It’s one of the scariest things that a parent can go through, getting separated from your child in a public place. Getting lost never an easy subject to discuss, but it is something that should be discussed before any Disney Parks vacation.
In the unlikely event that your child goes missing, it’s common and understandable to start panicking. To the best of your ability, remain calm, take a deep breath, and scan the area. If they are nowhere in sight, find the nearest Cast Member (preferably someone with a radio). It may be no surprise, but Disney Cast Members are trained to handle such situations calmly and efficiently. Tell them your child’s name, age, clothing description (picture), and where last seen. After 20 minutes, one parent may be escorted to the Baby Care Center or Guest Services to wait for a call from other cast members; while the other parent remains with a cast member at the place their child was last seen.
Upon finding a lost child, the Cast Member will first stay in the area the parents were last seen. If no parent appears after a time, the cast member will escort the child to the Park’s Baby Care Center. These are located at every theme park. It is air conditioned, and has a play area with TV for the child to enjoy while they wait on their lost parents to arrive. Our hope is that there won’t be a moment in your trip where that happens, but it’s important to prepare yourself just in case it does.
Here are a few things YOU can do to help prepare your kids in the event that they get separated from the group:
- Set up the RULES– Prior to leaving on your trip, have a Family Conference to go over ‘the rules’. Include the basic rule that no one goes off alone – NO EXCEPTIONS.
- Have a plan! –Consider using waterproof tattoos or writing your number on your young child’s arm with a sharpie. Take pictures of each child with your smartphone to register their clothing details for that day. Make sure your kids know your REAL name. ‘My Mommy/Daddy’ isn’t going to help security or guest services calling on intercoms to locate you. For older kids without smartphones, tell them to go into any shop or restaurant and ask a cast member for a phone to call your phone. DO NOT let them ask a stranger to borrow a phone. PARENTS, bring a portable charger to make sure your smartphone has enough juice for the entire day. Also- for OLDER kids- choose a landmark as a meeting place if separated. Don’t choose the Castle or anywhere that spans a wide area; also, DON’T meet at the front entrance or parking lot. . Something specific like a statue or the like are prime meet-up locations. Here are some Park suggestions:
- Magic Kingdom® Park: Partners Statue (The Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue) in front of Cinderella Castle
- Epcot®: Club Cool Coca-Cola Shop
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios®: Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park: It’s Tough to be a Bug line entrance
- Role Play/Code Word! – This is good practice for small children not just for family vacations but for everyday life. Teach your children not to go anywhere with anyone they don’t know and to stay near the area they last saw you. Teach them a song or dance to remember instructions. Either the child needs to stay put or look for a cast member – LOOK FOR THE BADGE
Children are easily enticed by individuals who may offer candy, pets, prizes, or just simply say ‘Your parents told me to get you.’ Create a code word for your kids to memorize; something unique and only to you.
If a grown up asks to take them somewhere, make sure your child knows to ask for the code word. If the person doesn’t answer, make sure your child knows to run and scream ‘FIRE’ (People are more prone to react to the word ‘FIRE’).
Below are descriptions of some of the most common cast members one might encounter at the parks. Make sure your child reviews this; especially the badge. If they can find someone with a badge, the quicker they will be reunited with their lost parents.
Disney Cast Member Badge: The badge is white, and oval-shaped with an extra oval at the top. It will have the Cast Member’s first name, hometown, Walt Disney World or Disneyland and the phrase “Where Dreams Come True”. Cast Members who have earned a Legacy Award will have a blue name badge.
Disney Guest Relations Cast Member: Usually spotted near the park entrance, these cast members have the answers to all the questions and take guest surveys to help improve future guest experiences. Their Costume consists of a white button up shirt with blue tie, plaid vest, blue skirt/slacks, and Guest Relations ‘D’ pin.
Disney Security Cast Member: These guys are a lost parent’s best resource in the event of a separation. With communication to all security within the park, these Disney Heroes are highly trained on the process and procedures of locating & reuniting lost children. Their Costume consists of a blue button up shirt, navy blue slacks, security badge and D-Security official cap.
Disney Custodial Cast Member: These guys are the hardest working team members at the Disney Parks. They are dedicated in keeping everything tidy and entertaining guests with sidewalk art. Their Costume consists of a white button up with yellow and blue accents, and white shorts or pants.
Disney PhotoPass Cast Member: Located at key attractions and Disney World icons, these cast members can’t wait to capture your memories for you to download and treasure forever Their Costume consists of a white button up, beige vest, blue slacks, and SLR camera.
When you’re finally reunited…please…don’t be too hard on yourself. This doesn’t define your quality as a parent. After it’s all over, be happy that everyone is ok and be proud of the way that you and the rest of the family handled the situation. It is a parent’s worst nightmare, but remember to erase the bad dream with lots of big hugs, tons of kisses, and a giant helping of soft served ice cream to share.
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