Gosh, what I would give to be lost at the most magical place on earth, as an adult it sounds like a dream come true, if the adult is the one lost. But if it involves a missing child, it’s the scariest place on earth for both parent and child.
In this article I’m going to give you suggestions on “what to do” if your child gets separated from you at Walt Disney World®. It can easily happen; you turn away for a second to pay for your Mickey Bar, look back and your child is gone. What can both the parent and the child do, if something like this happens?
Preparation is the key, make a plan. Before heading to Walt Disney World®, make sure you talk to your child about “what to do” if they get lost while visiting. For a young child this may involve learning Mom or Dad’s cell phone number, or for an older child picking a designated spot to meet if lost.
* Here’s a tip – when you arrive at the Magic Kingdom® – go to City Hall/Guest Relations and have a tag made for your child, it can attach to their belt loop and they can chose to have Mickey or Minnie on it. Tell them it’s a very special safety souvenir.
- Don’t scream, try to stay calm. I understand the desire to scream or go berserk, but please remain calm; screaming won’t help you find your child, but I can guarantee it will make you look berserk, lol-(sorry serious topic.)
- Go directly to the nearest Cast Member and inform them.
- If your spouse is with you, have them stay in the location you last saw your child, maybe they will return. Other suggestions for spouse or family member- Call out their name while listening for a response. Search bathrooms or maybe a favorite store.
- Have current pictures of your children.
- Keep a fully charged cell phone.
- Have pertinent Disney/important phone numbers stored in your cell phone.
If your child is lost this happens:
Walt Disney World® realizes that children go missing, no matter how many precautions a parent can take; they have a system in place for just this situation. When a Disney Cast Member finds a lost child, the Cast Member contacts Lost Children and registers any information that they have, including name, age, location and a parent/guardian name.
The child will be taken to the Lost Children Center. The Lost Children center is a comfy room that is furnished and has a play table and Disney videos to entertain the child until the parents are found. Parents and children are brought back together by description and names, so it is important that your child knows your name, phone number, etc.
They usually direct you to the parks official meeting points:
- At the Magic Kingdom®, check the Baby Center and City Hall, where logs of lost children are kept.
- At Epcot®, check Baby Services near the Odyssey Center.
- At Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, check Guest Relations at the entrance, near Hollywood Boulevard.
- At the Animal Kingdom®, try the Baby Center on Discovery Island. 90% of children will be found within 2 hours at the meeting point.
- Disney has an internal communication system and will issue an all-employee bulletin.
Tips for a safe & magical trip
- Matching shirts: For families traveling with small children, consider choosing a single color for each day, making it easier to spot one another in a crowd.
- Keep track of small children when entering and leaving attractions: Large Disney theme park attractions can let hundreds of people into or out of a theater at one time, making it easy to lose track of your little ones. Carry your child in huge crowds, or hold on tight when exiting busy, show style attractions.
- Note the location of exits for bathrooms and rides: Some restrooms and Disney theme park rides have multiple exits, and your kids could come out an entirely different location than you expect.
- Choose a meeting place: Take a second to choose a meeting place in each Disney theme park, and make sure every member of your family knows where to go if they are lost. This is particularly important for kids who are old enough to wander off, but don’t have a cell phone.
- Tell your kids how to find help: If your child is lost, he or she should stay put for a few minutes, to give you time to find them. Staying near the last ride or attraction you visited makes it easy for you to spot them.
Older kids Safety:
Have a plan in advance, I have teenagers and still have one in place:
- Make a note of what every child in your party is wearing; or take a picture with a digital camera/cell phone each morning.
- When entering the park, introduce your child to a Cast Member. Tell your child to go to the nearest Cast Member if he or she becomes separated. Cast members can easily be found at every snack place, shop, restaurant, kiosk, attraction line-up, etc. Likewise, parents should immediately inform a Cast Member if a child is missing.
- Both parties have a charged cellphone or walkie talkies.
- If kids are old enough, choose a “go to place” a landmark, or maybe a special favorite spot, where you will meet up if separated. Actually go together to the place! Don’t just say “Cinderella’s Castle.” Do that at each park.
- If your child goes to the restroom by him/herself, pay attention to whether that restroom has multiple exits.
- Don’t get distracted during parades and fireworks; keep small children close by or in strollers during these spectacles.
- Also be vigilant when your part of crowds entering or exiting one of the live shows in the Disney theme parks. Fantasmic is especially dangerous, not well lit & horribly crowded entry & exit.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times, don’t let your guard down just because it’s WDW, don’t be fooled, dangers exist everywhere, even Disney.
- Use the buddy system, stay with a sibling or friend-don’t separate.
- Don’t talk to strangers & tell them you’re alone or without adult.
- Make sure the GPS locator on cellphone is active.
- Periodic check in calls & with description of where the teenager is currently located and I have them send me a picture with them in it, time stamped.
- Stay with large crowds.
- Don’t veer from a plan that you were given permission to do (like if you said you were going to Space Mountain—go to SM.)
- Meet up every few hours to make sure safe.
- Have a secret password that only you & kids know, in case some nut-job says “Your mom said to come with me” and have the person tell you the password or NO DICE! That’s what I did to my kids when they were little, I scared them to death about strangers for safety sake—a real funny messed up password is always great (keeps the weirdo’s on their toes, lol!)
- http://www.safetytat.com/ is a great company that makes temporary tattoos that you put on your kiddo’s skin. I would suggest not adding their name, just phone number of parent in case of emergency.
- Many people use the WDW luggage tags on their kid’s belt loops.
- Make tags at the pet store – the little engraved ones with the parent cell phone number on them, tie them to their shoestrings or on a necklace.
- Try a sticker with a phone number on the kid’s shirt. Also remember to put the tag or sticker on the outside of the child’s clothing, Cast Members are not allowed to look under or lift up a child’s clothing.
Hopefully these suggestions will give your family the oomph to make a “what to do” strategy of your own. Therefore, keeping Walt Disney World® as “The Most Magical Place on Earth!”