If you have been to Animal Kingdom anytime in the last few years, you have seen them. The Cast Members dressed as Wilderness Explorers from the movie Up. These Cast Members are your Troop Leaders and Badge Guides. These people are there to help you become a Wilderness Explorer and enhance your experience at Animal Kingdom.
Your journey to becoming a Wilderness Explorer starts just as you are about to cross on to Discovery Island. To your right you will see a kiosk where you can get your Wilderness Explorer Handbook. The handbook will help guide you through the Animal Kingdom while you earn Wilderness Explorer badges. There is a map of all badge that will give general locations and there are activity pages that will tell you exactly where you should go. There are 31 different badges to earn. The different locations are designed to teach you about animals, conservation and expose you to other cultures. At some locations there are interactive activities, others are informative talks from your Troop Leaders and Badge Guides with question and answer periods at the end of the talk.
My older kids, ages 10, 8 and 7 really enjoy the activities and learning about the animals. My youngest, 5, started out very interested but has lost interest. I think part of the reason for my 5 years old’s lack of interest at this point is due to the time involved in earning badges. Everyone of the stations requires about five to ten minutes to complete, possibly more for some areas. Currently we are four badges away from completing our Wilderness Explorers Handbook. All the badges we have collected has been a result of four visits to Animal Kingdom and we will finish the handbooks on our next trip. I believe it is possible to finish the handbooks in one trip however it would probably take up most of your day. Although it is time consuming it is well worth you time and is a great experience. Not only do you get to learn ( in a fun way) but it is a good way to interact with Cast Members.
Although this is a short description of how to become a Wilderness Explorer don’t miss the opportunity to take part in it even if you know you can’t finish the book.
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