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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? Then you probably want to know about Disney’s Rider Switch program. We’ll cover the details of how Rider Switch works at Disney World, along with some frequently asked questions. (Wondering if this is the same thing as Rider Swap, Baby Swap, Child Swap, or Parent Swap that you’ve used in other parks? The details may be a little different, but pretty much, yes.)

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. (Or doesn’t want to ride.) The first parent waits in line and rides, and then the second parent “swaps” and rides with only a short wait. Although it’s most commonly used for kids who are too short for a height requirement, Rider Switch is also used as a disability accommodation for non-riding guests of all ages. I’d have lots of questions after that very basic explanation, so let’s dive right in.

Rider Switch Basics

Who can use Rider Switch?

Rider Switch is available for any guest who will not ride because they:

  • Do not meet the boarding requirements (for instance, too short!)
  • Have a service animal that cannot board the attraction or does not want to use a provided kennel
  • Meet the boarding requirement, but don’t want to ride and cannot wait outside the queue on their own

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 you may need to ask. When you indicate who will be waiting with the non-riding members of your group, they will be issued a Rider Switch pass.

A sandwich board with the Space Mountain logo and a listing for Rider Switch, Disability Access, and Wheelchair/ECV access.

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. Those who will ride second (a maximum of 2 people) wait with the non-riders.
  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 pass 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 to ride again.

In practice the second group, which cannot be more than two people, will usually redeem the Rider Switch pass and ride using the Lightning Lane. But Cast Members may occasionally give a different direction.

Which rides offer Rider Switch?

The official list can be found on Disney World’s Rider Switch webpage. But the short answer that’s good enough for most users is that Rider Switch is available at most attractions throughout Disney World. If a ride has a height requirement, it will not only be offered but usually easy to find as well.

How old does your child need to be to wait alone while others ride?

It does take extra time to use Rider Switch. If your child who doesn’t want to ride is old enough to wait on their own, everything is easier. And, Disney stipulates that if they can wait alone, then you can’t use Rider Switch! So when is that?

This will vary from family to family, and even from kid to kid. According to the official park rules, guests must be at least 14 to enter the park alone, and at least 7 to board an attraction on their own. And there is a clearly stated expectation that children will be appropriately supervised. But that leaves a lot of territory for judgment, especially if a child chooses to go through the queue with you and use the chicken exit instead so that they are only waiting while you are actually on the ride.

One thing to consider is whether or not your child routinely navigates the world outside without a grownup. If you wouldn’t be confident to let them walk to the corner and board the school bus while you stayed in the house, they aren’t old enough to wait on their own. But even if they are, don’t forget – that’s at home, not in an unfamiliar place with lots of people. And rides do sometimes break down; if they’ll be thrown when a 10-minute wait at the exit turns into half an hour because of downtime – even if you mentioned in advance that it might happen – then it’s probably a better idea to use Rider Switch.

Rider Switch Example Scenarios

Two parents and one kid is pretty straightforward. But if you have more than two riders, there are some options for how guests on the second ride are handled. Let’s spin through a few quick examples.

Two parents, two kids

Perry and Piper (P is for Parent) are visiting with their children Alex and Blaise. Alex is tall enough to ride Slinky Dog Dash, but Blaise isn’t. Note that Alex will get to ride twice, once with each parent.

  • Perry rides with Alex while Piper waits with Blaise.
  • Then Piper rides with Alex while Perry waits with Blaise.

Two parents, three kids

Perry and Piper are back 3 years later. Blaise is tall enough to ride now, but they have a new baby, Casey.

  1. If Blaise doesn’t want to ride:
    • Perry rides with Alex while Piper waits with Blaise and Casey.
    • Then Piper rides with Alex while Perry waits with Blaise and Casey.
  2. If Blaise and Alex both want to ride with Perry
    • Perry rides with Alex and Blaise while Piper waits with Casey
    • Then Piper rides and either Alex or Blaise (but not both) can ride with them
  3. If Blaise wants to ride, but not with Perry
    • Perry rides with Alex while Piper waits with Blaise and Casey
    • Then Piper rides with Blaise while Perry waits with Alex and Casey

The big difference: in the first two cases one of the kids will get to ride twice, but in the last scenario 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. For instance, at the Magic Kingdom Piper and Blaise might go with Casey to see Mickey’s Philharmagic while Perry and Alex are riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  Then Perry and Alex could see the show while Piper and Blaise are on the coaster. (See: Disney World Big Kid / Little Kid Attraction Alternatives)

Four grownups, one kid

The other person to ride in the second group doesn’t need to be a kid. If you have a party of 4 adults (say grandmother and grandfather have come along to help with an infant, or even just another couple who are mishpocha), then one pair of adults can ride while the others keep each other company. Then they can switch off using the Rider Switch Pass, and grandma and grandpa can ride.

This goes beyond four grownups and one kid. Even if there are some kids who are riding, or if there are more than four adults, you can still have grandma and grandpa wait and then ride together. But remember that no more than two people can ride when the Rider Switch Pass is redeemed, and one of them must have not ridden in the first group.

Rider Switch Inconsistencies

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

  • Although Rider Switch passes are often 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 be able 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 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 Disney’s 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!” I myself have been offered a Rider Switch pass at Haunted Mansion after my kids balked at the stretching room. And since Rider Switch is offered as a disability accommodation, it should be available whenever the accommodation reasonably needs to be applied.

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. Rider Switch has sometimes been abused by visitors in the past, and so 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. On occasion you may be asked to wait at a specific place, and in those cases a Cast Member will direct you where to wait.

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?

Generally you will have about 1 hour to return. But many rides don’t enforce this and will allow you to return any time before 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. Ask before leaving the ride if you will be running over the end of the window.

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; as with a regular queue everyone should be present to get the Rider Switch Pass. Since you can wait as much as 40 minutes or more to ride after checking in to ride with a Boarding Group, using Rider Switch can substantially 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 where 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: having only one parent get a Lightning Lane and then having the second one use the Rider Switch to get in the Lightning Lane. 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!

(First published October 24, 2022. Last updated April 9, 2024).

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer has a background in math and biology, so 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.

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

  • Thank you for this awesome explanation! I was hoping to clarify how this works with larger groups. We will be 8 adults and 2 children. Will we be able to essentially split into two groups? 4 and 4? And evenly split the “babysitting.” Or will they limit the guests who can partake/partake in group 2. To clarify, I am not trying to get anyone on a 2nd time, just hoping we can split up evenly.

    • Hi Danielle, I’m going to give you two answers. The first is that yes, you should be able to do exactly as you describe. It’s clear from the policy “If the second guest waited alone” that it’s expected sometimes there will be multiple people in each riding group. And although I haven’t used it in a large group (or honestly, in a long time as my youngest is now in their teens), we never found the process to be overly formal in way that would dictate that you can’t wait as 4-and-4.

      The second answer, which might be viewed as a cop-out, is that Rider Switch operations are always at the discretion of the Cast Member. As I mentioned in the article, there are the “usual practices” and then there is “what you might find”. There are all sorts of reasons why the process might deviate occasionally; everything from staffing on the ride to general crowd levels. So while I wouldn’t expect there to be any issues with riding 4-and-4 and that will probably be what you experience your entire vacation, be prepared that occasionally you might be asked to do something different.

      Have a great trip!

      • Many thanks Jennifer!

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • This is a great review of the system, especially for it to be updated with the ILL, Genie+, and virtual queue.


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