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?

Multiple Closings Rumored at Walt Disney World

Construction FencesFences like these have become a familiar site in a couple of Disney World’s parks as of late, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ upcoming name change is far from the only thing going on at Disney World…there are many upcoming closures and rumored closures that have some guests up in arms.

Here’s a list of what has already closed…

  • The Studio Backlot Tour
  • The American Idol Experience
  • The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
  • Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post
  • The Sorcerer Hat Shop (combined with the removal of the Sorcerer’s Hat)

Officially confirmed changes…

  • 3rd Track for Toy Story Mania
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-A-Long Celebration will be relocated to the former American Idol Experience Theater
  • New name for Hollywood Studios

And, as usual, the rumor mill has been quite busily grinding away with many rumors surrounding changes and closures that are coming soon to Hollywood Studios…

  • Closure of DisneyQuest in 2016
  • Closure of The Magic of Disney Animation (click here for details)
  • Pixar Place expansion
  • Star Wars expansion
  • A new “flex theater” between Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror
  • A Toy Story Playland, to be part of the Pixar Place expansion
  • A re-themed version of Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (at Disney California Adventure)
  • Replacement of The Great Movie Ride (around 2020-2021)
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Play Area re-theming to A Bug’s Life
  • Closure of Studio Catering Company; Studio Prop Shop; High Octane Refreshments; Light, Motors, Action!; and the Monsters, Inc. Meet & Greet
  • Possible name change and inspiration of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
  • Relocation of the Block Party Bash parade from Disney California Adventure to Hollywood Studios
  • Upgrades to or replacement of Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage (possibly with a Tangled show)
  • Replacement of Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Closure or relocation of One Man’s Dream – last day of operation around July 18th

Keep in mind that most of this is just speculation, and that we can all discuss what we do and don’t like about these rumors, but they are just that – rumors (at least until confirmed by an official Disney source). I will be sure to post updates as they become available – especially because I will be very disheartened if One Man’s Dream just goes away.

Pressed Pennies at Walt Disney World – with List of Locations for Download

Pressed Pennies at Walt Disney World

 

One thing anyone who has ever been to Walt Disney World knows is that souvenirs can be darned expensive. But, there are some souvenirs that are not only very reasonably priced, they also add to the fun Disney experience – pressed coins!

Walt Disney World Pressed Coin MachineThroughout Disney World’s parks and resorts are pressed coin machines – to the tune of over 500 available designs on Disney property! (There are 6 designs that you must travel to the Disney Cruise Lines Terminal in Port Canaveral in order to get.)

There are 528 penny designs, 4 dime designs, and 70 quarter designs – with a cost of $.50, $.75, and $1.00 respectively (not including the coin that gets pressed). Not only is finding and collecting the pressed coins at Disney World super-fun, but it is inexpensive and can become a family tradition as there are so many that you can’t possibly get them all in one visit. Adding to the fun even more is coming up with unique ways to display or even wear your pressed coins once you get them home. Here are a couple of examples…

Mickey Mouse Frame

Pressed Penny Necklace

Don’t forget to download the complete list of available pressed coins!

More About Cameras

Canon Rebel T5
Photo credit: Chris Gampat

After writing my last post about cameras and Disney World, and why I feel it is so important to NOT rely on a camera-phone, I found myself pouring over my photos…and I was less than pleased. All my family pictures had been taken with point-and-shoot digital cameras, which are miles above a cell-phone camera, but they lacked the crispness and detail that I have seen in many photos as of late. I have over 20 years of experience in retouching and editing digital photography, but my experience in actually capturing great pictures to begin with was pretty much limited to random luck and chance lighting.

I bet you can guess what happened next…

Yep, I joined a Facebook Photography group and asked what a good camera would be to learn on that wouldn’t cost two arms, a leg, and my first-born child. Surprisingly, the responses were wonderful – supportive and kind, and honest about the different models I was inquiring about. After some discussion, I decided to throw out any preconceptions I had and go with the camera most suggested by those who had photography experience – a refurbished Canon Rebel T5.

The price was definitely right – $439 on sale to $299; and it’s a camera I can grow with as well as acquire new lenses and accessories for as I gain experience.

However, there is one thing I was NOT prepared for…to absolutely love it so quickly! I literally just took it out of the box, put in the battery and SDHC card, and started shooting with the auto settings on, and I LOVE this camera! It takes pictures WAY faster than a point-and-shoot even with red-eye reduction and flash, and it doesn’t feel overly heavy in my hands – something I was really worried about with any camera with a changeable lens.

You may recall that I wrote about how larger lenses are able to capture more light and generate a better image here. Here’s the difference between my iPhone, a point-and-shoot Sony Cyber-shot and the Canon Rebel T5 with all settings on auto. Please note that I did not use any zoom, have not edited any of these, and that I used a tripod for both cameras (and for distance with my iPhone). First, the iPhone image…

 

Flower - iPhone

And the Sony Cyber-shot

Flower - Sony Cyber-shotAnd now the Canon Rebel T5…

 

Flower - Canon

Now, you have to realize that the cameras were all the same distance from the flowers, and that the image sizes get progressively larger. The iPhone captures at 27″ x 36″, the Sony at 45″ x 60″, and the Canon at 48″ x 72″. The difference in where the camera sees the flowers to be is quite obvious, as are some of the differences in color.

Here are the same images – again, un-manipulated save for cropping.

Flower Cropped

And an even smaller sampling…

Flower Cropped Close

I did have to adjust the size of all of these images so that they would fit on the page, but the image sizes in relation to each other are accurate. I was extremely interested in the difference in the colors – DSLR cameras are said to take relatively “flat” images straight out of the camera, but in this instance, the color really pops, and the pinks and yellows didn’t get washed out at all as they did from the Sony and iPhone.

Now with my background in photo editing, there is RARELY an instance in which I leave an image exactly as it came from the camera…so here are the before and after editing shots from my new Canon Rebel T5.

Flower Original - Canon
Cropped, but otherwise unedited.

 

Flower Final - Canon
Cropped, and edited for sharper color.

And another example – a picture I took of my son this morning for the last day of school.

C before editing.
C before editing.
C after editing.
C after editing.

I know this article sort of sounds like an advertisement for Canon, but it really isn’t. There are many cameras out there better than a Rebel T5, but for a beginner, I think I was pointed in a great direction and can’t wait to practice with different settings before we go on our next trip to Disney World!

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