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It happened to us. My daughter got lost at Disneyland. I wanted to share what we did in advance that worked, and what I wish we'd known. Hopefully this will help you to prepare for what to do if you lose your child at Disneyland.
Last night, it happened to us. Lydia got lost at Disneyland. Disney California Adventure to be exact. And to be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to share here. A part of me is ashamed it happened at all. The other part of me knows that accidents happen to the most careful parents and wanted to share what we implemented in advance that worked, and what we'll be doing from here on to insure we are all prepared in case a lost child at Disneyland scenario happens again (let's pray that it doesn't). In case you are wondering what to do if you lose your child at Disneyland or how to prepare in advance……I hope this is helpful.
Keeping Kids Safe at Disneyland: Lydia got Lost
We are Disneyland Annual Passholders. We've been to Happiest Place on Earth more times than I can count (hundreds of times) and we know the parks like the back of our hands. My daughter has play dates at Disneyland. We have friends who are Cast Members. She could probably give you a walking tour of both parks on her own. She knows the park very well, and as a result, we are extremely comfortable there. So I have to say, I sort of assumed something like this wouldn't happen to us. Well, I was wrong. In hindsight, I'm grateful that we had prepared Lydia for this and that she was able to implement what we'd talked about. When it comes to keeping kids safe at Disneyland, Disneyland cast members are HIGHLY trained. Every single one of them. In fact, when I've visited the parks for media events in the past, I've even gotten to hear about the procedures and the parks suggestions for what to do if you lose your child at Disneyland. Having some of that information helped me to remain somewhat calm in one of the scariest moments of my life.
Last night we were leaving Disneyland California Adventure after a day of celebrating a friend's birthday, riding Disneyland rides, and eating our fill of Disney treats and enjoying Disneyland Character Dining options. It was dark (it was about 9:45 pm so the park was due to close about 15 minutes later). All three of us were walking together, but we weren't holding Lydia's hand. She's six years old, and often doesn't want to hold our hands anymore (hindsight is twenty twenty here). As we were walking, my husband and I stopped to look at the Walt Disney statue for a moment before we exited the park. We literally stopped for about 30 seconds. Lydia didn't stop with us. That's all it took. It was dark. And we couldn't find her anywhere. The entire nightmare lasted for less than ten minutes. We ran around screaming her name. A few minutes later my husband found her at the front of the park (just a few steps away) with a cast member.
So what did Lydia say happened? She was walking with us. Then she realized we were gone. She started to cry (it breaks my heart to imagine this). Then she remembered what we'd discussed. She ran towards the front gates to find a cast member (I'll explain what we'd talked about in advance in the next section). Two “big girls” (so I'm guessing teenagers) stopped her and asked if she was lost. She told them she needed to find a cast member. They walked her to the front, where the cast member stayed with her and began security procedures. About two minutes later we found her.
What to Do If You Lose Your Child at Disneyland: How to Prepare and First Steps
Luckily, there were some things we had already done to prepare for something like this. But after this experience, there are a few more things I would suggest to prepare for keeping kids safe at Disneyland and things that we ourselves will be implementing from here on out.
A Plan in Place: we had a plan in place and we review it every single time we visit Disneyland. What is Lydia supposed to do if she is lost? FIND A CAST MEMBER. All cast members wear the same name tags (except for Galaxy's Edge where they look slightly different). Cast members are in every store, every place you can buy food, at the entrance to every ride, and at the entrance to each park. Every time we visit the parks, we go over this (including looking at an actual cast member's name tag). And man, am I glad we do.
ID: What we didn't have? Lydia didn't have any type of ID with her. I did a little research and these ID bracelets? Are a great inexpensive option. You can put your phone number on them along with name and info.
Phone or Smart Watch: One thing we are also considering……is Lydia old enough for a smart watch? Before this incident happened, I would have said no. I felt like we are always with her and she didn't have a need for one. In hindsight, she could have called us immediately and it would have been very effective.
I hope all this info was helpful! Obviously, I hope that you never have to know what to do if you lose your child at Disneyland…..but I do think that knowledge and preparation are important and that being prepared will help everyone!