Updated for 2016!
Walt Disney World and Disneyland are enormous places often with substantial crowds. Ask any Disney loving mom or dad planning a vacation to either park if they are a little apprehensive about keeping up with the kids, and most likely they’ll tell you there is a little fear. Talking about child safety is not the time to make a helicopter-parent joke, but parents these days like to keep a really close eye on the kids. Every guardian wants to keep their children safe, which on a Disney vacation can mean within eyesight. It’s undoubtedly easy for little feet to wander off, which could just as easily happen with bigger feet.
So we asked our Cheapskate Princess Facebook Fans to tell us how they kept up with their kids on a Disney vacation so that everyone felt safe and secure. We wanted to share their outstanding answers, from those vacationers who have been there, done that, and somehow survived the stress to plan another trip!
Picture With Cell Phone
Dale, “One thing to do in case you get separated is to take a picture with your cell phone each morning before you get to the park. This way you can show the Cast Members what your child looks like and what they are wearing. In addition, if you are parking at Disney, have them pose at the end of the row you parked in to help you remember where you parked your car.”
I can barely remember what I have on each day, much less what my kids are dressed in. Cast Members give little speeches on the trams on your way into each park reminding you how so many people each day forget where they parked. These are two great ways to make your cell phone work for you.
Meet Up Spot
Karen, “We determined a ‘meet spot’ each morning. Someplace very recognizable for everyone. We also had a code word- an unusual word- (our last visit we used the word ‘bubbles’) so if anyone drifted too far away they would hear the code word and head back to the group.”
Charlotte, “We use a pre-agreed meeting point and wristband with a mobile number written on it.“
Where to meet, that’s the question. Do your children know the layout of the parks that well? Many parents tell their children to stop right where they are, when they realize they have become separated, rather than continue walking. We’ll get to finding a Cast Member for help after a few more suggestions.
Erica, “The first time we did Disney, I went by myself with six kids. I assigned a younger child to a teenager. My teens were 5’8″ and taller, so it was easy to spot everyone. But just in case, I made lanyards out of the cute luggage tags and pins Disney gives that include that child’s name, my name and phone, the teen’s names/phone, and any special info.”
If you are traveling with multitudes of children, pair them up. This might put a little extra responsibility on the older kids, but hey, this is a family activity. This also might keep your teen’s eyes on the amazing surroundings instead of being buried in a cell phone.
Diana, “We wear matching shirts so when I panic, she matches me. Some are school shirts so nobody else would have one. This happened last year, but my daughter is 11 and saw Dad. So she went with him, and they found me. Usually we make a train; I’m in front, and my husband is back. So if she isn’t in the middle, she is out of line.”
You’ll see lots of groups of people in matching shirts, so Diana is correct – go for something unusual. And I like the tip about child body placement, if you aren’t traveling with a multitude of children. If they aren’t standing in a certain spot, you’ll instantly know they have wandered off or become separated.
We have some suggestions on making your own Disney vacation shirts, cheapskate style!
Look for Cast Members
Erica, “Ohhhh, teach kids what the Cast Members buttons look like. Some employees aren’t dressed up, but they always wear their button, whereas you might see some ordinary people dressed up, which can be misleading to children.“
Kimberlee, “Don’t bring kids! Seriously though, I taught the kids to hunt down a cast member if needed.” (Cheapskate Princess note – Kimberlee is correct. You can’t lose kids if they are home with grandma while you and another adult are exploring the parks by yourselves. But that’s another article for another day…)
Erica, “My parents never had to worry about this with my brother and me. We knew Disney better than they did (and still do.) so much so that they trusted us more in a crowded theme park then in our own house when we were both elementary school ages. We were taught to find a Cast Member if we ever truly got lost, which never needed to happened. I do love the Disney philosophy that kids are never lost – it’s the parents who are lost.
Cast Member uniforms will differ, but the color and shape of their name tags will remain the same.
Monique, “We grabbed one of the first visit buttons and wrote our cell numbers on the backside. Next time we plan to do the temporary tattoos.“
Bring a Sharpie in your park bag, and you’ll be all set once you get the button. We have the 411 on FREE Disney buttons…
Number on the Arm
Jessica, “Write your phone number on their upper arm and apply liquid skin over it. Make sure they know to find a Cast Member if they get lost.”
Sierra, “The easiest and most effective thing to do is draw my number on their arm with a Sharpie and cover it with baby powder. It works and stays on the whole day. When the trip is over, you wipe it off with rubbing alcohol. Also, be sure to tell the kids where they should go if they do get lost and stay there until Mommy and Daddy find them.”
Stacy, “I wrote my phone number on their arms with a Sharpie. It stayed on all day with no running or fading.”
Again, another great reason to carry a Sharpie in your park bag.
Jewelry With Contact Info.
Linda,”My grandson had a bracelet on with our names and cell phone numbers.“
Suzie, “I did cheap stretchy necklaces with heart or star-shaped dog tags with “If lost – call xxx-xxx-xxxx.” They were $3 a piece and could be worn everywhere including the pool.”
Joyce, “We went to the local military store and ordered dog tags with our cell # numbers on them. Also when we are camping, we write the lot number on their hand in case they are riding the bike and get hurt.”
Dana, “My mom and I made wristbands with safety pins. An adult and child each wear the wristband. If they don’t want to wear the wristband, we pin it to the back of their shirts. This way they can’t figure out how to get the safety-pin open. When in the strollers, I still pin the wristband to me, or another adult in my party. We have strict rules too, that if one of the adults is taking a child to see an attraction, or ride, or food, we MUST tell each other that we have that child and make sure the other adult hears, knows, and acknowledges.”
Chris ,”I put a button on all my kids that has my business information on it, which also has my cell phone number on it. In addition, I have custom pins that have the same information on it that goes on their pin lanyards. I usually have one of the buttons on my hat, and the pin on MY lanyard, but also on other items like backpacks and our camera bag. Mostly, I keep them close, but one has a tendency to wander off. I’m debating getting those tracker tiles and put those on their pin lanyards as well.“
Jewelry can be both fashionable and functional. It might be a good idea for the child to practice wearing this before you get to the parks, so it just seems like another part of a routine day.
The Disney Company released information on pet I.D. tags with QR code technology back in 2013. I wonder if they could make something like this for lost kids?! You get the jewelry idea though…
Emileigh, “Each child gets one of our old iPhones that is connected to park wi-fi, so that if we are separated, they can message us. Also, before we start going through the park, we pick a place to meet if we lose each other. We also show the kids who the Disney Cast Members are and explain that they are safe to talk to. Lastly, make sure the kids are wearing their MagicBands, because if they get lost, Disney can scan the band and look up the parent’s phone number.” (see info. below on bands)
Stephanie, “We haven’t gone yet, but my kids are nine and eleven, so we will have a pre-agreed meeting point for each park. I am giving both girls a (pre-paid style) cell phone to either text me or call me if we get separated for whatever reason.”
It’s too easy for today’s children to miss all the finer points of a Disney trip with their eyes lowered as they send text messages. However, this is one time having a cell phone can be a vacation asset, as long as it stays in the pocket unless needed for important communication.
Melissa, “I recommend Safetytats (Www.Safetytats.com), and we’ve used these handle things that attach to the stroller (Hold on Handles). Not baby leashes (I hate those) but a good way to keep them close when you can’t hold all their little hands.” Thanks, Melissa, for providing us with their Web addresses.
Galonii, “I printed temporary tattoos with my printer with some special paper they sell at Michael’s craft store, using a return label template, with mine and my husband’s cell phone numbers. Then I placed them on the inside of my niece’s arm, where it’s not in the open for others to see and won’t wash away.”
Many parents have commented that they seem quite satisfied with temporary tattoos as a vacation precaution.
What about that MagicBand on your child’s wrist? If you are using the bands, can that help a Cast Member find you if a child gets separated?
I phoned Disney directly and a Cast Member said yes. John told me that your child’s MagicBand can be scanned, and this will provide room number information on your family. From there, Cast Members should be able to find your cell phone contact information.
How long this will take? According to Disney’s Web site information, lost children are escorted by a Cast Member to the Baby Care Center. Once there, the child will be looked after until the parent comes to claim the child. If you realize your child is missing, and your cell phone is not ringing, tell a Cast Member and then go check the Baby Care Center.
So the Mickey Mouse eye in the sky is indirectly looking out for your child as well. While I wouldn’t rely strictly on the MagicBand, it certainly sounds comforting to know this technology can be a backup.
Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in the parks, one eye on the kids and the other on the PANDORA jewelry!
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