Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates 10 Years with Wilderness Explorers Program

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“The wilderness must be explored … caw, caw, ROAR!” That’s the motto embraced by more than 23 million guests who’ve participated in the Wilderness Explorers program since its start in 2013 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

This fun and interactive program enables guests of all ages to be a hero in their own conservation story as they participate in a series of self-guided activities to learn about plants, animals and conservation.

Guests can earn more than 20 badges that range from helping save endangered species to recycling and protecting wildlife. Many of the messages weaved into the program align with Disney’s Planet Possible, inspiring guests to picture what’s possible when they take action to help the planet – at the parks and at home!

“Seeing this program come to life through the eyes of Wilderness Explorers from across the globe has been incredibly inspiring,” shares Nadine, a 21-year cast member and guest animal experience director.

Cast members Alex and Nadine launch the Wilderness Explorers program together in 2013.

Nadine’s passion for conservation and animals led to her assisting with the launch of the Wilderness Explorers program after the theatrical release of Pixar’s “Up.” The program’s motto, “A Wilderness Explorer is a friend to all, be a plant, or fish, or tiny mole,” comes directly from the film.

Since debuting, more than 600 cast members have been part of the Wilderness Explorers program, and it continues to inspire new cast members.

Current Wilderness Explorer Victoria first heard about the program at an information session during her Disney College Program. She recently had a full-circle moment when she returned to the same panel that inspired her to apply to the program.

LEFT: Current Wilderness Explorer, Victoria. RIGHT: Victoria’s full-circle moment representing Wilderness Explorers at a panel for Disney College Program participants.

LEFT: Current Wilderness Explorer, Victoria. RIGHT: Victoria’s full-circle moment representing Wilderness Explorers at a panel for Disney College Program participants.

“To be able to come back and inspire other interns to take their passion for conservation and the environment and extend those messages to guests is very rewarding,” Victoria said.

The Wilderness Explorers program supports Disney’s Planet Possible, a commitment to a brighter future supporting a healthier planet for people and wildlife. Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has directed more than $125 million to save wildlife, inspire action and protect the planet.

Are you ready to earn your first badge? Become an official Wilderness Explorer on your next trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom! Simply look for the Wilderness Explorers banner as you enter the park, located between the Oasis and Discovery Island. And make sure to pick up your own handbook to help you follow in the footsteps of Russell, the junior Wilderness Explorer from Pixar’s 2009 endearing movie “Up.”

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