The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida may be one of the safest places on earth. Security guards check bags for weapons and explosives as you enter each park, and uniformed security guards as well as discreetly mounted cameras and plain-clothes guards keep an eye on things even when guests aren’t aware.
Many parents feel so comfortable with the safety of Walt Disney World that they are willing to allow their children to explore on their own. In many cases, that makes a lot of sense.
All that said, however, Disney World still exists as part of our real world. Sadly, there are bad folks out there who wish to do harm to children.
While it is most likely that any vacation to Disney World will be both safe and fun, it is still a good idea to defend against the worst possibilities.
Let’s take a look at 11 ways you can help to keep your kids safe during a vacation to Disney World.
1 – Teach Them to Find a Cast Member
One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is how to identify a Disney Cast member. These Cast Members are typically dressed in a costume that matches the area where they are working, or they wear business attire. Folks like that usually stand out from the crowd filled with tourists wearing shorts and T-shirts. The key thing to look for is the Cast Member’s name tag. Every cast member working at Walt Disney World, except for a very few who are performing as actors and actresses in a show, wear an oval name tag. Teach your children how to spot people who wear that name tag.
2 – Teach Them to Be Aware
While a vacation to Disney World gives everyone a chance to escape from the realities of life, it is still important to be aware of our environment and the people in it. Be on the lookout for isolated areas (yes, there can occasionally be a few) as well as strangers who seem to be hanging around just a bit too much.
3 – Teach Them that Adults Don’t Ask for Help
Let your kids know that no adult will ask them for help. Many predators attempt to form a quick bond with a child by asking them for assistance. They might ask for help in picking out a toy or learning how to use their phone. This should be a red flag. Adults simply don’t ask kids for help.
4 – Teach Them When Not To Be Polite
While parents often spend much of their time teaching their children how to be polite, it’s also important to explain that there are rare occasions when kids should not be polite. Specifically, if an adult is trying to take them away, it’s the time to scream and kick. Also, if the child is approached by an adult who is making them feel uncomfortable, it is time to get away even if that means kicking, biting, and yelling.
5 – Wear Brightly Colored Shirts
The first line of defense and protecting your children is keeping them with you. Many families like to wear matching, brightly-colored shirts to allow them to keep an eye on everyone. Those neon yellow, green, or orange shirts not only make a bold fashion statement but also help you keep an eye on your kids.
6 – Take Their Photo
Each morning before you head out for the day, take a few minutes to take several photographs of each of your children. Use your cell phone or camera to get several good angles so that you can see both their face and the clothes they are wearing. In the event that you do get separated from your kids, having these photos that show exactly how they look and what they were wearing that day can be very valuable in the search process.
In an effort to not frighten your children, tell them that you are just taking some fun pictures rather than “mug shots.”
7 – Have Them Memorize Your Phone Number
If your kids are old enough to speak and understand numbers, they are old enough to memorize your phone number. Make sure they memorize and can recite your cell phone number as well as your work phone number. If they become lost, they can tell a Disney Cast Member how to get in touch with you.
If your child has their own cell phone, program your number in their phone as an “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) Contact. If they do forget the number, they can pull out their cell-phone.
8 – Use Temporary Tags
While you should usually avoid putting a child’s first name or last name on the clothing, which can allow a predator to form a sense of trust or bonding with your child by using his or her name, it is a good idea to put the child’s name inside their clothing. If they become separated, they can tell a Cast Member to look at this tag with their information and your information as well.
9 – Assign an Adult
If you are traveling in a larger group, assign a responsible adult to watch one or more specific children for the day. This divide and conquer technique can help you make sure each child has someone watching out for them.
10 – Rent a Stroller
While there is often great debate among Disney fans about whether or not to use a stroller in the parks, having your child sit in a stroller is one way to keep control of them as you navigate the huge crowds that sometimes overwhelm the Disney parks.
11 – Set an Emergency Code Word
Be sure to establish an emergency code word with your child. Only you and your child will know this word. Here is how it works. Let’s say a stranger approaches your child. The stranger says the child’s mom told him to pick the child up. Tell your child to ask the stranger for the emergency code word you have established in advance. When the child sees that the stranger does not know the emergency code word, they know the stranger is up to no good and should do everything they can to get away.
Have Fun, Be Safe
In all likelihood, your vacation to Walt Disney World will be fun and safe. You will build memories as a family that will last a lifetime. However, it’s good to remember that no place in our world today is completely safe. A bit of preparation before your vacation can help you be sure to have fun with greater peace of mind.
Do you feel your kids are safe when visiting Walt Disney World?