Opened: March 18, 1999
Location: Asia in between Yak & Yeti Restaurant and Expedition Everest. From Everest, you’ll see it on your right just before you arrive at Yak & Yeti. From Africa, you’ll see it on your left just after you pass Yak & Yeti Quick Service.
Extra Magic Hours: Morning, depending on season.
FASTPASS: Yes, usually. When temperatures are low (under 70 degrees and particularly under 60 degrees), Kali River Rapids may not offer FASTPASS because wait times are much shorter when it’s relatively chilly out. Particularly in the summer or when the highs are 85+ degrees, Kali River Rapids may have FASTPASS return times farther into the future than Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest.
Type: Rafting ride
Similar To: Grizzly River Run at Disney’s California Adventure
Requirements: Must be 38” tall to ride
Scary Factor: Low. The ride starts off with a 90 foot uphill ascent, but there are no drops any more significant than the initial drop at Pirates of the Caribbean.
When To Go: This is a tough one to schedule because you’ll most likely get soaked, which can be unpleasant before lunch (or anytime for that matter). On the other hand, its capacity is low and wait times can easily hit 40+ minutes after 11:30am and may peak at 60 to 70 minutes in the summer. In the standby line, you’ll want to ride before 11am most days unless the weather is chilly or it’s raining, in which wait times should stay under 20 minutes. If you’re not interested in riding before 11am, use FASTPASS at some point during the day. The nearby Maharajah Jungle Trek trail is a good way to spend time until your FASTPASS time arrives. Expedition Everest, Flights of Wonder, and Yak & Yeti Restaurant are also nearby.
Expect to Wait: Waits typically peak at about 40 minutes in the afternoon. Before lunch, waits of 20 to 30 minutes are common. If it’s colder out, waits will be significantly shorter. If it’s hot, you’re looking at 60+ minute waits, even when Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris are in the 20 to 30 minute range.
Length: 5 minutes total, but most of that is spent in the ascension to the top of the Rapids. Expect about two minutes of actual rafting down the river.
What to Expect: Kali River Rapids follows a story about the destruction caused by illegal forestry. Riders board large rafts that seat 12 people in a single row around the outside perimeter of the raft. In the middle of the raft is a covered compartment where you can store personal belongings. Your raft will be pulled up a 90 foot hill and then be released to freely float down the rapids. Your raft will pass through geysers, waterfalls, and beautiful tropical jungles before plummeting down a 30-foot waterfall. The drop isn’t fast or particularly thrilling, but it is still fun. Expect to get drenched on Kali. The ride itself won’t get you very wet until you go down the drop, but at the end of the ride there are a number of “water-shooters” that will be manned by other Park guests. They will aim at your raft and shoot buckets of water at you. Most riders leave soaked to the skin. On the other hand, depending on where you’re sitting and the aim of the water-shooters, you may emerge only slightly soaked.
Where to Sit: You’ll be seated around a circular raft that spins around, so there isn’t really an advantage in sitting in any particular seat. Try to sit next to someone bigger so that they’ll get hit with most of the water.
How to Stay Dry: The compartment in the middle of each raft is handy, but it isn’t waterproof and there may be a puddle of water on the bottom of it from previous rides. You’ll want to bring Ziploc bags for electronics, purses, or other items that might be damaged by water. Alternatively, head into the nearest shop and ask for a shopping bag to wrap your belongings. Either of these should provide enough protection from the water and banging around inside of the compartment. If you have a backpack, you will still want to put important belongings in a Ziploc because the backpack may soak through. A large garbage bag will also do the trick and be easy to retrieve after the ride is over. The biggest problem people run into on Kali, other than ruined electronics, is the fact that you can’t go barefoot on the ride. You’ll have to bring sandals to wear if you want to remove your shoes and socks. Even if getting wet feels good in the summer, wet socks and shoes aren’t usually pleasant. I don’t recommend wearing sandals or “water-shoes” the entire day because they don’t offer enough support for all-day walking. A cheap poncho should keep your body dry, but you’ll have to bring those too if you don’t want to pay exceptionally high Disney prices. You can also store your belongings in a locker at the front of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but they aren’t particularly convenient to Kali so you’ll have to walk to the front entrance to deposit or pickup items. You could bring an extra set of clothes, shoes, and socks and store them in a locker to retrieve if you become too uncomfortable. Disney is in the process of adding lockers for guests to use.
Commentary: Kali River Rapids is a fun ride, but it’s short and you’re probably going to get drenched. Some people do walk off the ride mostly unscathed, but it’s impossible to guarantee that will happen. It’s such a hassle to bring ponchos, sandals, and worry about getting expensive electronics ruined that I’ve been known to skip it altogether, especially during cooler seasons. In summer, getting wet will cool you down and cover up the fact that you’re sweating profusely in Florida weather, but wet shoes and socks are never fun. You’ll at least want to bring sandals or try to keep your feet off the bottom of the raft, even if you want the rest of your body to get wet.