Technically, only parents get lost at Walt Disney World. At least, that has been the long-time teaching of all cast members when taught how to deal with lost children. But we know the truth.
Like so many other parents, I know what it’s like to be walking down the sidewalk at a Disney park only to realize that one of your children is missing. I have felt the utter panic and paralyzing fear that is associated with losing a child at Walt Disney World. During our trip in 2000, when my youngest son was only 6, he got separated from us. Those five minutes were the longest time of my entire life. In fact, that event was the cause of my hair starting to turn gray lol.
Lost children are a very serious matter — not only to us as parents but to the Disney cast members as well. The cast members are excellent at taking care of our precious little princes or princesses until we can be found. I hope your child will never be lost, but we all know it does happen, so I’d like to share some tips to, hopefully, make your reunion a lot quicker should this happen to you.
There are many things you can do to prepare; both before you leave home and while you are on your trip. Below are some of the many ideas that can help you to be ready, just in case. Some cost little to nothing, even though I know that no price is too high for us to keep our treasured children safe and with us.
Before you leave home
There are many methods people use in order to identify their children, especially those children too young to memorize a cell phone number. The types of identification methods are:
- SafetyTats: You can purchase SafetyTats for your child. These are temporary child ID safety tattoos you can find here.
- Dog tags: These can be printed at PetSmart or Petco and then attached to his/her shoelaces near the toe. They will stay on even if untied.
- Clothing Labels: You can create an iron-on transfer by creating a label on your home computer with name, parent’s name and cell phone numbers; then print it onto transfer paper with your printer. Finally, iron it into the inside of his shirt by the tag or above the hem, only to be revealed if he gets lost.
- Identification Lanyards: It is easy to create a laminated card and stick it inside the cardholder on the lanyard. They should take it out and give it to the cast member or at least point to it if they are very young.
- Bracelet Notes: Writing with permanent marker on the inside of the rubber bracelets the kids wear (like the Livestrong bands).
- Luggage Tags: Purchase a waterproof luggage tag and put all your contact information on it. The tag can be worn on their belt (or belt loop) and tucked into their pocket or hidden under a long shirt.
- Who’s Shoes: Purchase a Who’s Shoes Child ID kit, enter your contact information and fasten to your child’s shoe before heading to the park.
- Pictures: Take a wallet size photo of your child with you on your trip. On the back, write the height, weight, hair color and eye color of your child, as well as any other identifying information such as glasses, freckles, braces, etc.
- Pin a Note: Pin a card with your contact information somewhere inside their clothing and be sure to tell them that they will need to show it to a cast member if YOU should get lost.
While you are on your trip
There are things you can do while on your trip to help in this situation as well.
Stay Put: Tell your child that if YOU get lost, he should stay right where he is. A cast member is sure to find him, but you will be backtracking your steps so your child needs to stay out in the open. When we got separated from Joshua, he wandered into a restaurant where the cast members kept him safe but he was completely out of our sight.
Look for a White Name Tag: It used to be that Disney cast members were the only ones who wore a name tag, but now the parks sell some name tags which are very similar to those the cast members wear. When you tell your child who to find if you should get lost, tell them the cast members have a WHITE name tag. Cast members will gladly be available for you to show your child exactly what the cast member name tag looks like up close.
Coordinate Clothing: Plan your daily wardrobe such that you and your children are wearing the same color shirt on any given day. When you are losing your mind with panic and someone asks you what color clothing your child is wearing, you may not be able to remember, but you will be wearing the same color so you won’t have to.
Take Morning Photos: Some people use their cell phones to take pictures of their kids on their way into the park every morning. That way, if you are not dressed in the same color, you will know exactly what they wore that day.
Restroom Rules: Don’t send your child to the restroom alone. Some restrooms at the parks have multiple entrances/exits, so if he goes into one door, he could come out of another. At the Magic Kingdom, your child could enter the restroom from Adventureland but exit into Frontierland. If they must go in without you, decide on an exact location to meet when he exits and not just “meet me here when you come out.” If they exit and don’t see the designated spot, they would need to go back in and exit through another door. This tip is obviously for children who are a little older.
I know that we all talk to our children about the dangers of wandering off. Still, when we are taking a picture or checking the map, and they are mesmerized with all the magic of Disney, it is easy for them to get distracted and wander off. Hopefully, that will not happen to any of you but I can tell you it is a feeling I would do anything to help someone avoid. A couple of years ago, our family was in EPCOT and there was a woman there who was frantic. She was crying and running around hysterically; it was very hard just to try to calm her enough to be able to help her. We asked what her lost daughter looked like, what she was wearing, and what her name was. We all went around looking everywhere, calling the little girl’s name. Finally, a cast member found her. She didn’t look anything like the visual I got from the description. If you can act on at least one of the tips I have offered here, it might make it easier to reunite you with your loved one. Being separated for five minutes is six minutes too long. I wish you happy and safe travels.