Lessons Learned from the Disney World Lost and Found

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It’s hard to truly grasp the scope of the lost and found operation at Walt Disney World resort. Tens of thousands of guests lose thousands of items every day. Working at Magic Kingdom Guest Relations, I became part of the system that tries to reunite guests with their lost items. Seeing the items guests lose every day, I saw some patterns I hope will help you keep all of your belongings.

Disney World Theme Park Lost and Found
The Theme Park Lost and Found contains thousands of hats, sunglasses, and MagicBands. Photo by Maddi Higgins.

Sunglasses and hats are easy to lose.

Sunglasses and hats are far and beyond the most often lost items in the park. The lost and found has more Ray Bans than a Sunglasses Hut. While I’m sure your Gucci shades look really cute, you will be very disappointed when you inevitably leave them in the pouch of Space Mountain. And those warnings to stow your hats and sunglasses on the wildest ride in the wilderness are no joke: huge bags filled with hats and sunglasses are lugged every night by Cast Members from the roller coasters who spent the evening clearing the track of lost items. It’s often difficult to reunite guests with their lost sunglasses or hats just because of the sheer volume that must be sorted through to find the right ones, especially at the end of the night.

MagicBand also get lost often.

Not far behind hats and sunglasses in volume at the lost and found are MagicBands. MagicBands rarely just fall off; they’re designed to stay on throughout a full day of theme park fun. So just keep them on your wrist, or store them securely if you don’t want to wear it. If you’re staying at a resort and lose your MagicBand, you can get it replaced with a generic gray MagicBand. If you aren’t a resort guest, you can either buy a new MagicBand yourself, get a replacement card, or wait and see if your MagicBand shows up at the lost and found.

Parking strollers correctly is important.

Scientific studies estimate that there are a bajillion strollers in a Walt Disney World park at any given time.* If everyone left their strollers wherever they pleased, there would be nowhere to walk. Cast Members are quick to move abandoned strollers into stroller parking, and stroller parking often must be rearranged to accommodate more strollers. So as much as you would love to leave your precious belongings in a stroller that will not be touched, a stroller is not a good place to store your items. You belongings are liable to fall out or be picked up—accidentally or maliciously—by another guest. This is especially true for strollers rented at the park, which all look identical and are often grabbed by the wrong family.

*This is not actual science. Bajillion is not a number recognized by the mathematical community.

No item is too small.

Pretty much anything brought to the lost and found by a Cast Member or guest is going to be kept. Pins without backs, children’s plastic jewelry, and even loose cash are commonly returned to lost and found. So don’t assume your tiny earring is lost forever. Even if your item seems too small to be picked up, it can’t hurt to check—you may be surprised to find that someone returned it.

Unattended items do not stay unattended for long.

Your backpack cannot save your seat for the parade while you run to Casey’s for a hot dog. You will lose both your spot and your bag. Security has to investigate any “abandoned” bags, so it will be a while before your bag even makes it back to lost and found.

It’s never too late.

Most lost and found items are brought in at the end of the night, when all of the Cast Members are doing a final sweep of their areas. Just because your item wasn’t brought to the lost and found before you left the park doesn’t mean it won’t be returned. Keep calling the Theme Park Lost and Found. On my last post about lost and found at Walt Disney World, many commenters told stories about their found items being mailed to them weeks after their vacation.

Disney guests are good people.

Guests are, understandably, panicked to have lost a valuable item, often because they are worried that it has been stolen. But I have good news: No matter how valuable the item you lost, you and your item will probably be reunited. Eagle-eyed Cast Members are on the lookout for lost items. But even more often, Walt Disney World guests are willing to help other guests by handing off lost items to Cast Members. Try not to lose your items, but if you do, have faith in your fellow Disney fans.

Disclaimer: While I am a Cast Member, this article is based on my own experience and does not necessarily reflect the policies of the Walt Disney Company.

Don’t get lost in the confusion of planning the perfect Walt Disney World vacation. Subscribe to TouringPlans for less than the cost of replacing your limited edition Magic Band or vintage Figment plush you scored on Ebay.

Maddi Higgins

Maddi is a full time vacation planner at Magic Kingdom. She is a graduate of the Disney College Program and Disney Professional Internship Program. She is a long-time Disney World fan and her family has been DVC members since 2008. You can see more of her work at maddihiggins.com.

23 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from the Disney World Lost and Found

  • July 7, 2015 at 11:20 am
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    Grandson lost his magic band at the resort-even with the child strap it was too big for him. We checked every day-it was customized but it never got turned in. 🙁

  • July 7, 2015 at 11:43 am
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    I lost my Mickey ears at Magic Kingdom, and feared the worst. A cast member told me where the lost and found was, and said to check after the fireworks. Sure enough, my ears were there! Helps that my name was embroidered into them. Also, fun fact, there are no lost children at Disney World, just lost adults.

  • July 7, 2015 at 12:41 pm
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    I once lost a single red glove at MouseGears. None of the CMs there had found it. But I called lost and found a couple days later and they had it and mailed it back. Amazing!
    So what does happen with all of the items that aren’t reunited with their owners?

    • July 7, 2015 at 6:35 pm
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      From what I was told (after calling lost and found), unclaimed items are donated after 30 days. We got some misinformation about how to go about searching for lost items when my daughter lost her Minnie hat on the Peoplemover. It was her first ever Disney hat and it was on it’s 3rd trip with us. So sad that by the time we figured out who to actually talk to, it was too late. 🙁

  • July 7, 2015 at 12:56 pm
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    Last October I left 4 light sweaters in the drawer at Disney all star music resort, called the minute I got home and called everyday for a week. They were never found and no one even looked in the room until a week after I first called them.

  • July 7, 2015 at 1:47 pm
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    We lost a small pouch/bag full of cash (over $200) and gift cards at Epcot. We had no idea we had lost it until hours later. After backtracking and frantic searching the park, decided to check Guest services on way out of the park around 8pm. They had it! Turns out it had fallen out of our backpack when we took a water break outside of Test Track around 2pm. And all of the money was still in the bag. Totally saved our vacation. (and I didnt’ let my husband carry the backpack or the cash anymore after that). 🙂

    • July 7, 2015 at 10:21 pm
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      That reminds me of another great tip: take pictures of the back of your gift card so they might be replaced when lost. Glad to hear you and your pouch were reunited.

  • July 7, 2015 at 1:54 pm
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    We lost a stroller at Fantasmic. All umbrella strollers look the same when they are folded up so someone mistakenly picked ours up. We went to Guest Services who took our info, with a very detailed account description of the stroller, and gave us a voucher for a free stroller rental for the rest of the week. The best thing was, we had a 90 year old “WDW police officer” show up at our hotel door to get our statement. I got a kick out of how serious he took the situation. Never found the stroller, I’m sure the people who took it thought it easier to keep it then to be without one.

  • July 7, 2015 at 2:27 pm
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    My son left his stuffed animal in the bunk bed at Wlderness Lodge when we checked out. Given the number of sheets they have to wash, I assumed it was lost forever and didn’t even call. Two weeks later, we got a message at home that monkey had had a wonderful vacation but he was ready to come home. He was mailed to us with a cute note and a tearful reunion followed. So, never give up hope!

    I also would love to know about lost and found on the Disney Cruise line!

    • July 8, 2015 at 3:45 am
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      hi Nicole – on my recent Alaska DCL cruise, lost & found items are kept at guest services. At the end of the cruises, as we disembarked, the cast members had tables set up in the cruise terminal with all of the found items & cast members there to assist. There were several signs set up to let folks know it was lost & found. Each passenger had to walk by these tables to get to the terminal – we could see the items (much fewer than from a day at the parks!). It seemed like it would be easy to take one last look for anything that might have been turned in. I’ve not cruised out of Florida so don’t know how it might work there.

  • July 7, 2015 at 5:27 pm
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    This article didn’t answer many questions about lost and found, such as:

    Should I trek to the TTC lost and found location to get my lost item, or should I rely on guest services at the nearest park/resort to file a ticket? Or just call them? What are their hours? (It looks closed most late afternoons I’ve walked by.) Can I park at the lost and found place?

    If I show up, do I look through bins for my lost sunglasses? Or do they rely on my description?

    How long are the items kept at lost and found?

    • July 7, 2015 at 10:15 pm
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      TouringPlans has another article by me and one by Daisy Lauren with more specific info about lost and found. But to answer your questions:

      Guest Relations does not “file a ticket” or follow up on lost items. The park’s Guest Relations hold the items until the end of the day and then delivers the items to the central Theme Park Lost and Found at the TTC. You can call to see if they have the item, but going in person is often more efficient in getting an answer. The Theme Park Lost and Found has 15-minute parking.

      Guests are not allowed to search through lost and found items. Cast Members will rely on your description to find your item.

      Non-valuable items are kept at the Theme Park Lost and Found for 30 days; valuable items are kept for 90 days.

      Hope that helps!

  • July 7, 2015 at 6:03 pm
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    They don’t play around when it comes to unattended bags, I’ve seen them get a dog out to sniff a bag at Epcot.

  • July 7, 2015 at 7:19 pm
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    Some other guest at MK “upgraded” their stroller by helping themselves to our brand new one. Fortunately, guest services was helpful in obtaining a not-so-brand-new replacement, and we learned a valuable lesson about marking and “decorating” a stroller in a manner that makes it wholly unique and easily identifiable. Fortunately, we did not lose anything else of value with the stroller.

  • July 7, 2015 at 7:42 pm
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    I lost a nice camera at Disneyland once. (I think probably on the circus train.) I was so sad mostly because I had a couple of days of Disney happiness photos on it. I checked the Lost and Found at the end of the day, expecting nothing, but bingo–there it was, plus the adorable couple who found it took a picture of themselves giving me the thumbs up. Disney magic!

  • July 7, 2015 at 10:08 pm
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    While waiting in line for Rock-n-Coaster last December, I realized I’d lost my iPhone. I knew it was somewhere in Hollywood Studios, but I had no idea where (it had fallen out of my bag). I was panicking and had given it up for lost. My husband, who is more rational than I am, suggested we use his iPhone to locate it. We saw it was over in the area of Muppets. After several calls, a CM there picked it up and told us it was waiting for us with him. A super nice person had found it under his or her seat and turned it in. I was so surprised and grateful. Strangers really can be awesome!

    • July 7, 2015 at 10:19 pm
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      Cast Members usually won’t answer found phones, and the phones are often turned off once found. Other readers should be advised not to fret if their calls go straight to voicemail. I’m glad you and your phone were reunited.

  • July 7, 2015 at 10:26 pm
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    My son’s shoe fell off while riding in the stroller at Hollywood studios. It was at the park lost and found within 1-2 hrs from being lost. I was amazed at how smooth the recovery was.

  • July 8, 2015 at 7:26 am
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    Great article! An often forgotten, but very interesting part of the whole WDW experience for sure.

  • July 8, 2015 at 9:06 am
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    We accidentally left a Stitch ear hat at Indy and discovered our mistake within an hour. It had my son’s (rare) name embroidered on it; no one ever turned it in. 🙁 He was upset about that for a long time.

    But my other son left his pin lanyard in Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and we got it back within an hour.

  • July 8, 2015 at 9:20 am
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    I lost my cell phone and did not miss it for over an hour. I went back to look for it and a CM said it would end up at Guest Services but might not be there for a few more hours. Enjoyed the park as usual and made our way to Guest Services. The CM took the time to talk to my DD and DS about their visit for what seemed like 5 minutes before finally turning to me and asking me for the phone description. My kids like to tell this story because they had Never, Ever expected their Dad to be this calm and patient about losing (and eventually finding) his phone. Disney Magic at it’s finest.

  • July 10, 2015 at 1:04 pm
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    My daughter left a plastic shopping bag on a Three Caballeros boat. She knew it the minute she had walked out of the exit into the little market, but the boat was gone. We waited an entire cycle of boat numbers but it wasn’t there. It had a pearl from Japan and a new ring and new shirt she had bought AND her wallet with over $80 cash and a visa prepaid with $100. There was a manager there helping us look for it and when it didn’t come out they gave her a gift certificate for the shirt and gave us a couple of the super fast pass things. Called lost and found for a couple days and no luck, then the day before we left we called once more and sure enough, it was there. Disney people and Disney magic at it’s best. Felt guilty about essentially swiping an extra shirt out of the thing BUT with the price of these trips…it’s probably okay!

  • July 11, 2015 at 3:55 pm
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    I have been impressed with this service. Many years ago, my son lost his sunglasses. We were re-united with them months later, after I had forgotten about them! It was a nice surprise!
    I was really impressed the one time I must have dropped my rental car keys on TSM ride! 🙁 We trudged up to the guest services to see – just by chance – if someone had turned them in. It was a huge blessing – they were there!! That saved me $100 to have the rental car company come rescue us with a new set! You guys are awesome – keep up the great work!!

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