While far from an extinct attraction, Kilimanjaro Safaris has seen a few changes since it opened to the public along with the rest of Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998. In fact, the very first change to this attraction came before the park ever opened to the public.
During Cast Member previews, the original poacher story line had a much darker ending. At the end of the attraction, rather than guests finding that the poachers had failed in their attempt to capture Big & Little Red (elephants on the reserve) they instead would come across the bloody corpse of Little Red, tusks removed. Feedback from the previews resulted in a change to the ending in which the driver of the safari vehicle would successfully scare off the poachers letting Big & Little Red escape.
After the modifications the attraction opened with minor issues but generally great success. Some of the animals did not fare well in their new surroundings and died as a result however as a whole the attraction was popular with guests. Slight changes to the poacher storyline came over time including removal of the “guns” the drivers carried as well as removal of a few animatronics and props in later years.
In 2012 it was announced that the entire poacher storyline would be removed, along with the scenes associated. Instead, the attraction would no longer feature a fictional storyline (other than being in Africa that is) and a new zebra exhibit would go into the areas previously occupied by the storyline props.
Just a few months after it opened, in early 2013 it was announced that the zebras were having difficulty acclimating to their new home and the new section of the safari would unfortunately be removed.