Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest of the Disney parks (in terms of acreage) at 500 acres. All this space is required for the animals featured around the park. In spite of its size, I feel it’s the most relaxing of the Disney parks. I like to spend the day observing the animals amidst gorgeous landscaping and theming. The park is separated into different areas: Africa, Asia, Discovery Island, DinoLand,USA and Rafiki’s Planet watch.
During my most recent visit, while walking towards the Tree of Life and its intricate carvings, I saw something new – a “cabin” with the sign “Wilderness Explorers Headquarters” and a banner saying “The wilderness must be explored!”
Curious, I stopped by and was told by the “badge” guide that Disney has started offering the Wilderness Explorers Adventure Game. Even though it’s geared towards children, like most things Disney, it can be enjoyed by children of all ages, including children at heart.
The guide teaches you the Wilderness Explorer call, and you get your first badge for learning it. Disney cast members were having fun with this, and whenever they saw someone with the explorer sticker, they would make them practice the call. “The Wilderness Must be Explored! “Caw Caw”, “Roar!” with accompanying hand gestures. I must admit this was a little more fun than it should have been, but I’m easily amused.
Throughout the day I saw guests completing the necessary items to get their badges, which are really stickers that can be placed on each page of the Wilderness Explorers Handbook given to each participant. Many teens and young adults were trying out the game for themselves. There were also grandparents playing along with their grandchildren, and parents enjoying their children learning and having fun with this new activity.
I think this game is a great way to develop an interest in different animals, cultures, and conservation. It also encourages you to see the whole park, guiding you towards areas that you may have missed or rushed through. In Rafiki’s planet watch, the activities help you to learn about animal nutrition, veterinary care and habitat. Recycling and conservation are also covered.
In Africa and Asia they have culture badges where, in order to get your sticker, you need to meet someone from those areas of the world and learn something about their culture. I found it interesting and could see what a great thing it would be for a child to learn about some of the many different cultures in the world.
The game is loosely based on the character Russell from the Disney Pixar movie UP, who is a Wilderness Explorer trying to get his last badge to become a Senior Wilderness Explorer. There are also photo ops with Russell and the dog named Dug from the movie. The photo background is set up as a Wilderness Explorer meet up, and this makes a cute souvenir especially for guests participating in the game.
My favorite part of Animal Kingdom is seeing all the animals, and the safari ride is a great opportunity to see them out and about.
The Mt. Everest, and Dinosaur! rides are fantastic, and if you like shows: The Lion King and Finding Nemo shows are unique and great fun! For this low key visit, the Wilderness Explorer game helped me see the park in a new way and completing the activities in the hand book was a great way to spend the day.
There are 31 badges to earn throughout the park. Guests are encouraged to bring the handbook back on their next visit to keep exploring and complete all the badges to become a Senior Wilderness Explorer!
Disney’s Animal Kingdom – photo gallery
Click any image to view it full-screen. When the full-screen image is open, click to the right or use the right arrow on your keyboard to advance through the gallery.
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