As Russell says, “The wilderness must be explored!” And you can do just that the next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom thanks to the new Wilderness Explorers program. On our last trip, we took the pledge and became Wilderness Explorers! This great new experience was both educational and fun! Even though it’s geared more towards the kids, I also enjoyed it and learned a bit too!
Since this was just introduced this year, we were very excited to try this. From reading about it on the Walt Disney World website (link opens in new window), we knew the basic idea. Sign up to participate, and then seek out various locations throughout the park to participate in activities to earn badges like Russell from the movie “Up!”. It sounded simple enough.
Take the Wilderness Explorers Pledge
Our first stop once we entered Disney’s Animal Kingdom was the Wilderness Explorers Headquarters located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island. It was here that Bella and Jackson got their Handbooks and earned their first “badges” (stickers) for learning the Wilderness Explorers call:
Now, admit it, how many of you just tried this right now?
Grab a Handbook
The Handbooks also include a place to write your Explorers name (might be a good idea to put a cell phone number in case you misplace your handbook while in the park) and 3 easy steps to exploring.
Find badge locations using the map
Follow the instructions on each page to complete your activity
Find your Troop Leader or Badge Guide to earn your badge
The map with badge locations was on the very next page of the Handbook. So the Handbook served three purposes: It gave you a map so you could find badge locations, it gave you instructions for each activity, and it was a place for recording everything you learned and for holding your badges.
There are also helpful signposts throughout the park to remind you when you are near a badge location. These are great because you can choose to tour the park as you would normally, and pull out your handbook when you saw a sign post.
Earn the Badges
Bella completed several badge activities while we were in the park that day. Here’s one example:
The Flamingo Badge
We were walking through Discovery Island when we spotted the signpost for the Flamingos. We stopped, got out our Handbook, found the page for the Flamingo badge, and read the instructions.
Step 1 was to find the Troop Leader and ask to see the pictures of the Flamingos.
We found that from location to location, the level of engagement by the Troop Leaders and Badge Guides varied greatly. Sometimes, all they did was point you to where you needed to be to complete the activity, and then checked your book and gave you your badge. At this location, the Troop Leader was very engaged with the kids. Bella waited patiently for her turn to view the pictures and complete Step 2. As you can see, even Jackson got in on the action.
Step 2 was identifying which Flamingo in the Handbook had an ID tag matching the Flamingo in the Troop Leader’s pictures.
The Troop Leader was very patient with Bella. I noticed she used different approaches depending upon the age of the child, which was great.
Step 3 was to observe the live Flamingos and see if you could find and read any of their ID tags.
Bella just reminded me as I was writing this that if the Flamingo’s tag was on its right leg, that meant he mas a male, and the the left leg signified a female Flamingo. I also remember over hearing that part and I couldn’t tell you if that is exactly right. We may have it reversed, but we do know that you can tell the sex of the Flamingos by which leg their ID tag is on.
Upon recording the ID of a live Flamingo, Bella and Jackson were awarded their badges. Then the Troop Leader gave Bella a task to do at home. She spoke about the importance of recycling at home and the impact we can have by saving trees and in turn, the habitats of animals.
Of the 31 badge activities in Bella’s Handbook, she completed 11. That’s not bad considering we left the park early, and we did not let the Wilderness Explorers activities dictate our schedule. Jackson’s interest varied from activity to activity, but he managed to collect some badges as well. Dedicating all our time to just getting badges might have prevented us from doing some other attractions withing the park. And this way, there are more activities to look forward to completing on our next trip!
What We Thought
I love to learn new things, and I especially love to see my kids learning new things as well. And there’s no reason a little learning can’t take place while you’re on vacation. That’s one of the things I love about Walt Disney World. The Wilderness Explorers interactive experience is a fun way to explore Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It brings some of the focus back to learning more about the world around us and the amazing animals we share it with.
What do you think of the Wilderness Explorers adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments below!