by Elizabeth Driscoll
While visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom in early June, one of our must-do items was to try the new “Wilderness Explorers” activity. Our group of explorers, all adults, was excited to earn badges with the help of our Badge Guides and Troop Leader!
When you arrive at Animal Kingdom, you will find the Wilderness Explorers Headquarters. This is on your way to Discovery Island so it is easy to start right away! Each explorer is given a Wilderness Explorers Handbook and a “W.E.” sticker to wear. Then, you are taught the Wilderness Explorer Call. Once you repeat the call, you have earned your first badge! Each badge is a sticker affixed to a designated page in your handbook.
As you arrive at each badge location, you will have a requirement for that badge. Usually you speak with a Badge Guide. They will show you what badge you are earning, provide you with information, and ask questions to engage you and your group. We were impressed with the Badge Guides. They eagerly engaged our all adult group in the same manner as a family with young children. As explorers we were asked to complete every activity and answer questions to earn our badges. We loved being part of the troop!
Earning a badge may require you to write, draw, play music, speak to a cast member, or any of a variety of other activities. The variety of badge requirements keeps the explorer on their toes! Some badges, like the Asian Culture badge, provide a take away item. I received a certificate that has my name written in Hindi… that’s a nice souvenir!
With about thirty badges to earn, you can tour the park as you normally do and earn badges along the way. We followed our regular attraction plan and found most of the badges on our way. The areas were clearly marked with the Wilderness Explorers badge location icon. Some areas had several badges clustered near one another. This made earning badges fun and easy.
Keep in mind that Badge Guides do occasionally step away for a moment. If a badge location is missing its Badge Guide, you may need to return in a few minutes.
The format of the Wilderness Explorers Handbook is such that while it can be completed in one visit, it is probably meant to be done slowly over at least two visits to really enjoy what each location has to offer. We earned twenty four badges during our visit and we are all keeping our books in a safe place until our next visit to complete our handbooks.
Having the Wilderness Explorers Handbook certainly plusses your Animal Kingdom experience. It may take your troop to favorite places and to some you have yet to discover in the park. As the focus of these activities is conservation, you will find a link on the last page to Disney’s conservation website.
Our troop of explorers all had fun on our Wilderness Explorers adventure! The only thing we wanted to change was that we wished the shops sold actual badges or pin badges and explorer satchels!
I hope to see all our troop members off exploring the wilderness on their next visit to Animal Kingdom!
“THE WILDERNESS MUST BE EXPLORED!” “CAW! CAW!” “ROAR!”
Liz Driscoll went to Walt Disney World for the first time when she was five years old, though her Disney passion began seven years ago. She has visited Walt Disney World about twelve times in the past seven years. In the non-Disney world, she is a teacher who enjoys bringing a little bit of pixie dust in the classroom each day