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To lose a child anywhere is scary, but at the happiest place on earth that is super crowded is even more nerve wracking. We’re sharing the best tips to prepare for and prevent losing kids at Disneyland. These tips to avoid losing your child in the amusement park crowds also works well for Walt Disney World, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags, and any other theme parks you might be visiting. Use these tips to avoid lost children in Disneyland.
Lost Kids at Disneyland
The first time I went to Disneyland, I had just turned 12 years old and I got separated from our family. Now as a 12 year old, I thought it was no big deal. I sat down on a bench near the last place I was with our group and waited. About 20 minutes later, my family found me and all was well. During that same trip, my youngest brother was 2 at the time and got separated from our group.
Obviously he was so young and didn’t understand that he should stay in one place or find a Cast Member. One of my parents notified the nearest CM, and they alerted security. My parents were told that all exits would be notified and no one remotely matching the description of my brother would be allowed to leave the park without verification that it wasn’t him. My brother was found fairly quickly, but it was nice to know all the precautions that are taken when a child is lost at Disneyland to make sure lost kids are safe.
We have this post broken out into three different sections; How to prepare your child in case they get separated, how to prevent a lost child, and what to do if your child gets lost.
We want your Disney vacation to be the best ever! So if you are prepared for almost all scenarios, it will be so much less stressful for your whole family. Disney is a magical place, and kids can get easily distracted and wander off. Here are some things you can do to prepare your kids in case they become separated from you.
How to prepare in case your kid gets lost at Disneyland Resort
Make sure you prepare ahead of time, long before you ever step foot in the parks.
Before entering the park, have a discussion with your child about the importance of sticking together and following safety rules. Establish specific boundaries they must adhere to and explain what to do if they ever feel lost.
Each day before you head to the park, take a picture of each child. When you are in a stressful moment, it might be hard to remember what they are wearing. This way you can just show them the picture of your child. Make sure you update the picture in case they change clothes.
Dressing your child in bright, easily recognizable clothing can be a lifesaver in a crowded place like theme parks. Choose a unique color or put them in shirts with recognizable characters to make it easier for you to spot them in a sea of people. This can help you keep track of your kids at a quick glance.
Teaching your child what to do if they get separated from their parents
Leading up to your trip, teach your children who are old enough to memorizing at least one parent’s cell phone number. It will take practice, so be patient and start early. Also make sure your children know parents’ names so they can tell a Cast Member. It’s also a good idea to get wristbands or temporary tattoos with a parent’s name and phone number on it. You can even use a sharpie to write it on their wrist. You can use them for children who are too young to memorize names and phone numbers, but it’s also good for all kids. When you are scared and stressed you might not be able to remember things you would normally know.
When you enter the park, look for a Cast Member, security, park employees, and other Disney officials to your children. Show your children the cast member name badges, and when you go into the different lands in the parks, continue to point out the CM’s to your children so they know who to go to if they get separated from mommy or daddy. Point out people who work in the shops and at the restaurants around the park. There are a lot of people able to help your child if they get lost from you.
Knowing what to do if you can’t find your group
Role-playing is an effective way to help children remember what to do in a stressful situation. Pretend you’re at Disneyland and act out getting separated. Show them how to approach a Disneyland staff member, who they can recognize by their distinctive costumes, and what information to provide.
Explain to your child that in such situations, it may take some time to find you, but you will be reunited soon. Encourage them to be patient and cooperative with the staff during the process.
Talk to your kids about the importance of not wandering off. Prepare them for how many people will be in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. You don’t want them to be unprepared for the crowds, that could make them scared and overwhelmed.
How to prevent losing a child at Disneyland or California Adventure
Choose a specific meeting point within the park where you can gather if anyone gets separated. It could be a recognizable landmark or even a specific ride entrance. Ensure everyone in the family knows the designated spot.
If you have younger children and older children, assign buddies. That way each little has some keeping an eye on just them. Remind your children that holding hands, or holding on to the stroller is really important. Once again, talking a lot about it ahead of time sets the expectation for your children.
Set a rule that children need to be with an adult or their buddy at all times. If a buddy or an adult takes a younger child with them to the bathroom, into a store, or a ride line that the whole group isn’t going to be at, make sure they communicate that with at least one adult. Checking in continually will help make sure that if someone is missing, it’s recognized quickly. If you have a large group, this is especially important because it’s easy to miscount or assume that everyone is still together.
Be aware of extra busy times
Be aware of overly busy times like parade times, fireworks shows, and park closing. Those are easy times to get lost in Disney and other amusement parks because the walkways are extra crowded and it can be hard to keep your group together.
If your children are old enough to have a phone, make sure you keep it charged and turn on location sharing for everyone in your group. If your children aren’t old enough to keep track of a phone, use an airtag or tile. They can easily be put in a pocket, attached to a belt loop or even put on a lanyard and tucked inside their shirt. (Airtags and Tile’s are also great for keeping track of strollers and backpacks!)
Finally, the most crucial tip is to stay vigilant at all times. Keep an eye on your child and their surroundings. It’s easy to get caught up in the magic of Disneyland, but your child’s safety should always be a top priority.
What to do if you have a child get lost at Disney
- Stay Calm and Alert
The moment you realize your child is missing, take a deep breath, and stay as calm as possible. Panic will only cloud your judgment and make it harder to think clearly. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed, but remember that Disneyland has well-trained staff and protocols in place to handle lost children situations.
- Contact the Nearest Disneyland Cast Member
Disneyland employs thousands of staff members, often referred to as “Cast Members” or CMs. These individuals wear distinctive costumes and are stationed throughout the park to assist guests. If your child is lost, approach the nearest CM immediately and inform them of the situation. They will be able to guide you on the necessary steps to take and will alert other CMs about your missing child.
- Establish a Meeting Point
If your child is old enough to understand, you might have established a meeting point or a specific landmark in the park where you can reunite if separated. If this is the case, head to the designated spot and wait for your child to arrive.
Always be prepared with information
- Provide a Detailed Description
To aid the CMs in their search efforts, provide a detailed description of your child. Mention their name, age, height, clothing, and any distinct features that can help in identifying them quickly. If you have recent photographs on your phone, share them with the staff.
- Utilize the Lost Children Facilities
Disneyland has designated Lost Children Centers in various areas of the park. These centers are staffed with trained personnel who can assist you in reuniting with your child. They are equipped with communication tools to coordinate efficiently with other staff members across the park. They will most likely be taken to the baby care center in whichever park you are in or possibly to City Hall on Main Street.
- Stay in Contact with Disney Staff
Maintain open communication with the Disneyland staff during the search process. Be reachable on your mobile phone and keep an eye on your surroundings in case they need to contact you for any updates.
- Don’t Wander Aimlessly
It’s understandable that you might want to search for your child on your own, but this can be counterproductive. Instead, stay at the last place you saw your child or the meeting point you established. Wandering around makes it harder for Disneyland staff to locate you and complicates the process.
Remember a lost child can happen to anyone at Disneyland
A lost child can be one of the most terrifying experiences for any parent, but knowing what to do and acting swiftly can make all the difference. At Disneyland, the well-trained staff and the park’s established protocols are there to assist you during such challenging situations. By staying calm, alerting the nearest Cast Member, providing detailed information, and using the Lost Children Centers, you significantly increase the chances of a happy reunion with your child at the Happiest Place on Earth. Remember, preparation and a cool head are the keys to ensuring a safe and enjoyable trip to Disneyland for the whole family.
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