Disoriented animals from ants to humans reorient in accord with the shape of the surrounding surface layout: a behavioral pattern long taken as evidence for sensitivity to layout geometry. Recent computational models suggest, however, that the reorientation process may not depend on geometrical analyses but instead on the matching of brightness contours in 2D images of the environment. Here we test this suggestion by investigating young children's reorientation in enclosed environments. Children reoriented by extremely subtle geometric properties of the 3D layout: bumps and ridges that protruded only slightly off the floor, producing edges with low contrast. Moreover, children failed to reorient by prominent brightness contours in continuous layouts with no distinctive 3D structure. The findings provide evidence that geometric layout representations support children's reorientation.