Monday, November 21, 2011

Hints for Traveling with Kids- Part I Safety

Believe it or not some people actually do visit Disney without children, but since most people visiting for the first time will include at least one child, it's a good idea to be prepared!

A trip to Walt Disney World with your kids is not quite as simple as a trip to your county fair.  Some forethought and careful packing can make your trip that much more enjoyable.


Since Disney Cast Members are taught that safety should be the most important thing in their mind at all times when "on stage" at the resort, I think it deserves to be first when it comes to my Disney advice.

Disney is really very safe for children.  Lets face it, if you're going to lose your kid in a crowded public place, Disney is probably the safest place to do so.  Disney Cast Members are trained to look for lost kids, and what to do if one is found. I have even heard stories of undercover Disney security staff that pose as tourists that are there for safety and may lend help in a lost child situation. That said, it's a good idea to have a few safe guards in place, should this happen to you.

Safety Badges:
My kids each wear a "safety badge" on their person in case they get separated from us.  Now, if I ask my 6 year old his name, and my cell phone number, he will gladly tell me.  But if he were to suddenly find himself separated from me at Walt Disney World, was scared, and these same questions were coming from a stranger, I'm not entirely sure he would be able to answer.  I also worry that should there be a major accident or separation from my youngest son, would emergency personnel know he is allergic to certain antibiotics.  So, his safety badge also contains his allergy information, while my other two sons' say "NKA", medical talk for "No Known Allergies". Can you tell their mother is a nurse?

My boys, in their "Disney Uniform" with" Safety Badges"
My sons' badges are actually (shhh don't tell them) pet tags.  I got them at Pet Tags 4 Less.  Each boy chose their favorite, in their choice of color. We have a green smiley face, a blue soccer ball, and a gold star.  I even bought a purple crown tag to put on our cooler bag in case I misplaced it.  You could get more to put on your stroller or camera bag, etc... Single sided engraving is only around $2.50, and shipping is free in the US.  I then bought ball chain necklaces for my sons to wear theirs like "dog tags".  You could also loop them through belt loops or sneaker laces.  Mine just have the child's name, my and my husband's cell numbers, and allergy information.  We use these badges now for each trip, or anywhere we go that might necessitate them, such as flying to grandma's for Thanksgiving, etc...

Check out My Precious Kid that sells "dog tags" on a clip.

You can also get them made at your local PetSmart or PetCo.

Make  your own tags out of paper, decorate with Disney stickers, and laminate them to stay dry.

Order  temporary safety tattoos. How cool is that? Safety Tattoos

Or check out these neat wristbands: Kid ID Bracelets

You can use whatever you like, but just don't rely on a younger child to be able to think coherently and remember your cell number when they are frightened.  Also, don't write the information on the inside of your child's clothing. Disney Cast Members are not allowed to remove or look under your child's clothing for obvious safety reasons for both your child and the Cast Member.

Know What Your Child is Wearing
It will be much easier to describe your child to a Cast Member if you remember what they are wearing.  You can do this in several ways.

The easiest thing to do is to take a picture of your kid with your cell phone each morning.  That way you can show the cast member a photo of the child that day, and get an accurate clothing description.

Thankfully, we didn't lose Grumpy
A bit more work, but a lot more fun, have a daily kid "uniform".  We dress our three sons the same on each day of our trip.  You can order personalized Disney tees online, get matching shirts from the Disney Store, get basic matching shirts on sale from Michael's Craft Stores in bright easy to see colors, or check out Jiffy Shirts online and order a few for your kids. Bright designs are easier to spot in a crowd, and you can point to your other child and say, "Little Johnny is dressed just like that"!  For one of our trips where we were with friends and a total of 8 kids, we bought lime green shirts from Michael's and did an iron on of each dwarf plus Snow White.  When we thought we lost one of the children, (really he was just with his mom and we had all gotten separated in a rain storm), we were able to say to the cast member, "he is wearing a shirt just like those, with 'Grumpy' on the front".

When our then 2 year old walked out the exit of Dinoland's "Boneyard" playground, a passerby swooped him up and brought him back in.  She took one look at me in my matching shirt (and probably panic stricken look on my face) and said "This must belong to you"! While I'm not saying you have to match your kids uniforms, you can if you like, and it does make staying together a bit easier.

Make Sure Your Child Knows What to Do if Lost (And You Too)


Mom and dad, you should remember this too!  If you realize your child is missing, try not to panic.  Find the nearest Cast Member (remember that badge right?) and ask for help.  You have never done this before, they do this every day. A friend who did lose her child at Disney told me how she forgot my advice, went into panic mode, and began running down the street calling her child's name.  Out of nowhere, a Cast Member grabbed her arm and said "Ma'am, its okay, we will find your child". In fact, Disney had found her lost child before she had even realized the little one had gotten out of the stroller and wandered off, lured by the sparkling beauty of a Disney Pin kiosk.  Remember, keep calm. Find help.  

Be Prepared in Case of Medical Issues

Be sure to have your medical insurance card with you on the trip.  Bring extras, or copies of any essential prescriptions your child may need. While its probably not the end of the world if they lose their seasonal allergy medication, an asthmatic child who loses their rescue inhaler on Space Mountain should probably have it replaced. 

Each Park has a first aid station staffed by Registered Nurses, and should you have any medical problems at all, you should ask Disney for help and advice before trying to handle it yourself.  Rather than going back to your room and scanning the phone book for local hospitals, ask Disney would they recommend.  You are not the first person to need medical attention while on vacation at Disney World, and it may take you an hour to figure out where the closest place to go is, and how to get there, while a Disney Cast Member could have helped you answer that same question in less than 2 minutes.  They can also call you a reliable cab quickly if transportation is needed.
You can have prescriptions filled, and get over the counter medical supplies from Turner Drugs. They will even deliver to your Disney resort for a small fee. Turner also has a list of medical providers including walk-in clinics and doctors who will come to your resort as a concierge doctor as seen on USA Network's "Royal Pains".

Know that at Disney World, Safety is #1

Safety is the most important thing to Disney Cast Members, and because of this you should be prepared that they will ask your children not to run, climb on things, or sit or stand on things they shouldn't. On a trip last year, my mother rolled her eyes at me when I would not let my sons sit on the hand rails at the "Oh, Canada!" circle 360 movie.  Other kids were doing it.  As soon as the Cast Member started her talk, she immediately asked those kids to get down.

Those white tape lines they put on the ground for parades are there for a reason, so don't get huffy when they ask you to follow the rules. I once stood next to a family who was upset that Disney was not allowing them to stand  where they wanted, because it was the crosswalk for the parade.  They kept going on about "They're so uptight and stick to the stupid rules, this place is no fun", let me tell you what's not fun, your kid getting run over by a group of people crossing the street through the crosswalk when she is where she shouldn't be.  So don't take it personally, the reason Disney is such a safe place to vacation is because they enforce the rules.  Play safe and have fun!

This is Part I of what will be a static page under "Basic Planning Advice for Beginners", but I will be loading it a small part at at time, and posting it as a blog post in segments.

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