My last trip to the Park had an unexpected turn of events. As I sat watching my two-year-old Dig Those Dinos while my four year old rode the Coastersaurus with our family friends, I overheard another mom tell her kids some tips on what to do if the were to get separated. “Let’s meet here if you get lost.” Her husband promptly said, “They won’t get lost!” I wanted to stand up for the mom who was simply being cautious by saying something like, “You never know, it could happen.” But I simply made mental note of their conversation as a potential blog topic then continued helping my two year old with her sand castle.
Fifteen minutes later our group had made our way up to the Imagination Zone so we could check out the brand new Hero Factory. All the kids in our group scattered to the various play tables as some found their way into the XBOX room. I did the usual kid head count and came up short by one. My two-year-old was nowhere to be found. I walked briskly through the various Imagination Zone rooms trying not to panic, but she was gone.
Slight panic kicked in and, despite the fact that shock had taken away all feeling in my legs, I turned my walk into a run retracing our steps back toward DINO ISLAND. In my rational mind I knew that wherever she was, she was fine, because I know from having worked there that they have an efficient, effective plan in place for re-uniting kids with their parents. I know that once a child is reported missing, the front gates close immediately, a code is transmitted over all walkie-talkies and all employees drop what they are doing to look for the child. Before I could even find an employee to help me, a mom who was having her caricature drawn noticed the visible concern and said, “Are you missing a little girl? She’s at lost and found.”
I breathed a slight sigh of relief but still continued to run to her. Run. A minute later, when I was re-united with her in Guest Services, she had a smile on her face and was playing with some LEGO bricks. I hugged her tightly and profusely thanked the Park employees that had helped her.
In total, it was probably only five to ten minutes that we were a part, but those few moments seemed like an eternity. For a parent, it’s a terrifying experience, maybe harder on the parent than on the child. I am grateful for the family that helped her and for the staff at LEGOLAND for being so proactive and proficient at finding lost children.
Luckily, my four year old was having the time of her life back in the Imagination Zone, playing the Kinect game 20,000 Leaks, with our family friends that she didn’t even notice that I was off finding her sister.
Though none of us parents want to think about our child going lost or missing, just like the dad I overheard earlier that morning, it is certainly a potential reality in any public, crowded space. Here are some precautionary steps you can take to avoid it happening to you.
1) Have a photo of the child from that day so you can show people who are helping you look what the child looks like that day. This one is easy nowadays with the prevalence of smart phones.
2) Pin a piece of paper on the inside of your child’s clothes or write with sharpie on their stomach their name and all of your contact information.
3) Set an easily accessible meeting spot first thing upon entering the Park.
4) Introduce your kids to an employee upon entering the Park so that they can identify a safe person to approach for help if they are lost.
5) Wear bright colors. No need to bring back the 80’s with matching day-glo tees but bright, primary colors are much easier to spot in a crowd.
And for you parents, if you find yourself in this situation, the best thing you can do is to find a Park employee and let them know. That person will radio to the Park Security department immediately and you will be reunited with your child in no time. Have fun and be safe!
Model Mom Mary