Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Wilderness Explorers Program
Last week during the Monkey Kingdom Event we had the opportunity to do lots of amazing things. During the trip we spent two days at Disney’s Animal Kingdom learning about the dream Walk Disney had for sharing his love of animals with the public. While promoting the Monkey Kingdom movie, which is now playing in theaters everywhere we learned about the Wilderness Explorers Program and also participate as well. Thanks to Walt Disney World for the complementary tickets to WDW, any opinions expressed are my own.
After entering the park we walked over to a special section in the park to learn about the Wilderness Explorers program. This free program is included with your admission ticket to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Although the program is geared towards children ages 2-10 years of age, it’s one that explorers of all ages can enjoy and cast members are trained to adjust their information based on the age of the explorer. If you’re interested in participating in the Wilderness Explorers program can visit the booth near the entrance/exit of the park. It’s the bridge leading into Discovery Island.
There are six troop leader posts throughout the park that guests can stop by to start on their Wilderness Explorers quests. It’s takes only about five minutes to get started with sign up and then you can be on your way. The troop leader booths are also set up to help you ear your first two badges. The first badge all explorers earn is the Wilderness Explorer Call Badge. The second badge depends on where you start your journey. At the troop leader booth pictured above you can also earn your Habitat Badge.
While earning the Habitat Badge we learned that you can earn a certificate to have your backyard certified as a Backyard Habitat. To learn more visit the National Wildlife Foundation website to see what’s required. Having a backyard habitat is easier than you you think and it’s a great project to take on with your kids.
Our troop leader got us started with our Wilderness Explorers Call Badge and showed us the spider so we could also earn our Animal Find Badge. I’ve actually seen just about all the animals from that page to earn the badge but you only need to find one.
Here’s a great tip for earning some badges. If you start at the main Wilderness Explorers booth, you can earn your first badge and then cross the bridge towards the Tree of Life, right on the left side towards Africa stop and earn your flamingo badge. Head into Africa and to to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to earn a quick six badges. You will need to take the train over and it runs every 20 minutes but it’s a nice short ride. After you return from the planet watch area you can hit the Pangani Forest Trail for five more badges and then ride the Kilimanjaro Safari for two more badges at the beginning and end of the ride. I would suggest Asia next and then Dino Land for the rest of the badges.
In Africa just after you cross the bridge we saw the Wilderness Explorers marker. At this station there was a badge guide – a person that gives our badges based on the tasks you completed. You can not start the explorers challenge at a badge guide station. Here we earned our music badge playing the drums and learning about an African instrument.
My favorite badge of all time was the cultural badge in Asia. On the day we participated we meet someone from India. She taught us about her culture and I learned that there are over 126 different languages spoken in India. Hindi is their main language spoken by a majority of the population. Our guide said she knew about ten of the different languages spoken in India. Before giving us our badge she also wrote our names in Hindi in our guide books. I could have stood there for hours learning more about her culture and the different languages. This is a great family friendly activity that helps you see so many aspects of the park. If you don’t earn all your badges at once that’s fine, just bring back your guide book and pick up where you left off. I highly recommend the Wilderness Explorers program for all guests with children.
About the Wilderness Explorers Program:
The Wilderness Explorers Program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom encourages families and children to experience the park in a whole new way! As Wilderness Explorers, Guests participate in a variety of activities, such as hiking the trails, digging for fossils, studying gorilla behaviors, listening to animal sounds, learning how veterinarians care for animals, and interacting with Cultural Cast Members representing different countries in Africa and Asia. Completing each activity allows you to earn a sticker badge in their very own Wilderness Explorers handbook, which can be picked up from any of the nine Troop Leader locations around the park. Explorers can earn up to 31 badges, but are encouraged to earn these badges in multiple visits, since exploring is a lifelong adventure! Completing all 31 badges gives Guests the honorary title of Senior Wilderness Explorer. The program’s goal is to connect Guests with animals, conservation and culture while spending time together as a family, during and even after their visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Don’t forget that Monkey Kingdom is now playing in theaters everywhere. See it with your family during opening week and a donation will be made in your name to Conservation International. Can’t make opening week? No problem, you can still see Monkey Kingdom in theaters and support Disneynature so they continue to create educational and entertaining movies like Monkey Kingdom, Crimson Wings, Bears and more. You can also read my review of the Monkey Kingdom movie and read my interview with Dr. Sanjayan – Disneynature Ambassador. Check out the trailer below and visit the Monkey Kingdom website to learn more about the movie.