Rider Switch at Disney World: Guide and FAQ

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Are you visiting Disney World with kids who are too small for the coasters? If you want to ride these attractions yourself, Rider Switch is the key to doing it without spending extra time in line. We’ll cover the details of how the Rider Switch system works at Disney World, along with some frequently asked questions.

Here’s the 10-second overview: with Rider Switch at Disney World, both parents can ride an attraction that their kid(s) may not be able to go on. The first parent waits in line and rides, and then the second parent “swaps” and rides without waiting in the regular queue. I’d have lots of questions after that overly simplistic explanation, so let’s dive right in.

Rider Switch Basics

The height measuring stick at Slinky Dog Dash, a flat red plastic cutout of a boy with a blue bowtie and one arm out to the side.
Height limit stick at Slinky Dog Dash
Which rides offer Rider Switch?

The official list can be found at Disney World’s Rider Switch webpage. But the short answer that’s good enough for most users is that if a ride has a height restriction, it will offer Rider Switch.

How does Rider Switch work?

At the attraction, bring your whole party to the greeting Cast Member. Look for a Cast Member with an iPad outside the attraction, a sandwich board marked as a check-in point, or ask. When you indicate who will be waiting with the non-riding members of your group, they will be issued a Rider Switch pass.

The Rider Switch pass is done through My Disney Experience, so guests need to scan something that is linked to their account to receive it. This can be a ticket card, a MagicBand, or MagicMobile. Once you have it, you’ll be able to see the pass on the My Day tab in Genie.

  1. The first group of riders goes on the ride.
  2. Both groups meet up and change over the supervision of the non-riding members.
  3. The second group of riders redeems the Rider Switch passes to ride without waiting in the regular line. If there is only one person in this second group, they can take one person from the first group with them.

In practice, the second group will usually redeem the Rider Switch pass and ride using the Lightning Lane. But Cast Members may occasionally give a different direction.

Rider Switch Examples

Two parents and one kid is pretty straightforward. But if you have more than two riders, over the years Disney has made changes to how guests on the second ride are handled. Let’s spin through a few quick examples.

Two parents, two kids

Alex and Drew are visiting with their children Parker and Cameron. Parker is tall enough to ride Slinky Dog Dash, but Cameron isn’t. Note that Parker will get to ride twice, once with each parent.

  • Alex rides with Parker while Drew waits with Cameron.
  • Then Drew rides with Parker while Alex waits with Cameron.
Rise of the Resistance Rider Switch Check-In Point
Two parents, three kids

Alex and Drew are back 3 years later. Cameron is tall enough to ride now, but they have a new baby, Taylor.

Case 1: Cameron doesn’t want to ride:

  • Alex rides with Parker while Drew waits with Cameron and Taylor.
  • Then Drew rides with Parker while Alex waits with Cameron and Taylor.

Case 2: Cameron wants to ride, but not with Alex

  • Alex rides with Parker while Drew waits with Cameron and Taylor
  • Then Drew rides with Cameron while Alex waits with Parker and Taylor

Case 3: Cameron and Parker both want to ride with Alex

  • Alex rides with Parker and Cameron while Drew waits with Taylor
  • Then Drew rides and either Parker or Cameron (but not both) can ride with them

The big difference: in Case 1 and 3 one of the kids rides twice, but in Case 2 each kid only gets a single ride. One reason why families might choose to have each kid only ride once is that you don’t need to wait at the attraction. If this family was doing Rider Switch at the Magic Kingdom, Drew and Cameron might take Taylor to see Mickey’s Philharmagic while Alex and Parker are riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  Then Alex and Parker could see the show while Drew and Cameron are on the coaster.

Rider Switch Inconsistencies

It’s worth mentioning that Rider Switch experiences can vary from ride to ride and time to time. Although the process most commonly works as described above, Disney makes operational changes for a variety of staffing and safety reasons, and so you might find sometimes that it varies from ride to ride and even day to day of your visit. Here are some of the more common variations that guests might experience.

  • Although Rider Switch passes are generally good through the end of the day, the second group may be asked to return at a specific time.
  • Sometimes there will be a marked check-in for DAS and Rider Switch, and sometimes not.
  • The greeter is usually at the entrance to the ride. If it is busy, you may have to wait in an extended queue – the line to get to the entrance – with your whole party.
  • On occasion, the whole party may be asked to go through the queue without splitting up, and the second group will be held in the attraction loading zone until the first group has finished riding.
  • When checking in, the Cast Member at the entrance may not have the ability to help you with Rider Switch, and you may need to wait for other personnel to be available.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rider Switch

What if my kid is just scared of the ride?

There are actually a couple of rides on the official list that don’t have a height restriction: Frozen Ever After and Na’vi River Journey. You might look at those and think they make sense because they’re dark and/or have small drops. But then you might wonder why Pirates of the Caribbean isn’t on the list, since it is dark and has a small drop.

The truth is that Rider Switch can be used on any ride that is a problem for a member of your party who is unable to wait by themselves. The language on the Rider Switch page reads: “If a child does not meet the height requirement or a Guest does not wish to board a particular attraction, no problem!” Multiple responses to questions on PlanDisney such as this one have confirmed that Rider Switch can be used even at attractions that aren’t on the official list. I myself have been offered a Rider Switch pass at Haunted Mansion after my kids balked at the stretching room.

That said, if a ride isn’t on the list, it’s always going to be at the discretion of the Cast Member you’re talking to, and Rider Switch has sometimes been abused by visitors in the past. Guests have occasionally reported being denied a Rider Switch at rides that aren’t on the list.

I’ve heard of other systems that sound similar to Rider Switch. Are they the same thing?

Probably, yes. Similar systems at other parks go by the names Rider Swap, Baby Swap, Child Swap, or Parent Swap. At Disney World the official name is Rider Switch but all of these systems aim to let both parents ride without having to wait in line twice.

Where do you wait for the first group to finish riding?

If you’re waiting with Rider Switch, you don’t need to stay at the attraction. You can feel free to go do something nearby that’s fun, grab a snack, hit the restrooms, or simply sit and read a book if your kid is napping in the stroller.

My Rider Switch pass has a return time. How is that calculated?

Disney doesn’t say, but we find that usually it’s based on an estimate of when the first group might be done with the attraction and ready to swap. Recently, groups have been reporting that the return time was immediate.

How long do you have to use your pass after the return time?

Your Rider Switch pass is good until the end of the day, which is nice if you don’t have time to get both rides in before a lunch reservation or a planned break. However, you can only have one Rider Switch pass at a time. No piling them up until the end of the day and sending the non-riding kid back to the hotel while the other parent and the older kid stay and ride a ton of stuff.

How does Rider Switch work with Virtual Queues?

You can use rider switch with Virtual Queues.  Everyone who is riding will need to have a Boarding Group. When your Boarding Group is called, set up your Rider Switch when you check in. Since the wait after checking in for a Boarding Group can be as much as 40-45 minutes, using Rider Switch may shorten the wait of the second group.

How does Rider Switch work with Genie+, Lightning Lane, and Individual Lightning Lane?

You can use Rider Switch for rides on which you have a Lightning Lane or Individual Lightning Lane reservation. Everyone who wants to ride will need to have the appropriate LL or ILL. It might seem like each parent would have a short wait anyway and there’s no need to use Rider Switch. But remember that Rider Switch offers an opportunity for one kid to ride with both parents.

What you can’t use Rider Switch for: getting a Lightning Lane for only one parent and then having the second one use the Rider Switch instead. Cast members will check, and it won’t work.

How does Rider Switch work with DAS?

Rider Switch and Disability Access Service can be used together. All riders must be included in the party when the DAS return time is obtained. When you’re ready to ride, the DAS holder must be in the first group. Otherwise, the process is the same. The DAS holder is eligible to be the “returning guest” in the second group if that situation applies.

Have you used Rider Switch at Disney World? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer Heymont has a background in math and biology, but since she couldn't pick between the two she ended up in Data Science where she gets to do both. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, kids, and assorted animal members of the family. Although it took three visits for the Disney bug to "take", she now really wishes she lived a lot closer to the Parks.

5 thoughts on “Rider Switch at Disney World: Guide and FAQ

  • October 24, 2022 at 1:35 pm
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    This is a great review of the system, especially for it to be updated with the ILL, Genie+, and virtual queue.

    Reply
  • October 25, 2022 at 12:55 pm
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    One thing we encountered a couple of weeks ago was that we were made to walk through all of the extended queue before we could say we needed a rider swap. For example, for 7DMT early entry, the queue was snaked around back to New Fantasyland, so little man had to wait with us until we got to the wait time sign before he and I could head off while my wife continued in the queue. Same with Flight of Passage, which was quite a long wait to get to the point where one could swap.

    Reply
    • October 25, 2022 at 2:15 pm
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      Hi Brian, that’s a great point, thanks! I’ve gone back and put in a section about this and other variations that people might experience.

      Reply
  • November 3, 2022 at 11:44 pm
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    We want to use rider switch to each ride, with our 2 year old and 6 month old not going through a crowded queue but instead doing something they will enjoy during the time each parent is riding (or even napping!!). Is this typically possible as some of the variations listed do not allow this?
    Also what is the typical procedure if we commence rider switch near the end of the day so the first parent’s experience will not be finished until after the end of park hours?

    Reply
    • November 4, 2022 at 12:14 am
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      Hi John, if you have two parents and two children who won’t ride, it’s exactly the same as having two parents and one child who won’t ride. If you’re riding something with a height restriction, you can wait with the kids while your wife rides and then swap (or she can wait first). It will work the way you want it to, since you don’t have to wait at the attraction. I can’t absolutely guarantee that your kids won’t need to wait in the queue since we have heard occasional reports of that happening. But while I can’t say what staffing decisions would cause that to happen, I can say that it is far, far from the typical experience based on what we hear.

      As to getting in line at the end of the day, that will be at the Cast Member’s discretion. They may consider that both of you will have checked in under the wire by getting the Rider Switch pass. Or they may say that Rider Switch passes are no longer available due to closing time and the length of the queue. You might not even get the same answer at every attraction, so you’ll need to ask.

      Reply

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