Keeping kids safe at Disney

walkingMK

Keeping your kids safe is one of those things you have to think about, but don’t want to when going to Disney. It’s the Happiest Place on Earth, after all. But it is extremely crowded and easy to get separated from your child. Depending on the age of your child, there are several things you can try to keep the kids safe. For older kids, who are going to be allowed to go off on their own for a bit, sometimes just giving them a cell phone, a place and time to meet up, and then a particular spot to go to in case of emergency is all you need. For younger kids, who might not be able to communicate everything they need to, you’ll want to take other measures.

Identification

How do you identify a child who is too young or too upset to tell a CM what your name and phone number is? What you should NOT do is write on the child with a Sharpie or other permanent marker. These are not designed to be used on skin. They contain chemicals that can cause problems.

If you would like a tattoo or something on your child you don’t need to worry about going away any time soon, check out www.safetytat.com. They have a great reputation for creating long-lasting and safe security tattoos for children.

If you’re looking for something that is less expensive, or something that won’t be on the child’s skin, you can go with an ID bracelet, necklace, or tag. You can buy ID bracelets and necklaces online, or you can make your own tags very easily. That’s what we did. Check out any local store that has one of the dog tag vending machines where you can enter your name/address on a dog tag. They have lots of different styles. We picked out a Mike Wazowski eyeball for The Boy’s tag. You can see it attached to the loop on the back of his left shoe in the picture above. We put both our cell phone numbers and our names. Then, I just attached that tag to The Boy’s shoe. We didn’t have to worry about him removing a bracelet or necklace and it was in an easy to spot place. Note: CMs will not search a child’s clothing for their names to be written inside the shirt. IDs for kids need to be in a spot that is easily seen.

Tip: buy one tag for each pair of shoes so you don’t have to swap them back and forth in the morning when your toddler decides at the last minute he wants to wear a different pair.

The Leash/Tether Question

So many people think that parents who use kid tethers are just doing it so they can let their child run around like a maniac. Yes. There are some lazy horrible parents out there. But the majority of parents who use tethers are doing it to keep better track of their kids. Some of us have runners. Some of us are paranoid about being separated from our child in a large crowd. Most kid leash/tethers are only a couple feet long. As you can see from the picture above, we used the tether as a safety net. I still held The Boy’s hand as we were walking, the tether was there just in case he wriggled free and tried to run off through a crowd.

The nice thing about the tether was that if we were in a fairly calm spot and The Boy was tired of me holding his hand, I could let him stand next to me and know he wouldn’t be able to suddenly dart away. It gave both of us a break from sweaty hands and gave him the chance to get a some blood flowing back into his arm. We didn’t do it often, but it was an option that if I didn’t have the tether, I would not have tried at all.

There are different styles you can use. The most popular seems to be the stuffed animal backpack where the parent holds onto the tail. I’d originally bought one of these for The Boy to use and then realized before the trip that was a bad idea. Instead, I bought a Baby Buddy Toddler Tether (cost about $5.60).

Why not go with the stuffed animal backpack?

  1. The backpacks make the child feel like they’re carrying a thick blanket. They are HOT. Too hot for Disney in any month other than dead of winter.
  2. You can’t easily transfer the child to and from the stroller with one of these on. You would have to remove it every time.
  3. Being bulky, it might not be a good idea to keep these on the child during some rides.

With the wrist tether, we could leave it on while hopping in and out of the stroller. If he was going to be in the stroller a while, we could easily slip it off after he was settled and slip it on again later. The backpack takes a bit of time to slide over shoulders and clip around the chest.

Drilling Information

Our son was only 2.5 years old when we went. But we were sure to drill the following information into him, just by repeating it over the course of weeks and asking him to repeat it back.

  • His name, First and Last.
  • Our names, First and Last.

We also made sure to introduce him to a CM as the very first thing we did on entering Magic Kingdom. We showed him that they could be in different outfits. We explained that the CMs were like his teachers at daycare and could help him if he needed them. The CMs were great. They are used to being introduced to children and will be sure to tell the child to always look for someone who has that style name tag above their heart. We made sure to introduce him to a CM who was dressed in the facilities uniform as well as a general CM. That way, he would be familiar with the outfits they wore as well. In a stressful emergency situation, I’m not sure how a 2.5 year old would handle this. But it would be helpful for an older child. And, at least with us introducing him to the CMs, he would be more willing to stay with them as someone who could take care of him than a general stranger.

Dressing alike

I do consider dressing alike to be a way to help keep your kids safe. Not only does it make for coordinated pictures, but it is a quick easy way for people to identify your child as yours. The very first night we got to Orlando, we had planned to have dinner at Ragland Road in Downtown Disney with my sister and her husband, who are locals. Unfortunately, between them getting off work late and all the construction at Downtown Disney, we ended up having to wait for them to arrive a fairly long time.  The Boy was getting pretty antsy. His toddler attention span rapidly degenerated and since we had figured we’d only be going to the restaurant and nothing else, I had left his stroller and tether in the car. At one point, he made a break for it through the large crowd outside the restaurant. Luckily, we were both in matching shirts and within seconds of him running off, a lovely mother up ahead grabbed him and immediately identified me as his mom, commenting on how she saw me with the matching shirt.  It made reuniting with him much faster.

Just keep in mind, it is possible to go overboard with safety plans and concerns at Disney, but taking a few precautions can also help settle some of our worries.

 

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American Egg Rolls

I don’t cook often, but I do enjoy it every once in a while. When I do, I tend to go for odd meals. They don’t always follow the meat and two veggies, plus starch that my mom always made. The other day, I decided to make egg rolls. These are my take on egg rolls. I call them American egg rolls because you can really put anything you want in these. This particular recipe is the Asian inspired flavor for egg rolls. I’ve also done a Mexican inspired flavor for these where I take seasoned ground beef, corn, beans, and a bit of cheese and make a Tex-Mex variation. Play with the ingredients however you wish.

egg rolls

Frying Ingredients:

  • Use a fairly large stainless steel frying pan for these. Don’t use a non-stick pan. At the temperatures you’re going to have your oil at, there is a risk that some of the chemicals in a Teflon covered pan might leach out.
  • Peanut Oil. This is not a healthy dish. Don’t ruin it by trying to make it healthy using some other oil. Go for the stuff they use in the restaurants – it tastes better. (you can find this in the baking aisle of your grocery store)
  • Tongs
  • Paper towel covered cake pan (when removing egg rolls, stand them on end leaning on the sides of the pan to better drain)
  • An apron. Or else wear a shirt you don’t care about, but you will get oil stains on it.

Egg Roll Ingredients:

Tip: I use the TupperWare Chop ‘N Prep Chef chopper to shred the cabbage, carrots and chicken. This is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. Definitely makes shredding the ingredients really easy and quick.

  • Egg Roll wrappers (I buy Nasoya brand, available in the organic section of the regular grocery store)
  • 1 head red cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 cup carrots (shredded)
  • 1 package shredded pre-cooked chicken. (I buy either Perdue Short Cuts or Tyson Grilled and Ready in the 10 oz package, whichever is on sale)

Assembly:

Mix the shredded cabbage and shredded carrots in a bowl.

Tip: You will not be using all the cabbage/carrot mixture. Think about splitting this in half and using the reserved 1/2 to make homemade coleslaw.

Create an assembly line. Put the wraps first, then, the cabbage/carrot mix in a bowl. Next, Put the shredded chicken in another bowl. Get a bowl of WARM water at the end.

Tip: Make sure you keep the water of the assembly process away from your pile of wraps.

Remove one wrap from the pile and lay it in front of you as if it were a diamond shape with the bottom pointing at you. Add a heaping tablespoon full of cabbage/carrot mixture to the middle of the wrap. Add a heaping teaspoon of chicken to the pile. Dip your fingers into the warm water and moisten the bottom edges of the diamond. Take the two side points, and connect them together. Take the bottom point and press into the folds of the side points. You have now created what should look like an open envelope.

LlubNek-Open-Envelope

Lift this up and gently shake to get all the ingredients below the fold. Then, as tightly (and gently) as you can, roll from the bottom and use a bit of water to seal the top of the envelope. Don’t worry if you rip it. One thing you can do, is seal most rips by moistening the tear and squishing them back together. If you have a really bad tear, you can sacrifice one wrapper to become the “tape” to hold others. Just moisten a strip off of a wrapper and plaster it on top of the tear.

Don’t pile assembled egg rolls tightly. They’ll stick together.

Frying:

Fill your frying pan with peanut oil about one inch deep. Try to have a pan large enough that you can fit four to five egg rolls at a time with plenty of room for them to move around. Otherwise, you’ll be frying all night. Heat the oil to the point where a TINY drop of water will fizzle away quickly. Be careful! If you flick too much water in very hot oil, you will hurt yourself. Just drop a bit of water off the tip of your finger to test. If you see smoke on your oil, turn the heat off immediately. Once the oil is hot enough, begin placing your egg rolls. Do this part slowly. Don’t drop them in. You do not want to splash hot oil on yourself.

Watch the first batch very carefully. Turn them over when the fried side looks to be getting close to golden brown. Use your tongs to flip the egg rolls and cook the opposite side.

Tip: if you see a thin side to the egg rolls, cook that side first, that will help cut down on giant bubbles forming that will make them want to not stay flipped over. If you get an egg roll that keeps trying to flip over, hold it with a fork in the position you need for a few seconds until the air has had a chance to move around and the egg roll no longer tries to flip back over.

Once the other half has been fried, use the tongs to remove the egg rolls from the oil. Give it a few seconds above the oil to drain off the oil (turn the egg roll different ways to ensure you’ve gotten most of the oil off) then move to your paper towel covered cake pan. Use the sides of the cake pan so that you can drain the egg rolls by standing them up on end. This helps get most of the oil out.

Egg rolls should be golden brown. Apologies on the picture above, I kept getting interrupted on this batch so they got a bit more done than they normally would be – but they were still delicious.

Tip: Watch the temperature of your oil. If your egg rolls begin cooking too fast, turn the heat down. Don’t leave these unattended. They can burn very quickly.

Serving Suggestions:

We like using hot mustard and soy sauce. You can try sweet and sour sauce as well.

Makes about 25

One last note about the peanut oil. You can re-use this a time or two if you’re going to be frying in the near future (refrigerated biscuits dough make yummy fried donuts). Once you have let the oil cool for a couple hours, you can put it in a container. I suggest taking a large container and using a paper towel to create a sieve. Don’t put the towel on top tightly, let it sag a bit like a bowl so oil can drip through. SLOWLY pour some of the cooled oil into the paper towel sieve. Let that drip down into your container. Seal it tightly and re-use it. If your oil has changed color or overheated, you may not want to do this. Make sure you’re wearing your apron when you do this.