Friday, November 19, 2021

Earning our Wilderness Explorer Badges at Disney's Animal Kingdom 2021-11-09

Welcome to Disney's Animal Kingdom! We're so excited to be here in Florida now! We're new Walt Disney World Annual Passholders and one of the best parts of being a passholder is that it changes the whole dynamic of being at a park. If we were on vacation, things would be a lot more rushed and we'd be trying to cram it all in. But as a passholder we can slow down and enjoy things. 

At the Animal Kingdom, as part of the mission to learn more about animals, conservation, and protecting the Earth, the kids can become Wilderness Explorers! Let's go do that!

Before we start our day though, these Wilderness Explorers need breakfast. I offered them the usual cereal (no), eggs/bacon/toast (no), grits (no), or sausage balls (no thanks). Well what do you guys want? 
Alli - Rice? Kimchi? 
Ian - Do we have seaweed? And meat?

Alli is going to make her Alli special breakfast!

Alli - Do we have pickles?
Alli's special breakfast consists of seaweed, rice, kimchi, hamburger meat, and pickles. Well I'm glad they liked it. They gobbled it up and couldn't get enough!

After getting all our schoolwork done in the morning, we arrived at the Animal Kingdom around 1pm. We started by wandering the park and looking at the animals a bit. 

But eventually we found ourselves at the back of Dinoland USA. Here we met up with Troop Leader Molly who was super excited to get us started. 

There are so many different badges to earn. 24 of them total! And to collect them, we'll have to walk all over the entire Animal Kingdom. It'll be a great way to see the park. 

Molly told us about dinosaur fossils and asked about what other kinds of fossils people might find. The kids thought of plants and other animals, but Molly soon brought out fossilized coprolite (dino poo). Gotta keep it interesting for the kids! For listening and learning they earned their first badge, the Fossil Badge!
Next we headed to the front of Dinoland USA to where kids were busy digging up Mammoth bones, and there we earned our Dinosaur Badge. 

Next we're headed Asia to the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Here we saw bats! Bats can eat up to 600 bugs a night! They'd be a great thing to have at the RV! Bats are also important for helping pollinate plants! 

Continuing on the Maharajah path, there's a tiger! Wow!

The kids drew the stripes of the tiger and we also learned that deforestation is a big reason they are losing their homes. 

In the Aviary we found Wilderness Explorer leader Amber who showed us all sorts of different birds there. Cast Member Zachary also pointed out the largest pigeon in the world, the Victoria Crown Pigeon, which is even bigger than a chicken!

Time to learn about some insects! Ian chose "Likes to Catch Things" on his multiple choice question. Troop Leader Christina showed us how she even has some ladybugs nearby. She also pointed us to an app called iNaturalist that will identify animals similar to how PictureThis identifies plants. Cool! We'll have to check it out!

We also got to see this Tarantula close up. Actually, Tarantula's molt and shed their outer exoskeleton, and this is just the outside of what was left behind. Crazy!

The kids are keeping their eyes open for all the different animals throughout the park. They have seen quite a few already. The hippo is huge!

Next, we headed to the Gorilla Falls Exploration trail. At the Savanna Overlook we learned how researchers track different animals. There's a whole guide on the different prints animals leave behind. I bet all those hoofed animals get confusing. At the back of the guide, similar to the dinosaurs, is a guide the different scat animals leave behind. That's another way researchers track animals. 

At the Gorilla enclosure, the Gorillas were really active! Chasing each other and wrestling. She said that if we want to watch Gorillas any time, we can watch them live at any time online at the Grace Gorilla Rehabilitation Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

It's starting to get late and the Wilderness Explorer Leaders head in for the night around 5pm. The flamingos at Discovery Island have bands on their legs to help tell them apart. Otherwise it would be very difficult for the keepers to know who is who. 
Troop Leader Patrick told us if we wanted to learn more about animals, we could check out the series on Disney+ called "Magic of Animal Kingdom". We did just that when we got home. Each episode focuses on 3-4 animals, usually with them taking a trip to the vet's office or getting a new "friend" to help further populate the species. 

Before we go, the kids stopped at the very front of the park and showed how they've learned the Wilderness Explorer Call. 
It's been a full day, but the kids have only collected 13 of their 24 badges. We need to come back and get the rest!

Luckily with our Annual Passes we can come back the very next day to finish it off! Our first stop is Rafiki's Planet Watch where the kids are excited to collect 5 different badges!

Along the railway ride, we got a peek behind the scenes, seeing Elephants, and even a Rhino mom and her new baby, just born on September 8th!

It's Troop Leader Amber again! This time she is helping us earn our Habitat badge. 

The kids are on a scavenger hunt to find all the critters (plastic toys) that they might find in their backyard. When we go for walks, we keep an eye out for all sorts of critters. 

Next we earned our Conservation Badge and Recycling Badge. The kids do all the Conservation actions, spending plenty of time in nature, saving water (a requirement in an RV), planting a tree (we joined #TeamTrees), going on a backyard safari, conserving energy (also a requirement in an RV at times), and helping clean up the beach (they joined #TeamSeas). 
They are focusing more on recycling too, making sure to put anything they can into the recycle cans at Disney World. Their Junior Ranger books are printed on Recycled Paper!

Let's go see what's going on inside!

The vets were doing surgery on a dove that had somehow been punctured by a branch. We watched as they closed the hole with stitches. Cool to see!
We learned about a turtle that had eaten trash and had a stomach full of plastic. 

A petting zoo! We've missed these! Especially at Disneyland. 
Alli loves pigs, so she was so happy to find a big bristly pig at the petting zoo. 

Baby goats! They are still learning, so they might get a bit nippy.

To earn our Animal Call Badge, the kids listened to different animal sounds and had to identify the animal. Thanks Troop Leader Emily!

In Asia, they found all the Mount Everest climbing equipment at Gupta's Gear. Ready to climb Mount Everest? 

Only 2 badges left! On to Pandora! 
There we saw Troop Leader Emily once again and she remembered us!
We learned about Venus Fly Traps and Ian got to show off some of his knowledge. He's read a few books about them in Epic. Pretty interesting plants!

And with that, they have completed all 24 of their badges! 

And do they get anything special for finishing them all? Yes! This Senior Wilderness Explorer badge/sticker! Troop Leader Emily gave them two each. One to put in their book, and a second that they could wear. 

Great job Wilderness Explorers! Scratch that, great job SENIOR Wilderness Explorers. 

Afterwards we left the Animal Kingdom with the intent on getting some walking miles in. I can't think of a better place to do that than at Epcot. It's a huge park and there's plenty of space to spread out. 

And we can leave out the back of the park and walk all the way to Hollywood Studios too! All total for the day, we walked over 10 miles!

We stayed late enough to see the lights come up. Epcot is beautiful at night! 

Wilderness Explorers love tasting sodas from around the world! I have a feeling this is going to be a regular stop for us. 

The LED lights on Spaceship Earth are relatively new (September 2021) and it makes the Epcot ball look absolutely gorgeous! One of these times we're going to have to stay for fireworks. They are at 9:45pm every night so the kids will have to stay up late to watch it. I'm sure they won't mind. 

1 comment:

  1. 24 badges...wow...great job, Ian & Alli...you are officially Senior Wilderness Explorers! Lots of interesting things to see and hear for each badge...tarantula exoskeleton (yikes!), many different animals (perfect for animal lovers!), fun scavenger hunt for critters, viewing a veterinarian stitch up a injured dove (how interesting!), and petting such a bristly pig!...what an adventure at the Animal Kingdom. The Spaceship Earth all lit up with those LED lights is such a colorful sight. I like that "explorer" breakfast of seaweed, rice, kimchi & hamburger meat (but no pickle for me :-) )...yum, yum! Having lots of fun getting in those walking miles! EOM

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