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Disney’s Wilderness Explorer Cast Members Get a Surprise Visit by Pixar Director Pete Docter

Wilderness Explorer Cast Members in Disney’s Animal Kingdom recently received the surprise of a lifetime when acclaimed Pixar Director and Chief Creative Officer Peter Docter stopped by for a visit during “The Most Magical Celebration on Earth.” Docter was the director behind the popular Disney and Pixar film “Up” which is where the inspiration for the Wilderness Explorer program existing in Disney’s Animal Kingdom came from.

Credit: Disney

Following the success of “Up,” Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment Cast Members decided to add the film’s iconic Wilderness Explorer program from the film to the park as a way for Guests of all ages to complete activities for badges and learn more about animals, cultures around the world, fossils, and conservation while visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Credit: Disney

The program in the park was directly inspired by the one in “Up” that was established in 1912, according to the film’s story. Now, kids and (and adults) can watch the film and see Russell go through the stages of earning his badge knowing they can participate, too, when they visit the park. Meeting Pete Docter was certainly a treat for Wilderness Explorer Cast Members as he is actually the Chief of the Wilderness Explorers in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, an honor bestowed upon him for his work directing “Up.”

Check out a video of Docter’s visit to Animal Kingdom and meeting with Cast Members below:

Want to become a Wilderness Explorer yourself the next time you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Stop by the Wilderness Explorer outpost on your way into Discovery Island to pick up a Wilderness Explorer guide, them complete the activities around the park. (And if you are visiting without kids, don’t worry! Wilderness Explorers are friends to all! You do not need to have a child with you to pick up a book or participate.)

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."