If your Disney travel party has a wide range of heights and ages, there’s a good chance you won’t all be riding the same rides! If you’re a thrill seeker with a small child, Disney has got you covered with their Rider Switch program.
What is Rider Switch?
Rider Switch (sometimes called “Rider Swap”) is a service that allows guests to take turns riding rides that other travel party members can’t or don’t want to ride.
Where is Rider Switch available?
Rider Switch is available at most rides with a height requirement, whether you’re using a FastPass or the standby entrance! Some rides without height requirements or that aren’t listed below will also allow you to use Rider Switch at their discretion, so just ask the cast member at the ride entrance. (We learned this trick at Toy Story Mania, when Lucy was sleeping during our FastPass time. A quick search told me that they didn’t offer it, but we asked anyway and were pleasantly surprised – especially Ruby- when the cast member said we could!)
Magic kingdom Rider Switch Locations
- The Barnstormer
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Stitch’s Great Escape
- Tomorrowland Speedway
Epcot Rider Switch Locations
- Frozen Ever After
- Mission: Space
- Test Track
Hollywood Studios Rider Switch Locations
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Star Tours
- Tower of Terror
Animal Kingdom Rider Switch Locations
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
- Primeval Whirl
How does Rider Switch work?
Personally, I think Disney has figured out the best “ride swap” program, out of all the theme parks. The non-riders don’t have to wait in line and wait while the riders ride, which is great when you’re talking about antsy and excited toddlers!
When you approach the attraction entrance (with your party), tell the Cast Member that you’d like to do a Rider Switch. (Please Note: Disney’s policy is that the Cast Member must physically see the non-rider(s). Many Cast Members will be lenient about this requirement, but don’t assume they will be and send your family off to another attraction. Make their jobs easy and go up to the entrance, like you’re supposed to!) They will hand the First Rider a lanyard and admit them into the line (FastPass entrance if you have a FastPass, standby entrance if you don’t). The rest of the party is now free to go enjoy the park. The First Rider will swap the lanyard for a paper Rider Switch ticket before boarding the attraction. This paper ticket is the golden ticket that will allow the Second Rider to ride, so don’t lose it! When the First Rider is finished riding the attraction, they hand off that ticket to the Second Rider, who will then be admitted into the FastPass entrance of the attraction to go ride!
Do I have to use the Rider Switch right away?
No! Rider Switch tickets are usually good for 24+ hours after the First Rider has done the attraction (your window will be listed on your ticket). That means that you don’t have to wait outside the ride or rush back right away to use it. (See why I think Disney has this figured out so well?)
Does each member of our party need a Rider Switch ticket?
Each Rider Switch ticket will admit 2-3 guests as the “Second Rider”. So, if you have 3-4 adults in your party, 1-2 guests can ride first and the remaining guests can ride next. Disney’s website says that each ticket is good for 2 guests, but in our experience, they admitted 3. Plan for 2 and be pleasantly surprised by 3!
How do you make the best use of Rider Swap?
Maximize your park time for the kids! If it’s an attraction that only we adults can ride, we will take the kids to other attractions. So, if we are riding Space Mountain, I’ll take the kids to Buzz Lightyear or the PeopleMover while my husband rides, and then he’ll take them to another attraction while I ride. Or, one of us will take them to an attraction while the First Rider rides and then return for the other adult to ride when they crash for naps.
Let big kids ride twice! Since Rider Switch can be used for more than one guest, we often let Ruby ride with both of us. She loves being able to ride all of the thrill attractions twice, with both mom and dad! When we do this, we often use the ride time for Lucy (our baby) to get some time out of the stroller and let her wander around and explore. I also like to use that time to go shopping while dad’s not around to see the damage!
Use your kids’ nap times! Especially at parks with tiered attractions, we often find ourselves picking FastPasses for the kids over ourselves. We make it up to ourselves by using their nap times to hit those thrill rides that we passed on FastPasses for. We grab snacks and drinks, find a shady spot close to the attraction, and let them sleep while we take turns riding.
You can try the doubling FastPass trick (emphasis on try). Some people figured out a way to cheat the three FastPasses per guest system, by making different FastPasses for each adult and using the Rider Switch program (So, for instance, one guest would book FPs for Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur, while the other would book Kali River Rapids and Primeval Whirl). Disney has supposedly grown wise to this trick and now requires that you verify both riders’ FastPasses, so don’t count on this trick working. You’re free to try it, of course, but it leaves your whole party open to some pretty serious disappointment!