This free service for families with young children is often overlooked. Using it correctly can enhance your vacation and take some stress out of your park days while saving valuable time. Walt Disney World recently unveiled a brand new update to the Rider Switch Service and everything is electronic now! So all you need is your Magic Band or Ticket Card. I’ll discuss all the changes below. (Info is current as of July 2018.)
What Is Rider Switch and How Does It Work?
If young guests in your party can’t or don’t want to board an attraction (ex: little ones who don’t meet the height requirement), you don’t have to miss out! If a child does not meet the height requirement or a guest does not wish to board a particular attraction, no problem! With Rider Switch, one adult can wait with the non-rider(s) while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. When the other adult returns, they can take over supervising the non-riding guest(s), and the adult who waited can then board the attraction thru the fastpass line without having to wait through the standby line.
Rider Switch is available at select attractions at all 4 Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. Typically, if an attraction has no height requirement then they do NOT offer Rider Switch because everyone can ride. If your child has other sensitivities or reasons why they cannot ride something or stand in line at an attraction, check with guest services about the DAS card.
To Use Rider Switch:
- First, ALL members in your group go to the ride entrance and let the Cast Member know you would like to do Rider Switch. If the group that is riding first has a Fastpass, they will be instructed to scan their Fastpass to enter the Fastpass line. If they are not using a fastpass they will enter the standby line. The first group rides while the second group waits.
IMPORTANT CHANGE: ALL MEMBERS OF THE PARTY MUST BE PRESENT AND CHECK IN WITH THE CAST MEMBER AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE QUEUE. Cast Members used to not enforce this with the new changes they are enforcing it at every attraction. So don’t expect to use the Rider Switch service if you entire party is not together. If the line to the ride/attraction extends past the regular queue entrance, you must wait in line with the entire party until you reach the regular entrance to the queue and a Cast Member will assist you at that time.
- The waiting group will get their bands scanned by the Cast Member for their return time. (If any of the first riding group will be riding again, they will have to scan their bands as well. Please note that only THREE (3) guests are allowed per rider switch pass). The scan basically puts a temporary FastPass on the Magic Band and will tell you how long you have to return to the attraction. Generally, it is set for an hour plus ten minutes less than the posted wait time. So if the wait time is 40 minutes, the return time will be set for 1.5 hours later. (That’s when the Rider Switch Fastpass will expire).
IMPORTANT CHANGE: THE RIDER SWITCH FASTPASS HAS A SET TIME IT WILL EXPIRE. The Cast Member will let you what time the Rider Switch expires. In the past, you were able to use the Rider Switch pass at any time convenient for the duration of your trip. Now, you must use it right after the first group rides. So, plan your days and fastpasses accordingly. There is a little bit of leeway so if you end up needing to feed a baby or change a diaper and are worried about your return time, just talk to the Cast Member and they will try to accommodate.
- When it is time for the second group, they enter the Fastpass line and scan just like a regular Fastpass.
- If the person in the waiting group waited alone with the child, he or she may bring one or two other guests back to ride the attraction with him or her. This means that a child (or 2) that rode first could actually ride it again when the waiting adult gets their turn to ride! Please note that only 2 additional guests are allowed per Rider Switch Pass.
- Fast Pass is not required to use Rider Switch.
- ***PLAN FAST PASSES STRATEGICALLY** If there is an attraction that you KNOW you will need to use rider switch for, then both adults don’t need a fastpass since the second adult will get the rider switch pass to use. Your travel agent can help you plan your fastpasses ahead of time.
- Plan plenty of time between fastpasses and before dining reservations if you are using Rider Switch. Since the adult waiting must now use the Rider Switch pass right away, you need to make sure you don’t plan dining or another fastpasses too close together.
- Generally, if a ride offers a Single Rider Line (Test Track, Rock’n’Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest), you might as well just do that line and no pass is needed. Ask the Cast Member which option is best. In my experience, they will point you toward the quickest option.
- Rider switch can also be used if you are not sure if your child is ready for a certain attraction. Let the Cast Member know that the first adult is riding to see if the attraction will be okay for the child. Then when they return, the family can all ride together.
ATTRACTIONS OFFERING THE RIDER SWITCH SERVICE
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
Avatar Flight of Passage
Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain®
Kali River Rapids
More info for traveling with young children:
Aleshia Sokoloski, Travel Agent affiliated with Travel with the Magic
Specializing in Universal Resorts and Disney Vacations including Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Adventures by Disney, and Disney Cruise Line.