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How to Find Lost Children and Keep Them Safe at the Disney Parks

disney world child safetyA visit to Disney Word and Disneyland is always preceded with expectation, joy and excitement from all. Amidst that planning and eagerness to meet the Princesses and favorite characters, get on the rides, watch the parades, shows and spectacular fireworks, and eat our favorite foods we must have a plan of action in place to make sure our little ones know what to do if they ever get separated from us. All parents know that it only takes seconds of distraction for an excited child to run from our side, and it’s even more complicated when there are crowds and just so many amazing things to see and do.

All Disney parks have very well organized systems in place for what must be done when a “parent” is lost, because for them the child has been found, but the parent is still missing. When I was in college I was an intern at the Magic Kingdom is Disney World and worked as a Guest Relations hostess. Some days I would be assigned to the Baby Center duty and almost always had to attend to a child that had been found by a Cast Member. The regular procedure at the Magic Kingdom is that children found by a Cast Member anywhere in the park are to be taken either to the Baby Center or to City Hall. They are kept there until the parents are located either by information the child carries with him or because the parents were aware that they needed to find us.

Where to find Lost Children facilities at the Disney Parks

At Epcot, children are taken to the Baby Services near the Odyssey Center, and at the Hollywood Studios they can be found at Guest Relations at the entrance.

If you’re going to Animal Kingdom, make sure you find the Baby Center on Discovery Island.

Disneyland Park has a Lost Children facility at the end of Main Street U.S.A., next to First Aid.

Disney California Adventure Park has their Lost Children next to the Bakery Tour in the Pacific Wharf.

The best way to guarantee you will find and get to any of the above mentioned places quickly amidst your frantic nerves is to have the Disney Mobile Magic app installed on your smartphone and locate it via the GPS-enabled map. You may also ask the first cast member you see to let Guest Relations know that your child has been lost and you’re on your way to find her.

Since the internal plan at Disney World is so well organized, my main tip is for parents to explain to their young children that if they can’t see mom or dad, they should stay where they are until a cast member finds them. They should not allow anyone to take them out of the park at any time because a cast member wouldn’t do that. They also need to know how to recognize a cast member because they will be wearing a white name badge.

Since I’ve always gotten great advice from other parents on what they do to make sure their kids aren’t lost or, in the event they are, they’re quickly found, I’ve asked them to share their tricks and tips with us.

“Never let them out of my sight.” – Adam Cohen, dadarocks.com

“Don’t assume anything. My husband and I always make sure to communicate exactly who is watching which child and never assume the other parent has them.” Andrea, lilkidthings.com

“Make sure older children know how to recognize a Cast Member in case of an emergency. Point out that they are all over and will help them if they cannot locate you.” – Beth, TheAngelForever.com

“Mine are still so small that I’m ALL over them, but I make sure to remember exactly what outfits they are wearing on that day. Taking a picture that morning is an easy way to remember. That way, if you need to describe them to a cast member you’ll know exactly what they’re wearing. According to other parents it’s very easy to forget when you’re frantic!” — Bay Staley, queenmotherblog.com

“Put a paper with your cell phone number in their pocket. I agree with the tip of taking a picture before entering the park so you can show how they are dressed in case you do get lost. Dress them in bright colors or unique T-shirts that you can easily spot in case they wander.” – Jeannette Kaplun, Mamifesto

“Make sure that each time you enter a park, you set up an emergency meeting place (preferably one that’s visible from all over the park) in case you get separated.” – Selfish Mom, SelfishMom.com

“Choose a color that you can instantly recognize for their clothes, and ALWAYS take a picture in the morning before you enter the park. A good way to do this is to take a photo in front of the park so the kids don’t worry. You’ll have a photo that has what they are wearing that day so they are easier to find/describe if they do get lost. I also make them memorize my cell phone. If they are too little you can use a label in their clothes (like Mabel’s Labels write ons) – Kelly, thecentsiblelife.com

“Take their photos first thing so you have a shot in exactly what they’re wearing. I like Mabel’s Labels wristbands with cell phone info rather than marker on arm or notes in pockets that can get smudged/lost.” – Corinne, HaveBabyWillTravel.com 

“There is no shame in having one of those backpacks that double as a tether.” – Trey, Daddymojo.net

“We do the photo and always pick an emergency meeting spot. I know it may sound silly, but my kids always have a little whistle on them and if they lose sight of us they are told to blow their whistle!!” — Susan, Macaronikid.com

“My husband makes them wear matching clothes (so embarrassing) and writes their phone number on their arms. They are 9 and 11. It’s kind of hilarious! We make sure to let them know the rules: If they are lost, find a crew member and tell him or her. Find a way to call us. Stay put (don’t try to find us).” – Jyl, momitforward.com

“Take a photo of them from front and back before you leave that day. Wear unique shoes – not CROCS! (I once heard from Disney security that abductors may bring clothes to put the kids in, but rarely change their shoes and Crocs are so common that they’re hard to recognize) and make sure your kids have your phone number memorized!” – Sami Cone, SamiCone.com

“Since we frequent the parks about 2-3 times a year, we have our “safety first” system relatively streamlined. In the morning, I take photos of my kids – front and back – including shoes. They’re not allowed to wear Crocs at the parks (since everyone else does), and in case a potential kidnapper were to change their clothes, I doubt they’d change their shoes. Both kids wear Mabel’s Labels 411 Wristbands (http://www.mabelslabels.com//mabel.php?n=my+411+wristbands), which I sometimes attach to their ankles instead of their wrists. They’re perfect for listing my son’s life-threatening allergies and Asperger’s information, and also help them memorize mama’s cell phone number.” – Pilar Clark, One Mom Media 

What are your top tips for keeping your kids safe in theme parks?

A big thanks to Verizon for sponsoring this campaign. Data rates may apply for app download/use. Click here to see more of the discussion.

{Photo credit: Lunchbox Photography on Flickr}

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