More Walt Disney World Resort Stories

Becoming a Wilderness Explorer is a Walk in the Park

Russ J. Stacey

by , Writer, Yellow Shoes Creative Group

Becoming a Wilderness Explorer is a Walk in the Park

“The wilderness must be explored! Caw! Caw! Roar!” That’s what the ever-determined Russell declared in the beloved Disney·Pixar’s “UP“. He was dedicated to earn his final Wilderness Explorer badge and thus securing the rank of Senior Wilderness Explorer.

Now you, too, can experience all that Disney’s Animal Kingdom has to offer with the brand-new Wilderness Explorers. It allows you the joy of discovering the natural surroundings of the park—and more—as you earn over 30 badges.

Assisted by a complimentary official Wilderness Explorers Handbook—and cast members serving as Troop Leaders and Badge Guides—you undertake challenges and activities around the Park.

While aimed at pint-size family members, Wilderness Explorers appeals to all ages. “Some of our younger Explorers are great at leading their families through the entire experience,” Dr. Anne Savage, Conservation director, Disney’s Animal Programs, told us. “There is a lot of ‘Caw! Caw! Roar!’—the official Wilderness Explorers call—going on throughout the park these days.”

Dr. Anne and her team helped provide content for the animal-themed badges. For instance, there are badges that help you (and your little ones) learn how to track animals, how to identify animals and how animals communicate. It’s not only about wildlife, however. You can earn a badge while examining an African culture, exploring dinosaur fossils or learning about recycling.

Becoming a Wilderness Explorer is a Walk in the Park

Once you complete a task, proudly present your results to a cast member and receive a sticker representing the badge.

“I think our guests are really excited to learn more about the animals that are featured in Wilderness Explorers, and there are memorable experiences for everyone,” Dr. Anne explained. “Guests can learn to knuckle-walk like a gorilla or become experts at identifying the clues that animals leave us as we explore the wild!”

While Russell may have been eager to fill his badge sash as quickly as possible, you can pace yourself. Wilderness Explorers is designed for kids—and all of us who are kids at heart—to tackle at their own speed.

Is your enthusiasm bubbling over? Get an early start and spend the whole day exploring. That way you can savor a leisurely approach and enjoy the great Disney’s Animal Kingdom attractions and entertainment between challenges. Conquer Expedition Everest and the fearsome Yeti. Thrill to the discoveries you’ll find on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Take in the wonderfully whimsical Finding Nemo—The Musical. Or spread the activities out over numerous visits to the park. It’s totally up to you. You’re the explorer.

As the stories of nature, traditions and legends unfold during this engaging, immersive adventure, Dr. Anne sees more than just a fun time for the whole family. “Most of all, I hope that as our guests earn badges and explore the Park, they will want to help protect wildlife.”

But we can’t guarantee you‘ll spot a snipe! (Remember Russell’s friend Kevin from the movie?) You can be sure, however, to uncover lots of fascinating facts about the world around us.

Wilderness Explorers is complimentary with valid Disney’s Animal Kingdom admission.


  • Can adults do this? It looks like fun!

    • Absolutely. It’s designed for everyone!

  • We are so proud of our daughter, who when invited by a troop leader, decided that she wanted to complete all the badges while on our family visit to Walt Disney World. She was steadfast and kept her book with her as we visited the different parks and attractions everyone else wanted to see and always made progress when we were at Animal Kingdom. She completed her book on 6/16/2013 and is now a Senior Wilderness Explorer both at the WDW Animal Kingdom and Disneyland’s California Adventure.
    There was a wonderful troop leader at the Headquarters who had never seen a completed book and created an impromptu ceremony when she turned it in. Even more special, dad pulled an “Elle Badge” from his pocket and pinned it on her to mark her accomplishment. Photo, book and Ellie pin are all proudly displayed in her room and she still talks about what she learned.
    The wilderness must be explored! Caw, Caw, Roar!

  • Welcome to the blog Mr. Russ!

    • Thank you so much, Skip. I look forward to sharing so much more on the blog.

  • When we recently visited DAK finding Wilderness Explorer stations was the highlight of our day. I was amazed at how engaged our 8-year old son became in seeking the locations, checking the map and searching for the pennants marking a station. The staff were very pleasant and friendly to work with and we all learned something at every stop. He was so proud to be able to turn in his completed book on our way out of the park–though we could have left much earlier if we hadn’t had more badges to find! The Wilderness Explorer experience truly added magic to our day. Thanks!

  • Is this an independent activity? We do not need to follow a group, correct?

    • Correct. You do not need to follow a group.

  • Our two children are so excited to become Wilderness Explorers for a day when we visit in August, and my husband and I are really looking forward to exploring the Animal Kingdom with them.

  • *Note: Kevin isn’t really a snipe, per se…
    For those that never had a Grandfather like mine…”snipe hunting” is something that you send your unknowing Grandkids or otherwise out to do to keep them busy with the knowledge that they will never succeed in finding what it is (“tall, long neck, etc.”) that you are sending them out to find. The level of success in keeping them busy is directly proportional to their attention span! 🙂
    Anyhow, figuratively, Kevin was the “snipe anomaly” – the thing that no one could ever find that suddenly was there.
    Just thought I’d share my experiences of all the long hours in my Grandparents’ back yard “snipe hunting”! 🙂

  • Oh, and I am 35 with NO kids of my own. AND I still want to do it! LOL!

  • This is such a GREAT idea. It’s kinda like the next step above the “passports” at EPCOT’s World Showcase. I AM LOVING IT! I may have to do it the next time I get to go… whenever that will be. 🙂

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