(Photo Courtesy of the Cooper Family)
Let’s talk about Rider Switch. If you’re visiting Walt Disney World and you’re the parent or caretaker of a young child, Rider Switch is going to change your world. Rider Switch, also called Rider Swap, is a program that Disney put in place to allow parents of little littles to still have an opportunity to ride all those cool rides their kids aren’t quite big enough for. Rider Swap is available at all four Disney Parks, and can be used in conjunction with FastPasses.
The great news about Rider Swap is that it’s easy to use. The not as great news is that it can be kind of hard to explain. Let’s take it step by step.
First, let’s start with a scenario. Let’s say that you, like me, have one child who is tall enough to ride most things and one child who is not. You want to ride Seven Dwarves Mine Train, but if your partner and older child ride, who will watch the little? You can’t just park your toddler at a snack cart and hope for the best. This is the ideal usage of Rider Switch. It will allow all members of the party to ride Seven Dwarves Mine Train without having to stand in line twice. (Which, thank goodness, because that line can get long.)
For Rides with a FastPass
Book your FastPass either 60 (on-site guests) or 30 (off-site guests) days before your trip. If you’re making a FastPass for Seven Dwarves Mine Train, do it for the members of your party who are NOT waiting with the little one. In my case, I make the FastPass for my husband and my older daughter.
When it’s time to redeem your FastPass, everyone in the party, including the non-riders, must check in with the Cast Member stationed at the FastPass entrance. So for us, all four of us check in. We let the Cast Member know we have FastPasses, but we will need to use Rider Switch. I often hold up the baby as proof. ;)
The Cast Member will have the riding members of the party scan their Magic Bands and enter the queue.
The Cast Member will then give the riding adult a Rider Switch credit, for use within 1 hour.
The riding members the party will then enjoy the ride. Whoopeeee!
The non riding members are welcome to roam as they please. They don’t need to stay tethered to the attraction area. Here’s a pro-tip. Disney is full of fun, exciting things. If your big one and partner are FastPassing a thrill ride, don’t just wait for them near the ride. How boring for your little. Use this as a chance to let them call the shots! I usually use this opportunity to FastPass Winnie the Pooh or Meeting Ariel at her Grotto with my little, as those are her fave experiences.
When you meet back up with the rest of your party, get that paper Rider Switch Pass and pass off that baby. Now, the original non riding adult can ride the attraction with up to three other people. Three other people! This means your older kids get to ride again. See? It pays to have a little sibling. This Rider Switch ticket acts as your FastPass reservation, so just present it to the Cast Member at the Fast Pass queue. There is no need to check in again with the full party or scan your magic bands.
Now, let’s say you don’t have a FastPass for a height restricted attraction, but you’re willing to wait it out in the queue. Great! Rider Switch can work for you, too!
For Rides Without a FastPass
Same as before, everyone in the party, including the non-riders, must check in with the Cast Member stationed at the Stand-By entrance. Let the Cast Member know you would like to use Rider Switch. Still hold up the baby as proof. ;)
The Cast Member will then give the riding adult a Rider Switch credit.
While the riders ride, you and the small one go get a treat. This is an excellent time for a snack because half of your party is gone and you don’t have to share. Or you can go on your own ride. Or watch some street performances. Check out our complete attraction and entertainment guides for each of the Disney Parks if you’re looking for ideas on how to fill the time.
When you meet back up with the rest of your party, use that Rider Switch credit. And now you go get splashed on that mountain!
A Few Important Things to Remember
Rider Switch is for those with children who either do not meet the height restriction or are too afraid to ride. It is not intended for parents with older, teenaged children who just aren’t interested in riding.
Rider Switch is available only at rides that utilize FastPass, but not every ride that utilizes FastPass has Rider Switch. Shows and rides with no height restrictions that you can FastPass do not offer Rider Switch. But if you have a child who is afraid of something, it never hurts to ask. For example, my first trip as a mother of two, I was in tears trying to explain to the Haunted Mansion Cast Member that I needed Rider Switch. Holding my baby as proof was doing no good. The poor guy didn’t understand, because Haunted Mansion has no Rider Switch. He just kept saying, “But you can take your baby on” and I kept saying “My baby doesn’t want to be a Happy Haunt.” Another Cast Member eventually sorted it out, and gave us a return FastPass that we used as a Rider Switch. It’s not guaranteed, but it never hurts to ask. Luckily, in most cases, the scarier rides tend to offer Rider Switch.
If using Rider Switch with a FastPass, you do not need a FastPass for all members of your party, only the original riders. This works great for parents of children of varying ages. Let’s say you have three kids, they’re 8, 6, and 2. You would FastPass the ride for your partner, and the two older kids. You could use your FastPass to do something toddler friendly with the little.
So now that you know what you’re doing, what can you ride? As of June 18th, 2018 the following are the attractions Walt Disney World that offer Rider Switch.
- The Barnstormer (Height requirement: 35 inches)
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Height requirement: 40 inches)
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Height requirement: 38 inches)
- Space Mountain (Height requirement: 44 inches)
- Splash Mountain (Height requirement: 40 inches)
- Tomorrowland Speedway (Height requirement: 32 inches)
- Frozen Ever After
- Mission: SPACE Green (Height requirement: 40 inches)
- Mission: SPACE Orange (Height requirement: 44 inches)
- Soarin’ (Height requirement: 40 inches)
- Test Track (Height requirement: 40 inches)
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Alien Swirling Saucers (Height requirement: 32 inches)
- Rock’n’Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (Height requirement: 48 inches)
- Slinky Dog Dash (Height requirement: 38 inches)
- Star Tours: The Adventure Continues (Height requirement: 40 inches)
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (Height requirement: 40 inches)
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Avatar Flight of Passage (Height requirement: 44 inches)
- DINOSAUR (Height requirement: 40 inches)
- Expedition Everest-Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (Height requirement: 44 inches)
- Kali River Rapids (Height requirement: 38 inches)
- Primeval Whirl (Height requirement: 48 inches)
Tell me all your best Rider Switch stories in the comments! I know I can’t be the only person who relies on it. ;)
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey three years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!