It happens to the best of parents—kids get lost at Disneyland.
A temporary separations results in panicked parents and terrified children. While Disney certainly knows how to handle lost children, there’s plenty you can do to prepare in advance. This way, if you do become separated, you will know how to respond.
My son was lost at California Adventure for about 2 minutes. And I had a very good idea where he was. He was 9 years old.
We were waiting for World of Color and we’ve been to Disneyland parks often enough that he felt comfortable going to the spot where we normally park the stroller to get a snack. Still, I was scared. We had 3 adults, so one stayed with the other kids while my husband and I went looking.
We found him quickly and everything was fine. It never resorted to involving cast members, but I’ve heard from many parents that even at that point, you’re likely to be reunited very, very quickly. Read this story from when my friend Becca’s son got lost at Disneyland.
Whether your child is barely walking or a teenager who hasn’t returned to the meet up spot on time—fear comes quickly. Here’s how you can prepare yourself and your children incase someone gets separated from your group while at Disneyland.
Prep Before Anyone Gets Lost at Disneyland
I’m guessing you take your kids lots of places: the pool, the park, the grocery store, on walks—and your child usually has an idea of what to do if they get lost. Those practices you’ve put into place work at Disneyland too. In the months leading up to your trip, make an effort to reinforce those family procedures and introduce new ones.
As you enter Target for that one little thing you need (yeah, right!), ask your child what they would do if they got lost. Point out who they could talk to for help and discuss if you’d like them to stay put for a minute before looking for help.
Whenever we go somewhere new or especially crowded, I like to point out to my kids that even though we go to Target at home, this one might be different, so stay by me.
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Or if we’re in a crowded place, we talk about having a buddy. To make it simple and consistent, girls with Mom, our son with Dad, etc. These type of policies and procedures, so to speak, can go a long way when you’re prepping for a Disneyland vacation.
Gadgets to Avoid Lost Kids at Disneyland
While these things don’t guarantee your kids won’t leave your side, they can certainly help give you peace of mind during your vacation.
Portable Charger. I used to bring this portable charger, sometimes two of these on every Disneyland visit. Now I bring a Fuel Rod to easily swap and have a full charge.
Not only does Disney drain your cell battery like crazy, you’re going to want to use your phone to call and text people in your group, check wait times on the Disneyland app and take a bazillion pictures. If your child gets lost, you better believe you want your phone fully charged and working.
Child Travel ID Bands. Sometimes I can’t remember my zip code when asked at the store. There’s something about being put on the spot and/or needing relevant info in that exact moment—like a PIN on that one card that’s different from all the others.
Kids may know their phone number, but when panicked or nervous, it may not come out as easily. Travel ID Bands are a simple solution. They come in a pack of six and are much like event wristbands. Write your contact info on the inside before sizing it to your child.
Be sure to use a name-brand Sharpie so the marker or pen doesn’t wash off! Other than that, kids have a really hard time pulling these off and they’re waterproof.
Glow Gear. This is something you and your kids will love. Plus, buying them before going to Disneyland will save you money.
When it gets dark at Disneyland, suddenly it seems the crowds are even bigger and you cling to your little one’s hand like there’s no tomorrow. And it’s super dark. Super, super dark.
I always bring a pack of glow sticks to the parks with me to pass out a dusk. It helps keep the kids busy while waiting for World of Color or another nighttime event and it helps all of us keep eyes on each other after dark.
More Tips to Avoid Lost Kids at Disneyland
We’ve prepped and we’ve planned but here are a few more ideas to help you stay together at the parks for all ages and broken down into specific age groups.
What to do if you kid gets lost at Disneyland, tips for everyone.
- Review with kids what to do if they get lost.
- Point out park employees throughout Disneyland. Make sure your kids can identify a park employee if they are lost. Cast members wear various attire throughout the parks, so point them out throughout the day.
- Another popular choice is to have kids find another mom and tell that mom they are lost, and she can take them to a cast member.
- Keep your phone charged. Don’t drain the battery using apps and texting during your visit- it might be your lifeline later.
- Pick clothing that’s easy to spot. The Disney shirts are cute, but sometimes hard to notice in a sea of Mickey-wear.
- Take a picture of your kids as you enter the park so you can remember what they are wearing.
What to do if you kid gets lost at Disneyland, tips for young kids.
- Practice saying first and last name. It’s amazing how many kids can’t give an adult their last name when they are asked.
- Practice saying Mom and Dad’s names.
- Use Travel ID Bands or at the very least, write your contact information on a piece of paper and put it in their pocket. Make sure they know the information is there so they can give it to a cast member if needed.
- Assure them that if they do become lost, not to worry, Mom and Dad will be there soon.
What to do if you kid gets lost at Disneyland, tips for older kids.
- Keep the above tips in mind, also instruct them to stay in one place for a few minutes before reporting to a cast member if that is something you’re both comfortable with.
- Point out to the kids what color you’re wearing incase they lose sight of you, “Dad’s wearing a green backpack and a red baseball hat. Mom’s wearing a pink shirt”
- Have a buddy system for older kids, even when they’re with you, they should also be with their buddy.
- Practice memorizing cell numbers of everyone in your party, or write it down. Having it in their phone might not always be the best idea if batteries die.
What to do if you kid gets lost at Disneyland, tips for teenagers.
- Set up a standard meeting point and meet there throughout the day for regular check ins.
- Make sure they have everyone’s contact information.
- Remember to keep your phone charged, it’s easy to drain the battery while in the park.
- Don’t rely on cell phones alone. Always set up a meeting place and time when separating. Don’t depend on texts going through.
What to do if you kid gets lost at Disneyland, tips for parents.
- Keep physical contact with kids when it gets dark or after parades: hold hands, use strollers, piggy backs, etc.
- Try to stay calm.
- Search the immediate area.
- Let a cast member near you know your child is missing.
Remember to stay calm. As soon as you’re all reunited, go grab a treat to relax. Then go over these tips again and love on your baby.
What tips do you have to avoid being separated? What helped you or what did you wish you knew when this happened to you?