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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.