Animal Kingdom Wilderness Explorer Tips

Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Wilderness Explorer activity is a fun and free activity at Animal Kingdom. It is one of our favorite ways to enjoy the park, learn a bit more about the animals, and is fun for all ages.

Walt Disney World is known for its amazing theme parks. Each one is created and themed differently and offers a unique experience to their guests.

One of our favorite experiences is becoming a Wilderness Explorer at Animal Kingdom. The Wilderness Explorer program offers an interactive learning experience to guests of all ages.

What is Animal Kingdom’s Wilderness Explorers

The Wilderness Explorer program at Animal Kingdom is based on the Disney/Pixar movie UP. In the movie we follow the story of Carl and Russell. Russell is a young boy working on his Wilderness Explorer badges. Carl and Russell go on an adventure of a lifetime and earn the ultimate badges.

UP is one of my favorite Disney movies of all time. If you have not seen it I highly suggest you do. It has beautiful story telling and will fill your heart.  

Visitors experiencing the Wilderness Explorer program will explore Animal Kingdom and earn badges along the way. Each stop has a Troop Leader and Badge Guide to help you earn your badges and become an official Wilderness Explorer.

The activities range from animal observations to learning important wilderness skills. There are 25 badges to collect in all and you don’t have to do it all in one visit.

How do You Become a Wilderness Explorer

Before you begin, stop at any of the Wilderness Explorer stations throughout the park and pick up your handbook. You will be initiated into the Wilderness Explorers club with the Call Badge. Learn the Caw Caw Roar! and earn your first badge.

From there take a look at the map in your handbook and decide on your next stop. There are over 25 places to earn your badge throughout the different lands of the park. We have never done all of them, but pick and choose as our day goes on.

You can save your handbook for your next visit and continue earning badges. To become a Wilderness Explorer you don’t need to pay a fee or register, you just show up at the parks and get started.

Tips for Becoming a Wilderness Explorer

  • Pick up your handbook at the bridge between Oasis and Discovery Center. You can also pick up a handbook from a Wilderness Explorer Troop Leader located in Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, Dinoland USA, and Pandora.
  • The Wilderness Explorer locations typical hours are between 10:00am-7:00pm. If you arrive before that use the early hours to visit busier rides and attractions. Read more about the best rides at Animal Kingdom.
  • Integrate the challenges into your day at the park. As you visit each area of the park and ride attractions, check out what badges are there and work on the ones your family picks.

Is Animal Kingdom’s Wilderness Explorers Worth It

Here are five reasons we think it is worth doing the Wilderness Explorer activity at Animal Kingdom.

1. Your Kids Take the Lead

The Wilderness Explorer program is easy to follow and fun for kids. Let your kids take the lead. They can look through the handbook and guide where your next stop will be.

This takes the planning pressure of the parents and gives the kids a chance to lead the family. My kids like to take charge and help guide us to our next stop.

I love having opportunities for my kids to grow there independence and work together. Although this is an activity that should be done as a family, it gives the kids a little bit of freedom on how they want to explore the park.

map of wilderness explorer at animal kingdom

2. The Wilderness Explorer Program is FREE!

The Wilderness Explorer program is a free program at Animal Kingdom. It is an attraction inside the park. Once you have your admission tickets you can participate in the activity.

Spending time becoming a Wilderness Explorer can take all day or a few hours. It is a great way to enjoy the park, especially if you have little ones that may not be able to ride some attractions. You can tailor it to the needs of your family and start and stop whenever you’d like.

3. Explore the BEST of Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is a stunning park. There are so many little details, paths, and places to explore.

When you are working on becoming a Wilderness Explorer you find yourself exploring all the different areas of the park that you may have missed.

We loved walking through the Maharajah Jungle Trek to earn two of our badges. It is a gorgeous area that we may have not explored.

Be sure to earn your Animal Find Badge and Safari Badge while riding Kilimanjaro Safari. It is a great place to find most of the animals on the list. On Kilimanjaro’s Safari you get an up close view to the animals at the park. From Hippopotamus to Giraffe, there are many animals you can find to earn your badge.

4. Add a Little Education to Your Vacation

Typically education and theme parks may not mix but at Animal Kingdom there is so much to learn. The Troop Leaders and Badge Guides will teach you more about the animals and plant life all around us.

On our last visit we learned that bats are pollinators and that tigers are one of the most endangered animals in the world. This is a great time for the kids to ask questions and we all learned a lot.

animal find badge at animal kingdom

5. It is a lot of Fun!

We really enjoyed the Wilderness Explorer program. It is easy to weave into your daily plans and makes a visit to Animal Kingdom amazing.

I felt like we got to experience all the best of the park and see a lot of things we may have missed. The kids enjoyed  exploring and taking the lead on our day.

I like that the program is self-paced. You can do as little or as much as you want. The Wilderness Explorer Handbook also makes for a great souvenir.

More Tips for Enjoying the Wilderness Explorer Program

  • Work the badge locations into your day. You can make stops as you explore Animal Kingdom.
  • Don’t feel pressured to accomplish all the badges. Do what you can and save the rest for your next visit.
  • Take your time and enjoy the process. Animal Kingdom is a beautiful park. Enjoy all the attention to details in each land and take time to talk with the Troop Leaders and Badge Guides.
  • A few stops did not have Troop Leaders or Badge Guides because it was early in the day. You may want to ride a few attractions before starting. This could change depending on crowd levels.
  • You do not need to watch the movie UP to explore but it is a fun way to introduce the Wilderness Explorers.
  • Check the Meet & Greet guide and visit Russell.
  • Rest your feet and see the all new UP! A Great Bird Adventure stage show. (25 minutes)

The Wilderness Explorers program is an awesome way to spend your day at Animal Kingdom. It offers free in park entertainment to guests of all ages and is a fun learning experience for the entire family. We can’t wait to continue working on our Wilderness Explorers badges on our next visit.

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4 thoughts on “Animal Kingdom Wilderness Explorer Tips”

  1. What a great initiative! We visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom many years ago but didn’t know about this cool program.

    • Thanks for reading! Next time I would definitely try it. On our first visit we didn’t do it but I was happy we did last time. It gave us a chance to really explore the park and see new things.


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