'Sup! Tad here, ready to tell you all about an awesome club I'm a part of that includes exploring, badges and a special handshake. Caw! Caw! Roar! That's right — it's the famous Wilderness Explorers!
The Wilderness Explorers is a self-paced, scavenger hunt-like activity at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Frogs of all ages earn badges throughout the park just like Russell did as a Wilderness Explorer in "Up." You get to learn about wilderness skills, fossils, conservation and more. And our favorite part — it's toadally free!
With nearly 30 badge opportunities throughout the park, this experience can really enhance your day in the wild. It's taken a few trips, but I am very close to receiving all of my badges. The wilderness must be explored! Here are all of the toadally awesome details on the Wilderness Explorers so you can join in on the fun next time you're at Animal Kingdom.
How to Get Started with the Wilderness Explorers
The Wilderness Explorers Headquarters is located at the end of the bridge as you enter Discovery Island. Once you take in the awe of the Tree of Life, you'll find cast members ready to help you become a Wilderness Explorer. You'll receive your handbook and earn your very first badge!
As you go about your day, you'll find Wilderness Explorer cast members stationed throughout the park (just keep an eye out for the Wilderness Explorer symbol). At each station, a Troop Leader or a Badge Guide will teach you more about a specific topic, such as endangered species, fossils and even recycling. You'll then receive a sticker to commemorate earning your badge.
Learn a Valuable Lesson at Each Wilderness Explorers Location
The Frog Family loves the Wilderness Explorers because it's so easy to integrate into our Animal Kingdom day. It is self-paced so Lily and I can earn badges in between all of the fun rides. You learn a lot at each station while still having lots of fun.
Badge Locations (locations may vary, and there may be multiple stops in each location, which we've noted below):
- Discovery Island: Wilderness Explorers Headquarters (2), by the flamingos, near the exit to It's Tough to Be a Bug
- Pandora: Close by the main entrance of the land, near the walkway to Africa
- Africa: Near the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris, along the Gorilla Falls trail (6)
- Rafiki's Planet Watch: Along the main pathway at Conservation Station (4)
- Asia: Near the troop leader post (2), near the Yak & Yeti restaurant, near the entrance to the Maharajah Jungle Trek, along the Maharajah Jungle Trek (2), near Expedition Everest (2)
- Dinoland U.S.A.: Near DINOSAUR, in the Boneyard, near Chester and Hester's gift shop
Each of the locations will have some sort of visual aide to look at as the guide explains the topic. The cast members will ask different questions and involve everyone in the learning process. Our favorite locations were ones where we could see animals close by as we learned more about them and their habitat, such as the tigers. Did you know that tigers are one of the most endangered animals in the world due to deforestation? We also enjoyed badges where Lily and I could draw or decode something, such as the special codes that explorers use on the radios. My personal favorite locations were in Dinoland U.S.A. because who doesn't love fossils!
We frogs also like that the Wilderness Explorers doesn't involve technology. Though we love all of the rad Disney additions, such as the Play Disney Parks app, it is nice to put our phones away (parent frogs included). Plus frogs are all about the great outdoors!
Tips and Tricks for Wilderness Explorers
- You can receive a handbook and your first badge at many stations besides the front headquarters. If you miss it on your way in or change your mind, you don't have to backtrack.
- The Wilderness Explorers stations are typically staffed for the majority of the park day, usually starting a few hours after park open and ending an hour before park close, so plan ahead to get some badges done in the afternoon.
- Some of the stations are off the beaten path, so you truly get to explore the nooks and crannies of Animal Kingdom you might have missed otherwise.
- The cast members are great about tailoring the activities to be age-appropriate. They will explain the topic differently to a young tadpole than they would to a tween frog like me.
- Sometimes there may be short lines while waiting for a badge opportunity. We found that the lines moved pretty quickly and sometimes we would join with other groups for one big learning experience. If a group had already started, we would just wait our turn and get a nice, personal experience.
- The cast members are specifically trained in their field of study and are very knowledgeable. The Frog Family loves asking questions from the awesome guides!
- Though it is technically possible to earn all the badges in one day, don't worry if you can't get to all of them in your trip. Just save that handbook and bring it back next time!
- If you do earn all the badges, you become an Honorary Senior Wilderness Explorer.
Are you a Wilderness Explorer yet? Let us know how many badges you've earned in the comments below!