When you’re at Disney World, what’s at the top of your mind? Snacks? How to manage the complicated Genie+ rules? What merchandise to buy? How to tolerate the most difficult members of your family for 8 hours straight in the heat?
You might be thinking about a LOT of things in Disney World, but there’s one thing you might take totally for granted — a sense of safety. Disney undoubtedly works hard to make its parks feel safe. There are security checks, after all. And many people are happy at Disney, aren’t they? Happy people don’t steal wallets or purses, right? Unfortunately, while many are focused on having fun with their families in the parks, others may be there for less-than-magical reasons and you NEED to be prepared.
Here’s the harsh truth — things can and DO get stolen in Disney World. So while you might not have thought twice about leaving your purse at your Quick Service table as you go to get a fork or use the restroom, be aware that leaving an item alone anywhere can be a risk.
We’ve shared an entire post about my experience getting pick-pocketed in Disney Springs and what to do when you LOSE something in Disney World, but for today we’re focusing on a specific topic — losing your ID in Disney. It’s happened to me and it’s happened to my partner — here’s what we experienced and what you might expect.
Gone for Good
First, let’s talk about what happened to my partner when their ID was stolen and gone for good. This stems back to the pick-pocketing chaos we experienced in Disney Springs.
Essentially, I was pick-pocketed at Disney Springs during the holidays. I made the mistake of not holding my purse in front of me (a rookie mistake, really) because we were in Disney Springs and I had been softly lulled into a false sense of security. But, as we mentioned above, not everything at Disney is out of a fairytale.
Everything happened quickly. My partner’s wallet and mine were both in my purse, but at one point someone must have snatched my partner’s wallet out quickly (leaving mine behind). I didn’t realize until we were leaving Disney Springs and my partner got a text from the bank asking if we had spent several hundred dollars at Target. Nope. Not us. Big stomach-dropping feeling.
Long story short, we went to the Disney Springs Guest Services area to report the incident. Since this wasn’t just a lost item but was a theft, the Sheriff’s Department got involved. Two deputies were already there when we arrived — let’s just say we weren’t the only ones filing a report for theft in Disney Springs that day. Around the holidays, this can be a bigger problem.
In this case, we were given 2 options: file a statement in person with the deputies, or get an incident number and file the statement online later with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. We were told that filing online was easier, so we went with that.
But, we had to go through one other step. The Guest Services Cast Members also took down information from us so they could file some reports. Disney never contacted us again about that report, however, so we expect that nothing really came of it. While the Cast Members were kind throughout the interaction, we did not experience any extra magic.
In terms of the police incident report, it seems nothing has really come of that either. While we got confirmation emails after initially filing it, we really didn’t get anywhere else with it and were essentially out of luck. Still, having filed the police report was helpful because it gave us a paper trail to give credit card companies and banks to prove the cards had been stolen and cancel them.
Basically, my partner’s wallet and ID were gone — gone, gone — gone for GOOD. But my partner was able to replace his ID thanks to the documentation we had.
So what are the big takeaways from all of this?
First, Disney is a generally safe place, but don’t fall into a false sense that everything is totally, 100% safe. It is still a public place and it’s important to have your wits about you.
Second, if you lose an ID or think it has been stolen, go to the nearest Guest Relations area as soon as you can. They can generally help you by directing you to the proper resources.
Third, if you have an item (like a wallet or ID) stolen, expect to file a report with Disney and with the Sherriff’s office detailing what happened. But bear in mind that nothing may come of those filings.
Unfortunately, not every story has a happy ending and you might not be able to recover your ID or documents. Instead, you may need to apply for new ones. In those instances, try to have a paper trail that shows what happened — it can make the process easier!
And, if possible, when coming to Disney, try to only bring the essentials. If you can leave important documents at home that you don’t technically need for your trip, consider doing so.
Click here for our full post about the pick-pocketing experience
Sometimes It’s Not As Bad
Sometimes, however, there can be a happy ending, where you lose an ID and it turns up somewhere else — saving you the hassle of applying for a new one.
Here’s the truth about me — I have lost my own ID in Disney World. I have been very guilty of just leaving things around the parks, like my bag with my ID in it. But sometimes things have turned out okay.
The biggest example of this is when I left my wallet over at the Joffrey’s Coffee station near the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It just wanted to hang out and get some coffee on its own, OKAY?! (I kid, I kid.)
I left my wallet there and then proceeded to spend my time frolicking around the park, NOT realizing I was without my wallet. Seriously, friends, I didn’t realize I had left my wallet behind for about FOUR and a half hours.
As soon as I did realize the error of my ways, I immediately went to a Guest Experience Team umbrella. That’s where I (with just a touch of fear) quickly told a Cast Member what had happened. The Cast Member suggested I visit the central Guest Services area in the park (where Lost and Found is located) immediately.
Why? Well, when an item is lost in Disney World, it typically follows a certain path.
- If it is found by a Cast Member, they may initially hold onto it in their store, merchandise area, ride area, etc. within whatever land it was lost
- If an item is found by a guest, it may be turned in to a Cast Member within that land — but it may not be exactly where you lost it (so you typically need to check stores, restaurants, and rides within the area)
- The item then goes from Cast Members within the land to the Lost and Found/Guest Services for the larger area (like the whole park). If there are 2 Lost and Found areas within the park, it could go to either one so you’ll want to check both quickly.
- As it gets later in the day, Cast Members take the Lost and Found items to a bigger facility at Disney Springs. The longer you wait to check, the greater the likelihood that the item has been moved to the Disney Springs location.
It’s not necessarily all that big of a deal, but once your item has been sent to Disney Springs, it can be a bit more challenging to get it, mainly because you’ll have to travel there, your item will have to travel there, and you’ll have to deal with a larger area where more lost items are being processed.
So, if at all possible, you want to check the Guest Services/Lost and Found area within the park where you lost the item BEFORE the end of the day and before the lost items get moved to Disney Springs.
During my Joffrey’s Coffee lost ID incident, it was getting closer to the end of the day by the time I realized I lost my wallet so I rushed to Guest Services within Hollywood Studios. There, I (somewhat frantically) told a Cast Member that I had lost my wallet. She asked if my name was Quincy — immediately my worries start to ease.
It turns out that some lovely guest had found my wallet and turned it in without taking anything from it (there ARE good people in this world!). I was brought inside to verify my identity so I could get my wallet back.
The Cast Member verified that I was in fact Quincy (spoiler alert: I am!) based on the information in my wallet and ID. Then, I filled out a form because the item I lost was a high-value item. After filling out the necessary items, I was given my wallet and ID back — a true Disney miracle!
So here are the big takeaways from this situation:
- If you lose your wallet or ID in Disney World, you can check with the Cast Members within the stores, restaurants, rides, etc. in the land where you lost your item
- If your ID isn’t there, go immediately to Guest Services for the park as a whole, where the item may have already been sent
- Try, as much as you can, to speak with Guest Services in the park where you lost the item before the end of the day
- If your item has already been sent to Disney Springs or you don’t realize you’ve lost it until it’s too late, head to Disney Springs and visit their Guest Relations/Services/Lost and Found area to see if it is there
- The key is to act as QUICKLY as you can as soon as you realize something is wrong
- And consider taking a picture of your wallet/ID as your day begins — that can help you identify it later if you still have your phone!
Click here for our FULL post on what to do when you lose something at Disney World — a complete guide
Flying Without an ID
Finally, we want to talk about another thing you’ll need to think about if you do lose your ID. Let’s say you misplace your ID in Disney World and cannot get it back before your trip ends, and to top it all off you need to FLY home. What will you do at security?! If you have a passport with you, then you should be able to go through security just fine. But what if you don’t have your passport, or your “regular” ID (like a driver’s license). Can you fly home?
This sort-of happened to a friend of mine who left their ID at home and didn’t realize until they were already at the airport, getting ready to go through security to visit me in Disney World. In that instance, they had to work with TSA to answer a variety of questions.
The TSA website has whole pages and sections dedicated to these types of scenarios. On one page, they note that if you arrive at the airport without the proper ID (because you left it or it is lost), you may still be able to fly. You’ll have to provide other information so TSA can confirm your identity.
On another page, TSA explains all of the forms of valid ID, this includes driver’s license, U.S. passport, a foreign government-issued passport, and more. If you don’t have the proper identification, the TSA “officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity.”
If they can confirm your identity, then you can go through the security checkpoint. Just be aware that you’ll be “subject to additional screening, to include a patdown and screening of carry-on property.”
If your identity can’t be verified though, you won’t be able to enter the security checkpoint. TSA also advises in these instances that you arrive “at least two hours in advance of your flight time” so you can go through the necessary steps.
Even if you are able to fly without your ID, know that other complications could await you once you reach your destination. For example, my friend who forgot their ID at home was able to speak with TSA and verify their identity, hop on their flight, and make it to Disney World.
Thankfully, they were able to get into their Disney World hotel because their partner was on the reservation (and had their ID) and the information is on the My Disney Experience app, which can make things easier. But, because my friend did not have their ID, they could not get alcoholic drinks or get into places like Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto because they could not prove that they were 21 years old or older.
So just keep those potential issues in mind!
And that’s a look at my experience of having lost my ID and my partner having lost their ID in Disney World. Have you had this happen to you? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments.
For more Disney World stories, see our posts below. And stay tuned for more news.
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Have you ever lost your ID or something important in Disney World? What happened to you? Tell us in the comments.