The Wilderness Must Be Explored: How to Become a Wilderness Explorer
Become a Wilderness Explorer
Walt Disney Imagineers are experts at taking concepts from Disney's animated films and creating real-life experiences from them. The idea for the Wilderness Explorers experience at Disney's Animal Kingdom was inspired by Disney & Pixar's UP—you know, the movie with the floating house that makes you cry all your tears within the first ten minutes. That movie.
Were you ever a member of the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts when you were a kid? The Wilderness Explorers club is kind of like that. You complete tasks, earn some badges, and learn some cool stuff along the way. The best part? Anyone of any age can become a Wilderness Explorer. Even me, a 31-year-old grown adult.
Stop by the Wilderness Explorers Headquarters on your way to Discovery Island to receive your handbook. You'll want to keep this book safe because it's where you'll complete all your activities and where you'll store your earned badges.
On the inside cover you'll fill out your Membership Card where you'll pledge to uphold the Wilderness Explorers Motto:
AN EXPLORER IS A FRIEND TO ALL, BE IT PLANTS OR FISH OR TINY MOLE.
How to Earn Your First Badge
After you fill out your membership card, it's time to earn your first badge! Talk to a Troop Leader and ask to learn the Wilderness Explorer Call. Yes, you will be required to do this in front of other humans. Don't be shy! If my introverted self can do it, then so can you.
THE WILDERNESS MUST BE EXPLORED!
You've earned your first badge. Now what?
It's time to explore! Find your next badge location using the guide map in your Handbook. There are stations throughout the entire park, including two new locations in Pandora: The World of Avatar.
Each station has a marker that matches the badge you can earn. This makes the experience super easy to navigate. If you ever have a question about where to find a certain station, you can always ask a Troop Leader.
Follow the instructions on each page to complete the corresponding activity. A lot of these activities are interactive and require you to chat with the Troop Leaders at each station. Don't let that deter you from this experience. Each Troop Leader I spoke with was extremely excited to talk to me and made me feel so comfortable despite the fact that I (a childless millennial) was doing this by myself.
Special shout out to the Troop Leaders at the Insect station for spending some extra time with me to talk about butterflies.
Once you've completed the activity, find a Troop Leader or Badge Guide to earn your badge. If you don't collect all the badges during your visit, you can bring your Handbook back next time to keep exploring.
Before you leave, check the back of your handbook to see how you rank. Collect all 31 badges to become a Senior Wilderness Explorer!
Wilderness Explorers: Not Just for Kids
I encourage everyone to give this experience a try, especially if you're a seasoned theme park-er who's looking for something unique to do during your visit. Some of the activities were actually quite challenging and I learned some really cool info that I can now proudly insert into random conversations.
I still have a long way to go to earn my Senior Wilderness Explorer rank but I promise to uphold my pledge and continue exploring on my next visit.
Courtney Reynolds Creative | Theme Park Photographer | Orlando FL
Want to see more adventures? Follow me on Instagram!