How to Avoid Losing Your Child at Disney World (and how to get them back quickly if you do!)

Epcot Center lit up at night at Disneyworld in Orlando Florida

Are you planning a trip to a Disney park with your young kids?

Once your kids are large enough that they are no longer in a baby carrier or a stroller all the time, you run the risk that you might accidentally lose them in the large crowds.

A lot of people think "I'm a good parent. I wouldn't lose my kid."

The truth is, though, that no matter how good a parent you are, it's still possible to lose "become temporarily unsure of the exact location" of your child.

When we were at Disney World in 2014, we lost track of our four-year-old for five of the longest minutes of my life.

I am SO glad that we were prepared for this scenario - even though we do not have a history of losing him as it helped us get reunited with him quickly.

Here are my top tips that we generally use when visiting crowded places to avoid losing our kids and how we set ourselves up for success to get them back sooner if it does happen.

How to avoid losing kids in crowded places: Wear something that stands out

Dress your child in bright colors or with a unique set of mouse ears. 

Glow necklaces and accessories are great if it's dark. 

The idea is to make it so that they are easy to find by scanning a crowd. This is a great tip to avoid losing your spouse as well!

These awesome Captain America mouse ears are from and made it easy to spot my kid in a sea of people since nobody else had anything like them.
little boy wearing captain america mouse ears from sparkle ears at Walt Disney World's Animal kingdom

How to avoid losing kids in crowded places: Give them a handle

Kids have a hard time holding hands 100% of the time. 

When our son gets tired of holding our hands, we let him hold onto a stroller clip that has a padded edge (it's actually designed to hold bags) OR onto the safety strap of our Bumbleride Indie 4.
Padded clip on back of Bumbleride Indie stroller for child to hold onto

How to avoid losing kids in crowded places: Plan and practice before you go

A couple weeks before we left on our trip, we talked about what to do if you can't find mommy or daddy. 

Step 1: Call for us. We might be nearby and calling us will help us get you. 

Step 2: If you can't find us by calling, find a mommy with kids and ask her for help to call us on the phone.

Did you notice we tell our kids to find another mommy instead of a staff member or police officer? 

It can be confusing to small kids to figure out who the authority figures are unless they are police officers in full-out uniforms. 

Finding just any grown-up isn't always a wise choice - and statistics show that most abductors or people with bad intentions toward children are male. 

Finding a mommy with kids? That's almost always going to be both a safe person and a person who will have a compassionate interest in reuniting my child with me.
We role-played this scenario several times at home until we felt confident he knew what to do.

How to avoid losing kids in crowded places: Label them

Labeling your child with your emergency contact info will be the fastest way to help another parent get in touch with you if you are separated from your child. 

At Disney World, we personalized his magic band by applying his name and "if lost call:" and my phone number. (we used our Cricut Electronic Cutting Machine to cut out the letters and added a couple coats of Hard Coat ModPodge to seal it and be sure they wouldn't peel off. 

You could also use paint or a permanent marker to write your info on their magic band)
A Disneyworld magic band personalized with a phone number in case the child got lost

Even if you aren't going to Disney World, you can purchase generic safety wristbands are an easy, temporary way to put your contact info on them.

Planning multiple trips? You can get a custom reusable wristband made for them on Etsy.

The wrist band with my phone number that we put on our son was how we were reunited with him so quickly after we lost each other in the massive sea of people following a fireworks display.

After we were reunited with our little wanderer, the Disney employee who found him said it was the best thing I could do for a quick reunion and that they wished every parent did this for their kids.
This was also the best thing I did for my sanity.

I knew that once he realized he was lost, he would find a mommy to call me on the phone (see my "plan and practice" tip, above).

As soon as I realized he wasn't where I thought he was, I got my cell phone and turned the volume up so I'd be sure to hear it when I got called - which I did. 

By the "mommy" that found my son when she saw a 4 year old standing my himself calling for his parents. (The "mommy" was actually a Disney cast member but I'll take it!) 

Carissa Bonham

About the Author:

Carissa B is a cookbook author and busy mom of two creative boys. The owner and lead writer at Creative Green Living, she has won multiple awards for her work on Creative Green Living including the "Best Green Lifestyle Blogger" award in 2019 from ShiftCon.

She is the author of the hardcover cookbook, Beautiful Smoothie Bowls, as well as the backyard chicken keeping guide: Proven Techniques for Keeping Healthy Chickens

Her recipes have been featured in Urban Farm Magazine and in several cookbooks where she was a contributing author. 

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  1. Great tips! And easy to implement!

  2. These are such great tips, I especially like the idea of finding a mommy and plan and practice. This is something that I should do with my sons anytime in case of getting of lost. Thanks!

  3. Great ideas! Love the magic band idea.

  4. These are great ideas. I have a wanderer. I always dress him in bright colors - usually tie dye. ;-) Last year, we visited Disneyland and we also invested in one of those light up necklaces, as you mention, to make it easy to find him. Worked like a charm.

  5. What great ideas. I have 5 children so it always worries me that this would happen anywhere with big crowds.

  6. Years ago I lost my son at Silver Dollar City. 30 minutes of the worst time in my life. I love your "Mommy" idea that is so smart.

  7. I always dress my kids brightly so I can easily find them. :) We'll be heading to Disney this summer and I still worry about losing my kids and they are 7 and 11.

  8. So many kids get lost at Disney World. I agree with all your tips ... I like the idea of tagging them and dressing them in clothing or items that stand out.

  9. I've not thought about 'labeling' them but that's a great idea! I do make them wear something that stands out though for sure whenever I'm in a busy place

  10. These are great tips! I would always dress my boys in bright colors when we are out with crowds!

  11. Scary thought! I learned a lesson the year my son was Nemo for Halloween. A bright costume is an easy way to spot them!

  12. Thanks for all the great tips. We sure could've used this 10 years ago when my husband lost track of my son while we were at Disney well. Luckily he was just lost a few feet away in the crowd and we found him. Thanks for sharing so many great tips

  13. These are great tips. I used to always worry about this when my kids were little.

  14. We just went to Disney World a few months back. We saw that many family wore matching shirts, or labeled their child. Also, the staff was very friendly so I'm sure they would be more than happy to help a lost child.

  15. These are such great ideas! Nothing scarier than losing kiddos (I don't have any myself yet, but I used to work with them, and field trips always made me nervous!)

  16. We found a small child, maybe four or five years old, wandering around a huge Macy's in DC. We took him to security, (he was on the escalator alone). Scary stuff. It IS important to have a plan in place. I love the temporary tats!

  17. I can't imagine what it would feel like losing a child in such a large place. I love the idea of practicing and the temporary tattoo is perfect.

  18. Yes, great tips and reminders! Definitely something to always be aware of and have a plan for just in case!

  19. Great tips. We are hoping to go to Disneyland soon.

  20. These are awesome tips... Losing a child is my biggest fear!

  21. One of the most terrifying moments of my life happened at disneyland when I thought my 3 yr old son was with my sister and my sister thought he was with me. I was screaming and crying and here came my little boy with my mom.

  22. These are some awesome tips. Thanks for sharing them. I have never been to Disney but I sure this will apply to any place that has a lot of people.

  23. Wow, what a scary thought. I have never had one of my kids wander off, but I have found children who were lost.

  24. Those are all really great tips. We all hold hands so no-one gets left behind. :)

  25. Good info - I always am worried about being separated when at crowded events.

  26. We just got Disney passes so this is SO helpful for me. Thank you for the tips!


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