If you have watched Disney/Pixar’s Up you know all about the Wilderness Explorers. You and/or your child can become Wilderness Explorers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I am going to share how to become one and why you should, plus answer some common questions about it.
While Animal Kingdom is not my favorite park, I have gone often being a local and I have walked past the Wilderness Explorer recruitment booth on the bridge to Discovery Island. I thought it was cute, but it’s probably not something for adults. I was wrong! Wilderness Explorers is a FREE self-paced, interactive, scavenger hunt activity at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.
How to Become a Wilderness Explorer
To join the Wilderness Explorers you must say the Explorer motto and learn the call, this is led by a Troop Leader. That earns you your first badge and then you are handed our own Wilderness Explorers handbook that is loaded with 31 badges you can earn. They will also give you a pencil if you need one to fill out of the book.
How Do You Earn Wilderness Explorer Badges?
There are badges to earn all over the Animal Kingdom. There is a map in the book that shows where all the badge locations are found. A lot of these activities are quick so you can easily add them to your itinerary.
Each activity has you learning a bit more about the area or animals you are around. The badges can be completed with very little effort but you get more out of the experience if you fully complete each activity. Once you complete an activity you search out a Badge Guide to get your badge (sticker) to put into your book.
Badge Guides and Troop Leaders are only available until 5 or 7 pm depending on their hours that day. After that time you can continue completing activities and then go back the next day (if you have another AK day planned) and get the badges.
Once you all the badges you become a Senior Wilderness Explorer.
What Ages Can Become Wilderness Explorers?
All ages can become Wilderness Explorers but non-reading Explorers may need some help as there is a bit of reading and writing in the handbook.
Is it fun for adults? My husband and I had a blast working on the badges and we completed 7 badges between noon and 5. We were going at a pretty slow pace though and really enjoying each moment and learning all we could from the troop leaders. And yes, I learned a lot. I went into it thinking it would be just little kid facts but I did learn quite a bit.
Out of the badges I have earned so far, the Birding Badge and the Gorilla badges have been the most fun.
You earn the birding badge in the aviary and most people were walking right through such a beautiful space and only glancing at the fish tank or the couple ducks. It took some work to track some of the birds and learn their names. I even sat on the bench and just bird watched for a while. My favorite bird was the Golden Weaver, so pretty!
I also really liked the Gorilla badge because I learned so much and they were more interesting to watch after learning about them. My husband and I asked the Cast Member so many questions.
Tips for Exploring the Wilderness
- Start Early. If you are just going for one day and want to accomplish as much as you can, start early.
- Complete the Pandora Section Early. Since Pandora can get busy and crowded, go to that section early in your day rather on the tail end.
- Work as a Family.
- Include Toddlers and Preschoolers. Let young children who can’t go on rides with height requirements work on the badges in the ride’s area with the adult who is not riding. A lot of the activities can be modified to suit many skill levels.
- Make it a Challenge. Complete the activities on your own, or take on each task as a group. Going with a group of teens? Have them earn the badges individually and see who can complete the most in the day.
- Take Your Time. Take your time and enjoy the process. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a beautiful park. Enjoy all the attention to the details in each land, the variety of animals, and talk with the Troop Leaders and Badge Guides.
The Wilderness Explorers program is an awesome way to add value to your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It offers free in-park entertainment to guests of all ages and is a fun learning experience for the entire family. My husband and I can’t wait to continue working on our Wilderness Explorers badges on our next Animal Kingdom date day.