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Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids - Part Two

Jack Spence Masthead

Yesterday I discussed Tiger Temple and the queue leading to Kali River Rapids. Today I'll discuss the actual adventure this attraction offers.

Kali River Rapids is NOT "Splash Mountain" where you might get splashed. As the sign at the attraction entrance states, "You WILL get wet! YOU MAY GET SOAKED!


Warning Sign


It is now time to board your raft. But before you walk down the incline to the loading dock, you need to take care of a few details. First, you MUST wear shoes. Signs are posted at the beginning of the line and at several other spots along the queue. If you know you're going to ride Kali River Rapids before leaving your hotel room, think about wearing sandals, thongs, Tevas, or some other open footwear. If you're wearing standard shoes, you might want to take off your socks and put them in the provided compartment on your raft (not in your pocket - this won't help). It's yucky to walk about with wet socks.


You Must Wear Shoes


If you have a rain poncho, consider wearing it. And be sure to don it before you reach the rotating boarding area. If you wait until climbing into your raft, you won't have time.

Think about bringing some Ziploc bags from home for wallets, cameras, and cell phones (and socks).

I have been soaked to the bone on more than one occasion riding Kali River Rapids. And it took several hours for my clothes to dry out - and this was when the temperature was in the 90's. Do not underestimate how wet you can get.

The line terminates beneath a large wooden pagoda. It is here that a cast member will direct you to a raft. If you look at the top of the pagoda, more tigers can be seen. Hanging from wires are numerous prayer flags. These square and rectangular shaped pieces of cloth are used to promote wisdom, strength, compassion, and peace. As the wind slowly unravels the fabric, the threads are carried to heaven and these benefits rain down and benefit all.


Dock Entrance

Tigers on the Pagoda

Prayer Flags


Loading and unloading of the rafts takes place upon a giant, rotating turntable. The rafts move at the same speed as the turntable so it's easy to get in and out. Cast members will offer limited assistance to those who need it. Guests riding in wheelchairs must be able to transfer. You will be requested to buckle your seat belt.


Loading Dock Turntable


Each raft holds twelve adventurers who sit in a circle, facing inwards. The seats are probably wet. Don't worry about it or try to wipe them dry. This little bit of moisture is the least of your worries. Also, don't try to determine which seat will remain the driest (or wettest). Since the rafts spin freely, there is absolutely no way to figure out who is going to get soaked on the big drop.


12 Man Raft


In the center of the raft are two bins in which to place items that you don't want to get wet. These bins are NOT entirely waterproof, but will keep the majority of the moisture out. Note, some people will put oversized backpacks in these bins, leaving little space for anyone else's belongings -- which is why you might want to bring a few Ziploc bags from home.


Storage Compartment


As we leave the loading dock, we head for an incline that takes the rafts to the top of the river and Tiger Bay. Bamboo and other tropical plants line the waterway. Stone sentinels guard the up-ramp. Their gaze is stern as if to remind us that this pristine environment belongs to animals, not humans.


Up Ramp

Up Ramp

Stone sentinels

Stone sentinels


At the top of the hill, multiple geysers erupt - one directly in our pathway. In the background, a rock-tiger keeps a watchful eye on the surroundings. Although portions of the raft will receive a few good splashes from the geysers, most of us will remain relatively unscathed from this first encounter.


Geysers

Tiger Rock


From Tiger Bay the Chakranadi River makes a ninety-degree turn and we continue our journey through a lush forest. The water becomes choppier and our raft begins to pitch and spin. A number of birds can be heard squawking in the trees. As we continue on, the unmistakable sound of chain saws can once again be heard in the distance. Ahead, an opening in the trees reveals a scorched landscape.


Chakranadi River

Chakranadi River


Moments later, we find that we're in the middle of the illegal logging activity we heard about on the radio receiver back in the tour office. We hear the crackle of fire and see piles of discarded wood being burned. The earth is black and charred. On the other side of the river, a logging truck is slipping slowly into the water on a mud bank. The driver has become victim to the problem he has helped create, erosion.


Slash & Burn

Slash & Burn

Slash & Burn

Slash & Burn


On the truck door we see the name Tetak. This is the same name we saw on the flyer in town calling for a protest meeting.


Tetak Truck

Protest Flyer


As our minds process the scope of what we have just seen, we begin to hear the sound of a waterfall in the distance. As the noise grows louder, we realize we're about to plunge down a 30 foot rapid into a deep canyon.


Waterfall


To make sure this plunge offered the thrill the Imagineers were looking for, they created a mockup of the falls at the Walt Disney Imagineering campus in Burbank. The angle, distance, and splash were all tested and retested until they achieved the right balance.

Just so you know, it's the folks that careen down the falls backwards that will sustain the maximum soaking.

With the strip-logging incident behind us, our journey continues along the Kali Rapids and through the beautiful forests of Anandapur. Our raft continues to bob and spin in the choppy water. Ahead we see a cave and some leaky pipes dripping into the river. Emerging from the cave we pass by three gods filling the river from clay pots. (These water features were turned off the day I took these pictures, but trust me, they provide a good soaking.)


Cave

Spraying Goddesses

Spraying Goddesses


As I mentioned earlier in the article, Chakranadi means "river that flows in a circle" in Sanskrit. So it is now that our raft returns to the protection of Tiger Temple. After passing beneath a bridge, we see more relics of this shrine. Two of these are elephants as they are considered good luck in many parts of Asia, especially if their trunks are raised.


Whitewater Rafting

Red Elephant


On the bridge are two buttons. When pressed, these cause the elephants to spray water on the passing rafts. This is a great photo op if you've decided to stay dry and you want to capture your friends and family receive one final soaking.


Bridge

Spray Button

Spraying Elephant

Spraying Elephant


Next to the bridge is a Spirit House. These miniature shrines are common in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Most homes and businesses of these countries have such a structure and it is usually placed on some sort of pedestal in the corner of their property. The purpose of the Spirit House is to provide shelter and appeasement to problematic spirits so that they will leave the residents of the main dwelling in peace.


Spirit House


You now return to the loading dock, wet, dripping, and laughing. Be sure to retrieve any belongings you placed in the center compartment and exit the raft. The journey was approximately five minutes long.

Is Kali River Rapids suitable for everyone? In terms of the thrills you will encounter, most people are probably okay. However, Disney posts the standard warning sign stating that you must be in good health, free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, are not pregnant, and not prone to motion sickness. Children must be 38 inches tall to ride.

The real question is, are you willing to get wet - and I mean really wet? Even the "driest" rider still receives a decent splashing. And those who receive the brunt of the Chakranadi River will be soaked to the bone. If you're okay with this, then by all means, take the plunge.

On "regular" days (non-Extra Magic Hours days), this attraction has little or no wait between 9am and 10am. After that, a long line is common. On days when the park opens early to resort guests, Kali River Rapids may have a line come "official" park opening time as this ride is not part of the Extra Magic Hours list of attractions and the early birds have already experienced Dinosaur and Expedition: Everest and are looking for their next thrill.

As I said in Part One of this article, I think everyone should experience the queue of Kali River Rapids. If you have friends and family riding, wait in line with them and take the chicken exit before boarding. You'll be glad you did.

As always, I have created a video of Kali River Rapids. It features both the queue and the rapids ride. It also contains the two narratives played in the queue that very few people ever hear (or listen to). These narratives help tell the story of Kali River Rapids. This video runs a little under 8 minutes. Enjoy.




The previous post in this blog was Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids - Part One.

The next post in this blog is Lion King Suite - Art of Animation Resort.

Comments (24)

Jim:

Great blog Jack. You nailed it as usual. I rode this attraction with my two older children this June and we did get truly soaked to the bone. They loved it so much we rode it three times in a row which gave me plenty of time to appreciate the wonderful queue area. Keep up the great work!

Stacey:

Are you allowed to wear a bathing suit on this ride? Do people do that?

Jack's Answer:

Technically, no. "Appropriate" attire is required in the theme parks. However, it's difficult to tell some swimwear from casual wear.

I have seen guys take off their shirt (as seen at the end of my video). However, they are not allowed to walk around the park shirtless and a CM will ask them to cover up.

Kait Rose:

First off...a round of applause for making a video/taking pictures of the ENTIRE ride (every other video I've seen has "chickened out" before the "Big" drop). I'll have to watch the entire thing with sound when I get home to hear the full narrations. That being said, what do you have a waterproof camera and/or what did you use to keep it dry?

"you will get wet possibly soaked" is definitely no joke--we usually ride Kali in the morning during the "no line" time period before 10am and depending on where we've been during the drop we've stayed soaked until well after lunch. (On a side note, I came up with a semi-genius idea of packing Sham Wows a couple of years ago and they've been alarming helpful in drying off shirts and shorts after Kali...and cleaning off benches after afternoon rain showers)

Jack's Answer:

I rode Kali 6 times over three days to film the video. I put my camera in a large Ziploc bag with a hole in it just large enough for the lens to fit through. I tried to keep the lens dry for the entire trip, but this wasn't easy. If you'll notice, there are a few drops on the lens during the slash and burn section of the video. All of the "stills" of the actual ride are captured shots from my video.

Great wrap up of the Khali River ride, Jack.

One more typo to point out:

"As are minds process the scope of what we have just seen, we begin to hear the sound of a waterfall in the distance."

I think you meant "As OUR minds process the scope ..."

Keep up the GREAT work!

Dan

Mike:

When we visited in November 2009, my son decided he was ready to ride Kali River Rapids. Crowds were low, so we walked right on.

My son did not get a single drop of water. He was completely dry. Those on either side of him were completely soaked.

When we got to the top of the exit ramp, the CM noticed that he was dry. She opened the gate and let us walk right back to the turntable. Once again, my son emerged unscathed.

The CM laughed when she saw that my son was still dry. She sent us through again. The results were the same; my son was the only dry person in our raft.

We rode again in 2011. Although he didn't stay completely dry, he was easily the driest in the raft.

He always brags about his luck on the ride.

Greg H.:

Jack,

Firstly, I would like to say, “Thank you!” for your excellent blogs. I truly appreciate all of the time, care and research you put into all of your blogs, making them far more interesting than just pointing out Walt Disney World attractions. I put your work on par with programming found on Discovery or Science Channels, as they are so very educational, and I always learn something.

Secondly, I would like to acknowledge the attention to detail that the imagineers put into creating accurate representations of far away lands, that I most likely will never have the opportunity to visit due to health and finances. When I visit AK or Epcot, I feel like I’m getting a real taste of these far off places.

I am fortunate enough to live within eyesight and earshot of Walt Disney World, and as such keep an annual pass. This affords me the opportunity for quality entertainment at an affordable price (as long as I’m careful with dining.)

I absolutely love Asia in Animal Kingdom, perhaps because there is a “China” and “Japan” at Epcot, and the South and Southeast Asian representation is such a different and immersive experience.

I’ve only experienced Kali River Rapids once back in 2000. I was entertaining company from out of state, and to tell the truth, I have no memory of the queue area. What I do remember is that I was sitting in the “special seat” when our raft went down the drop. The only thing missing was the bar of soap. I remember taking my shirt off and wringing it out. Soaked is a good adjective. Since then, I’ve always had camera equipment with me and have been afraid to go back on the ride.

Thanks to your blog, I now know that I need to once again visit Kali River Rapids, if for no other reason than to experience and photograph the queue line. Your videos are terrific too!

Keep up the great work, and know that you are appreciated.

Greg

JP:

As usual this is an excellent summary of the ride.

There are three things that I would like to add which may be superfluous:

1. Some people always luck out. I never get wet but everyone else gets SOAKED. This is a ride that can soak you completely.

2. When the raft is released at the top of the hill it really is loose and has an identical feel to a real rapid ride.

3. I have been all over Asia and the integrity and veracity of this ride is beyond belief. It is exactly what you see and read at these locations. Disney really outdid themselves. It is exactly what you see at the ends of the earth.

A great ride. Consider rain pants (at least in a daypack) which I always wear unless it is the middle of summer. Sitting all day on soaking wet underwear can get annoying.

Thanks again Jack!

Josh:

hey Jack
Kali River Rapids is always a must visit when we vacation especially on those hot summer days. great job on the video and pictures. I know that a lot of hard work went into them as well as all of your blogs and they are fantastic. can't wait for your next blog and as always keep up the great work.

Chuck :

Jack, Once again you did a great job ..... I really look forward to your blogs keep up the GREAT work. Chuck

Greg H.:

Jack,

Firstly, I would like to say, “Thank you!” for your excellent blogs. I truly appreciate all of the time, care and research you put into all of your blogs, making them far more interesting than just pointing out Walt Disney World attractions. I put your work on par with programming found on Discovery or Science Channels, as they are so very educational, and I always learn something.

Secondly, I would like to acknowledge the attention to detail that the imagineers put into creating accurate representations of far away lands, that I most likely will never have the opportunity to visit due to health and finances. When I visit AK or Epcot, I feel like I’m getting a real taste of these far off places.

I am fortunate enough to live within eyesight and earshot of Walt Disney World, and as such keep an annual pass. This affords me the opportunity for quality entertainment at an affordable price (as long as I’m careful with dining.)

I absolutely love Asia in Animal Kingdom, perhaps because there is a “China” and “Japan” at Epcot, and the South and Southeast Asian representation is such a different and immersive experience.

I’ve only experienced Kali River Rapids once back in 2000. I was entertaining company from out of state, and to tell the truth, I have no memory of the queue area. What I do remember is that I was sitting in the “special seat” when our raft went down the drop. The only thing missing was the bar of soap. I remember taking my shirt off and wringing it out. Soaked is a good adjective. Since then, I’ve always had camera equipment with me and have been afraid to go back on the ride.

Thanks to your blog, I now know that I need to once again visit Kali River Rapids, if for no other reason than to experience and photograph the queue line. Your videos are terrific too!

Keep up the great work, and know that you are appreciated.

Greg

Shirley:

Jack: Thanks tons. We have never ridden this before because I don't relish being soaked through and through. I don't see how that is fun in any possible way!

However, at Universal when we visited in May one year (when it was 90 degrees with 100% humidity), here's what we did: We wore swimsuits under really old clothes that we didn't care about. We also wore water shoes. We put a tote bag with our swimsuit coverups and towels in a locker. We rode Popeye several times (similiar ride to Kali as you will get absolutely soaked). Then we got out of old clothes and dried off in restrooms, wore our coverups and left the park and went to our on-site hotel pool.

We thought we might try this at AK when the weather was really warm (we tend not to go in late spring or early fall any more however and never go in summer), but it's just such a long walk to Kali from the parking lot and then we'd have to get in car still pretty damp to get to on-site hotel pool. So we've never done it.

However, if someone really wants to ride but doesn't want wet clothes all day long, this may be an option. I'm really glad you posted these 2 blogs as now I see what I've been missing. Thanks!

Lori:

Thanks for this review Jack! This is the ONE ride at WDW that I will no longer ride unless I am on my way OUT of the park. Made the mistake of letting the teens talk me into it a few years ago and I was literally ringing out every stitch of clothing I had on for hours! The sign should read you WILL get soaked! I was so wet that I finally went back to the room to change. It was NOT fun squeaking and dripping all over the park.

That being said, the ride itself was great fun and the kids love it! I'd rather ride Mission Space 5x in a row!

Great job! Thanks!

Heather Young:

Hello Jack

I've been on this ride numerous times and have never taken in the details or story behind it. Your detailed blog is wonderful. Next time I will take my time and listen/look.

A small tip to anyone riding Kali in cooler months, there electric hand dryers in the rest rooms near the exit. One chilly December day my daughter and I (who copped for every bit of soaking possible) spent over an hour in there trying to dry off wet clothes.

Thank you again Jack you give so much of your time doing these blogs and it really is appreciated.

Tim:

Jack,

Thank you again for another great blog. I always look forward to Monday! We did not experience Kali River until our 4th family trip. We used fastpass so we missed the que. We will definately have to experience that next time. Thanks again!

Tim Johansen:

Hi Jack-

Another great video and blog. Around 4:16 minutes into the video, the rock formation looked like a face (it went by fast). Are there animals shapes worked into the rock formations along the ride ?

Jack's Answer:

The face you're seeing is a tiger. This is Tiger Bay and the tiger is sacred to the area.

Bonnie Lorenzetti:

HI Jack,
As ususal fantastic blog on Kali River Rapids. I love being on the ride and watching the reactions of others on the raft when they are the recepient of the unsuspecting water drench (when I'm not that is). You do get soaked to the bone but that's what makes it fun.
How many times of the 6 you rode to get the film did you get soaked??? I hope it was at least a HOT day so you would eventually dry out - or have you yet??? LOL
Bonnie L

Jack's Answer:

I got soaked all six times. I can't believe my luck. Of course four of those times I was the only person in the raft and I think my weight created an "imbalance" in the raft and shifted it so I always was going down backwards -- the wettest way to go.

Joe:

Wow, this remains one of the only rides I haven't experienced at Walt Disney World, and judging from the description and pictures, I've been missing out.

The level of detail in all the Animal Kingdom queues and rides is beyond comparison.

I'll make sure to bring a change of clothes next time so I can try this one out!

Jack's Comment: Or bring a rain pancho.

Chris Kelly:

Hi Jack,

Back in 2003 my family and I vacationed with another family at WDW. We planned to go on the Kali River Rapids and at the end we were all pretty soaked. Funny thing was my friends wife was proud as a peacock as she looked at us and stated "see I was smart today. I wore my black shirt incase I went on this ride." As he reassured her of the wise decision she had made she walked away from us and we stood there laughing because she had matched that nice black shirt with a pair of white shorts. Note to readers. If you are going on the rapids consider darker clothing for the ride. Thanks Jack as usual another great blog.

Mike Venere:

Always a good time, I have an interesting story from a couple years back.

One time riding we got a little held up, they wanted 4 spots to remain open. From a side entrance, WWF wrestler Shawn Michaels his wife and son appear and rode with us.

Everyone seemed to know but no one said anything or bothered him....he seemed to recognize that, near the end of the ride he thanked everyone and posed for a picture with some of us!

Penny:

Perhaps Dan should write his own blog, instead of critiquing yours.


Jack's Comment:

Dan asked my permission to "edit" my typos. I really appreciate his efforts. Even though I proof my articles and have a friend re-proof them, I still miss mistakes. I have no problem with Dan pointing out my errors.

DUSTY CHEATHAM:

mr. spence after viewing the video on this blog i would like to award you 1st photo of the tenth order with red sash with gold trim . DAN in case your wondering how i can do this i am sure i have some royal blood somewhere in my background. congraulations MR SPENCE ON THIS HONOR.
LIVE LONG & PROSPER, DUSTY

Connie:

I love this ride! The last time I was in Disney World, the people I was riding with were disappointed they did not get wet enough the first time, me either. So since the line was so short, we all went on again until we got soaked. We all had a great time! I do want to make sure somehow I get to enjoy all the details as I pass them. Can I go back after the ride and look around. I know the other guests and those in my party will not want to wait behind me while I snap away. Thanks for the feature on this attraction. I love it. This and Splash Mountain...yes, anything with water.

Wendy Crober:

Hi Jack,

Great blog - we too were wondering how many times you rode and whether or not you had a waterproof camera and I see you've answered those questions.

I still think you should create an e-book someday...I'd be first in line.

Wendy

Rachel:

My husband and I rode this back in 2001. We did a little pre-planning though. We wore our bathing suits - I put a pair of shorts over mine so it appeared that I had on a tank top, and he wore a t-shirt with his. As fate would have it we were on the downside of the raft and got soaked. But we had planned even more. We brought a change of dry clothes, a hand towel and shoes with us. Before the ride we put this into a locker and after the ride went back, retrieved our clothes, went into the restroom, dried off and changed. Then we put everything back into the locker, allowing us to enjoy the rest of our day without squishing through the park. When we got back to the hotel later in the day I rinsed our wet stuff in some soap and water - hung it to dry - good as new.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 7, 2012 9:48 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids - Part One.

The next post in this blog is Lion King Suite - Art of Animation Resort.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.