It's every parent's worst nightmare - they are walking around a theme park when they look down and realize that their child is missing. We have already wrote about what Disney Cast Members and other theme park employees do during lost child situations, but it is also important to make sure guests and their children are just as prepared.
1. Getting ready for your Walt Disney World adventure
Even before you get to the parks, it's important to talk to children about basic safety practices. For example, remind children to never run away in a busy or crowded place. This is a good lesson not only for the theme parks, but for other places you take kids on a daily basis, like grocery and department stores. Although this lesson may be hard to understand if a child is young, reminding them to stay nearby on a daily basis will definitely help.
It's also a good idea to teach children easy, but important information they may need to know in case they do get lost. This could be things like their parent's names, their phone numbers, and their address. Make a game out of it and see if how long it takes to learn all the information. This could become very important if they do get lost and need to tell a employee or security guard information about themselves and how to contact their parents or guardians.
2. Stay in one spot
If a child is lost, their first instinct might be to run in the direction they think their parents may have gone. However, this can actually make things worse. If a child starts walking around looking for their parents, and the parents walk around looking for their kids, there is a good chance they will be walking in circles around each other! Worse, if they are unfamiliar with the park each person could wander into a totally different area, further away from each other.
All theme parks train employees to stay in one location with a child for this reason. Usually, parents only need to take a few steps backwards to find their child. That is why the best thing a child can do when they first realize they are alone is to just stay put. Not only will it prevent them from going in the wrong direction, it will make it easier for a parent to find them.
3. Look for the smiling Cast Members
As parents walk into a theme park, it might be a good idea to show children what the Cast Members or employees name tags look like. As they are walking around, they may also want to point out all the employees they see, to show the children how many there are. Perhaps even strike up a conversation with a Cast Member if you have some free time - it will show the children how nice and friendly they can be, that way if they wander away, they won't feel uncomfortable asking for help.