Q: What is Rider Switch and how does it work?
A: If you are travelling to Walt Disney World with small children, Disney World’s Rider Switch program is a fantastic way for parents to enjoy the big thrill rides even if your little ones don’t meet the height requirements. Through this system, parents are allowed to split up, one parent waits with the child that is too small to ride, while the other parent enjoys the attraction with anyone else in the party that meets the height requirements. When the first group of riders finishes, the adult who originally sat it out swaps with the one who just rode. They now get to enjoy the ride by going to the front of the line with up to (2 other guests). Under Rider Switch, depending on party size, the children who rode the first time with dad can also ride a second time with mom while skipping the line.
What attractions are included in Rider Switch? Essentially, any ride with height restrictions, should offer the Rider Switch option. For other attractions, parents will be expected to hold their small children on their laps and aren’t given the option of getting a Rider Switch ticket. Here’s a list by park of attractions currently offering Rider Switch:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Splash Mountain
- The Barnstormer
- Space Mountain
- Stitch’s Great Escape
- Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Mission: SPACE
- Test Track
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
- Primeval Whirl
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Star Tours
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
So how exactly does Rider Switch Work? The system is pretty simple but here’s some steps to guide first-time swappers through the process:
- Visit the Cast Member at the entrance to the attraction that you’d like to use Rider Switch for.
- The CM will issue a paper Rider Switch ticket for the adult that will be sitting it out the first time around.
- The 1st party rides the attraction, the 2nd party stays behind (usually in a designated Rider Switch area).
- After the 1st party has ridden the attraction they re-group with the second party and switch off.
- The 2nd party of up to three people (the ticket holder must be a different rider than in the 1st party but the other two guests can be children/or adults that had ridden the first time around). are then able to skip the long lines when they ride the attraction.
Can I use Rider Switch with FastPasses? Here’s where things get a bit creative. Because of the way the system is set up, only the members in the first group need to have Fastpasses to use the Rider Switch program. Those in the second group don’t need FP’s but can still ride with the Rider Switch ticket that the party has been issued with. For example, let’s say there’s a family of 5. Dad and 2 older sons all need Fastpasses to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Mom who is sitting out with the toddler doesn’t need one. When dad and 2 sons are finished riding, mom (who doesn’t have a FastPass but does have a Rider Switch ticket) can leave dad with the toddler and ride again with the 2 older sons.
I know what you’re thinking, this means that you can double up on your Fastpasses and you would be absolutely right. However, be mindful that everyone riding the first time would actually need to have a Fastpass booked. This means that if we were using the family above, the family could get more than the original 3 Fastpasses allocated per park, but the 2 sons wouldn’t be able to double up on all of the attractions. For example, if Dad and 1 older son wanted to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and decided to use their Fastpasses, Mom and 2nd son would sit out with the toddler and then use the Rider Switch ticket. It then means that Mom and 2nd son could use their FP’s for Space Mountain, Dad and 1st son would sit out, wait for the first group to ride and then swap out. The kids wouldn’t get to ride twice but the family would essentially get more than three Fastpasses. – With a little bit of creativity and forward planning this could be a nice perk if you’re considering Rider Switch.
What happens if we don’t want to use our Rider Switch ticket right away? There is no return time on a Rider Switch ticket. This means that if you want to take a break between the first group riding, to hit the restrooms or have a bite to eat, that is absolutely fine. The second group using the Rider Switch card can simply return to the attraction when ready.
Rider Switch is a fantastic perk for those family’s heading to the parks with small children that don’t want to miss out on the larger thrill rides. In all my times visiting the parks however, I haven’t seen many families take advantage of this perk, due primarily to the fact that many people don’t know quite how it works. So spread the word and now the next time you’re at the parks with your wee ones, you’ll know everything there is to know to give swapping a go!
Do you find tips like this helpful? Then why not consider working with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? As an agent with MickeyTravels, I love sharing tips and tricks with my clients to help them get the most out of their time at the parks. I can also help you find your perfect package, make dining and Fastpass reservations and monitor for discounts so that you can save even after you’ve booked. Best of all my services are absolutely FREE. You’d pay the same as if you were to book directly with Disney. Get in touch at 1-800-801-4025 at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow along on Facebook to find out more.
Image copyright Disney.
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