Switching Off (a.k.a. "Rider Swap," "Baby Swap" or "Child Swap")
Several attractions have minimum height or age requirements. Some couples with children too small or too young forego these attractions, while others take turns riding. Missing some of Walt Disney World's best rides is an unnecessary sacrifice, and waiting in line twice for the same ride is a tremendous waste of time. Instead, take advantage of the "switching off" option, also called the Rider Swap, Baby Swap or Child Swap. To switch off, there must be at least two adults. Adults and children wait in line together.
When you approach the queue, tell the first ride attendant you see that you want to switch off. The worker will allow everyone, including young children, to enter the attraction. When you reach the loading area, one adult rides while the other stays with the kids. Attractions at some parks offer waiting areas for this purpose. Then the riding adult disembarks and takes charge of the children while the other adult rides. A third adult (or child who meets the minimum height or age requirement) in the party can ride twice, once with each switching-off adult, so that the switching-off adults don't have to ride alone. There is no cost to use the "switching off" option.
On FastPass+ attractions, the park may handle switching off somewhat differently. When you tell the worker that you want to switch off, he or she may issue you a special "rider exchange" ticket good for three people. One parent and the nonriding child (or children) will at that point be asked to leave the line. When those riding reunite with the waiting adult, the waiting adult and two other persons from the party can ride using the special ticket. This system eliminates confusion and congestion at the boarding area while sparing the nonriding adult and child the tedium and physical exertion of waiting in line. This TouringPlans.com blog post explains how to combine switching off and FASTPASS to hold FASTPASSes for more than one attraction at once.
Attractions where switching off is practiced are oriented to more mature guests. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage for a child just to move through the queue holding Dad's hand. In the boarding area, many children suddenly fear abandonment when one parent leaves to ride. Prepare your children for switching off, or you might have an emotional crisis on your hands. A mom from Edison, New Jersey, writes:
Once my son came to understand that the switch-off would not leave him abandoned, he did not seem to mind. I would recommend to your readers that they practice the switch-off on some dry runs at home, so that their child is not concerned that he will be left behind. At the very least, the procedure could be explained in advance so that the little ones know what to expect.
An Ada, Michigan, mother discovered that the switching-off procedure varies among attractions. She says:
Parents need to tell the very first attendant they come to that they would like to switch off. Each attraction has a different procedure for this. Tell every other attendant too because they forget quickly.
Switching off is common at these attractions:
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Rider Swap is available at the following attractions at Magic Kingdom:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad » Tame, western-mining-themed roller coaster
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin » Whimsical space travel-themed indoor ride
- it's a small world » World-brotherhood-themed indoor boat ride
- Pirates of the Caribbean » Indoor pirate-themed boat ride
- Space Mountain » Roller coaster in the dark
- Splash Mountain » Indoor/outdoor water-flume adventure ride
- Stitch's Great Escape! » Theater-in-the-round sci-fi adventure show
- The Barnstormer » Small roller coaster
- Tomorrowland Speedway » Drive-'em yourself miniature cars