It takes only a second, but in a park as crowded as Walt Disney World, you can have your child in your sights one second, only to find him or her gone the next. It’s not easy to fight down the rising panic and approach the situation calmly, but that’s the best course of action if your party gets split up.
Try to keep these things in mind if you lose track of a child on your next vacation.
1. It happens more than you think
Theme parks are bright, colorful, and enticing. It’s easy for a small child to spot something shiny and toddle off while the parent is occupied. This means that Cast Members throughout the parks are extremely familiar with the situation and know how to handle it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one will gasp and proclaim that you’re the most irresponsible parent in the park for losing your child. It can and does happen to all types of families.
2. There is a well-honed system in place
Walt Disney World has a very specific system in place to handle lost parents and lost children.
If a Cast Member finds a lost child:
- They will stay in that spot with the child for 10 minutes.
- The Cast Member will get as much information from the child as possible, such as his or her name and the names of parents.
- If the child isn’t found within ten minutes, the Cast Member will call a manager or coordinator. Children who are under the age of 13 are taken to the Baby Care Center. Children over 13 are taken to Guest Relations.
If a parent approaches a Cast Member about a lost child:
- The Cast Member will instruct the parent to wait with them and remain in the same spot.
- If there are multiple adults in the party, the other adult may roam the area to look for the child.
- The Cast Member will obtain information about the child, including his or her name, age, and description.
- If the child isn’t found within 10 minutes, the Cast Member will alert a manager or coordinator, who will check with Baby Care and Guest Relations for found children, and in turn alert other coordinators, managers, and security as time passes, to create an ever-widening net of people who are looking for the child.
It’s understandable that parents will feel extremely distressed by a lost child, but going into hysterics or berating a Cast Member for not doing so won’t resolve the situation any faster. Try to remain calm, and at the very least remain cooperative. Understand that the system is designed this way because it works.
Any given Cast Member is probably approached about a lost child at least once a month. Rarely does the problem escalate beyond looking around the immediate area for a few minutes. In the first few moments after discovering that a child is missing, one of the Cast Member’s jobs is to keep everyone calm and avoid unnecessary panic. That doesn’t mean that they don’t take you seriously, only that they know how to handle the problem.