Disney’s Animal Kingdom is my favorite park to bring my toddler, more than Magic Kingdom. The animal interaction is beyond anything you’d experience at a standard zoological park. Exhibits and attractions that speak to all ages are offered at Animal Kingdom. One of the best activities for kids is the Wilderness Explorers Interactive Attraction. This collection of interactive stops throughout the park used to be very hands-on. So you may be wondering how the Wilderness Explorers experience works with COVID-19 precautions in place. Here’s how it works.
- Each station has a marker for participating Explorers and their parties to stand six feet from the Cast Member.
- There are distancing markers for any guests waiting their turn.
- Each badge that is earned is peeled and placed on the edge of the table for retrieving from a safe distance.
- Cast Members have modified some of the hands-on activities to options that can be done at home or on your own in the park. For example, one of the stations in Asia used to have a plaque that participants used paper and pencil to do a rubbing of. Now, Explorers are encouraged to draw objects they observe in the area.
- Hours are modified to 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
We participated in a few stations with our toddler son, and I noticed that some Cast Members were able to modify their activity based on his young age. Along the Maharajah Jungle Trek the Cast Member asked us to draw a tiger at home in the Wilderness Explorers booklet and then look up photos of the six different species of tiger to decide which one our drawing looks like the most. I had no idea there are six species of tigers. Then, the family behind us had older kids with them and the Cast Member explained how they use a ball for play enhancement with the tigers, showing the claw marks on the example ball.
Admittedly, I had not participated in Wilderness Explorers activities before the COVID-19 precautions were put in place. However, I have years of witnessing it during my visits to Animal Kingdom, and working there as well. To me the interaction, the personal attention each child receives, and the fun of exploring the park in this way is still intact even with the precautions. Wilderness Explorers is a great program for kids of all ages, but it seems ideal for kids 3-8 years of age.
It is free to participate. Just visit any Wilderness Explorers station found throughout the park to get your booklet. Or, start at the main location just as you come out of the Oasis and enter Discovery Island; it is on your right as you face the Tree of Life. Here they will explain how to participate and initiate your little explorer with the Wilderness Explorer’s pledge and call. In the booklet it has a map of the park with each station noted on it. There are beautifully illustrated pages with facts about animals and pages with space to complete activities. Even though we haven’t participated in all activities in the entire park, we often read the booklet to our toddler because of the great animal and conservation information in it. As you complete an activity you are given a badge, which is a sticker to place on an assigned page in the book corresponding to the activity.
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Have you become a Wilderness Explorer at Animal Kingdom? What was your favorite activity?