How Disney Wonder Cruise Lost Our Child, Destroyed Our Vacation, and Lost Our Confidence

A lost child is every parent’s worst fear.  There is nothing scarier in the world than losing, or not being able to find your child.   If a news story features a missing child, many of us instinctively stop what we’re doing to check on our children and ensure they are alright.

My wife and I have always been very cautious and selective when it comes to sitters and child care facilities.  When it comes to child care, reputation is everything.  That’s why we were especially traumatized that our child would be lost while on board a Disney cruise.

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In January, we decided to take our two children on a Disney Wonder cruise.  We went with several other families we knew and expected to have a fantastic time.  While on board, we left our 3 year old son, in their child care facility, the Oceaneer Club (for children aged 3 to 12).

We were happy to see they had a wrist band tracking system, which could identify where a child was on the ship at any time and alert staff if the band went outside the area he was supposed to be in.

So you can imagine our fear, shock, outrage and panic when we came back after an evening with friends, to find our child missing from their child care facility.

Our 5 month old had been left in the nursery that day, so my wife had stopped off to pick him up, while I went with two other parents to the Oceaneer Club to pick up our older son.

We walked into the care facility, which was always dimly lit.  I walked around each of the rooms looking for my son.  I spotted two of his friends and asked if they’d seen him.  They said he was there someplace, so I continued to walk around the facility hunting down my child.

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I remember thinking it was a bit of a hassle to send a parent in alone to wander around and try to find their kid.  I began to get a little annoyed as I searched.  Where could he be?  For a split second I even had the thought, ‘I hope he is actually here,’ but dismissed it as silly at the time. At that point, I was more annoyed than worried and decided to ask someone if they’d seen my son.

I returned to the room where I’d originally started searching, and the employee commented that this was the third time they’d seen me there–was everything okay?   I told him I couldn’t find my son, so they started walking around, calling his name. I began looking under draped compartments, behind obstacles, anywhere a child might hide.

At that point, I took a moment to call my wife and asked her to come over immediately because they couldn’t find our son!

When I went to search the bathroom, an employee stopped and told me that ‘parents are not allowed in the bathroom.’ THAT was the point it hit me right in the face—MY KID WAS MISSING!

I don’t know if I can fully describe the feeling when you realize your child is gone.   Everything changed from that moment… I was no longer frustrated, angry, or annoyed, I was scared to death and went completely into FIND MY CHILD MODE, which started with understanding their operating procedures for missing children.

I quickly assessed the staff, the surroundings, and the efforts made so far to locate him.  I told the employee I could no longer assume my child was in the facility and I needed to know what their next steps were immediately.

He said the next step was to check the tracking band system, which would pinpoint my son’s location.   We walked over to the computer and as they pulled it up, everyone got very quiet.  The screen showed my son’s band as ‘UNREADABLE’!!!.

At that moment I came close to losing it, but I had to focus… I had to find my child!  ‘Unreadable’ could mean anything—wandering the ship, taken by a stranger, or worse.   My wife had shown up by this time and was understandably distraught but there was no time for me to console her.

I immediately ran to another care facility for older kids called the Oceaneer Lab.   I asked if they had done any child swaps between care facilities and whether THEY had my son.   They checked their system and said they hadn’t transferred any children between rooms that day.   At this point Carol, a senior team member, came in and also began searching for him.

Realizing that if my son was there they would find him shortly, I ran back to the Oceaneer Club to see if miraculously he’d been found.  One look at the terror on my wife’s face and the pleading look in her eyes told me he was still missing.  I shook my head and she began to sob, calling out for help.  I will never forget that moment.

I was forced to turn my back on her and head the other way to continue the search for our son.  In a display of heartlessness, none of the employees offered her sympathy or consolation.  They literally turned their backs on her and acted like she was irrational and overreacting, leaving her there alone sobbing and shaking.

I ran as fast as I could all the way to the front of the ship and down 5 flights of stairs, to get to the gangway. We were docked in the Bahamas, with people coming on and off the ship.  I told the personnel at the gangway that my son was missing from their child care facility and that they needed to make sure no one else left the ship until he was found.  They gave no indication they would stop anyone from leaving, and were unaware of a missing child, a full 20 minutes after he’d gone missing.  They said if I had a missing child I needed to inform Guest Services.

So I bolted back up 3 flights of stairs and all the way across the ship again to get to Guest Services, where I ran right up to the counter and told them what had happened. I let them know I just got back from the gangway and asked them why no announcement of a lost child had been made yet.

The employee checked a few things in the computer and said that an announcement had gone out to the staff’s ‘wave’ phones, an internal cell phone system. This seemed suspect, since neither the gangway personnel nor this individual at guest services had known there was a lost child until I told them.   I again asked why no announcement had been made and told again that a message had gone out on the wave phone network.   I then asked if they had cameras on the ship, they said yes.  I urged them to begin reviewing the recordings to determine if my son had left the facility on his own, or been taken.

I turned and ran up several flights of stairs again, back to the Oceaneers Club to see if anyone had found my son in the time I was gone.

There was a crowd of people gathered, including all the friends who’d come with us on the cruise.  They said my son was still missing and everyone started searching the halls.

I was trying to imagine where he might go if he left the facility on his own.  He’d shown a great interest in the balcony area of the ship where he could look down at the water.  What if he went to play on the rails and fell??  I found myself walking back and forth several times.  I had to pull myself together and focus.  Panic wouldn’t help me find him.

I turned around and saw Carol coming out of the theater, where she had been searching. I pulled her aside and said firmly and clearly that they had make 20 announcements a day about excursions, parties, and dinner times, but in the 45 minutes since my son had gone missing, not one announcement had been made. Nothing that said ‘excuse me guests, but we have a 3 year-old boy who has gone missing, so please take a look around and see if you spot anyone matching this description.’

I told her if she didn’t make an announcement immediately, I’d be forced to break down the door and make the damn announcement myself!  She promised she would make an announcement, but wanted to finish searching the theater first.

I turned and ran back to the Oceaneer club, where I was flagged down by one of our friends.   My son had been found and was okay.  I was lightheaded…could barely breath… and exhausted… I stood against the wall and began to cry from shock and relief.

Out of nowhere, a stranger came up to me with tears in his eyes and gave me a supportive hug.  Having a son of his own, he empathized with what I had gone through.  He said after what just happened, he was already considering leaving the ship with his family and flying home.

I went inside and they told me that my son had crawled into a ‘tunnel’ of stacked chairs and fell asleep, not to be found until 45 minutes later.

Later that evening, someone came to our room with a bottle of wine and a printed apology card.  But as my wife and I discussed what had happened, there were still too many concerns and unanswered questions to let this drop:

  • How had our son been able to craw away and fall asleep without anyone noticing?
  • Why were the employees unable to find him for nearly 45 minutes?
  • Why was his security band unreadable?
  • Why did everyone ignore my wife and make her feel so alone and terrified?
  • Why did none of the ship’s crew seem to be aware there was a missing child, despite the wave phone message which seemed to be their primary form of communication?
  • Why was no announcement made on the ship at any point?
  • Most importantly, why was there no apparent protocol in the event of a missing child considering this is Disney, a world-class organization that builds it’s reputation on the happiness of children?

We felt that there were too many things that went wrong for us to simply accept a bottle of wine and a printed apology card.  We wanted to make sure someone in charge knew about these problems–we wanted to speak with the Captain.

So I made a call and asked to meet with the Captain, at his earliest convenience, to discuss what had happened. I was told that someone would contact me shortly.  We were never allowed to speak to the Captain, but it was arranged for us to meet with the Cruise Director instead.

I really did not want to go into this meeting angry.  My primary intention was to help them better understand what went wrong, identify things that could be improved, and the overall way the issue was handled.

During the meeting, I made it clear that while we were relieved that our son was eventually located, he HAD been missing for 45 minutes while in their care.  The fact that he was found didn’t change the apparent lack of a clear plan to find him, or the lack of urgency exhibited by the cruise staff.

I was given the following answers and assurances:

  • They were aware the lighting was too low in the care facility and they plan to renovate it the next time the ship dry docks.
  • They do have a process for handling lost child emergencies, however since that hadn’t been apparent to us, they would look into that and address it.
  • I was given an apology for the lack of empathy shown to my wife by the crew during the crisis.
  • They would definitely investigate why the tracking band was unreadable.

Near the end of the meeting, the Cruise Director asked me what they could do to make it up to us. I told him I didn’t have a specific remedy in mind, but something needed to be done, especially for my wife since this cruise had been booked to celebrate her birthday.  What happened essentially ruined her birthday and spoiled the entire trip for her.

I mentioned that we had a dinner reservation for her birthday, and I thought to myself that maybe the Cruise Director or the Captain might come by to wish her a happy birthday and apologize to her in person. At least to show that they do value their customers and that truly cared for what had happened to us.

Later, I spoke with my wife and we agreed that the best outcome would be not having to pay for a vacation that was ruined.  So I sent a note to the Cruise Director and then headed to the restaurant.

Dinner was alright, considering we were hardly in a mood to celebrate after what had happened.  Disappointingly, no one came by to apologize or offer birthday wishes.

When we returned to the room that night, there was a printed note from the Cruise Director saying someone from their corporate office will contact us after the trip.

A few days later, we received a call from Rebecca, an executive from Disney’s communication team.  After I told her the whole story, she  was apologetic, but said there was no way they would refund our money.  All she could do was to offer us a two-day Disney World park-pass with limited access.

I was stunned by her response, as she attempted to analyze the exact number of cruise days that were ruined. She told me that since our son went missing on the third day of the trip, we had enjoyed the first two days and only the last two days were ruined. Therefore, they were only willing to offer two day park passes as compensation. Adding insult to injury, the last thing she said before she hung up was to call her back if we changed our mind about accepting her offer.

Considering I have two little boys, we would most certainly have booked other Disney vacations and cruises in the years to come.  But this experience—the loss of my son, the poor response to the crisis aboard ship, and the uncaring, calculated corporate response afterward—has changed all that.

“Disney” should be synonymous with making fantastic memories—that famous ‘Disney magic.’  But for my family, we will always associate Disney with our horrific experience of losing our child and a serious lack of customer service.

Would refunding our money or offering us another cruise have made up for their mistakes and lack of empathy during a child crisis?  Not really, but would have said they cared enough to try.

Where is the Disney ‘magic’?  For me, it’s been lost.  Where is the customer service Disney is supposed to be known for?   Nonexistent.  If you choose to cruise with Disney, you may be forced to ask one more question–“Where is my child?!!!”

EDIT: Based on some comments, I wanted to clarify one important element, which is that we did not go to Disney with a request for a refund. Rather they asked us what they could do for us to make us feel better about the experience we had. We simply said we prefer not to have to pay for a ruined trip. Once they started getting into the calculation of how many days they had ruined, I was done.

Upon publishing this article, we had no expectation of any sort of refund, no expectation of Disney contacting us again (they never even followed up in the month since that call to check on the situation) and we would not accept any form of refund or compensation at this point anyhow, as it would not be right.



30 Responses to “How Disney Wonder Cruise Lost Our Child, Destroyed Our Vacation, and Lost Our Confidence”

  1. Misha on March 6th, 2013 5:32 pm

    Wow i'm not taking my children to any Disney events. I never really liked them anyway being how they brain wash children though their films. Now that I read what has happened to you and your family, I am sure that I dislike Disney in every way. No parent or child should Ever have an experience like you have had. I have no clue what I would have done…but I am sure i'd be filing a big lawsuit…that's outrageous! And on your wife's birthday. Smh my heart goes out to you both as well as for your son that had such a frightening ordeal. God bless you and I pray you find justice out of this.

  2. rachel fernandez on March 7th, 2013 3:10 am

    I cried while reading this, coz I am a parent, I know how it felt like being in that situation, as if you'll lose your sanity but you managed to keep it together to focused…I am so angry how the Disney Cruise showed lack of empathy at the time of the incident. but most of all the lack of shame and conscience by not exerting an effort to make up to you and your family … remember that there are times that seems so unfair but never forget that God is just….

  3. alex on March 7th, 2013 7:22 am

    I'm sorry, but I think your overreacting. Accidents happen… I know its serious business when it involves a child, & I sincerely sympathize with the outright fear you experienced, but its too bad you couldn't just be happy your son was fine & get back to your vacation. It was only 45 min, & just fell asleep in a tunnel. I don't blame you for trying to get a dinner, partial refund, or some free passes, but you should've taken the passes & just moved on. Haven't you lost your own kid before at a department store or Walmart? Also, if Carol (& other employee's) wete busy searching for your kid, how were they supposed to hang out with your wife? I don't think they were ignoring her, they were busy.

  4. brentcsutoras on March 7th, 2013 9:36 am

    Alex.. I think you missed the point a little.

    1) We care more about the lack of procedure, the lack of information, the lack of anything really in what you would expect in a missing child situation. No announcements, other employees did not know what I was talking about 30 minutes after our child was missing.

    2) Lost is lost. If you have a child you are watching for a friend one day at your house. If they show up at your house and ask for their child. You explain to them how he is not lost after 45 minutes of you not being able to find him.

    Lost = not being able to find something
    Found – finding it

    Just because something is found, doesn't mean it was not lost.

    3) Having a child walk off in a department store because of lack of attention versus having a child go missing in a secure daycare facility is two different things. (note I always watch my kids, even in department stores, so never had mine walk off or get lost yet)

    In a department store there is nothing in place to keep them from running off so the explanation for them to become missing is logical. When you have a locked and secured facility and no one out of 10 people can find your kid for 45 minutes, then you assume the worst.

    4) I waited almost 2 months to post this story, to let myself think about it and really understand what the issues where. I did not ask for a meal, or accept their offer for tickets, because it lacked to real attempt to resolve the issue.

    Since they hung up that one call with us, we have never heard from them again. They don't really care what effect it has on us.

    5) Lastly, we don't expect anything from Disney for writing this, not even an email or a phone call.

    I am far from over-reacting, but if you read the article, then you would see numerous levels of failure that are just unacceptable.

  5. brentcsutoras on March 7th, 2013 9:38 am

    I appreciate your comments. We don't hate Disney, but definitely are not happy with the way they handle their business and customer service.

  6. Devon-van on March 7th, 2013 12:11 pm

    Wow, I cannot believe that they lost your child. They obviously didn't take it seriously enough, in my head if they couldn't find the child in the locked down area it should turn into "lock down the shop mode" immediately.I appreciate you posting this, I will defiantly think twice before bringing any child on a Disney cruise or even the parks. That's scary they don't take these things seriously.

    I know you didn't post to get anything from Disney, but they should have at the least given you another free cruise to try to make up for the mistake.

  7. John on March 8th, 2013 8:41 am

    I've been on a bunch if Disney Cruises and one particularly where my son had a seizure and they were forced yo turn the boat around ad FIVE hour process. While I can certainly understand your panic (imagine having a child turn blue in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean) you never mentioned if he was checked out of the kids club. Certainly a child cannot be take from there with their band being swiped which there are records of. I've had a hard time finding my kids in there as well, mine likes to hide. This stack of chairs was in the club I assume? The main issue here is why the band didn't work.

  8. brentcsutoras on March 8th, 2013 4:29 pm

    I had a long response written up to this, but oh well. You clearly miss my points in the article as a number of others have as well. I actually want nothing from Disney and expect nothing from them. I just wanted to tell my story on how they handled this situation, which I have done.

    As to whether I would console my wife versus find my son, who could be in danger, that is a no brainer for any real parent. Clearly I had no faith that anyone else was going to find him.

  9. Bethany on March 8th, 2013 4:34 pm

    I am sorry to hear that your son was lost for 45 minutes. It sounds like it was a very traumatic event for you.

    After working many years in customer service and corporate America. I want to let you know that Disney actually really seemed to try to express their concerns: A bottle of wine with note, an additional note, and a call from the corporate offices to offer a way to make up for the mishap. It is unfortunate that companies like Disney can't offer a free vacation every time someone doesn't have a perfect experience. (Considering that it wouldn't even have made up for the horrible experience you had, I can see why they don't.)

    The crew wasn't proactive enough in searching for your child, but was supposed to stop to console your wife? That is confusing. Maybe you shouldn't have turned your back on your wife and should have consoled her. Your wife was sobbing and you didn't even have time to give her a hug? That's your job as a husband.

    Speaking of jobs, the captain's job is to navigate the ship and account for the safety of everyone on board. He/she is NOT responsible for customer service complaints and swinging by to wish your wife a happy birthday. This request jeopardizes the safety of everyone on board. Would you expect for an airplane pilot to apologize to you in the middle of a flight? I hope not. (And when I use the term safety, I mean making sure the ship doesn't hit another boat, so the entire ship doesn't sink and kill everyone on board.)

    And next time you go on vacation do everyone a favor (including your children), instead of checking them into daycare, hang out with them. Or if you feel that you just can't spend your entire family vacation together and need someone to keep an eye on your children just the way you do, then hire a nanny to take with you, so that when your son gets tired, he doesn't have to hide in a pile of chairs to take a nap.

  10. @kimworld on March 11th, 2013 12:48 pm

    Ugh. Pretty much my worst nightmare. Glad it turned out ok in the end. Although there's nothing that will take away that feeling of him being lost, I hope Disney does a better job of attempting to make it up to you.

  11. Disco on March 11th, 2013 1:53 pm

    "I’d be forced to break down the door and make the damn announcement myself!"

    I would have this same thought, but I can only imagine you would not be able to do that. If you even got close to doing this, the ship staff would have you arrested and deported and jailed and prisoned and tortured. They didn't care about your son, but I bet they'd sure as hell care if you tried taking matters into your own hands.You'd be an enemy combatant and be found guilt of making terroristic threats. All the while, your son would still be missing.

    As for Disney's alleged customer service, I've never heard anything like that.

  12. Matthew on March 12th, 2013 8:37 pm

    Brent- I feel for your situation and know the panic when you cannot find your child but feel you are being way too unfair on Disney. You seem to be attempting to use your social media knowledge into shaming Disney into refunding your entire vacation. You claim you don't want anything from Disney yet seem to be upset that the captain didn't come by your table for a birthday meal and that a 2 day ticket wasn't sufficient.

    Your story seems very scary to people who have never cruised DCL. I have been on the Wonder with my wife and 3 year old and feel you are missing several key details and are not taking an objective view of what happened. Your kid never left where he was supposed to be. Your actions probably made the situation worse. If you would have kept looking where he was supposed instead of running all over the boat you would have found him sooner.

  13. brentcsutoras on March 12th, 2013 11:26 pm

    I told the story exactly as it happened. Disney agreed that every point I made was a failure on their part.

    I think I was extremely fair in my explanation of what occurred and appreciate that anyone can take from it what they like. It is accurate, and what occurred.

  14. Jon Payne on March 15th, 2013 6:33 am

    Wow Brent I'm so sorry to hear this. Thank God he was okay! I imagine it would take a long time to come back down from this – going from terrified back to "normal".

    My wife and I have gone on two Disney cruises with our kids and have had a blast each time. We had found that the staff really cared and was helpful, and the security of the kids seemed impressive.

    That said, clearly they still have work to do. I know they (the cruise line has recently added a couple of ships) have grown a lot lately, so perhaps they have stretched and not done well at training the staff at the protocols, hired some people who just don't care as much. What a shame.

    Prior to reading this I was expecting to take my family on a Disney cruise at least once every other year, if not more. Reading this makes me think about this a bit more.

    How old is your son who was missing?

  15. brentcsutoras on March 15th, 2013 8:51 am

    Yeah mistakes can happen, but it is how you handle the situation. Our issue is more that we felt a lack of concern, felt on our own, and felt they marginalized everything about the situation.

    Our son was 3 (almost 4) at the time.

  16. @roasted_beanz on March 19th, 2013 12:30 am

    This is good to know. Quite honestly, I'd have done the same thing as you if the people handling the situation seem completely incompetent and uninterested in finding MY child that went missing on their watch. Sure they had protocols they followed…that were utterly inept. The right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing. Even department stores will announce over a loud speaker while immediately calling police/security and locking down the doors. And this was an actual daycare!
    Normal childcare standards do hourly headcounts, have engaged staff to child ratios, and age-designated sections in BRIGHTLY lit facilities. Even IKEA makes sure the beeper they give me works before handing it to me. Total and complete fail on their part. And even w/that 2-day hypothetical standard, they should have given you back 50% of your money. Shame on them.

  17. Rebecca on March 20th, 2013 4:35 pm


    1. This is not just an "imperfect experience," this was a severe customer service failure on Disney's part. 45 minutes is an astonishingly long time to feel like your child is missing and a bunch of adults are scratching their heads and rolling their eyes at you. Disney should have refunded their trip and paid for another one so they could prove themselves worthy to the family. That is a story that would bring more customers in.

    2. "That's your job as a husband" – Don't be naive. His job was to find his son.

    3. Having the captain step away jeopardizes the safety of everyone on board? You sound ignorant.

    4. Hire a nanny for a children's cruise? Now you're just antagonizing.

  18. Kelli from MA. on June 18th, 2013 12:45 pm

    The whole time I read your post I was on the edge of my seat! I was reading so fast and admit that 3/4 of the way through I scrolled to the end just to make sure your son was ok and only then could I go back and read it in order. Imagine that? I'm a stranger and my heart raced just reading your story so I cannot for one second imagine what your body and mind went through. And I cannot fathom any of the CM's having less of a reaction than mine. I have 3 boys ages 20, 10 and 8 and I know that panic when you cannot instantly lay eyes on your child when they are supposed to be where you trust them to be. I leave in 68 days for our first Disney Cruise. I won't cancel it but I certainly will take your experience as an opportunity to make sure we are all on the same page and that we know the expectations. Not that I was already, but I will make sure I express to them the importance of the CM's knowing their whereabouts at all times. Thank you for sharing your experience and I hope that you have better travel opportunities in the future that allow you to make happy family memories.

  19. steph on August 3rd, 2013 4:31 pm

    totally disgusting of disney to attempt to calculate days and send a PRINTED card. the captain should have come to you immediately with apologies also. no protocol or procedure and announcements either?!?!?! totally frightening. there's no excuse for every ship not to have an immediate code adam – like hospitals – with everyone searching for a lost child – including announcements. thank you for posting. we considered a cruise with our 3 kids, but nope. not now. i'm pretty sure we won't be returning for another disneyland trip either since they obviously can't get themselves together any better than a walmart. which is fine if you're adult centered – but not when kids are around. children's safety and security should be THE top priority on their ships and in their parks. they should have refunded your entire vacation plus paid for missed time from working my opinion. that would definitely have ruined anyone's vacation and left them forever paranoid. i'd say sue them too, but the energy and money involved fighting them isn't really worth it for you in the long run. i think having this post / story out there – and reposting it on other sites is enough bad for them. and it warns other parents – which is kind of you and though you will probably never know it, you may have helped another family prevent a tragedy – either by skipping a disney cruise or by alerting disney to revise and correct their incredibly lax/inadequate policies – behind the scenes of course. God works in all things for good for those who love Him. Thank you.

  20. Roxanne on August 4th, 2013 3:35 am

    Hi Brent, you are 100 percent RIGHT on every count! I am a mother and my son had gone missing in a mall and he was the same age as your son. Took my eye off of him for a second and poof he was gone, my heart felt like it was going to explode! I immediately ran to security as fast as I could and frantically calling out his name and one smart salesgirl heard me yelling out his name had called security from the store phone and the security were running towards me omg i grabbed onto them in such a panic and quickly gave them a description of my son trying to catch my breath and almost collapsing to the floor. Well let me tell you that not only were they quick to react wow they were on those walkie talkies back and for with other security people in the mall and in a flash ALL MAIN DOORS TO EACH ENTRANCE WERE LOCKED!! NO ONE WAS ALLOWED IN OR OUT. The one security guy walked me to the security station all the while CONSOLING ME IN MY HESTERICS because I had lost my son. He told me what was happening step by step and what security measures were being taking at that moment and I could hear every two seconds a very loud message being announced over a mall intercom that would let every person walking in that mall or in the stores that a young boy was lost and they were giving out his name and description ,well as I was at the security desk so many people that I didn't even know were consoling me and you saw people searching and then the security man said MAMM WE FOUND HIM! and then I saw another security walking towards me with my BABY, omggg I ran towards my son and held onto him so tight. And you know that was 22 YEARS ago. My baby is now a wonderful handsome 25 year old grown man. People…22 years ago we did not have the TECHNOLOGY that we have today. My point being is this Brent and to your wife, who I can read that you both are loving caring and devoted parents that decided to have some fun one night and put all your trust in a system that failed you miserably, and what some people don't get because either they are disensitized or just plain ignorant is that number one your on a damn boat and I as a boater for many years knows the danger is so great its insane at the stupidest to tragic accidents I have seen, but some people just don't realize, so here is what I have learnt. Always educate yourself and ask all the questions you need to ask to ensure the safety of YOUR CHILD, it's your job as a parent to see that all security is in check before you leave your child with anyone EVEN DISNEY, a name brand is a name brand but thats as far as it goes especially if it was your first time on a cruise ship, you should of asked all the security questions before trusting your son in their care. People are people and EVERYONE makes mistakes big and small and DISNEY cruise has admitted that to you, like their lighting is poorly lit FOR A DAYCARE, but people are people and they make mistakes but most importantly you know you did too. As a mom 22 years ago I DID TOO. At the end of the day Brent it's your son , your decisions and your rules, your the parent and he's your son and he's counting on DAD AND MOM, no one else to keep him safe NO MATTER WHAT.

  21. lucky mom on August 24th, 2013 2:35 am

    My daughter was lost for almost an hour today. Police came in and started ssking me questions but I was just out of my mind screaming her name, running around the neighborhood barefeet. They had to forcibly get me into their car and talk to me. Well! Its a long story but we found her unhurt. The support we got from total strangers, neighbors the paramedics snd the police cops was just……life touching I should say. Im settling down now and trying to forget it. Started googling for similar situations. Im so sorry that you were surrounded by those kind of people when you needed help. To hell with their refund, just love your son more n more. You are a brave father and a caring husband! Focus on them not on these heartless calculators counting your stay on their ship.
    And Disney! Really? You guys claim to bring a smile on childrens faces.
    Dint expect this from you.

  22. RickP on October 12th, 2013 3:25 pm

    I'm very sorry you had such a traumatic experience and I'm glad he was found safe. I do have one question about the protocol. When we arrived to pick up our kids anytime, we had to give our password and then they located the girls with the armband first, then gave us a visitor lanyard to wear before they let us in to go find them. Did they not try to locate them on the computer first before you went in? That was in June, so maybe the protocol changed later.

  23. brentcsutoras on October 12th, 2013 6:44 pm

    There was never any rigid structure like you mention, although that very well could be the case normally. When I came in it was with 2 or 3 other parents and they did not try to find the kids for us. I remember feeling a little frustrated at first because I thought about why I was wandering around aimlessly looking for my child, but just chalked it up to being a cruise and lots of kids.

  24. Linda on October 21st, 2013 8:18 am

    I am so thankful that this story had a safe ending for your child. To Matthew's comment above, the fact that the child never left the facility does not mean that he was safe. Daycare 101 requires that there are no places small children can hide away from caregivers' view. If there had been an emergency, the child would have been left behind because they did not know where he was.

    I have been on a couple of cruises and during the cruises I learned to accept the fact that you turn over control for your life and safety to a company that has your safety as just ONE of their goals. Even in relative minor emergencies such as losing ship power, they do not have resources in place to help individual guests when needed. They will never be able to truly protect you when something goes wrong – you will be on your own to figure out the best course of action in any given emergency.

    The only time we experienced an emergency was when we lost power for a couple of hours. Our 15 year old daughter had been on the top deck with some friends so we headed up to find them. As the emergency lighting started to fade after about 30 minutes the ship got darker and darker. We felt like they were old enough to take care of themselves but it was getting more frightening as we were unable to find the girls. Finally, I heard her call me – she was sitting in a deck chair and I was standing right in front of her but it was too dark to see her.

    It is because of my belief that the cruise companies are not really able to completely protect your safety when you are on board, that I no longer think that kids should be taken on cruises – they are not able to protect themselves when the company's protocol fails to work perfectly and things ALWAYS go wrong to a small degree because of human error, lack of adequate control, inexperience of care givers, etc. etc.

    I hope no one thinks I am criticizing them for taking their children on cruises because that is not my intent. As consumers, it is too easy to listen to the marketing points about how well they take care of kids on the cruises when there are really a thousand holes in their protocols and plenty of opportunities for serious oversights. Disney obviously does the best job of promoting the idea that they will take care of your children and provide them a safe environment. Once again, that is one of their goals but not the one that will protect your children when things go wrong.

  25. Craig on November 8th, 2013 11:04 am

    Just before we took our three young children to Disneyland, we were told about an experience my brother in law's brother had, there. His son was snatched. The boy's parents went to Security and were told this: There are only two entrance/exits in Disneyland. You go with us to one and we will take your wife to the other. Your son will not look the same or be dressed the same so look into each child's eyes as they go through the exit.

    Apparently, the Disney personnel have experience with this. There is an order for a child to be 'adopted' and the age, ethnicity and look of a child is specified. A child that fits those traits becomes the target.

    The mother almost missed the child, since while in the hands of the abductor, his hair had been cut very short, his clothes changed and he had been drugged. She identified the child as he was being carried through the Disney exit.

    We were very aware during our Disney visit because our children had the same traits as that boy who was abducted; they are of Caucasian/Japanese ethnicity.

  26. crissy on January 28th, 2014 5:11 pm

    I can't believe the comments to tell you to bring your own nanny.The lack of responsibility and concern with Disney is just all wrong on their part. Disney is about kids and their safety should have been first priority. I'm guessing they didn't want to announce a child missing in their behalf because other parents would be concerned and question their own children's safety too. So really Disney was more concern about their reputation and not the children first. So they are not to be trusted! They could go through lengths to protect their name but not follow through with what Disney is all about. Kids… The safety band wasn't readable? Well that is a big no no! Plus even if the little boy had crawled into a space to sleep. Clearly know one was even paying him any attention or wondering were the little guy was while he was in the daycare. Daycare employees do need to watch the children and not let them alone. Having a band on his wrist is not a babysitter. It's a protective measure for pick up time. So those Disney daycare employee's should've known where the little guy was or notice he wasn't around if they where paying any attention to the kids. I feel for you and your family. In the end it was very cruel for them not to announce a missing child. For them to not feel the parents fear and panic. For them not to take these matters seriously is just heartless and why would we want to trust our children in your hands Disney.

  27. Jesse on February 25th, 2014 5:29 pm

    Hi Rebecca – sorry Alex,

    You're either a paid Disney writer to make things look less horrible then they are or you don't have anyone that you care enough to feel as bad as losing a child even for a minute.

  28. Jesse on February 25th, 2014 5:37 pm

    Dear Disney employee (Matthew),

    After you have lost a child for an hour, not knowing where he/she is and the workers/company offers no help or support then come back and let me know your feeling.

    Until then you just keep cashing those Disney checks.

  29. Angela on March 1st, 2014 3:10 am

    One minute with a child missing is like not breathing. 45 min would have put me over the edge. I have lost a two year old at a store and te doors were locked down with employees blocking anyone from leaving or coming in until he was found hiding under a rack. The joy and anger I felt at one time. So I can see his anger and would have definitely demanded some answers. Just not too sure I would want to be back at their facilities. No thanks.

  30. Michelle on April 18th, 2014 11:16 am

    Anyone that makes contrary remarks to this story is either A. Not a parent themselves or B. So self absorbed that they do not view their children with any real importance. It is the worst kind of fear to experience when a child is missing. If you have never had that feeling, even briefly, then you really have no place in commenting on this story. Disney is like most companies these days, they do not care about anything but getting your money! And that will not change until more people make a conscious decision to avoid giving them any money! So sorry for your terrible ordeal! It was inexcusable!

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