Disney World may be the most Magical Place on Earth, but there is one surefire way to make that magic go away — losing sight of your child. Disney World is an incredibly crowded place, which unfortunately makes it all too easy for a child to wander off to explore without thinking about the terrified parent they’re leaving behind.
However, before you panic too much about this potential during a Disney trip, it’s important to know that Disney World is well prepared for this very common occurrence at the parks. Disney, along with most other theme parks, has a well-established protocol in place for exactly what to do when a child gets lost.
That sounds like need-to-know-info, right? Well, here’s a complete guide that breaks down the steps to take if this happens to you, along with tips on how to best prevent it.
What to Do if Your Child Gets Lost in Disney World
If you lose sight of your child, the first thing you want to do is check the immediate area. Look around, call their name, and ensure they haven’t just taken a few steps away.
If you are still not able to locate them, here’s what you should do:
- Don’t Panic: Easier said than done, of course, but the priority here is to keep calm and to reassure any siblings that a Disney World Cast Member will help to find their brother or sister. Don’t play the blame game; instead, focus on taking the right steps to track down your child.
- Alert a Cast Member: Find the nearest Cast Member and tell them your child is missing as soon as you notice. They are trained to handle these situations and will immediately alert security.
- Provide a Detailed Description: Give the Cast Member a detailed description of your child, including their age and what they’re wearing. A helpful tip is to take an early morning picture each day with your kids so that you can show a recent photo of exactly what your child looks like on the day.
From there, the Cast Member will likely tell you to stay put. It’s possible your child has not gone far, and if this is the case, you want to ensure that you are in the last spot they remember you being at.
Locations of Baby Care Centers in Each of the Parks
Disney World’s protocol for any lost child under 11 years of age is to escort them to the park’s Baby Care Center once found, where they can stay until reunited with their family. Cast Members will keep the family informed as soon as the child has been located, so they can be reunited at the Baby Care Center.
Baby Care Centers are spaces where parents can feed, change, and care for small children. They also serve as the primary location for bringing lost children within the parks. You can find them at each of the four Walt Disney World parks at these locations:
- Magic Kingdom: The Baby Care Center is next to The Crystal Palace, which you can find by veering left off Main Street, U.S.A.
- EPCOT: The Baby Care Center can be found at the Odyssey Center building, which is past Test Track as you head towards the Mexico Pavilion of World Showcase.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: The Baby Care Center is inside Guest Relations at the park entrance.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: The Baby Care Center is located on Discovery Island near Creature Comforts (the park’s Starbucks). You can find it if you head towards the Africa section of the park.
Preventative Tips for Keeping Your Family Together in a Theme Park
In a space as big and crowded as a major theme park, it’s far from uncommon for a child to wander off. Whether they get distracted, you get distracted, or you lose sight of each other, getting lost is a common occurrence in theme parks, which is why so many protocols are put into place for reuniting families.
However, there are some steps you can take to help prevent it from happening or to make reuniting that much easier. Here are a few tips that are helpful at both theme parks and any other crowded places.
- Take a Daily Photo: When a child is lost, you’ll be asked for a recent photo for identification. Having a photo that includes exactly what your child is wearing that day makes the search a lot easier.
- Wear Bright Colors: Wearing bright, noticeable colors will help make it easier to spot members of your group in a crowd.
- Set a Meeting Point for the Group: Especially if you have older children, finding a general meeting point where everyone can reunite if someone gets lost is incredibly helpful.
- Teach Children What to Do If They Get Lost: It’s important to speak about this before going into the parks. Teach your children who to look for to get help. In Disney World especially, Cast Members are easily identifiable with name tags and can be found at all points of the park.
- Bring Ways to Identify Children to Get Reunited: If your child is old enough to have your phone number memorized, that is an excellent way for a Cast Member to get in contact with you. However, if they are not old enough, you can use things like a card in their pocket with identification, an ID band, or even temporary tattoos you can buy that have your phone number on them.
If this does happen to you, one thing to remember is not to beat yourself up about it. It can happen even to the most prepared families. If it happens to your family, it does not mean you have done something wrong.