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How to use Rider Switch at Disney World

HomeHow to use Rider Switch at Disney World
How to use Rider Switch at Disney World

Rider Switch (sometimes called “Child Swap” or “Rider Swap”) is Disney’s system that allows people with small children to take turns riding the bigger rides while the other person/people wait with the child.

Here’s how it works…

What is Rider Switch?

Although Walt Disney World is extremely family-friendly, there are some attractions that aren’t suitable for everyone.

In those instances, if your group has 2 people who are old enough to stay back with the one(s) not riding, you can use Rider Switch.

Rider Switch is not available at all attractions. With a few exceptions, it is typically only available at attractions with a height requirement that might prevent someone from being able to ride.

Who can use Rider Switch?

Rider Switch is available for groups where you have either:

  • A child who does not meet the height requirement, or
  • A child who meets the height requirement, but prefers not to ride and is unable to wait alone.

How do you use Rider Switch?

Here are the steps for using Rider Switch at Walt Disney World:

Rider Switch
  1. At attractions offering Rider Switch, look for Cast Members standing at the entrance. At some attractions, you may even see a sign with a Cast Member stationed nearby holding an iPad.
  2. Decide how you will be dividing up your group. Group 1 will ride first while Group 2 waits with the child not riding.
  3. Both groups (including the ones not riding) will need to approach the Cast Member stationed at the entrance. Group 2 will be issued a Rider Switch entitlement in My Disney Experience.
  4. Group 1 rides while Group 2 waits with the child who is not riding. We recommend that instead of just waiting, you do something fun nearby to pass the time.
  5. After Group 1 exits, they take over the supervision of the child not riding, and Group 2 enters the attraction via the Lightning Lane queue. You’ll need to have your Rider Switch validated by scanning your MagicBand or by using MagicMobile on your phone.

Important note: Disney has stated that “if the person in Group 2 waited alone with the child or non-riding Guest, the number of Guests who may join him or her and ride again is limited.

That means only 1 person from Group 1 will be able to re-ride with Group 2. This is different from how things worked in the past.

rider switch in my disney experience

Which attractions at Disney World have Rider Switch?

With a couple of exceptions, the attractions that offer Rider Switch are primarily the ones that have height requirements.

Here’s what you’ll find in each park:

Magic Kingdom

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Epcot

Mission SPACE

Hollywood Studios

Note: although Disney does not have Rise of the Resistance listed on their website as having Rider Switch, it definitely does offer it.

Slinky Dog Dash

Animal Kingdom

wdt_ID ATTRACTION NAME HEIGHT REQ. GENIE+ AVAILABLE? INDIVIDUAL LIGHTNING LANE SELECTION?
1 Avatar Flight of Passage 44" No Yes
2 DINOSAUR 40" Yes No
3 Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain® 44" Sometimes. Expedition Everest frequently moves to Genie+ during busy times of the year. Sometimes. Expedition Everest frequently moves to Genie+ during busy times of the year.
4 Kali River Rapids 38" Yes No
5 Na’vi River Journey None Yes No
ATTRACTION NAME HEIGHT REQ. GENIE+ AVAILABLE? INDIVIDUAL LIGHTNING LANE SELECTION?
Expedition Everest

Do I need to purchase Genie+ to use Rider Switch?

No, you do not need to purchase Genie+ to use Rider Switch.

But, when it comes to Rider Switch, the advantage to having a Genie+ or an Individual Lightning Lane reservation is that it allows Group 1 to use the Lightning Lane, too. Depending on the time of day, that can save you a lot of time.

New to Genie+?

Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane Selections have replaced the old FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World.

If you are unfamiliar with Genie+, before you get too far into planning your Disney World vacation, we recommend you check out a few guides to get you up to speed on how it works:

  • Disney Genie –> Complimentary in-app service that helps you plan your day.
  • Disney Genie+ –> Basically, it is a paid FastPass that costs $15 per ticket, per day. This service replaces the old FastPass+ service and allows you to choose the next available time to arrive at a variety of attractions.
  • Lightning Lane –> New name for FastPass line. You use this with Genie+.
  • Lightning Lane Select Experiences –> The most high-demand attractions are not available in Genie+; however, you can select up to 2 of these high-demand attractions per day to ride via an individual Lightning Lane selection. These selections will cost you extra (they aren’t included with the price of Genie+), and the prices are dynamic, meaning they will vary based upon the time of the year and attraction.

Can I use Rider Switch on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance?

Yes, you can use Rider Switch on Rise of the Resistance at Walt Disney World.

But if you want everyone in your party to use the Lightning Lane (and skip the Standby Line), you’ll need to purchase an Individual Lighting Lane selection for everyone riding. You can’t try to game the system and only pay-to-ride for half of your party. Disney will check and direct those without a valid paid reservation to the Standby Line.

The only advantage to using Rider Switch at attractions that have the option to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane reservation is that it allows 1 person to ride twice. That’s it.

If you prefer not to pay, check out our guide on 5 ways to ride Rise of the Resistance without long waits.

Disney Rider Switch Hack

With the way things worked in the past, it made a lot of sense to only get FastPass+ reservations for people in Group 1 and not those in Group 2. Doing that could almost double your FastPass+ reservations and in fact, that used to be one of most favorite Rider Switch hacks!

Quite understandably, there was some controversy in that recommendation.

But, keep in mind how much extra time is needed for a family to use Rider Switch; everything takes twice as long.

So, while it may have been a loophole, it didn’t necessarily mean that a family that used the old Rider Switch hack was going to ride a ton more rides. That’s not what happened.

Instead, taking advantage of that loophole made it a bit easier for families to do around the same number of different attractions as families who didn’t use Rider Switch.

But now with Genie+ and the fact that Group 2 can only bring 1 guest with them, that loophole has been scaled back. A lot.

Rider Swap which line graphic

When riding the pay-to-ride attractions, only the people who have paid will be allowed to use the Lightning Lane. You can’t try to game the system and only pay for the first group, and then expect to use Rider Switch to let the ones that haven’t paid through the Lightning Lane.

Cast Members will check and direct the group of people in your party that have not paid to the Standby Line.

Pay-to-Ride Attractions that have Rider Switch

  • Magic Kingdom – Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Magic Kingdom – Space Mountain1
  • Epcot – Frozen Ever After1
  • Hollywood Studios – Rise of the Resistance
  • Animal Kingdom – Flight of Passage
  • Animal Kingdom – Expedition Everest1

1 During busy times of the year, these attractions are often moved from being pay-to-ride Individual Lightning Lane Selections to Genie+.

Genie+ Attractions and Rider Switch

However, some Genie+ attractions may not require that members of Group 2 have Genie+ reservations.

In fact, we’ve spoken with Cast Members at several less-popular attractions, and they have confirmed that only Group 1 needs to have a Genie+ reservation.

Why does this matter?

Because sometimes, depending on your group or how you’ve planned your day, you can stretch your Genie+ reservations a little bit.

But before you get too excited, we have some important things you need to understand.

The first problem with this approach is that trying to split things up requires a lot of planning when you should be enjoying your time in the parks.

With Genie+, guests are already reporting that they are spending a lot of time on their phones trying to snag their next reservation. Adding in trying to juggle Genie+ booking windows with Rider Switch is a lot to keep track of.

The second problem with trying to use this old hacking method is that we fully expect for Disney to continue to tighten the loophole. And if you are banking on using it, and you show up at an attraction with only half your group having a Genie+ reservation, you may be directed to the Standby Line.

So while it may be possible, we don’t think that it is nearly as worth it as it used to be.

Instead, a much better “hack” would be to choose your Genie+ reservations and standby attractions wisely using our touring plan strategies.

How much time does Rider Switch take?

The speed at which you tour depends on how busy the parks are, when you arrive, what you’re riding, how fast you move and if you are using Rider Switch.

As you can probably guess, riding the same ride twice will slow you down quite a bit. Keep this in mind as you create your touring plans.

Even though at least 1 of your groups (and possibly both) will be using the Lightning Lane, many attractions will still require at least 20 or more minutes from the point you enter the queue until you exit.

It isn’t unusual for some attractions to take at least 45 minutes or more for both groups to ride when using Rider Switch.

What to do while waiting

One of our biggest pet peeves in all of Disney World is when people make their small children sit and wait while older people ride. You’re at Disney World – there are lots of things to do!

Here are some things to do if you are in the waiting group.

Note: attractions and experiences can go down for repairs or refurbishment, so be sure to check in the My Disney Experience app for the most up-to-date availability.

Phone graphics

Save these graphics to your phone for use in the parks!

Magic Kingdom

Rider Switch magic kingdom

Epcot

Rider Switch epcot

Hollywood Studios

Rider Switch hollywood studios

Animal Kingdom

Rider Switch animal kingdom

Chance to ride twice

Each time that the too-young-to-ride child waits on the rest of the group to ride, they only need 1 adult to stay with them.

If the person in Group 2 waited alone, that person will be allowed to take one guest with them when it is their turn to ride using their Rider Switch. That guest could be from Group 1, which would allow 1 person in Group 1 to ride twice.

For example, if you are a group of 4 with 2 adults, 1 older child riding, and 1 younger child not riding:

Group 1: Adult 1 and older child
Group 2: Adult 2 and older child (riding as guest)

The older child would get to ride twice, and both adults would have the opportunity to experience the attraction with that child.

Of course, if you have more than 1 child in your group that can ride the big attractions, you’ll likely have to take turns riding twice. That is when having a spot nearby where the non-riders can be enjoying themselves really pays off!

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Heather Thomas

Brian

Friday 12th of February 2021

We have 3 kids (9, 4, 3) how do we go about using rider swap for them? There will be some rides that the oldest won't want to ride alone, is there an area near boarding where she can wait for us to ride with the smaller ones and then come back with her or how is the best way to go about this?

Katie

Monday 18th of January 2021

Is there a way to use the DAS with rider swap? I need a DAS as I have a hard time standing and walking for long periods of time. We will also have a 1 year old with us. Would there be a way to shorten the wait time for me with the DAS and then do rider swap?

Shannon Albert

Tuesday 19th of January 2021

Not sure if they'll let you do a combo, but you could always be in the second group of riders, allowing you to avoid waiting in the regular line.

Kayla

Monday 23rd of December 2019

I went to Disney in February 2019. We tried to take advantage of rider switch and only book fast passes for half of our group for some rides in the Magic Kingdom and ToyStory Land as described above. The staff did not like this. We got lectured every time that if doing rider switch then we must book a fastpass for our entire group. After the lecture they usually let us take advantage. But I won't do this again because I didn't like the feeling of breaking the rules :(

Lisa

Wednesday 4th of December 2019

When you show up with your group and ask the cast member for rider switch, do they give it to all wrist bands including those riding in group 1? I have 3 adults and an infant (so 3 wrist bands). Can adult 1 use a fast pass and adult 2 also go through the fast pass lane using rider switch as group 1 so they only use one fast pass? Then when they finish, can adult 3 use rider switch to ride with adult 1 again, using 2 rider switch? Or is rider switch only activated on the wrist bands of group 2?

Brent

Wednesday 4th of December 2019

Ok guys so I literally just got off the phone with fastpass guest relations and this is what I was told.

If you DON'T have a fastpass and want to use child swap The party would approach the ride and inform a cast member that you want to do child swap. The ENTIRE party would then wait in the regular stand-bye line TOGETHER. Once you reach the loading area Party 1 would board while Party 2 (spouse and child) would wait in a holding area to the side. Once Party 1 is finished with the ride, they would then take the child and wait while Party 2 went on the ride.

If you want to use a Fastpass along with Child Swap You need a fastpass for EVERYONE in the group that will actually be riding and wants to utilize a fastpass. Group 1 would go into the fastpass line while Group 2 waited outside the ride completely. Once group 1 was finished with the ride then they would take the child and wait while group 2 entered the fastpass line to ride.

This is specifically how the fastpass area of guest services just explained it to me 5 minutes ago.