“A Wilderness Explorer is a friend to all, be it plants or fish or tiny mole.”
For many Cast Members show up to work each day at the Most Magical Place on Earth, the roles they play at Disney World might as well be the lead role in a blockbuster film. Many of them have dreamed of being a Disney Cast Member since the first time they visited the parks as children.
It’s got to be a very unique experience–and a magical one too–as Cast Members are the very backbone of every operation within the parks. They help to create, build and deliver the Magic to Guests every day of the year.
So it seems only fitting that Cast Members would get a taste of that magic too, and for a group of Cast Members at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, that’s exactly what happened when they got a surprise visit from PIXAR’s Chief Creative Officer, Pete Docter, during his recent trip to the parks to celebrate the 5oth anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World.
The Wilderness Explorers troop in PIXAR’s Up is based on an actual group that was founded in 1912. Wilderness Explorers were brought to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in an effort to spread awareness about Disney’s conservation efforts.
“Walt Disney Imagineers and Cast Members in the Animals, Science and Environment program at Disney’s Animal Kingdom saw an opportunity to educate Guests on the park’s conservation mission by immersing them into Russell’s, one of the film characters, Wilderness Explorers program, which has quickly become a Guest favorite attraction. Through this interactive program, Guests can earn badges and become a senior Wilderness Explorer, as Russell would.” – Disney Parks Blog, November 11, 2021
During Pete Docter’s visit with the Wilderness Explorer Cast Members at Animal Kingdom, he posed for photos with a few Cast Members. They seem to have really enjoyed their time together!
Docter directed Up, which chronicles the story of an elderly gentleman, Carl Fredricksen, and his journey to realize a dream he shared with his late wife, Ellie. Along the way, he meets some interesting characters, like a Wilderness Explorer named Russell, a “talking” dog named Dug and a really strange bird named “Kevin.” Because Docter directed the film, he has been given the honorary title at Disney’s Animal Kingdom of Chief of the Wilderness Explorers.
Have you and your little ones earned your badges at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when you’ve visited? Let us know about your experiences in the comments!