By Jennifer Stuart
Disneyland is a magical place and undeniably a great place for families but it can also be very crowded. It only takes a moment for a child to wander. Read on for our tried and tested ways to keep track of your kids at Disneyland and where are the most likely places to lose track of them.
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Officially at Disneyland there are no lost kids only lost parents, but we believe that you should always plan for any eventuality. So here are our tips for keeping track of your kids.
A picture is worth a thousand words
It's an old saying but a true one. We recommend taking a picture of your child (children) every morning before you leave the hotel. This way you have a picture of them in their current outfit to show to cast members if they do become lost. This is a huge time saver and so much more accurate than trying to describe what they are wearing when you are in panic mode.
We ALWAYS tag our kids when we travel. There are so many different ways to do it. One of the easiest is with an ID wristband. We usually put our last name on it and our cell phone number. These are handy if they do wander off and a cast member has to get in contact with you. There are lots of different styles available on Amazon.
Make a Plan
Like anytime you go to a crowded place or event make a safety plan with your kids. Make sure that they know what to do if they get lost or separated from you. If they are older choose a family meeting spot that they can go to.
Teach them to look for the name tag
The cast members are there to help you and your kids. Teach your kids what a Cast member name tag looks like as part of your safety plan. These are safe people that they can approach and talk to if they are lost.
Keep your phone charged
I find I use my phone for everything these days and it can drain so quickly when I am in the parks and taking lots of pictures and video. We always recommend carrying an external battery pack so you can keep taking all those pictures but in an emergency it is vital that your phone is charged. If your child is older and knows your phone number this may be how they get in touch with you. Also it may be how a cast member gets in contact with you if you have included that information on their ID bracelet, tag or tattoo. These battery packs can be picked up in any electronics store or on Amazon. Here are a couple that we recommend in different sizes.
Light Them Up
One of the trickier times to keep track of them is after dark (which in the winter can be any time after 5pm). It would be a shame to miss out on Disneyland at night (it's beautiful) or the fireworks (they are amazing!) It is just that much harder to see your kids in the dark. Our solution is simple, inexpensive and will make your kids super happy ---- Glow sticks.
Disneyland -- Where you are most likely to lose them
Really they can get lost anywhere. Anyone with kids knows it only takes a split second and they can be gone. That being said, there are a couple of spots that you are more likely to lose your kids.
- Tom Sawyer's Island -- this is an amazing place to go with kids. They will love the chance to get some of that extra energy out by climbing around in Pirate's Lair. It is also an easy place to lose them because of the caves. There is a whole cave complex in the centre of the island that is so much fun, but also dark and full of nooks and paths and passageways. You will find them again. They are in there SOMEWHERE. There are also a number of different exits so it is possible for them to come out on the other side of the island from where you expected. Our family lost my cousins and I in there when we were kids and it took the adults ages to corral all of us-- so I'm speaking from experience.
- Fantasyland -- there are a number of rides close together in Fantasyland and when it is a busy day it can get CROWDED -- sometimes one stroller looks like the next and it is easy for a child to follow the wrong on.
-Adventureland -- this can be another bottleneck on busy days. Always take extra care in those heavy crowds.
- Main Street USA. -- many of the shops are interconnected so it is very easy for them to wander into another shop and be out of sight.
- Fireworks or Fantasmic! -- the nighttime shows are deservedly popular and that means VERY crowded. It is so much harder to keep track of them in heavy crowds at night (see the tip above about glow sticks).
Disney California Adventure -- Where you are most likely to lose them
-Redwood Creek Challenge - This is another amazing and interactive space for kids to explore and get out some of their energy. It is like a giant playground. The good thing is that there is really only one exit. The bad is that there are so many levels, slides and tunnels that they can be gone in an instant.
- World of Color - another nighttime crowd situation where there are many different ways for the crowd to flow.
What to do if you lose them
Try not to panic (easier said than done) Look around -- change your height -- sometimes it is easier to see them in a crowd if you can look down -- so try standing on a bench or planter if there is one nearby. Notify the closest Cast Member immediately. Show them the picture on your phone so they will know who to look for. They will swing into action and get more cast members looking. They have a whole lost child protocol and are amazingly helpful.
We know just how scary it is to lose a child at Disney. Our daughter was 3. We were in Redwood Creek Challenge when she slipped away from grandma and went down a slide and was off and running. She didn't know she was lost, she was just playing, but in an instant we had lost our pre-schooler. I immediately went to the cast members at the entrance. As soon as I explained what happened they snapped into action. I was able to show them her picture on my phone and as one stayed at he entrance to ensure that she didn't leave the area, the other went with me to look. Meanwhile the rest of the family was searching all over the different levels looking for her and eventually my husband was able to spot her from above and by calling me was able to give me directions to snag her as she came down yet another slide. It was only about 10 minutes that we didn't have her but any parent will understand what a horrible feeling that is. We really appreciated the responsiveness of the cast members and their reassurances that we would find her.
If you enjoyed this article you might be interested in some of our other Disneyland Posts.
Photos by Jennifer Stuart and Kim Stuart
Comments? Questions? Do you have any other tips that we should include? We would love to hear from you.
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