I believe losing a child at Walt Disney World would be the worst nightmare. Losing any member of my traveling party would be a nightmare. I have been separated from my traveling party before and it did not take long for panic to set in. When I visit the Parks alone, I know I am alone! But when I travel with other Guests, I enjoy that feeling of belonging and if I become separated, it begins to get to me. As silly as that may sound, it is true. So I cannot imagine how a young Guest must feel if they become separated from their traveling party.
Families have many ways of keeping track of one another. Some large groups use the buddy system. Some groups wear like colored clothing. Others use devices some people thin look more like leashes than child friendly tethers. I believe to each his own.
On a recent visit I noticed a small child that appeared separated from their traveling party, my mothering instincts kicked in immediately. The child was beginning to become frightened. I believe he was about 4. He was quite soft spoken but when I asked him his name he replied. I tried to make him feel at ease but knew I was treading on shaky ground because most children are taught no to speak to strangers. I tried to get a little information from him and then looked for the nearest Cast Member. He was reluctant and gripped my hand tightly. But I knew this was the best course. I felt as scared as the child! The Cast Member took charge and soon the family was reunited.
The moral of the story is be prepared. Sounds silly, but label your child! In some inconspicuous place, put your name and contact information on your child, tell the child not to tell anyone unless you are separated. Practice situations with your child, that way your child will be prepared in the event you are separated. Tell your child that Cast Members are their friends, point them out when you are visiting the Parks. Make sure your child can relate pertinent information, like their name and their parent’s name. Choose a meeting place and make sure everyone knows where it is before you arrive at a Park in case you are separated. Just these few things can help alleviate a stressful situation.
And if you become separated? Look around for your child and do not panic. Head to the nearest Cast Member. Once you have located your child hug them first, and then figure out what went wrong….. How did your party become separated? Was the child not paying attention or were you not paying attention? Sometimes accidents just happen. Once you are reunited, correct anything you can but return to sharing the magic as soon as possible!!