Walt Disney World Safety Tips for Parents

by on September 14, 2016 12 Comments

Filed under: In the Parks, kids, Trip Planning, Walt Disney World (FL)

© Sarah GraffamDisney World is a place to get caught up in the magic, and this magic creates a sense of comfort and safety. It’s reasonable to enjoy this carefree feeling to a certain degree. But keeping in mind some safety tips as well as doing some safety planning ahead of time is well worth the effort—because things don’t always go as planned.

The primary focus of this article is child safety tips for parents of younger children, but many of these apply to all “kids” both young and old.

Safety planning should start well before your trip to Disney World because once you enter the park, the attention of parents and kids alike will almost certainly be divided.

So let’s look at some tips to plan ahead for safety.

Strike a Pose

If your family is anything like mine, you’ll take lots of family photos during your Disney vacation. Whether you take your own pictures, take advantage of the many PhotoPass photographers in the parks, or both, these pictures are one of the best ways to make family memories.

In addition to those memory-making photos, there is another photo you should take every day that has a more practical purpose. Use your smart phone to take a picture of the kids each morning (or each change of clothes if you break in the afternoon) where you can clearly see their faces and full attire. If your child should get separated from you, this photo can easily be shown or emailed to those helping to search.

Bonus: After our trip, these photos taken in our resort room, at the bus stop, or in line at rope drop have often been added to our official photo album. Without the usual “say cheese” for these photos, we have some adorable pictures of our kids waking up to another exciting day at Disney World.

Establish A Meeting Place

As you enter a park each day, make it a habit to determine a meeting place. Even if no one gets lost or separated, you can meet there if part of your group wants to experience different attractions or take a snack break.

© Sarah Graffam

A highly visible landmark is a good meeting place – just be sure to specify where around it to meet

 

Deciding on a meeting place when you first enter a park will mean that everyone gets a visual. The same place can be used on subsequent days if you are lucky enough to go to the same park more than once.

A highly visible attraction or landmark is a good place to meet, but be careful to be specific if there are multiple sides to it. For example, for Cinderella Castle, you could specify the hub side (at the flagpole) or the Fantasyland side (in front of Sir Mickey’s store).

Have a Plan in Case of Separation

The majority of you reading this article are probably “planners”—you’ve planned the parks to visit for each day of your trip, you’ve booked those dining and FastPass+ reservations, and your autograph books are at the ready for characters meets. Make time for one more plan: what to do if your child gets separated from your party. This plan should be kept simple to make it easy for kids (and adults) to remember, so make it as easy as “1-2-3!”

1 – Stop. Everyone should know that as soon as anyone realizes there is someone missing or that they are suddenly all by themselves, they should immediately stop where they are. Remain calm and look around because it’s possible that you may be only steps away from each other.

2 – Meet. If you can’t locate your family or a missing member of your party close to the location where you notice the absence, the next step is to go to the meeting place established when you entered the park. However, if the missing person is a young child who may not be able to sense direction or even see the meeting place when in a crowd, proceed directly to the next step.

Disney World cast member name tag

Teach your kids to look out for cast member name tags. Photo by Maddi Higgins

3 – Get Help. Look for a Cast Member. This goes for child and parent alike. Make sure the kids know that all Cast Members wear badges with their names. If the kids can’t see a Cast Member, tell them to find a mom with stroller (child) and ask them for help. And for parents, this is the time to make use of your child’s photo taken at the beginning of the day.

A few other things to be aware of if your child is lost: Cast Members will usually stay with the lost child in the same place they were found for about 10 minutes. After that time, they are usually taken to a Baby Care Center. Parents can also check with any Security or Guest Relations Cast Member because they will have been notified of any lost children.

Parents’ Contact Information and Staying in Touch

Another tip you can use to help Cast Members find you is to make sure you have your mobile phone number and name with each child. This can be as simple as a notecard in a pocket or an ID bracelet. Make sure your child knows to show this identification to a Cast Member if they are lost.

You can also have your child practice telling a Cast Member their name, resort, and your phone number. For some real-life experience, ask a Cast Member to do some role play.

When your children are old enough to go their own way in the parks for a bit, communication is key to safety. The first order of business is to establish a time and meeting spot. You can keep in touch by text. Another resource that we have found particularly useful with our teen boys is the Find my Friends app that allows us all to see everyone’s location on a map.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

© Sarah GraffamDisney has lots of signs at various attractions asking parents to supervise their children. Although this request may seem obvious, it’s easy to get caught up in fun and forget to make sure children navigate the queues and slow down in order to board attraction vehicles safely. I can vouch that having a child run into one of those posts at the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean once is one time too many.

Also don’t forget that crowds in general can be scary, especially for the little ones. Not only do the crowds create a forest to get lost in but they also present opportunities to accidentally be bumped or tripped. Crowds can be particularly thick during events like parades and fireworks, and they can be particularly difficult to navigate at the end of such events when everyone is trying to get either to someplace else in the park or out of it. Also, keep your eye out for strollers and ECVs. Try not to haphazardly cross in front of them as it presents safety issues for you and them, and ECVs need a few moments to come to a stop.

A strategy to avoid crowds after the evening fireworks or shows is to either position your family for easy exit or enjoy the park for 30 to 40 minutes while most everybody else clears out.

© Sarah Graffam

It’s smart to be extra vigilant about keeping track of your party in crowds like this one

 

Watch Where You’re Going

Ok teens and adults—this one’s for you.  Don’t interrupt your vacation with a sprained or broken ankle because you were walking while looking down at your smartphone (optimizing your Touring Plan, no doubt) and stepping off or tripping on a curb.

Transportation and Parking Lots

© Sarah Graffam

Be sure to practice parking lot safety

Disney Transportation is a fun part of the experience of getting to the parks whether by monorail, ferry, boat, bus, or tram.  Be aware of the potential traffic, water, tripping/falling, and climbing hazards that surround you and your kids. You may have to wait 20 minutes or more for your next transport, so it’s important to remain alert even when wrapped up in the excitement or when you’re bored or frustrated while waiting for transportation.

And don’t forget about parking lots. It is very difficult for small children to see or be seen, so stay together and don’t cut through rows of cars darting to the park entrance or tram!

Resort Room Safety

Back in your resort room, taking a few precautions will ensure that you make the most of your time to rest and rejuvenate before heading back into the parks.

First, upon arrival, make sure the locks are working on all doors, including balcony doors. Then be sure to use these locks not only when you are out of the room but when you are in it.

When you’re in the room, using the security swing latch that is farther up on the door will help safeguard against little ones leaving the room without you knowing. And unlock the balcony only when you plan to be on it; small children should only be on the balcony when you are.

When leaving your room, double-check that the door is locked once it has closed; even though a door looks closed, the lock may not be engaged.

Also, be wary of a flyer slipped under your door that advertises pizza delivery because these have been associated with scams. For a list of safe places that deliver pizza, check with the front desk.

With a plan and some basic awareness, you really can be carefree in the parks but also ready for action if things don’t quite go according to plan. Please share your own safety tips in the comments!

Posted on September 14, 2016

12 Responses to “Walt Disney World Safety Tips for Parents”

  • Great article! For our littlest traveler we bought RoadID tags that velcro to his shoe. The ID tags we had made show the child’s name, hometown and our cell phone numbers. We told our son if he ever got lost to find a cast member and show them his shoe tag. A great plus is you can wear the tag backwards so no one can see the ID tag unless they take it off his shoe and flip it over!

  • Great tips! I love the suggestion for kids to role play with a cast member what to do if they get separated from their parents. Both of my boys are on the autism spectrum, and although both are verbal and know our cell phone numbers, I fear that if they got separated from us, they would become so upset and anxious they wouldn’t be able to recall our numbers. So whenever we go to theme parks or anywhere with big crowds, I put temporary tattoos on their arms that have our cell phone numbers printed on them. They are called Safety Tats, and I bought them here: https://new.safetytat.com/ It gives me peace of mind when I know they are wearing them!

  • by Ruth Woodhouse on September 14, 2016, at 8:11 am EDT

    Really good tips. This is not so much of a security tip but it saves people wondering off looking for the parked car – I always take a photo with my mobile phone of the name of the lane we parked our car in just before we hop on the tram. I also read it out loud and then get all our party members to repeat where we have parked when we are sitting on the tram. We all have what’s app on our phones and I then send the photo I took to them in a group chat. What’s app is really good when there is group of you as you can send group messages when in the park so if anyone is lost everyone is updated at the same time. Coming from the uk it’s so much cheaper (free on wifi) to what’s app than text.

  • My two year old was separated from us a magic kingdom on our last trip. I put temporary tattoos with my phone number on his arm and taught him to point and say, “call my mom.” It worked. My phone rang just as I was starting to get frantic and the cast member loved the tattoo idea!

  • When our kids were small enough that they weren’t able to memorize our phone numbers, we made use of “Safety Tats” (temporary tattoos on which you can write your contact information). They never needed to be used, but it was nice to know that if one of the kids had to ask a cast member for help in reaching us, they had our contact information — quite literally — on their person!

  • I love the tatoo idea! Do you know if they can use magic band information to help identify the lost child and locate the parents? Seems like that would be great added benefit!

  • Thanks everyone for all of these wonderful tips! The tattoo idea is great. It sounds like they are easy to use.

  • I used customizable Mabel’s Labels bracelets for my little one when we are at the theme parks (and malls too where she is prone to running ahead).

    http://mabelslabels.com/kids-safety-bracelets.html

  • If your little one is wearing a magic band throughout the day, you could also use a silver/white permanent marker to put your phone # on the band itself. Just a thought!

  • My son was prone to running off when excited. To try to keep him with our group (which included his grandparents), we told him that he was the tour manager and it was his job to keep our group together. First of all, he loved this. And it meant that he was always checking to be sure he knew where he people were.

    I also put my phone number on his shoe. Because you can’t be too careful. 🙂

  • Since this article is about safety, I thought I would take this opportunity to suggest an article about the steps that Disney takes to ensure the safety of guests. The events of last summer, with the tragic alligator killing of the toddler boy on the shores of the Grand Floridian property, bring this to mind. Our family has enjoyed our visits to Walt Disney World and will certainly return. I always placed implicit trust on Disney’s safety inspection of its rides and its properties, but I am curious — moreso now — in what specific steps it takes. I do not expect an in-depth newspaper expose, just some sense of the routine methods Disney employs. For example, you could address what steps Disney takes to inspect/service rides (these are probably all state-regulation mandated) and water parks; what steps Disney took in the aftermath of the Lane Graves tragedy (I never knew, since I’m not a Floridian, that there are alligators in Seven Seas Lagoon and other Disney property waterways or that Disney routinely exterminates them); and what services Disney provided to help find lost children, for example.

    I also want to add that I find it surprising that no article seems to have appeared in the wake of the Lane Graves trajedy on this website. Not even a statement of condolences. I may have missed it, but I only see a brief comment that it was surprising the family chose not to sue in a “Recent News and Rumors” blurb.