Have you been planning a visit to the parks with little ones in tow? If you’re wondering “how many kids go missing at Disney World” and are worried, keep reading for everything you need to know. I promise – it’s still a very safe place to visit!
Any parent’s nightmare is having their kids walking next to them one minute and completely gone the next.
Honestly, it’s enough to send your mind to the most catastrophic places – even at the Happiest Place on Earth.
Although it’s not nice to think about it, kids do occasionally go missing at Disney World each year.
But before you start panicking, they’re always tracked down and returned to their worried families quickly!
If you’re worrying about how many kids go missing at Disney World and want to set your mind at ease, stick with me.
Not only will I cover the facts and figures you need to know, but I’ll share a few top tips that’ll keep those kiddos safe!
After all, visiting Disney World with toddlers, pre-teens, or teens can be a challenge at times.
So, don’t make it any trickier than it needs to be by losing track of those your nearest and dearest!
How Many Kids Go Missing at Disney World?
Okay, so there’s currently no exact figure for the number of children that go missing at Disney World.
And that’s partially because it’s not a heavily reported topic in general. But it’s also because Disney doesn’t make these figures public (for obvious reasons!).
There was a report by both the University of Central Florida and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that revealed a few figures.
The former study had the number of missing kids reported at around 100 a year, while the NCMEC put the figure at around 2,000.
Just be aware that the second figure is for AMUSEMENT PARKS IN GENERAL. So, that includes Disney World, Disneyland, and virtually every other park.
When you take that into account, I’d say that the 100-ish figure is rather accurate.
But don’t panic if that number still looks big.
Almost all of these missing children are found extremely quickly and returned to their parents.
And there’s only one nasty reported story in the history of the parks that relates to a kidnapping of a youngster who was pulled into a restroom.
Although the kid was initially snatched, the kidnapping was very quickly stopped by Cast Members and his parents.
They spotted their child being taken on the park’s incredible security cameras (which are everywhere, BTW!).
So, he was found safe (though a bit shaken) quickly and was probably rewarded with ample hugs, kisses, and snacks.
Is Disney World Safe?
It’s never pleasant to read about anything happening to kids anywhere in the world, let alone at Disney World.
But despite the 100 or so incidents involving kids going missing at the parks each year, the parks are undeniably safe.
And most of the time, kids only go missing as they’ve gotten overexcited and wandered off. It’s rarely (if ever!) anything remotely sinister.
To back this up, you just need to look at a famous story from the Huffington Post where a woman’s son got out of his stroller.
Apparently, he wasn’t quite strapped in tightly enough and managed to wiggle out of his stroller and scurry away.
While they were looking for him, park authorities were alerted and immediately started searching.
It’s important to note that the Cast Members asked for a photo of what their son was wearing that day.
This gave the Cast Members all the information they’d need to lock down the gates and keep an eye out for the child.
It was super proactive as the protocol is designed to prevent kidnappings or kids escaping from the parks alone.
Why Do Kids Go Missing at Disney World?
The main reason kids go missing at Disney World is just down to curiosity.
Kids are natural explorers, and they’ll see all this color and excitement and want to go and find more of it!
If you’re visiting Disney World with toddlers or young children, they’re even more likely to run off because they’re excited.
As kids are small and crowds are large, it’s easy to see why kiddos can get caught up in the madness and lost.
It’s worth mentioning that kids don’t like feeling lost (obviously!) and will quickly try to find you.
But when you throw in the sea of other guests and the height differences between them, it’s tricky to find parents again!
Kids don’t often go missing in ride queues as there’s limited space to move around.
But they can go missing while you’re moving between attractions or heading to the bathrooms (unless they’re with you).
What Happens When Kids Go Missing at Disney World?
There is a protocol for missing kids at Disney World that is instantly activated when a parent alerts a Cast Member.
The park has several safety measures in place like CCTV and uniformed officers at the park exits.
But there are a few other hidden security features at the park that Disney doesn’t share to try and foil anyone with cruel intentions.
If a Cast Member comes across a lost child, they’ll immediately try and get parent information or other relevant details.
This usually includes (but isn’t limited to!):
- Parents names
- Child’s name
- Where they came from/last were in the parks
- Parent contact numbers (if known)
- Any identifying details about their parents
- Where they last saw their parents or the last ride they were on before getting lost
Once the Cast Members have gathered as much information as possible, they will go back to the last place the child remembers.
They will also alert the Central Communication Center with a description of the child so every Cast Member is aware.
If the parents are there, they will be asked to confirm their identities and the child will be released.
If they aren’t there, kids will go to the nearest Baby Care Center and are held there until the parents are located.
Should your kiddo be over 11, they’ll be taken to the Chamber of Commerce to wait for a parent.
A quick tip – DON’T MOVE!
If you’re a parent – DON’T MOVE IN AN ATTEMPT TO FIND YOUR CHILD.
I know how tempting it is.
But Cast Members will try and reunite parent and child by going to the last place the child remembers.
If you’ve moved, this will make everyone’s job much harder. So, just alert the nearest Cast Member and stay put.
Try not to worry too much about your kiddo and how they’re feeling either. Cast Members are trained to keep the lost children calm with fun questions that’ll distract them.
Tips For Keeping Kids Safe at Disney
Take photos of your kiddos
Taking photos of your child at the beginning of each day is probably the most important and useful thing you can do.
It will give Cast Members an exact picture of what your child is wearing and any physical characteristics.
Try and take the photo as a full-length image in bright lighting for the best results.
To make things even clearer, get a few shots of their face and any accessories they’re wearing.
It’s also worth grabbing a group shot of your party to make it easy to show that the child is part of your clan!
To make sure your phone never runs out of juice, I also recommend packing a power bank just in case!
Dress them well
Okay, being well-dressed is obviously a matter of taste.
But in this particular scenario, I mean dress them in super bright and obvious clothing that will help them stand out.
Whether that’s a neon top, a themed dress, a bold hat, or custom ears, being able to describe something distinctive will help.
Not only will this help you keep an eye on your kiddos but Cast Members will be super grateful for the obvious clothing.
Give them a GPS tracker
Many children’s watches actually have GPS built into them, but you can also let older children use cell phones or other devices.
Another excellent option is an Apple AirTag which can be slipped into their pocket, put on a necklace, or placed virtually anywhere else.
The tracking device is designed to find personal objects and you can load the tag onto your phone for easy tracking.
And believe it or not, the range is IMPRESSIVE – seriously, these tags are often used to track luggage around the world!
Have entertainment on-hand
If your kid struggles with queuing, bringing their favorite iPad games, toys, or plushies to the park can help quell boredom.
It should keep them occupied and comfortable in the stroller and will give them something to keep their minds busy.
Kids usually wander off when they’re bored – so, just try and keep them engaged in any way you can.
Put a band on them with identifiable information
One of the best ways to prevent your kid from going missing at Disney World is to give them an armband with important details.
Your child’s name and age are a good start, but you should also put an adult’s contact number on it.
If your child is found, a Cast Member can then instantly call you and skip tons of other steps!
Don’t have an armband? Put a small slip of paper or a card inside their clothes (or pin it to them)!
Make sure they know about safe people they can speak to
If your kid gets lost, they’ll probably be quickly seen by other guests and some may try to talk to them.
This isn’t necessarily the end of the world as most people visiting Disney are just there on vacation.
But it’s way better to train your kids to go straight to a Cast Member if they get lost.
So, on your first day, run your child through what their uniforms look like (point them out!) and tell them they’re safe.
If your kiddo is even slightly confused, tell them that they should look for distinctive name tags and an obvious uniform.
It’s worth telling them that uniforms will vary based on parks and attractions so they’re not confused.
Head to Baby Care Centers
Although I really recommend that you stay put, you can head to the nearest Baby Care Center to check for your child.
This is where kids are automatically taken when they’re lost if parents aren’t found in a nearby area.
Again, try and stay put.
But head here if you absolutely can’t resist.
Just so you’re aware, you’ll find the Disney World Baby Centers here:
The Baby Care Center at the Magic Kingdom is right on the left-hand side of Main Street. It’s relatively close to Cinderella’s Castle and Casey’s Corner. If you’re remotely unsure, this photo should help you out!
EPCOT’s Baby Care Center is tucked inside the Odyssey Center and is relatively obvious.
Hollywood Studios has a Baby Care Center that’s virtually right at the park gates as you enter the turnstiles.
Animal Kingdom’s Baby Care Center is near the Creature Comforts building.
Can a kid be kidnapped at Disney?
In theory, a kid can be kidnapped at Disney. But it’s extremely unlikely and will almost certainly be foiled by security. So far, there hasn’t been a single kidnapping at Disney that’s been successful. A few people have tried (unfortunately), but they’ve never managed it as the park security is THAT good.
What is Disney’s darkest secret?
It’s hard to say what Disney’s darkest secret is, but did you know that Walt Disney was an informant for the FBI? It’s also said that many people try to scatter the ashes of their loved ones at Disney, but people rarely get away with it.
Where do lost kids go at Disney?
Lost kids are first taken to the last place they saw their parents. Then, they’ll be taken to the nearest Baby Care Center.
I hope that this article has helped you answer the question “how many kids go missing at Disney World?”.
Are you surprised about how many kids go missing at Disney World? Do you have any tips on keeping kids safe at the parks? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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