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Pixar’s Pete Docter Surprises Wilderness Explorer Cast Members at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Cayla Ward

by , Manager, Synergy & Partnership Marketing

On his recent trip to Walt Disney World Resort during The World’s Most Magical Celebration, Pete Docter, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer and the Director of Disney and Pixar’s “Up,” surprised some cast members at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park who keeps the film’s magic alive through the Wilderness Explorers program. Though Pete Docter has directed some of the most iconic Pixar films including “Inside Out,” “Monsters, Inc.” and most recently the Academy Award winning film “Soul,” “Up” remains a beloved fan-favorite that has inspired Walt Disney World cast members and guests alike. 

Walt Disney Imagineers and cast members in the Animals, Science and Environment program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom saw an opportunity to educate guests on the park’s conservation mission by immersing them into Russell’s, one of the film characters, Wilderness Explorers program, which has quickly become a guest favorite attraction. Through this interactive program, guests can earn badges and become a senior Wilderness Explorer, as Russell would.

Here are a few fun facts about the Wilderness Explorers program you may not know!

  • The program in the film and in Disney’s Animal Kingdom was inspired by The Wilderness Explorers, a “real” organization in the film that was founded in 1912.
  • Wilderness Explorers have the motto to be a friend to all – “A Wilderness Explorer is a friend to all, be it plants or fish or tiny mole.”
  • Walt Disney Imagineers partnered closely with Pixar and Pixar artists to bring the film’s Wilderness Explorers organization to life through badges, artwork and overall look-and-feel of the program.
  • Cast members within Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment use the program to further the mission of Disney’s Animal Kingdom to bring awareness to conservation and protecting the planet.
  • The current Chief of the Wilderness Explorers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Pete Docter, an honor bestowed to him as the director of “Up.”

Learn more about the Wilderness Explorers program from Pete in the video below.

Disney and Pixar’s “Up” is available to stream on Disney+, and explore your own wilderness adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.