Nothing bad ever happens on vacation, right? While Walt Disney World is a magical place, it is very much located in the real world. Here are our best tips for Child Safety while on your Walt Disney World vacation!
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I’ll never forget it. It was a busy morning at Hollywood Studios. My entire family had arrived at security to start our day. My Mom headed off to go through the “bag free” entrance and my son, age 6, decided to go with her. One problem – he didn’t tell her he was coming so she took off at her usual high rate of speed, never looking back. I was focused on getting through security and thought she had him. Fast forward to me finding her waiting just inside the park entrance and NO SIGN of my son.
I cannot begin to describe the panic that overtook me. I sprinted to the closest security guard sputtering that I could not find my child! As I was beginning to describe what he was wearing, I heard a small, sniffly voice behind me say, “I’m right here.” You see, as opposed to MY panic, he had somehow remained calm and did exactly what I always told him to do if this happened – find the closest Cast Member, who happened to be the same guard I was talking to.
After vowing to never let him out of my sight ever again, we went on to enjoy a fantastic day. That child is now 17 years old and applying to colleges, so apparently no long term damage done! (Also that vow to never let him out of my sight lasted approximately three hours. Though it’s still tempting…)
Common Sense Child Safety Guidelines at Walt Disney World
If you read the story above then you’ve probably already gleaned the first important piece of advice. Talk to your kids about what to do if you get separated! No need to scare them, just explain matter of fact-ly that sometimes parents and kids might lose sight of each other in a crowded place. Make a plan to help them feel empowered if their parents get lost! (Did you know that at Walt Disney World children never get lost, only parents? It’s true! This is how Cast Members are trained to reassure a child.)
Teach your kids how to identify safe grown ups or Cast Members. As you walk around the parks, point out Cast Members in uniform or with name tags so they know what to look for! And when in doubt, look for a Mom with her own kids with her.
Talk to them about the importance of staying calm. Make a game out of helping them find words to describe you to someone! You would be surprised how often a child has no idea how to describe their parents. After all – to them you are simply Mom or Dad! What color is your hair? Do you wear glasses? Make sure they have the vocabulary to tell someone what you look like!
This one is important – take a family photo as well as individual photos each morning of your trip! This way you remember and have documentation of what each person is wearing. This will be helpful if you get separated! It is so easy to forget details when you are scared or stressed. (Trust me, I am lucky I remembered my son’s name in that two whole minutes he was gone.)
Oh and those groups all wearing matching t-shirts? This is a safety feature as well as being a fun way to celebrate! Your kid or adult will be very easy to spot if you are all wearing matching shirts.
Child ID Options
This first thing a Cast Member will do with a child who has been separated from their parents is ask for a cell phone number. Of course, who remembers phone numbers these days?! (Sigh… once upon a time I knew the phone numbers of every single person I knew. But I digress…)
These wrist bands are a great option for kids who may be too young to remember their parent’s cell phone number. They are waterproof and reusable with cute patterns to choose from!
Have a kid who doesn’t care for wrist bands? These temporary tattoos are a fun alternative!
Having your contact information easily accessible for the Cast Member will make reunification that much faster!
To Leash or not to Leash?
I know, I know… controversial topic. And I know they are not really leashes. But admit it – you knew exactly what I meant when you read the heading of this section!
Let me be clear – I am firmly in the camp of “You know your child best.” So I am not advocating safety harnesses or wrist leashes for every child. HOWEVER – I will say that even the most docile, obedient child may take off running at the sight of their favorite character!
Walt Disney World can be crowded. And little kids are much faster than you can imagine when motivated! When my son was two, we did choose to utilize a child safety harness. We practiced with it prior to our trip. It was an adorable little puppy backpack so we told him he could dress up as a puppy and get walked. He loved it! He was never forced to wear it.
How cute is this dinosaur set?!
Clearly he is not traumatized!
Walt Disney World is a magical place for a family vacation. With a little preparation and communication, your family can enjoy a safe, relaxing trip and create memories that will last a lifetime!
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