I have to be honest, Animal Kingdom is probably our least favorite park in Disney World. In fact, we almost skipped it entirely on our most recent trip. But, we decided do to a half day there just to ride Everest and Kali Rapids (which we had never been on before). A friend recommended that we try the Wilderness Explorers. I am so glad he did because our son absolutely loved it!!! (Click here if you want to hear him tell you exactly how it works).
When you enter the park, go up the center walkway and right after you cross the bridge but before you get to the Tree of Life start looking for the Wilderness Explorer logo (see on book below). It is a W (in tree branches) with an E (which is the trunk of the tree) below it. They are very easy to spot. Under the logo, you will find a picture of the badge you earn at that location. At this first stop they will give you your Wilderness Explorers book and a pencil. Note: We were not given a pencil, but you definitely need one. So, if you don’t get one, be sure to ask for one. They will also receive a Wilderness Explorers sticker to wear and also earn their first badge at this location.
Each location requires you to do something different to earn your badges. The activities are all different and all educational. A few examples are finding various animals, identifying animal tracks, making animal noises, and even washing your hands after the petting zoo–a mom clearly came up with this one :). A couple of the locations even write your child’s name in another language, which was very cool.
The Wilderness Explorer locations are all over the park. One even requires you to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris (highly recommend getting a fast pass for this ride as it is a popular attraction) in order to earn your badge. Be sure and keep a lookout for the logo everywhere you go because they are truly EVERYWHERE. Some are even at the kiosks where they sell things, and these can be easily missed as you don’t expect them to be there.
This was my son’s (6) favorite part of Animal Kingdom (although watching Daddy get soaked on Kali River Rapids was a close second). There are 31 badges in all that you can get. We got all of them but 12. The only reason we didn’t get those is because we didn’t start until late morning. You can easily get all of the badges in a day.
TOP FIVE REASONS WE LOVE WILDERNESS EXPLORERS
1.) Sometimes when you miss school to go on trips, you can get approval for the trip and the absences (or at least part of them) will be deemed “excused.” Often you have to bring something back to prove that it was an educational trip. Bringing back your Wilderness Explorer book should more than suffice for this.
2.) While I wouldn’t classify my son as shy, he is not one to approach people and ask questions. Doing this made him get a little out of his comfort zone, which, in my opinion, is always a good thing.
3.) I wouldn’t consider Animal Kingdom a full-day park. We usually just spend half a day there, but we didn’t have hopper passes this trip. This was a great activity to fill up the entire day and see the entire park along the way.
4.) Some of the areas that my husband and I enjoyed seeing, especially some of the walkway areas would have been very boring to our son had it not been for the Wilderness Explorer locations along the way. Having him occupied (and not complaining the whole time) made it much more enjoyable for the big kids!
5.) Your kids learn a ton of stuff about animals, nature and how to protect the planet along the way!
\Tangled Son says, “This is really fun. Your kids should do this!”