Yes, you can lose a child at the park--and everything turn out ok

Scott McDuck

Earning My Ears
Joined
Oct 26, 2019
I am extremely grateful for all of the advice that I learned on this site, and in return, I am in the process of sharing various nuggets of wisdom that I learned during my current trip. Perhaps none is as important as this: Tell your children what to do in the event they get separated from you.

The very first day we arrived at Disney, on our way into the park, I told my 6-year-old daughter that, in the unlikely event we get separated, she should immediately look for a Disney worker (who would be in a uniform and wearing a nametag).

Fast forward to night ~6 of our trip: We just finish meeting tinkerbell in the Magic Kingdom and are on our way out of the park to beat the Happily Ever After rush. Before we leave, I tell my wife I wanted to take a quick peak at the train parked at the station. My daughter wanted to come with me. My wife waited downstairs with our 2-year-old in the stroller.

After seeing an empty station (FYI: It's currently parked at the Fantasyland station, not the main entrance--in hindsight, that bit of info could have saved me a big headache), I tell my daughter we're leaving, and I head down the stairs with her behind me. I make a slight right at the bottom of the stairs and meet up with my wife and 2-year-old. My 6-year-old is not behind me. I run back up the stairs. She's not there either. I go back downstairs. Still nothing, except for my now-hysterical wife. It seems as though the exiting crowds are now picking up in intensity.

Hours later in apparent time, 3 minutes later in real time, we finally find a Disney photographer who was escorting our daughter back to us.

Later, my daughter would tell us what happened: As she was walking down the stairs, some people got in-between her and me, and when she got to the bottom of the stairs, she forgot where my wife was standing, and turned left instead of right. She started crying, but remembered what I had told her. The first Disney worker she found was the photographer, who started asking her what her parents looked like and what we were wearing. Fortunately, we were reunited before things got any worse. No damage done.

No one ever thinks this can happen to them. But we're living proof that it can happen to a well-meaning, if slightly negligent parent. Yes, you can hold your children's hand every minute in the park and be more responsible than I was. However, everyone makes mistakes and "things happen."

I was so proud of my daughter for remembering what I had said to her.

Realistically, even if she had no clue what to do and just sat down crying in the middle of the street, I'm sure some guest or cast member would have rescued her in short order as well. And the whole ordeal lasted less than 5 minutes. Nevertheless, I believe that both I and my daughter were well-served by knowing our "plan" in this situation.

Moral of the story: Take 10 seconds and tell your kids what to do if they get separated. And if you're going to lose a kid, Disney is about as good a place as can be.

P.S. My daughter was wearing a magicband. Afterwards, my wife was curious if Disney could have used the GPS feature to track her parents down. Apparently they do not use that, but they will look up the parents' phone number and call them. Fortunately, we never made it that far.
 

Meglen

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 16, 2016
I'm so glad everyone is safe. Those 3 min last a lifetime when your child is missing. Great advice and thank you for your story.
 

SleeplessInTO

Mouseketeer
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
I am extremely grateful for all of the advice that I learned on this site, and in return, I am in the process of sharing various nuggets of wisdom that I learned during my current trip. Perhaps none is as important as this: Tell your children what to do in the event they get separated from you.

The very first day we arrived at Disney, on our way into the park, I told my 6-year-old daughter that, in the unlikely event we get separated, she should immediately look for a Disney worker (who would be in a uniform and wearing a nametag).

Fast forward to night ~6 of our trip: We just finish meeting tinkerbell in the Magic Kingdom and are on our way out of the park to beat the Happily Ever After rush. Before we leave, I tell my wife I wanted to take a quick peak at the train parked at the station. My daughter wanted to come with me. My wife waited downstairs with our 2-year-old in the stroller.

After seeing an empty station (FYI: It's currently parked at the Fantasyland station, not the main entrance--in hindsight, that bit of info could have saved me a big headache), I tell my daughter we're leaving, and I head down the stairs with her behind me. I make a slight right at the bottom of the stairs and meet up with my wife and 2-year-old. My 6-year-old is not behind me. I run back up the stairs. She's not there either. I go back downstairs. Still nothing, except for my now-hysterical wife. It seems as though the exiting crowds are now picking up in intensity.

Hours later in apparent time, 3 minutes later in real time, we finally find a Disney photographer who was escorting our daughter back to us.

Later, my daughter would tell us what happened: As she was walking down the stairs, some people got in-between her and me, and when she got to the bottom of the stairs, she forgot where my wife was standing, and turned left instead of right. She started crying, but remembered what I had told her. The first Disney worker she found was the photographer, who started asking her what her parents looked like and what we were wearing. Fortunately, we were reunited before things got any worse. No damage done.

No one ever thinks this can happen to them. But we're living proof that it can happen to a well-meaning, if slightly negligent parent. Yes, you can hold your children's hand every minute in the park and be more responsible than I was. However, everyone makes mistakes and "things happen."

I was so proud of my daughter for remembering what I had said to her.

Realistically, even if she had no clue what to do and just sat down crying in the middle of the street, I'm sure some guest or cast member would have rescued her in short order as well. And the whole ordeal lasted less than 5 minutes. Nevertheless, I believe that both I and my daughter were well-served by knowing our "plan" in this situation.

Moral of the story: Take 10 seconds and tell your kids what to do if they get separated. And if you're going to lose a kid, Disney is about as good a place as can be.

P.S. My daughter was wearing a magicband. Afterwards, my wife was curious if Disney could have used the GPS feature to track her parents down. Apparently they do not use that, but they will look up the parents' phone number and call them. Fortunately, we never made it that far.
Thanks for sharing :) glad everything turned out well.
I usually try to take a pic of my kid in the morning in case we get separated so I can describe what she’s wearing to CMs. Don’t always remember to do it though.
 
  • DesertScorpion

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2020
    Glad everything turned out okay. We are going to DL for the first time with kids in a couple of months and we picked up some of those ID bracelets and ID temporary tattoos just in case.
     

    Scott McDuck

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Oct 26, 2019
    I usually try to take a pic of my kid in the morning in case we get separated so I can describe what she’s wearing to CMs. Don’t always remember to do it though.
    Yes, I had meant to do this as well, but failed. We were actually all wearing the same custom-made t-shirts that day. So it should have been easy to identify her/us. Another perk of wearing matching outfits.
     

    LongLiveRafiki

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2017
    So glad you were able to be reunited quickly! We lost our almost 2 year old at Disney a couple years ago. We had just dropped our bags in our room the first day and headed to the QS at our resort. As we were ordering, DH must have set DS down. He didn't even remember doing it! I noticed DS wasn't there and DH looked down at his empty arms and was like, "Oh crap!" We found him a few mins later in the connecting gift shop sitting on the floor looking at Mickey postcards. He wasn't really speaking at the time and was too little to really understand plans for if were separated, so I wrote my phone number on his magic band, as well as took a pic of him every morning so I could show CMs in case it happened again. Thankfully, it didn't.
     
  • Donzie

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 28, 2018
    Relieved it all worked out for you guys.

    My kids are getting older now but what happened to you is common to most of us with kids. I have often had our 3 kids (who are 2 years apart) out by myself and struggled to keep an eye on all of them. More often than not others separate us. People see we are a pack and they will still wedge between me and me kids in lines whenever they can.

    Disney is the major leagues when dealing with strangers, crowds and your kids. I talk to them about who to trust like you did, but I also have my kids wear lanyards with pouches. In the pouch is their name and me and my wife's cell phone numbers. I also attach whistles and tell them to blow them loudly when separated or scared until we come or a Disney employee comes.

    We also put Disney pins on the lanyards and all my kids enjoy trading pins in Disney. Although, they have traded away some expensive Mickey or Minnie pins I would've never traded away for common ones. But, hey they have fun.
     
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    mjkacmom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 20, 2006
    We lost our 6 year old after turtle talk (and my dad but that’s a whole different story). We’ve actually lost several children, we lost ds21 when he was little at the crayons factory and didn’t realize it until I heard my name called on the loudspeaker. Ds17 was lost for a good 10 minutes at the rocking horse ranch when he was 2 (found him eating breakfast with another family). That one got lost several times (had to alarm all of our foots). It is the worst feeling!
     

    henry72

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 25, 2009
    Glad it worked out. That is a horrible few minutes when your kid is missing. I know as it happened to us when we were entering Epcot. I went through the bag line while DH took the kids through the no-bag line. When I met up with them on the other side, DD wasn't there. It seems she decided to go meet me since I had the water bottle. As I walked back toward the security line, I immediately alerted a cast member while DD who realized she couldn't find me nor DH found a security officer and told him she lost her parents. We were maybe separated five minutes at the most. DD was probably 8 at the time and I am thankful she remembered what we told her about getting lost - find a cast member!
     

    Betsy82

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 13, 2012
    This reminds me of when I lost my son in the same general area. He wanted popcorn, we were exiting the train and he was behind me on the stairs and when we reached the bottom but when I got to the popcorn cart he was gone.

    He was 3. I told the popcorn clerk, who called someone and they came from the building Mickey meets in. She phoned security and sent a photo of him taken that day (from my phone) out.

    In some truly odd circumstances... as I was panicking I looked up and saw a family member who works at MK. I yelled at him without even thinking (hadn't seen him that trip, not sure he even knew I was there!) and they thought I was yelling at my son but I quickly explained no, but the CM was family. They ended up calling someone to cover for him so he could stay with me.

    Security found him walking down Main Street towards the castle within 3 minutes. It was the longest 3 minutes of my life. They escorted me to the Baby Care Center where they were coloring with him and had given him water (they told me he'd asked for juice when they offered a drink but they declined due to allergies, but would give him juice if it was OK now). They let my family member CM stay with me while we sat and calmed down for awhile. Then he escorted us on the ride he worked as he went back into position.



    Trip two years later he was with his father on a ride. I was shopping nearby. Husband comes back and I asked where he was. He told me he went to the restroom with his older brother. Older brother returns without him, had no idea he was supposed to have him (oh, DH!). I RAN back to the ride, did a quick lap and notified the clerk at the exit gift shop. They called it in and said "Oh. Let me check." Turned to me and asked what he was wearing, I told them and he smiled and said "We have him."
    Walked me to CMs at the ride entrance. When he got separated from my DH in the crowds and couldn't find his brother, he went to the entrance and told them he was lost and his name was X. They went on and on about how he did everything perfectly and was so brave. When he saw me, he burst into tears and ran to me and said "I didn't know where you were!".


    ....not sure I can take this kid back, now that I think about it...
     
  • DL1WDW2

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2019
    Apparently when you take that photo of your child’s outfit of the day, you should take a picture of his shoes for security identification.
    In the case of abduction, a child’s hair and clothing can be disguised or altered but the shoes not so easy to switch out , since abductor would not know ahead of time. A barefoot child would be very suspicious for amber alert , I guess.
     

    TinkLoverSam

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 10, 2009
    OT but this made me laugh, mainly because I lost my Nana and Pop at AK 🙄
    I lost my mom in MK! My sister and I were looking for her and a cm at the Christmas store asked if she could help us, we said we were looking for our mom and she said she couldn’t help with that (we were adults at the time)
     
    Last edited:

    MudQueen22

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 14, 2014
    Thank you for sharing this.
    We also talk to our children to plan what to do if they get separated from us. It's a smart thing to do, as you know.
     

    disneyseniors

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 2, 2014
    I have a funny story about my daughter and 3 y/o grandson(a long time ago). We were on a family trip offsite, totaling 11 of us. Each morning we would meet in the café for breakfast. Across the lobby was a game room which was visible from our table. The older kids would go there and play while we ate and made plans for the day at WDW. (yes, back then you could do it that way:)
    My daughter was super worried about her 2 children who were 3 and 6 at the time. She told us all before we went to always hold one of their hands if she wasn't there. Anyway, we were sitting in the café and watching the other children in the game room, when she suddenly yells: " Where is X? I don't see him". She was completely freaking out. We looked at her and told her that he was sitting on her lap!!! LOL. It was funny later but she was genuinely afraid of losing him. We still tell that story at family events. Pretty funny:) Just thought I would throw a funny story in the mix!
     

    tinkerjo

    Crazy Disney nut
    Joined
    Nov 25, 2005
    We were always told that we were to meet at the castle or ball ( MK and Epcot) when we were little if for some reason we got lost. This was way before cell phones. My 13 year old and her friend were separated from her 16 year old brother and his friend one year with a dead cell phone. A CM was nice enough to call her brother ( they knew they would be in trouble because they were told to stay together) I have always felt that my kids were safe at WDW.
     

    PHXscuba

    Mouseketeer since birth!
    Joined
    Jul 7, 2008
    I would also not assume older children will instinctively know what to do if separated. As teens they aren't as at-risk for a kidnapping, but their naive decision-making skills could keep them lost for much longer. Don't rely on cell phones as the only lifeline -- they run out of battery, end up in dead zones, etc.

    Years ago we were prepping for a Disneyland trip and I was having the "what to do if separated" talk with DS4 and DD7. DS13 was nearby and very confidently shared that if separated from us, he would leave the park, walk all the way through Downtown Disney and wait for us at our Disneyland Hotel room (that he didn't have a key to). :sad2: This was before he had a cell phone. The hotel would be the last place I would have looked for him!! We reviewed with ALL the kids to never leave the park without us and for them to stay put for a couple minutes before leaving the immediate area to find a CM.

    Luckily we've only lost one kid, once. We thought all four kids heard us that we were leaving a gift shop. Outside I counted 1-2-3-??? and realized we were without DD10. I stayed with the other 3 and DH went back in to find a tearful girl. It was only about 2 minutes but I agree it sure felt like a lot longer!!

    PHXscuba
     

    Greenbmw17

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jun 2, 2016
    Our large group of 12 came off 7DMT and stopped to decide where to go next. My almost 3 yr old was sitting in his stroller in the middle of our circle. We decided on Enchanted Takes with Belle and look down and the 2 yr old is gone. I guess we took too long to decide for him. 7 adults somehow missed him leaving our circle. I immediately went to the CM at 7DMT and told them he was missing. One of our group found him in line for Winnie the Pooh within just a minute or two. Now that boy is 6 and we are planning another trip to WDW. My older kids love to tell the story how we lost him and how they hope it doesn't happen again to anyone who will listen.
     

    elle21

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 3, 2016
    Glad she was okay and knew what to do. We’ve experienced a lost child at Disney too and it is terrifying. I had three kids lined up in robes waiting for Jedi training...Not under the covered area anymore but out ready to start marching. DH was with the others at the stage, saving a spot to watch. Suddenly they called it off right as it started pouring. Everyone ran for cover and I couldn’t get through the mess to grab the hands of all three kids. So scary. My four year old was gone. Sadly as I was looking wildly for him and it had been more than two minutes or so, I saw a CM and said I can’t find my son. She just looked at me and mumbled something and kept going. I’d like to believe she didn’t understand the situation. 😞 I kept looking for probably another minute or two and happened to go back to the front of the gift shop that is near where they line up the kids. He was standing there alone, looking scared but not crying. We had told the kids if they ever got separated to go to the last place they remembered being together. I think maybe he went there because it was the last place we all stood before DH, siblings, and grandparents left for the stage and I walked the others to check in. He’s my shy quiet one and at just 4 yrs, never really said what he was thinking/ feeling.
    We did use Safety tats and I was thankful for that at least.
     



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