If “Up” is one of your favorite Disney/Pixar movies, then Disney World’s Animal Kingdom has a great new surprise coming for you this spring. Soon guests to the Animal Kingdom can become Wilderness Explorers, just like Russell from “Up.”
Wilderness Explorers was the Boy Scout-style troop to which Russell belonged in the film. An early version of this new experience was tested at the Animal Kingdom way back in the fall of 2011, and now it’s finally going to be making its debut this spring. Wilderness Explorers isn’t a proper game like Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom; it’s closer to a scavenger hunt, or to the real types of things that scouts have to do to earn badges.
Guests will have to follow field guides to various locations around the Animal Kingdom, learning about the park and about nature in the process. They will participate at activity stations where they can earn badges, and they’ll also have challenges to complete.
It’s a family-friendly activity that’s a great way to learn about the Animal Kingdom for first time visitors, or a way to reinvigorate the park for those who have been there before. Of course, there’s going to be a lot to the Wilderness Explorer program. It’s not a once and done experience. Guests can earn up to 30 badges (and that’s just at the outset; I wouldn’t be surprised if more badges are added later if the program is popular).
Those are all the details that the Disney Parks blog has of the Wilderness Explorer program – for now. As we get closer to the opening date (which hasn’t been announced yet), I’m sure we’ll get more information. At the moment, I’m content to let myself imagine the cool things that could be a part of the program.
Will guests get to learn more, or even interact with, animals as Wilderness Explorers? Could there be special Wilderness Explorer activities to coincide with special event days at the Animal Kingdom, like Leap to Help Frogs? Will the programs of Wilderness Explorers tie in with overall messages of the Animal Kingdom, like conservation?
It’s all speculation now, but there is one thing I can say for certainty, something I always say but will always keep saying: the Animal Kingdom is my favorite part of Disney World. It’s got the best message, one that expands beyond Disney movies. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes it can’t tie in with Disney movies, and the Wilderness Explorer program is the latest great example.
*(The above image by meshmar2 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)