If you're a parent, then you know that taking your kids on a Walt Disney World Resort vacation can be both a lot of fun and a bit challenging. One thing that can make things a little easier at the parks is the Rider Switch policy. This policy allows parents who have small children to take turns riding the most popular rides without having to wait in line twice. We use Rider Switch whenever we visit the theme parks as there is a 4-year difference between our children and our youngest daughter is not yet tall enough for all the rides. Here's what you need to know about Disney rider switch.
Rider Switch, also known as Child Swap and Rider Swap, is a free service that guests can utilize if they are visiting the parks with someone who doesn’t meet the minimum height requirements for an attraction, or if they don’t wish to ride and are too young to be left unaccompanied. (If you are unsure of the ride height requirements at the parks, check out my Height Requirement blog post for everything you need to get started)
Who can utilize Rider Switch?
Rider Switch is available for parties that have:
- A child who does not meet the minimum height requirement for an attraction
- A child who meets the minimum height requirement but does not want to ride, and is not old enough to wait alone
Here are the steps for utilizing Rider Switch:
- Decide how your group will be splitting up to go on the ride. Who will be in Group 1 and who will be waiting with the non-riding child (Group 2). **New to the system – Walt Disney World has stated that " if the person supervising the child in Group 2 waits alone with the child or non-riding guest, the number of Guests who may join him or her and ride again in limited”. This is a departure from previous practice wherein the number of guests joining Group 2 was not limited; now most rides are limiting Group 2 to the guest who originally waited plus one other rider **
- Look for a cast member at the entrance to rides offering Rider Switch. Some rides will have a cast member holding an iPad while others will have a sign indicating "Disability Access and Rider Switch Distribution".
- Both groups must approach the cast member stationed at the entrance to the attraction, including the non-rider(s), and inform them of their intention to use Rider Switch. Group 2 will then be issued a Rider Switch entitlement.
- Group 1 rides while Group 2 waits with the child who is not riding. They can wait near the exit to the ride, but it is my recommendation to take the child and do something fun. You can experience a different attraction, watch a show or parade if the timing is right, grab a snack and take a break, or let your child have a stroller nap. Some rides also have super cool places for families to wait: Mission: SPACE at EPCOT has a playground for kids to enjoy, and a lot of the rides have their own uniquely themed gift shops that can be fun to look around (one of my favorites is Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios).
- When Group 1 exits the ride, they swap supervision of the child with Group 2, and Group 2 enters the attraction via the Lightning Lane entrance, thus eliminating waiting in the standby queue. Be sure that Group 2 has their MagicBands, tickets, or MagicMobile app on a phone as the Rider Switch entitlement needs to be validated by the cast member at the Lightning Lane entrance.
Keep in mind that Rider Switch is not available for all attractions. This service is typically only available for rides that have a minimum height requirement but there are a few exceptions. I have compiled a list of current rider switch attractions for your convenience.
The following rides are currently offering Rider Switch at the Walt Disney World Theme Parks:
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
TRON Lightcycle / Run
Frozen Ever After
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (all Rider Switch participants must be in a Virtual Queue boarding group or have an individual Lightning Lane entrance purchased for the attraction prior to boarding)
Alien Swirling Saucers
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Slinky Dog Dash
Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Avatar Flight of Passage
Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
Kali River Rapids
Na’vi River Journey
Rider switch is a great way to make sure that everyone in your group gets to enjoy the attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. If you have small children, this might be the perfect solution for you without having your entire party sit out from the bigger attractions. Make sure to ask a cast member about rider switch when you get to the park so that you can take advantage of this service. Happy planning and have a great time at the parks!
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