The Holidays at Disneyland are here. That means more crowding. However, for most families crowds are not welcome news. I can help advise you so you do not get stuck waiting in long lines or spend a cent on MaxPass. The negative side of crowds means it is easier for you to lose a child.
I have found several lost children, and I find lost kids during the day when kids are full of energy and want to walk because they are not tired. More on this in a minute. In Summer that means it is busy and hot. I have found children near where the most bottlenecks happen.
A few children I have found in Fantasyland by Gaston's Tavern crying and looking frantic and no one was doing anything. I suspect the crowd swept the child away in Frontierland and the child took Big Thunder Trail. For a little kid that is far.
Disneyland is not that big. The main issue is bottlenecking when Disneyland gets busy. The crowding is worst on narrow pathways. People are shuffling. Sometimes your shoulder to shoulder and if you're wearing a backpack, you can feel the person behind you pressing up against your backpack.
So what can you do? People hate on strollers. Ignore them and just use one. The bottlenecking will happen no matter what. Like I said Disneyland is not that big and when you have a huge crowd who are not one hundred percent focused on getting from point A to point B that slows things down. At least if your child is in a stroller it will be harder to lose them.
People are rude about strollers so ignore the negativity. Any young child who can fit in a stroller up to age 5-6 that can should ride in a stroller if you believe they will wander off.
I baby wore my children or used a stroller until they were 3. Babywearing can make it so much easier to mind your small children and with today's new and ergonomic baby carriers it can be much easier to wear a toddler than to push them in a stroller. So keep that in mind. Alternate between a stroller and a carrier.
When a child is in a carrier or stroller, it is much easier to keep and eye on them. Not using a stroller or have older children? Well please read on.
First before you leave your home or hotel write your first and last name and phone number on the back of your child's arm. Cover that with a liquid bandage. An id bracelet or necklace may fall off or go unnoticed. If your child does not know your name or phone number or cannot give that info because they are too young this solves that problem. Make sure you include your area code. If another mother finds your child her phone may not have the same area code as yours and Disneylands area code is 714 so including the area code is crucial. Don't worry about people seeing the phone number and calling you if your child does not get lost.
Have a plan in case your child gets lost. If your child is 9-12 years old chances are, they may be mature enough to go to a meeting place. I recommend in front of the Castle. You can walk to the Castle from anywhere in the park.
For, smaller children be clear if you get lost do not look for mommy or daddy. Tell them to stay put. Odds are if you backtrack you may find them. Make it clear they are to stay put. Instruct your child not to leave with anyone that does not work at Disneyland. Cast members wear a variety of costumes in the parks so show them what a name badge looks like.
A cast member will wait with your child until security shows up. All lost children go to the Baby Care Center in the park they got lost in. A Cast Member will bring them. The baby care center has books, coloring sheets, and a tv. Chances are they won't even cry when you find them. This experience may be more traumatic for you than them.
I discussed at length here why I dislike matching family shirts. Now if you want to spot your child in a crowd dress them in either a neon color which will also help you find them at night better or put them in a costume. You can find Disney one's cheap used or at Target.
If your child gets lost and saying you're looking for a little boy with brown hair in black shorts and a blue shirt in summer how easy will he be to find? Now lets say Im looking for a little boy dressed as Ironman or Miles from Tomorrowland. Spiderman Costumes are so easy to find for boys and wash well in hotel sinks. Girl's Disney costumes are everywhere new and used. A child in a costume stands out. A costume gets them more attention from cast members too so why not right? Those costumes are a thin cheap poly blend and not hot. You can Disney bound to match your child's costume.
To be honest, you cannot do much to prevent your child from getting lost without obsessing over their every move. With preschool aged and school aged kids emphasize to them that if they are getting separated to shout to you. Yes we tell our kids not to yell but in this case yelling is ok. If a crowd separates you yelling for you may save both of you a lot of grief.
You also need to make it clear to smaller children to stay where they can see you no matter what. I suggest if your child is asking to go do something within reason to do it. If your child wants to meet a character or go on a ride and they keep hearing no, they may want to go off on their own. Indulging them a little will not spoil them for life. A little more spontaneity can add an element of fun you may not have experienced otherwise.
Be certain where the kids are. If your group splits up make sure each child is with a responsible adult.
Other than watching your child every single second and having a plan there is not much you can do. Life happens. You stop to check your map or text your spouse and your child can wander off. I am not trying to scare you. Sometimes we lose sight of our children. It happens.
If you inform your children of what they should do in case they get lost, you should be fine. Most kids that are aware getting lost can happen are more mindful not to get lost. Most babies and toddlers do not wander off because they are being held or pushed. So make sure if your child is 2 or up tell them not to wander off without mommy or daddy and use my tips. Enjoy your trip.
Here are some helpful posts to help prepare for your visit to Disneyland.