Child Safety at Disney World

Child SafetyOne thing that can really freak out parents is the thought of their child getting lost at Walt Disney World. The resort and park complex is enormous and literally covers miles, with woods, hundreds of buildings, and people everywhere, and it is very easy to lose someone in the crowds. Being the parent of a child on the Autism spectrum who isn’t quite verbal yet, child safety is of utmost concern to me – especially since my 4-year-old son thinks it’s hilarious to run away and hide, and if I chase him, he only runs faster. We all know that advance preparation for situations like these is important, but when you factor in the panic that can set in for both kids and parents – especially being many miles from home in a large, noisy place – having a practiced system in place is even more of a priority.

Even though I had my own ideas of how to prepare for a possible separation situation, I asked a group of moms what they do to help get their children returned to them quickly should they become separated at Disney World, and here are their suggestions:

  • Make sure your child knows how to spot a Disney World Cast Member.

Cast Member Name TagThey may not all dress alike, but Disney World Cast Members are easy to spot by their name tags. Teach your child to recognize a few different cast members by looking at pictures on Google. Another good option is to also teach your child to look for another mother with children and to tell whoever they find (mother with kids or Cast Member) that they are lost.

  • Make sure your child knows the real names of the adults in your group.

It will help Disney’s Cast Members find you more quickly if your child can say “Mark Sullivan” instead of “daddy”.

  • Dress in color-coordinated clothing.

Family members are less likely to be separated if they wear matching clothing – it makes groups easier to recognize and also cuts back on people cutting through your group. Matching shirts also allow parents to show Cast Members what their child is wearing, and children wearing matching shirts as the rest of their family are easier to spot in a crowd.

  • Take a picture of your child on your cell-phone each morning.

Sometimes, when an emergency arises, it’s hard to think or remember anything. Taking a picture of your child each morning of your vacation will allow you to show Disney Cast Members exactly what your child looks like that day and what they are wearing, making them easier to find.

  • Have whichever parent is in charge of the kids carry the backpack/bag.

If the parent responsible for the kids carries the bag of necessities, there can be no “I thought you had them!” situations…and these come up, TRUST ME.

  • Have your child wear something with your contact information on it.

In an emergency, kids sometimes forget things like phone numbers. There are tons of options for this – SafetyTat will custom print temporary tattoos, SayItBands makes embossed silicone wristbands (no minimum purchase required), you can write your cell-phone number on the back of special celebration pins that can be requested at Guest Services, you can put stickers inside clothing, you can order custom “dog tags”, or you can even write your phone number on their shoes.

  • Make sure your child knows which resort you are staying in.

Tracking you down will be much faster if your child is able to tell Disney’s Cast Members which resort you are staying in (along with your first and last names).

  • Write your contact information on your child.

Use permanent marker and paint over it with liquid bandage.

  • Tell your child to stay where they are, to find the closest Cast Member, and that you will come and find them.

There is nothing worse than realizing you have been separated from your child for only a few seconds and to turn around and find them gone because they went looking for you in a panic. If your child knows to find the closest Cast Member (they are pretty much EVERYWHERE) to where they were when they realized they were lost, the chances of you finding them quickly and before things escalate are much greater.

Keep in mind…

Disney World has procedures in place for when this happens. They know that NO parent wants to lose their child, but it can happen, and they handle it professionally and quickly.

What does your family do to ensure that your kids are able to be reunited with you quickly?

NEW Download – Disney World Ride Height Requirements

There are many height requirement infographics out there, but none seem to include the rides that have NO height requirement and that everyone in the family can enjoy…so here it is! It really is amazing how much Disney has to offer for our littles!

Height Requirement Infographic

 

Height Requirements PDF

NEW Download – Blank Planning Itinerary

One thing that is VERY handy to have on a family vacation is an easy-to-read itinerary. This blank, fill-in-the-blanks itinerary is great for an at-a-glance schedule to follow, although you may want to also have a more detailed version with routes to take between parks, etc.

itineraryshotBlank Itinerary

As usual, you can fill this out after downloading it, then print it, or you can just print it and fill it in by hand.

 

Dining with Disney Characters

Star Wars Weekends CharactersWe all know a huge part of the Disney World experience is having a meal with our favorite Characters – my family’s must-do Character meals are Chef Mickey’s and the Crystal Palace (both for the breakfast buffets). At these meals, each Character “works the room” and stops at each table so everyone gets to meet them and take pictures and get autographs. In my opinion, this is a fantastic way to meet the Characters, avoid the lines for meet and greets, and save your FastPass+ for other things. The following is a list of all the Character dining available at Disney World along with which Characters you can expect to see…please keep in mind though that Character appearances and entertainment are subject to change without notice.

Insider Tip – When taking pictures during the character meals, be mindful of what is in the background and foreground! A cluttered table isn’t very pleasing to look at, and a window with bright daylight shining through will make the people in your pictures look very dark. 😉

1900 Park Fare

Breakfast          8:00am – 11:50am          Buffet

  • Mary Poppins
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Mad Hatter
  • Tigger
  • Winnie the Pooh

Dinner          4:00pm – 9:00pm          Buffet

  • Cinderella
  • Prince Charming
  • Lady Tremaine
  • Anastasia
  • Drizella

 

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Breakfast          8:00am – 11:10am          Buffet

  • Snow White
  • Cinderella
  • Belle
  • Princess Aurora
  • Ariel
  • Mary Poppins

Lunch          11:55am – 3:30pm          Buffet

  • Snow White
  • Cinderella
  • Belle
  • Princess Aurora
  • Ariel
  • Mary Poppins

Dinner          4:55pm – 8:35pm          Buffet

  • Snow White
  • Cinderella
  • Belle
  • Princess Aurora
  • Ariel
  • Mary Poppins

 

Cape May Cafe

Breakfast          7:30am – 11:00am          Buffet

  • Goofy
  • Donald
  • Minnie Mouse

 

Chef Mickey’s

Breakfast          7:00am – 11:30am          Buffet

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Pluto
  • Donald Duck
  • Goofy

Brunch          11:35am – 2:30pm          Buffet

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Pluto
  • Donald Duck
  • Goofy

Dinner          5:00pm – 9:30pm          Buffet

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Pluto
  • Donald Duck
  • Goofy

 

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Breakfast          8:05am – 10:40am

  • Cinderella
  • Ariel
  • Aurora
  • Snow White
  • Jasmine

Lunch          11:45am – 2:40pm

  • Cinderella
  • Ariel
  • Aurora
  • Snow White
  • Jasmine

Dinner          3:50pm – 11:15pm

  • Cinderella
  • Ariel
  • Aurora
  • Snow White
  • Jasmine

 

Covington Mill (Lake Buena Vista Hilton)

Breakfast          8:30am, 9:30am

  • Minnie Mouse
  • TBA
  • TBA

 

The Crystal Palace

Breakfast          8:00am – 10:45am          Buffet

  • Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Piglet
  • Eeyore
  • Tigger

Lunch          11:30am – 2:45pm          Buffet

  • Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Piglet
  • Eeyore
  • Tigger

Dinner          3:15pm – 10:00pm          Buffet

  • Winnie-the-Pooh
  • Piglet
  • Eeyore
  • Tigger

 

The Garden Grill

Dinner          4:00pm – 8:00pm          Buffet

  • Chip
  • Dale
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Pluto

 

Garden Grove

Dinner          5:00pm – 8:30pm          Buffet

  • Rafiki (Monday and Friday)
  • Timon (Monday and Friday)
  • Goofy (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday)
  • Pluto (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday)

 

Afternoon Tea at Garden View Tea Room

Afternoon Tea          2:00pm – 5:00pm

  • Rose Petal
  • Aurora

 

Good Morning Breakfast with Goofy and His Pals

Breakfast (Thursdays and Saturdays ONLY)         7:30am – 11:00am          Buffet

  • Goofy
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse

 

Hollywood & Vine

Breakfast          8:00am – 10:20am          Buffet

  • Jake
  • Sophia
  • Doc McStuffins
  • Handy Manny

Lunch          11:00am – 2:55pm          Buffet

  • Jake
  • Sophia
  • Doc McStuffins
  • Handy Manny

 

Jedi Mickey’s STAR WARS Dine at Hollywood & Vine

Dinner          4:30pm – 9:00pm          Buffet

  • Jedi Mickey
  • Princess Leia Minnie
  • Darth Vader Goofy
  • Storm Trooper Donald
  • Ewoks Chip ‘n’ Dale

 

Jedi Mickey’s STAR WARS Dine at Hollywood & Vine Fantasmic

Dinner          4:30pm – 7:00pm          Buffet

  • Jedi Mickey
  • Princess Leia Minnie
  • Darth Vader Goofy
  • Storm Trooper Donald
  • Ewoks Chip ‘n’ Dale

 

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ

Dinner          6:30pm          Family Style

  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse
  • Goofy
  • Chip ‘n Dale

 

‘Ohana

Breakfast          7:30am – 11:00am          Buffet

  • Lilo
  • Stitch
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Pluto

 

Shutters (Disney’s Vero Beach Resort)

Breakfast (Saturday ONLY)          7:30am – 11:00am

  • Tropical Donald
  • Tropical Goofy

Dinner (Monday ONLY)          5:00pm – 9:00pm          Family Style

  • Pirate Donald
  • Pirate Goofy

 

Tusker House Restaurant

Breakfast          8:00am – 10:55am          Buffet

  • Safari Donald
  • Safari Daisy
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse or Pluto

Lunch          11:00am – 3:30pm          Buffet

  • Safari Donald
  • Safari Daisy
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse or Pluto

Dinner          4:00pm – 6:30pm          Buffet

  • Safari Donald
  • Safari Daisy
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Minnie Mouse or Pluto

 

Watercress Cafe (Buena Vista Palace)

Breakfast (Sunday ONLY)          3:30am – 11:00am

  • Minnie Mouse
  • Goofy
  • Pluto

 

Wyndham (Lake Buena Vista)

Breakfast (Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday ONLY)          7:30am – 10:30am

  • Goofy
  • Pluto

 

Make sure you take plenty of pictures, or you may miss out on moments like this…

Kyle's First Character Interaction
Kyle’s First Character Interaction

How the Disney Dining Plan Works

Disney Dining PlanNow that the Disney Dining Plan updates are in place I thought I’d give you the run-down on how the different plans work. Although we love getting a dining plan for our trip, I understand that some people are really against it (and boy have I seen some heated discussions!), so I’m going to be as objective as possible with this.

There are 5 levels of Dining Plans (I know, some people think there are only 3, but there are indeed 5): Quick Service Dining, Disney Dining, Deluxe DiningPlatinum Dining and Pemium Dining. Before you select one of the higher-level plans, please make sure you compare the extras for each…they do differ from plan to plan. There is also a section below about the Snack options (click here).

Here are the rules…

  • The only requirement is staying in a Disney Resort that is on Disney property.
  • Must be purchased for the duration of your stay.
  • Must be purchased for everyone in your party who is 3 years of age or older. (Children under 3 may eat off of an adult’s plate or you can pay out-of-pocket for their meals.)
  • You may convert 1 Table Service or 1 Quick Service credit to 3 snack credits at select locations (see below), but only if all 3 snacks are purchased at once.
  • Trading Snack credits for meal credits is still not permitted.
  • Meal credits expire on midnight of the day you check-out of your resort.
  • Gratuity is NOT included on the Dining Plans. For parties of 6 or more, 18% gratuity is automatically added.

Below is a breakdown of what each includes (minus the long lists of extras…those are on the linked pages for each type of Dining Plan).

Quick Service Dining Plan

For each night of your vacation at a Disney Resort, each person in your party ages 3 and up receives:

  • 2 Quick Service Meals
  • 1 Snack
  • 1 Resort-refillable mug good for the duration of your stay.

Breakfast includes:

1 entree or 1 complete combo meal, and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage.

Lunch and Dinner includes:

1 entree or 1 complete combo meal, 1 dessert, and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage.

Snacks

Available throughout the resorts and parks and are marked with the DDP logo. Disney Dining Plan Icon

Quick Service Specific Rules

  • Guests may substitute any dessert or non-alcoholic beverage with any eligible snack, provided it’s within the same transaction.
  • Child and Adult Quick Service credits are now interchangeable.

 

Disney Dining Plan

For each night of your vacation at a Disney Resort, each person in your party ages 3 and up receives:

  • 1 Quick Service Meal
  • 1 Table Service Meal
  • 1 Snack
  • 1 Resort-refillable mug good for the duration of your stay.

1 Table Service Meal includes:

1 entree, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only), and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

OR 1 full buffet

1 Quick Service Meal includes:

1 entree or 1 complete combo meal, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only), and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage.

Snacks

Available throughout the resorts and parks and are marked with the DDP logo. Disney Dining Plan Icon

Special Dining Experiences

Your Disney Dining Plan allows your party to enjoy special dining experiences – see the exchanges below:

  • 1 Table-Service Meal

1 Character Dining Meal (except meals at Cinderella’s Royal Table)

  • 2 Table-Service Meals

1 Signature Dining Experience

OR 1 Character Dining Experience at Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom

OR Private In-Room Dining at select Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts

OR 1 Disney Dinner Show (category 2 or 3 seating only, subject to availability)

OR 1 Pizza Delivery to your room at select Moderate and Value Resorts (2 credits for each pizza.)

OR 1 Candlelight Dinner Package (2 credits per person)

  • 4 Table-Service Meals

1 Pizza Service at select Deluxe Resorts (includes one 16″ pizza, 2 beverages, 2 appetizers and 2 desserts delivered to your room)

Table Service Specific Rules

  • You may now choose a side salad, soup or fruit plate instead of dessert.
  • You may use meal credits to purchase meals for someone who is not included on your dining plan.

 

Deluxe Dining Plan

For each night of your vacation at a Disney Resort, each person in your party ages 3 and up receives:

  • 3 Meals – choose either Table Service or Quick Service for each meal.
  • 2 Snacks
  • 1 Resort-refillable mug good for the duration of your stay.

1 Table Service Meal includes:

1 appetizer (lunch and dinner only), 1 entree, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only), and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

OR 1 full buffet

1 Quick Service Meal includes:

1 entree or 1 complete combo meal, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only), and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage.

Snacks

Available throughout the resorts and parks and are marked with the DDP logo. Disney Dining Plan Icon

Special Dining Experiences

Your Disney Dining Plan allows your party to enjoy special dining experiences – see the exchanges below:

  • 1 Table-Service Meal

1 Character Dining Meal (except meals at Cinderella’s Royal Table)

  • 2 Table-Service Meals

1 Signature Dining Experience

OR 1 Character Dining Experience at Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom

OR Private In-Room Dining at select Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts

OR 1 Disney Dinner Show (category 2 or 3 seating only, subject to availability)

OR 1 Pizza Delivery to your room at select Moderate and Value Resorts (2 credits for each pizza.)

OR 1 Candlelight Dinner Package (2 credits per person)

  • 4 Table-Service Meals

1 Pizza Service at select Deluxe Resorts (includes one 16″ pizza, 2 beverages, 2 appetizers and 2 desserts delivered to your room)

Table Service Specific Rules

  • You may now choose a side salad, soup or fruit plate instead of dessert.
  • You may use meal credits to purchase meals for someone who is not included on your dining plan.
  • You may mix adult and child credits (children can order from adult menu and vice versa).

 

Platinum Dining Plan

For each night of your vacation at a Disney Resort, each person in your party ages 3 and up receives:

  • 3 Meals – choose either Table Service or Quick Service for each meal.
  • 2 Snacks
  • 1 Resort-refillable mug good for the duration of your stay.

1 Table Service Meal includes:

1 appetizer (lunch and dinner only), 1 entree, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only), and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

OR 1 full buffet

1 Quick Service Meal includes:

1 entree or 1 complete combo meal, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only), and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage.

Snacks

Available throughout the resorts and parks and are marked with the DDP logo. Disney Dining Plan Icon

Special Dining Experiences

Your Disney Dining Plan allows your party to enjoy special dining experiences – see the exchanges below:

Character Dining Experiences

OR Signature Dining Experiences (excluding Victoria & Albert’s)

OR Private In-Room Dining at select Disney Deluxe Resorts and Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts

OR Disney Dinner Shows

OR Candlelight Dinner Package

Table Service Specific Rules

  • You may now choose a side salad, soup or fruit plate instead of dessert.
  • You may use meal credits to purchase meals for someone who is not included on your dining plan.
  • You may mix adult and child credits (children can order from adult menu and vice versa).

 

Premium Dining Plan

For each night of your vacation at a Disney Resort, each person in your party ages 3 and up receives:

  • 3 Meals – choose either Table Service or Quick Service for each meal.
  • 2 Snacks
  • 1 Resort-refillable mug good for the duration of your stay.

1 Table Service Meal includes:

1 appetizer (lunch and dinner only), 1 entree, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only), and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

OR 1 full buffet

1 Quick Service Meal includes:

1 entree or 1 complete combo meal, 1 dessert (lunch and dinner only), and 1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage.

Snacks

Available throughout the resorts and parks and are marked with the DDP logo. Disney Dining Plan Icon

Special Dining Experiences

Your Disney Dining Plan allows your party to enjoy special dining experiences – see the exchanges below:

Character Dining Experiences

OR Signature Dining Experiences (excluding Victoria & Albert’s)

OR Private In-Room Dining at select Disney Deluxe Resorts and Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts

OR Disney Dinner Shows

OR Candlelight Dinner Package

Table Service Specific Rules

  • You may now choose a side salad, soup or fruit plate instead of dessert.
  • You may use meal credits to purchase meals for someone who is not included on your dining plan.
  • You may mix adult and child credits (children can order from adult menu and vice versa).

 

Snacks

  • Snacks are designated by the DDP logo on all menus.Disney Dining Plan Icon
  • Pre-bagged popcorn of any kind is no longer a snack option on the Dining Plan.
  • The following items are now included as snack credit options:
    • All single-serve non-alcoholic beverages that are not in a souvenir container (single serve is equal to or less than one liter and excluding beverages sold at recreation counters)
    • All ice cream novelties
    • All soups served in Quick Service locations
    • All items that were considered snacks, but had an additional option at a separate price, such as toppings, sauces, etc. (think funnel cake with ice cream or pretzel with cheese)
    • All hand-scooped ice cream offerings, including sundaes that do not exceed two (2) scoops and are not served in souvenir container
    • All items on Quick Service menus listed under the Sides
    • Quick Service restaurant breakfast items that can be considered part of an entree and also offered as a side (For example, if you want orange juice, a side of bacon and a side of eggs, you can use either 1 Quick Service credit or 3 snack credits.) This includes:
      • Cereal with milk
      • French toast sticks
      • Oatmeal or quinoa
      • Grits
      • Side of bacon
      • Side of sausage
      • Side of eggs
      • Side of potatoes
      • Biscuits and gravy
      • Hard-boiled eggs

 

Resort locations allowing meal credit conversion beginning May 31, 2015:

  • Artist’s Palette
  • BayView Gifts
  • Beach Club Market Place
  • Calypso Trading Co.
  • Conch Flat
  • Donald’s Double Feature
  • Dundy’s Sundries
  • Everything Pop
  • Fittings and Fairings
  • Fulton’s General Store
  • Ink and Paint
  • Jackson Square
  • Johari Treasures
  • M. Mouse Mercantile
  • Maestro Mickey
  • Moana Mercantile
  • On the Boardwalk
  • Panchito’s Gifts and Sundries
  • Sandy Cove
  • Seashore Sweets
  • Settlement Trading Post
  • Sport Goofy Gifts and sundries
  • Wilderness Mercantile
  • Zawadi Marketplace

Park locations allowing meal credit conversion beginning May 31, 2015:

  • Big Top Souvenir (Magic Kingdom)
  • Confectionary (Magic Kingdom)
  • Prairie Outpost (Magic Kingdom)
  • Karamell-Küche (Epcot)
  • Beverly Sunset(Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
  • Writer’s Stop (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
  • Mombasa Marketplace (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)
  • Candy Cauldron (Downtown Disney)
  • Goofy’s Candy Co. (Downtown Disney)