africa; travels to Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Vehicle Type:
Rustic Train
10 mph (16 km/h)
2,500 lbs/riders per hour
5; 250 riders per vehicle
Ride Duration:
12 minutes (estimated)

All Aboard Disney’s Animal Kingdom Train Ride

The Wildlife Express Train takes riders from Harambe to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, though the ride itself isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. The Animal Kingdom Train takes riders on a brief adventure through the Animal Kingdom. They get the chance to catch a glimpse of the Kingdom’s various residents and their ‘nighttime homes,’ including elephants, rhinos and many other animals. The entire ride takes visitors from Harambe to Rafiki’s Planet Watch in about 7 minutes, and then makes the return trip in about 5 minutes.

According to most people, the Animal Kingdom Wildlife Express Train seems like a ride best suited for taking a breather from the rest of Disney World. The Wildlife Express Train Animal Kingdom ride is said to have ‘no scenic views,’ despite being in a park where scenic views are the main attraction. Most riders seemed to consider the views ‘uneventful.’ Though, other riders did enjoy the Animal Kingdom Wildlife Express Train. They considered the ride a ‘good ride,’ especially after having walked to see other attractions in the park. Some people commented that the ride was ‘educational,’ since it featured views of the animals in the park.

The Trains

The Animal Kingdom Train themselves are diesel-hydraulic steam outline trains. They were built by Severn Lamb, a transport manufacturer of Stratford-upon-Avon in the United Kingdom. The trains were built in 1997, about a year before the park’s opening. The trains feature a 2-4-2 wheel configuration and are based on the Aspinall 2-4-2T engines, which were made for the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway of England in the late 1800s.

The Railway

The railway itself is built as a 3 foot, 4 inch narrow gauge railway, considered wider than gauges commonly used in East African railways. Two sets of coaches form the passenger rolling stock, both hosting five vehicles that seat 250 people. The vehicles that make up The Animal Kingdom Train also have a set of bins at the top, which simulate cargo as if passengers were traveling with them.