Epcot of Walt Disney World- An Insider's Take and Some Advice
The Flagship Attraction
Epcot is endlessly splendid
Simply put, there is no other theme park like Epcot anywhere on the planet. The layout, concept, theme, and user-friendly nature of Epcot, among a number of other things, all lend to Epcot being the quintessential theme park. Now that Epcot has been open for more than thirty years, The Walt Disney World Company has continued perfecting Epcot over these years rather than allowing it to stagnate. In short, if you haven't seen Epcot in a while, you haven't seen it all.
There are a number of strategies one can employ to gain the most from visiting Epcot. I feel confident in passing along this information because I know Epcot quite well. I worked for the WDW Company from 1992 to 2003, and worked in Epcot itself from 1992 to 1999. My wife works for Disney still, and except for a short hiatus in order to care for an elderly family member, has worked for Disney since she helped open Epcot, which opened October 1st, 1982. I can say with confidence that I do not believe any more than two months has ever gone by when I haven't been in Epcot at least for a few hours, since 1992. My wife and I just adore this theme park and make an effort to visit at least once or twice a month. I can also say with confidence that I have put in far more hours in Epcot than most have to obtain their doctorate degrees, and that's not counting the hours I worked on the clock.
Friends, I know a thing or two about Epcot.
Starting at the beginning, I should point out visitors should consider the time of year they visit and, if at all possible, avoid the peak periods. The summer, specifically during the months of July and August, is among the busiest time of year for Walt Disney World. Another very busy period is during the December holiday season, ranging from the middle of December and into the first week of January. Each holiday throughout the course of the year can produce an increase in park attendance, so keep this in mind when you decide to visit Epcot. If you can at all help it, try to visit Epcot during some of the slower periods, since these quieter times can afford you the best time to maximize your Epcot experience. I've found that if you visit Epcot during the month of October and into November, avoiding the Thanksgiving rush, it's among the finest times of the year to visit. The Florida weather is at its own peak in terms of comfort, since the humidity and temperatures are down, yet it's still comfortably warm. I would say an average temperature is in the low eighties, and the sun just at its brightest without that humid haze.
Although it is wonderful to visit when park attendance is down, I have found Epcot to be more user-friendly than some other theme parks when attendance is high. The layout of Epcot is nice in that there are two major sections. There is Future World, which is the first part of the park you'll see when you come in through the front entrance, and then in the back there is The World Showcase. The World Showcase circles a small lake, called the World Showcase lagoon, and is comprised of several pavilions featuring several countries from around the world. There are fewer rides in The World Showcase compared to Future World, so Future World consumes the park's greater population, particularly during the day's prime hours. However, once people have seen the rides and shows they wanted to see in Future World, migrating into The World Showcase is common. These two sections assist one another throughout the day, as the population tends to bleed back and forth, particularly during a busy day. So, my recommendation for those visiting during a busy day during a peak season, is see at least one of the major attractions in Future World, and then migrate to The World Showcase for a while.
An exception is Spaceship Earth. I do not recommend trying to stand in line for this one when you first enter the park. It's the first ride you see and certainly the most obvious with that enormous sphere, so it gets it peak well before noon. Peak for Spaceship Earth (SSE) is well before noon, and then during the two hours before park closing. If you visit Spaceship during the lunch hours, you'll see the shortest lines. Regardless, do not miss it! It's worth the wait and the only one of its kind on this planet. Spaceship Earth does not have a FastPass system as yet, and likely won't for a time. I'll explain FastPass shortly. When you approach Spaceship Earth and see the queue that mazes under the sphere filled up, watch whether the maze snakes alongside the planters along the building. If it does, the wait is rather long, so avoid it. But if the line is moving fast through the queue and confined to the maze under the ball, decide for yourself, since the line for this one moves quickly. The ride can accommodate about two thousand riders per hour, which moves efficiently. Just so you know, there is no additional queue once you enter the building. You'll be on the ride within about twenty feet or so.
I recommend (again, during busy season only) that you have an attraction in mind and then go get a FastPass for the ride, unless the wait time is acceptable for you. I'll gladly stand in a line thirty minutes long or less. Okay, I should take a moment to explain the FastPass. The FastPass system was designed to minimize wait times and properly disseminate guest population across the park. The way it works is you approach a kiosk where you slip your park ticket in a slot. The machine will give you back your ticket and issue a small slip of paper with a one-hour-window availability on it. This window of opportunity is the time you return to the ride and enter the FastPass line. Look at it like a reservation, so to speak. During a busy time, you may still experience a wait, but that wait would be a lot longer without this ingenious system in place. It significantly reduces the wait times for those who never take advantage of FastPass. Keep in mind that the system only allows a certain amount of FastPass tickets during a certain time frame, which is in place to prevent waiting too long. Some busy attractions can see all the available FastPass tickets consumed very early in the day. In the days before FastPass, I can recall wait lines hours long for a fifteen-minute experience. No kidding. I have seen people stand in line in excess of three hours to see an attraction. It seems those days are now gone, thanks to this clever system. But keep in mind that this is in a continual state of evolution, so do some homework on any changes.
I worked in Disney's Animal Kingdom when FastPass was first being implemented at The Kilimanjaro Safari in Africa. We would see the line for this ride literally disappear over the horizon before this system was put in place. The safari ride, for you trivia fans, was the first attraction to experience FastPass. The difference FastPass made is pure magic. I say with confidence that this system has changed the way people experience Walt Disney World, for the better.
Okay, back to Epcot. Let's say you get a FastPass at Test Track, a major attraction, and your FastPass ticket says your time is for a time two hours away. Do what you want, but a good option is go get in line at another major attraction, watching to ensure you don't lose your opportunity where you have a FastPass, and then come back to your first choice. Go to Mission to Mars (which is next door) or another choice. Anyway, once you have these two big attractions behind, I suggest visiting The World Showcase for a while, which will allow the population within Future World to bleed off, and then return to Future World a little later so you can enjoy more rides and shows.
Did I ever mention that you should avoid a peak season, if any way possible? It will truly make all the difference. A busy day for the park is a busy day for you, but I have seen slow periods experience a day's population so low that the park actually seems creepy, there are so few people. Epcot can easily accommodate tens of thousands of people. A day with forty thousand people in the park is not a challenge at all, and I have seen attendance at less than eight thousand people during October and November, although some events such as the Food & Wine Festival have upped the numbers. I can only imagine how quiet it might be in this challenging economy. It truly feels like you're a part of some special group and only you select few have run of the park for the day. I have truly stood in a common area of Epcot, with various rides in sight, and have literally seen no other people other than Cast Members (Disney employees). That's a nice day in the park, my friends, particularly since Florida offers some of its most beautiful weather at that time.
I always recommend taking your own bottle of water. Today, you can buy your own personal bottle so you don't contribute to the plastic waste crisis, and water fountains are common throughout the park, providing water that's quite palatable. You'll stay hydrated (I cannot stress enough how important that is) and you won't have to spend so much on drinks. This is a tourist destination, friends; tourist destinations see a price hike, regardless of where it is.
Since you have to eat, Epcot offers so many wondrous dining experiences. The World Showcase, comprising of the countries of Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, The American Adventure, Japan, Morocco, France, The United Kingdom, and Canada, offers exquisite dining. There are several full-service restaurants, and numerous over-the-counter choices, too. I've found a fast food spot for lunch and full-service dining for dinner a nice way to go. My tip is avoid the burger spots and here's why. For whatever reason, the burger choices are not a good buy at all, don't taste that good, and are so busy that your mood can plummet drastically while just trying to eat an overpriced lunch. These places just cannot be planned out to work well; they end up trying to accommodate too many people. I have found the best place for lunch in Epcot (if you like Asian food) and it's what was once The Yakitori House in Japan, but now the Katsura Grill. It's up on the hill and it is not big at all. I bet the majority of park visitors miss it entirely. That is advantageous, since the food is quite fine and the prices, for this sort of place, are reasonable. Most other country pavilions offer a quick bite, but this one sticks out. I look forward to it each time I visit Epcot.
You can make reservations for a meal at Guest Relations, which is just to the left of Spaceship Earth as you enter the park. If you know you're going to eat at a full-service restaurant while you're there, make reservations early. While you can find Chinese, Italian, and Mexican food just about anywhere, Mexico's restaurant has a beautiful ambiance and the food is very good. Canada is the place for you steak lovers, and Germany, while a buffet, offers so many choices in European fare. Japan's full-service restaurant is a memorable event. Morocco and France offer dining that's a bit more unusual for the average person, so take a moment to check them out.
Okay, if you must have a burger and fries (I don't get that, but kids can be that way) then go to The American Adventure and get them there. I have kids, so we've taken the kids to The American Adventure for their lunch, and then we've gone to Yakitori, which is just next door. This is further to the rear of the park (all the way back, to be honest) and a bit more user-friendly. Another little tip on lunch is that if the park is quiet, The Land in Future World offers some nice choices in both full-service and over the counter choices. But do not, I repeat, do not seek their over-the-counter location if it is a busy day! The place is a war zone.
I wanted to add a quick note on restrooms. They're a fact of life and a theme park is a place where people accumulate from around the globe. Disney takes great pains to ensure clean restrooms, but things can happen in a snap. These days, you can obtain these little cleaning and disinfecting wipes designed to clean a toilet quickly. Sure, it isn't your responsibility to clean the restroom, but this option in your bag just might make the difference between having a clean toilet or not. Just a thought.
I do not want to go into great detail about the available attractions in Epcot, since the information is readily available elsewhere. This article is about some in-depth information, so let me point this out. The Disney Imagineers just love teeny-tiny details, so watch for them, well, everywhere. There are 'Hidden Mickeys' all over, and if you don't know what this is, look it up. Seeking Hidden Mickeys adds great fun for everyone. A little known thing about Epcot is that the design of Future World was originally based, in part, on Left Brain-Right Brain philosophy, and you can even see it in how the sidewalks either are angular or curved on the left and right side (East and West sides) of Future World.
Epcot is very adult-friendly and alcohol is available in many locations around the park. You can get a Margarita in Mexico, wines are widely available, as are beers, and there are other alcohol-based treats. I've known adventurous folks who like to go 'drinking around the world' by starting with a Margarita in Mexico and then finishing out with a pint in The Rose & Crown in The UK, drinking along the way. This is pricey, mind you, and afterwards you'll be taking advantage of Disney's efficient transportation choices, because you're not driving anywhere. But if you can keep your head after a few drinks, it is a lot of fun.
Epcot is a big place. If it's a busy day, you may not see everything in one day. In fact, even if it is a quiet day, trying to get in everything will distract from getting the most from what Epcot offers. I mentioned that details are everywhere, so if you rush through, you'll be missing a lot of things. No, I mean it; you will miss too much if you rush. I've been visiting Epcot for years now, and one of the reasons I still enjoy it is because I tend to see things I missed before. If at all possible, give yourself at least two days to take in a bulk of the park. Even if you only have one day available, try not to rush, and enjoy what you do see.
I mentioned I know quite a bit about Epcot, but so don't numerous other people, and many of them still work there. In fact, I know that many people still work at Epcot who were there before me, and I started in 1992. I will always recommend to visitors of Walt Disney World that you seek to take advantage of the wisdom residing within the years of experience held by Disney Cast Members. Most people tend to ignore 'the workers' anywhere they go, but if you take the time to talk, really talk, to some of those working in the parks, you just might find a plethora of information you never conceived possible. Watch the nametags and look for the little bronze pins. These can signify several things, but among them are years of experience. They come in years worked from one, five, and then in five-year increments from then on. I cannot promise that every 'dinosaur' with years of experience is going to be a fountain of knowledge, but they are individuals with unique perspectives, and points of view. Sure, you might hear a hint of whining from the occasional person once they're comfortable talking freely, but they can offer priceless information obtainable no place else. More than once, I have given advice that was described by those receiving it as something making all the difference in their vacation.
Shopping is something most people will do, and for those folks, Epcot will not be a disappointment. While many tourist destinations are strewn with cheap, pathetic and overpriced souvenirs, Epcot offers innumerable choices of quality souvenirs from around the world, particularly in The World Showcase. You can buy a cheap, simple fan in Japan, but the nice person working the register, who is genuinely from Japan, as most Cast Members in the countries are truly residents of that country, can write your name in Japanese on the fan. The shopping can be so much fun, I think, and I'm a guy. There are so many choices, so you're bound to pick up something really nice. If you don't want to lug it around, ask about your shipping options, which are numerous.
Should you choose to watch 'IllumiNations' at the end of the day, which is Epcot's final finish for the day (Disney World loves fireworks, if you didn't know) taking place on The World Showcase Lagoon, I would recommend doing so back towards the rear of the park, somewhere near Japan, Italy, or The American Adventure. My reason is once the show is over, there will be a stampeding exodus from Epcot rivaling the running of the bulls. If I am there at that hour, I will allow the bulk of the masses to exit out before me rather than get swept away in a tide of humanity that was sweating in the sun all day.
I have provided several bits of information throughout the article above, but some of you may have noticed I have left a considerable amount of information out. I haven't outlined the name of every attraction, show, restaurant, or shop in the park. I haven't provided in-depth descriptions of the rides or shows, nor have I listed the menu choices in detail. My reason for this is because Epcot is not an amusement park. Epcot is a theme park (yes, there is a difference) and the theme of Epcot is: Discovery.
There is so much to be discovered at Epcot, and I have enjoyed many, many years of discovering new and wonderful things there. This article provides several tips and tidbits of advice offering numerous ways for you to take advantage of what's there to discover, without discovering it for you.
More Epcot Tips
There is simply no other way to put this; Walt Disney World's Epcot is among the greatest of destinations of the modern world. Epcot is so wonderful, so perfect, and so diverse in how it offers so much to so many that it should be seen by everyone. If you've been there before, you can understand the claim without doubt. For those of you who have yet to visit, the plethora of pictures and videos you can find online and just about anywhere hint to the notion that you're missing something amazing. Further, something genuinely amazing about Epcot is that those who commonly visit and have done so for year after year (many locals visit as regularly as several times a month) find they never tire of it. Because many veterans of Epcot love to visit so much and often, there are some finer points these regulars enjoy pointing out to those new to the park.
• Spaceship Earth is unique to Epcot and exists nowhere else. This geodesic sphere is the flagship attraction of Epcot, but what's wonderful is that there is no other place like it on the planet. There are several 'Cinderella's Castles' around the world here and there, but there is only one Spaceship Earth. Within is a slow moving ride focusing on the history of human communication that is quite interesting, but the structure and architecture of Spaceship Earth as a building is at least equally as interesting, from an artistic and engineering perspective. Epcot's Guest Relations is next door to the attraction; they'll be happy to provide more detailed information.
• Epcot has wide pathways and plenty of open spaces. With Epcot, the Disney corporation got it all right precisely at the right time. Epcot was built during the late seventies and completed (partially) in 1981. The Magic Kingdom had been in place by itself for several years, so Disney's machine was able to learn from the mistakes and shortcomings of MK yet still operate within a budget that wasn't mired down with extravagant costs and various code and building limitations coming into play shortly thereafter through local governments. Something like Epcot today just might be fiscally impossible to create.
• Epcot has plenty for the entire family. Unlike some other theme and amusement parks where the adults gain their joy in the delight of the children, Epcot has plenty to delight every age group. There are thrills and laughs for the younger sets, and there's plenty of intellectual and educational stimulation for the young at heart. Because Epcot is comprised of two major lands (Future World and World Showcase) there are, in essence, two completely different parks in one. The World Showcase is numerous pavilions representing various countries around the globe wrapped around a lake. These are not cheesy facades with papier-mâché figurines and particle board cutouts. Rather, the World Showcase is a high-end and intelligent celebration of the various regions of the globe, featuring tastes and essences of the represented country, and even manned by people from those places. There is no other place on Earth like it, and it represents Earth like no other place. What's more, the palatal delights are complex and smart, with high-end restaurants as well as various alcoholic pleasantries from the various global lands.
• Drinking Around the World. While Epcot is a high-brow and sober park for the most part, there has been a celebration initialized in Epcot and quickly spreading around the world and this is Drinking Around the World. Most likely started by young adults working at Epcot back in the eighties, this festive time is celebrated by many who visit Epcot. Because the various pavilions representing different countries offer alcoholic drinks from their location, such as Margaritas from Mexico, beers from Germany, wines from Italy and France, and Sake from Japan, just to name a few, a celebration of these concoctions can get quite festive by the time one makes it halfway. If one has the stamina to make it from Mexico to the Rose & Crown Pub in The United Kingdom to down another pint, they can wander out of Epcot and to Disney's Boardwalk, where they can party and dance it off and then crash at their nearby resort. Somehow, Drinking Around the World is becoming a rite of passage for the traveling set reach a certain age.
• The Special Events. During the autumn season, Epcot features an event called Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival, which is a glorious and ambitious celebration of the palatine delights of the world. Representatives from numerous countries from around the globe are there, and there are elaborate classes and exhibitions for the creations and understanding of fine wines, beers, and cheeses, and so much to taste. This is quickly becoming the pinnacle of its kind for the world. Also, during the spring season, the park features Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival, delighting the green thumbs out there as well as those appreciating the splendors of nature. There are flowers, trees and so many other plants and things featured from around the world. The musical delights revolve around 'Flower Power', so there are numerous original artists from the sixties era that entertain, including Paul Revere & The Raiders, and many more stars from the period.
Epcot is the realization of everything a theme park should be and what no other park has accomplished. Sure, there are many theme parks that are fun and interesting, but no other park has it all together like Epcot. Experiencing Epcot will surely be classified as among a person's finer life experiences, and this would be particularly true if one visits during the fall or spring, when the festivities are best and the crowds are leaner. The summer is Southeast hot and sticky, and riddled with summer vacationing children, but early November and the turn of Spring offer weather that is picture perfect. Experience Epcot and experience a celebration of human accomplishment.
Safety Tips, Particularly for the Children
Now that we're coming up on another summer season where so many families will be traveling to Central Florida theme parks, we're also coming up on the time when parents and family must continue in their education on the safety and protection of children while on vacation. Few things can challenge the perfection of a well-earned vacation like a child lost in a strange place, even if that place is considered one of the happiest on Earth.
One of the major reasons for this article is that the chances of the average family losing a child in a crowded park, even if just for a few moments, are so likely. The chances are high enough that one can almost count on it. Moreover, the more crowded the park is, which is packed to near capacity throughout much of the summer, the time when most families with children visit, the greater the chance of becoming separated from a little one can be.
Do not think it cannot happen to you. In fact, those who believe their chances of becoming separated from their child, even children young enough to be barely walking, tend to be the ones most likely to suffer the incident. This is stated with confidence, to be sure.
I worked in the Central Florida Tourism Industry for nearly twelve years, and when I worked in the theme parks, which was almost the entirety of that career span, I witnessed lost children on a daily basis. Everyone working in that industry does; it is a fact of daily life. That's right; with scant few exceptions, I was involved with trying to connect lost parents with lost children every working day. What's worse, after seeing this for what must have been hundreds to thousands of times over my first few years working these parks, I convinced myself I would never let it happen to me. I believed I had all the skills and education necessary to prevent myself and my daughter from becoming one of those families who somehow became separated from their child. And then it just happened.
Luckily, I knew what to do. It wasn't but a matter of less than five minutes and I was reunited with my toddler daughter. But during that few minutes I was quite frightened, concerned, and with all the horrible pictures of worst-case scenarios running through my head. But, I knew enough to contact the closest park employee (easily recognizable by the unique manner of dress and a nametag) and give as much detail I could. I told this person I was just separated from my child, a little girl about three years old and wearing clothes of this description, where I saw her last, what her description was, and her name.
I knew the general steps the employee had to follow in order to help me reunite with my child. They were to ask me a series of simple questions, many of which I knew to answer before they were asked when I approached. These questions are including but not limited to: How tall is the child, what color hair, their exact dress, including any accessories like hats, their full name and age, any instructions they might have if lost, might they be willing to talk to a stranger if approached (someone working there would be a stranger to them), along with other questions pertinent to the situation and environment.
This took place sometime in the mid-to-late nineties. Believe it or not, times have changed a lot since then, and today it seems we must be more vigilant than ever. There are good points and bad points to the changing times, all of which should be considered. The bad points are that it seems, if we succumb to the message of the news, that more people than ever before appear out to bring harm to children. More likely, these people have always been there, but not as visible in the news as much. Regardless of these points, we do know we must protect our children at all costs from harm, even when that harm can be unintentional. Luckily, the good points can help us in these areas. Many of those good points involve the technology of today there to help.
As already mentioned, the purpose of this article is to educate parents and guardians on some helpful tips on how to prevent children from becoming lost, but if they do, what you and your children can do to reunite everyone quickly and safely.
For you readers unfamiliar with my other articles on numerous Central Florida theme parks, let me point out that I have worked in this industry for almost twelve years, as mentioned, but my wife has worked in the industry far longer and still does. Further, she still runs into situations where children are separated from parents almost daily. Our combined experience can provide an immense amount of wisdom in this arena, so please give this your attention. These are some of the things we've learned through experience, and then from other parents who devised clever ways to protect their children and reunite with them as quickly as possible.
In these theme parks, there is so much going on around you that there can be a feeling of sensory overload, particularly those who are new and relatively unfamiliar with this environment. Now, for those of you who are comfortable, your sense of ease can be misleading and cause you to lose focus on a child, too, so never let your guard down. As one can imagine, children can lose focus of the folks, too, as they're far more amazed. The point is, there is so much going on that losing focus on a child one might think is right there can be too easy. Further, and this is important, when things are crowded, everyone must be particularly vigilant in staying together. In just a second, there can be but one or two people between you and the child, and a second or two later, a dozen or more.
There are no major tips in keeping your family together, as many are simple attention and focus, accompanied by common sense. Honestly, I recommend looking at heavy crowds as a potential that should be avoided. Since any of this can happen to anyone (and remember- it is never the fault of the children, so scold yourself when you're reunited) it is vitally important that you and your children know the steps to take, should you become separated.
For young children, perhaps kindergartener age and younger, teach them to stop and scream out if they're separated. This will get them noticed fast, very fast, by those around them. Plus, you're more likely to hear them that way. Many children can freeze up when separated, which does not help at all. They will certainly be frightened quickly, but some may keep this quiet, depending on their upbringing and personality. Now, for older children, it is a good idea to teach them to think it out, but with some learned information. Some of this is akin to disaster preparation; it's wise to know what to do going in.
First, they need to seek immediate help. Park employees are never far away, by the way. They're in every gift shop, restaurant, and attraction. One helpful thing to note is that custodial personnel are often nearby, wearing the whites of the job, and they can be helpful for a lost child. An important note is that you must train children to recognize some of the common things about park employees over other tourists. Gaudy, bright outfits are one thing, but you'll notice everyone working is wearing a nametag. Teach children to recognize and look for those nametags when you first enter the park. Then, teach them what they must say and do when they meet those people. Have them give them their name and other pertinent information. You can even practice this with someone working there; they'll be more than happy to do this, it could put children at ease, and help you rest easier. But if you have a severely shy child, then you know they're not going to do this. Other steps must be taken.
As soon as you enter the park, take a picture of your children. Most of us have cameras today with a screen on it where we can view the pictures taken. Do this! This way, if your child is lost, you have a perfect image to show park personnel, rather than trying to go on memory while shaken. Another thing to do as soon as you enter the park is have some sort of identification on the child, complete with contact information. This can be a laminated card in a pocket or on a lanyard around the child's neck. Disney parks feature a lot of pin trading, so an ID with contact info on one of these lanyards can be a good idea. The point is to have something communicative on a child who may not communicate to strangers.
Children a bit older but still at risk when lost would be well off with a personal cell phone, or perhaps a two-way radio commonly available. A nice thing these days is that over-the-counter cell phones are widely available and quite cheap. These could be invaluable in the hands of any child old enough to operate one.
For you lost parents, if you go past more than a minute or so without contact with the lost child, stop searching frantically and seek help right away. You also need to know how to contact park personnel, too. Ensure to tell the employee everything you can (calmly, by the way), from last known location, to appearance (show that picture), what the child may know in regards of what to do, and their cell number should they be carrying one. All of this demonstrates where today's technology is a good point. It wasn't that long ago that parents had hardly any of this. Today, you can snap a picture of the child on the cell phone, and they can snap a picture of the lost parent on theirs!
With teens, you may not need involve park personnel (it's up to you) and you can choose a specific location to meet. It might be a fountain, flag pole, statue, or whatever floats your boat. Just have a means for everyone to reunite, and always keep in mind that becoming separated is not only possible, but statistically likely. This is the goal, whether the child is thirteen or three. Losing a child of three can happen; I once found a child, just a year old, wandering in nothing more than a diaper. What's worse is that the parents had the gall to blame the child, when they showed up about thirty minutes later.
As you can see, there are no amazing tricks to this, just simple and practical ideas anyone can employ in such an emergency. To boil it down, when everyone knows, including the children, that the family getting separated can happen, so they must take steps to get everyone back together, what might be a horrifying experience could be reduced to a momentary fright.
Knowing what to do isn't just for the purpose of reducing the problem, but the prevention of aggravating it. There have been children who, after being lost for just a matter of moments, felt it best to go right back to the hotel. There have been children who felt it best they hide wherever their little body can fit. There have been children who have panicked and hid in a toilet stall until the end of the day. There have been children who have bogged down in fear so much that they've become totally uncommunicative, making it difficult to help until the parents present themselves.
Less drastic situations are more common, but heart-wrenching. Innumerable times, I have found a lost child who wondered in fear if they would ever see their parents ever again. Other children have asked how many days it would take for them to get back home and see their parents. These problems can be minimized or eliminated with some instruction. Take the time to sit down with the kids and explain what can happen, what they should do if it does, and what not to do to make things worse.
Giving this subject the due attention it requires without denying the potential of it happening to anyone, including you, can and will make so much of a difference in your vacation.
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