10 Things I Learned From the Wilderness Explorers Program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom #MonkeyKingdomEvent

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20150416_091243 (1024x576)Wilderness Explorers is a FREE program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Participants go around from station to station earning badges as they go.  We had the opportunity to learn about the program first hand on our press trip for the Monkey Kingdom movie that is now open in theaters.

20150420_203946 (723x1024)First take the Wilderness Explorer’s Pledge and fill out your membership card.20150420_204046 (670x1024)

Learn the Wilderness Explorer’s Call

20150420_204013 (576x1024)Start Exploring!

Here are some things we learned:20150416_090046 (2) (1024x704)

  • The Wilderness Explorers Program has been around for 15 years but has grown in size from 6 stations to 31 badges to earn.
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  • The target audience for the Wilderness Explorers Program is families with kids from 7-10 years old but families with older or younger children will also enjoy it.  We participated in the program without children and had a blast collecting badges so even if you don’t have children with you, grab a Wilderness Explorer’s Handbook and earn some badges.
    Wilderness Explorer Program
  • The beauty of the Wilderness Explorers Program is that it DOES NOT involve technology.  It uses cast members who present information and engage participants as they explore the park going from station to station.
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  • Participants are given a Wilderness Explorer Handbook at one of 9 Troop Leader Stations.  They are located all over the park so you don’t have to be in the front of the park to get started.
  • Exploring is a life long adventure.  Most participants average about 12 badges a day and come back multiple times with their books to earn all the badges.
  • The Wilderness Explorers Program connects families to nature and each other.  It shows them parts of the park they might not have seen and gets parents involved in the learning, too.
  • There are 3 types of cast members who give out badges- Trooper Leaders (interns who are trained in education or science), Merchandise Cast Members (who share all about various authentic merchandise that is available in the park), and Cultural Cast Members (who share about their native countries).20150416_093425 (576x1024)
  • Troop Leaders and other representatives don’t just give out badges, they engage the participants, ask them questions about what they have learned, and teach them new things, too.
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  • Find cast members with orange satchels or look for signs with W/E on it to find badges to earn.
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  • When you earn all the badges you earn a special Senior Wilderness Explorer badge.

Build Your Own Backyard Habitat

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Learn About Animal NutritionP1240395

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P1240394Meet Rafiki and He Might Just Check Your Head For Bugs!

P1240396Meet Lots of Animals

20150416_101056 (576x1024)The Wilderness Explorers Program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom encourages families and children to experience the park in a whole new way! As Wilderness Explorers, Guests participate in a variety of activities, such as hiking the trails, digging for fossils, studying gorilla behaviors, listening to animal sounds, learning how veterinarians care for animals, and interacting with Cultural Cast Members representing different countries in Africa and Asia. Completing each activity allows you to earn a sticker badge in their very own Wilderness Explorers handbook, which can be picked up from any of the nine Troop Leader locations around the park. Explorers can earn up to 31 badges, but are encouraged to earn these badges in multiple visits, since exploring is a lifelong adventure! Completing all 31 badges gives guests the honorary title of Senior Wilderness Explorer. The program’s goal is to connect guests with animals, conservation and culture while spending time together as a family, during and even after their visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Don’t forget to take your family to see Monkey Kingdom!!!

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Disclosure- I was invited on an all expense paid trip to Orlando for the Monkey Kingdom Event.  All opinions are 100% my own.

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Going on Safari, Disney Style on the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom #MonkeyKingdomEvent

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Wild Africa Trek 004I love animals so I was especially thrilled when I was invited on a press trip for the release of Disneynature’s newest movie, Monkey Kingdom, which is now in theaters.  If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure to check it out opening week (April 17-23rd, 2015) because a portion of your ticket price will go towards helping animals.  As part of the press trip, 24 bloggers and I had the opportunity to experience Animal Kingdom’s Wild Africa Trek.  I looked up the Wild Africa Trek on Disney’s website and I was immediately excited to learn about everything the trek would entail.  The Wild Africa Trek is a VIP guided 3 hour adventure.  I had no idea such an amazing tour existed at Animal Kingdom.  WARNING~ Lots of pictures to follow but with views like this you can understand the need for so many pictures!
Wild Africa Trek 005 (1) (1024x680)You can see us wearing our vests and harnesses here.

At the start of the trek we were all geared up in a special vest and harness to keep us safe.  We were given water bottles to fill with water and connect to our vests that we were able to keep after the trek.  It is hot in Florida so the water was much needed.  Once everyone was securely fitted with their gear, we were given wireless headsets so we could easily hear our tour guides, and we set out on our trek.  The first part of the trek is a walking tour where we saw lots of birds and other animals.  Our guides gave us lots of information about the animals and everything we were seeing as well as Disney’s conservation efforts and ways we could help.  One initiative I found interesting is called Dogs Saving Cats. In Namibia farmers are killing cheetah because they are killing their livestock.  In this initiative Anatolian shepherds and Kangal dogs are given to farmers to protect their livestock.  Cheetahs are afraid of the dogs so they won’t go near them and kill the livestock. They teach the farmers wildlife management and the value of biodiversity while addressing human-wildlife conflict.  This is just one of the ways Disney helps animals.

This tour is a bit rigorous so you must have physical stamina, be comfortable with heights, and be able to walk along small hills, foliage and unsteady rope bridges on this tour.  I was impressed that our gear and harnesses were checked several times as we went along to make sure that everything was fitting properly to keep us safe.

P1240429We saw all sorts of creatures big and small along our trek!

We walked for a bit and stopped to watch a hippo getting fed.  I wouldn’t want to get in that mouth!
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Then came my favorite part, the part I had been waiting for……the wooden rope bridge.  Yes, this bridge.  The one that goes right over hippos and crocodiles!
Wild Africa Trek 021 (1024x680)Can you see how focused and determined I was?  I was a little nervous at first, but crossing the bridge was really easier than I had thought it would be.  

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Wild Africa Trek 078Pausing for a photo here.  One of the most amazing things about the Wild Africa Safari is that a trained photographer will take pictures throughout the adventure of you, the animals, and anything else you would like them to take pictures of.  At the end of your expedition, you’ll receive a photo code that you can use to access and download images taken during your Wild Africa Trek experience.  This is all included in the price of your trek.  It was so nice not having to worry about getting in pictures.

Wild Africa Trek 090 with wordsHere I am giving a thumbs up when I completed both bridges.

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Yes, those are lots of crocodiles directly under us.

P1240436Such a pretty view from above.
P1240465Of course this is the view looking down.
P1240468Open wide!

Wild Africa Trek 104After you cross the bridge you have the opportunity to go out on a ledge overlooking the crocodiles for a closer look.  But don’t worry, you’re harnessed in and tethered so you can’t get too close to the edge.

Next we got onto a rugged safari vehicle over an open savanna teeming with native African creatures.  We were given special chilled washcloths that were infused with essential oils to help cool us off which was a nice touch.  On the safari vehicle there were also binoculars if we wanted to use them to see the animals out of the savanna.

Here are just some of the animals we saw during our Wild Africa Trek:
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Wild Africa Trek 011With all the walking we built up quite an appetite.  Fortunately we were treated to some delicious, African inspired snacks.  There was a nice variety and they were able to accommodate vegetarians and people with food allergies.  I was really impressed with how accommodating Disney’s food service was our entire trip for people with special dietary needs.
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Wild Africa Trek 133Yes we were glistening by this point.  Ok who am I kidding, we were sweaty by this point but look how pretty the whole food set up was.
Wild Africa Trek 141The view where we had our snack was so pretty and we were able to take several pictures with the gorgeous scenery behind us.
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Wild Africa Trek 167Here are our amazing, knowledgeable tour guides.  They knew so much about the animals and also taught us about Disney’s conservation programs, how Disney is helping animals all around the world and lots more.  One of the first things we learned really stuck with me:

We don’t inherit this land from our parents, we borrow it from our children.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

  • All things need to be attached to you or stored in the lockers provided by the attraction.  They have cords to attach your cellphone, sunglasses, etc. to your body so they won’t drop down into the water.  If you want to bring a camera it must be attached to you or around your neck with a strap.  I brought my digital camera with me but chose to leave my DSLR at home because I didn’t want the extra weight around my neck.  Since the photographer was taking pictures, too, I didn’t have to worry about missing anything.  It is really personal preference.  Some of my blogger friends didn’t bring anything with them.  Others used DSLR cameras, cellphones (with a strap attached to their wrists), and a few even wore GoPro cameras.
  • Wild Africa Trek is $189 to $249 per person, plus tax depending on the season.  This DOES NOT include the required separate admission ticket to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.
  • You should be in good health and free from high blood pressure; heart, back or neck problems; motion sickness or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not participate.
  • Guests under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a participating adult (18 years of age or older).  
  • Participants must be 8 years of age or older and at least 48 inches (122 cm) tall.
  • Participants must be between 45 and 300 lbs with the harness gear on. The safety harnesses used for this experience may prohibit guests of certain body shapes or sizes from participating.
  • Recommended attire includes shorts or pants and a comfortable shirt. Closed-toe shoes with a back strap or hiking boots are required. No flip-flops will be allowed. Skirts or dresses are not recommended.
  • Complimentary lockers for your belongings will be provided. You will also receive a safety vest and wireless headset so that you can hear your guide at all times. Cameras are allowed as long as they can be securely fastened to the vest.
  • Excursion occurs rain or shine, with the exception of severe weather or lightning.
  • Advanced reservations required.  There are multiple excursions per day so for reservations call (407) WDW-TOUR or (407) 939-8687.
  • Tour itinerary, content, duration and availability are subject to change without notice.
  • You will forfeit the entire price of your tour if you no-show or cancel within 2 days of your reservation.

A privately guided VIP expedition offering close encounters with exotic African wildlife in their native habitat.

A Thrilling Safari Adventure
Roam with wild animals on this 3-hour safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park (separately priced tour). Wild Africa Trek offers Guests the perfect opportunity to explore the Safi River Valley and discover animals of nearly every variety in an uninhibited, natural environment.

The Journey 
See yawning hippos and hissing crocodiles just 10 feet below as you make your way across a shaky rope bridge, secured to an overhead track with a safety harness. Ride in a rugged safari vehicle over an open savanna teeming with native African creatures—from towering giraffes to powerful rhinos.On your journey, your knowledgeable guide will share little-known insights on the majestic animals on view as well as the general operation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.And as if your trek weren’t memorable enough, you’ll receive a complimentary souvenir as well!
Complimentary Photo Services
A trained photographer will take pictures throughout the adventure—a service that’s included with your tour. While you enjoy close encounters with the animals of the Harambe Reserve, the photographer will capture all the action and excitement.At the end of your expedition, you’ll receive a photo code that you can use to access and download images taken during your Wild Africa Trek experience.

Indulge In Gourmet Eats

Work up a decadent appetite during your trek and indulge in some first-class, African-inspired snacks.

Sample MenuMorning

  • Air-dried beef and prosciutto
  • Smoked salmon roulade with dill
  • Fig cake with Boursin cheese
  • Brie cheese and apricot
  • Berry yogurt and dried cranberries
  • Fresh fruit marinated in mint and ginger

Afternoon

  • Chicken curry salad
  • Sun-dried tomato hummus and mini pita
  • Marinated tandoori shrimp
  • Smoked salmon roulade with dill
  • Air-dried beef and prosciutto
  • Fresh fruit marinated in mint and ginger

Please note: Menu items are subject to change without notice.

Save $50 with a Special Summer Offer

This summer, get more roars for your buck—chomp $50 off the price of an afternoon Wild Africa Trek! Offer valid from valid April 19 through October 17, 2015

Don’t forget to take your family to see Monkey Kingdom!!!
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Disclosure- I was invited on an all expense paid trip to Orlando for the Monkey Kingdom Event.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Cori's Cozy Corner Disclosure Policy

Disney Giveaway- $100 Value! #Disney #Giveaway

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Think You Know Walt Disney World? Take This Fun FREE Quiz!

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Think you know Walt Disney World?
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