Rider Switch (sometimes called "Child 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...
Rider Switch has gone Digital
As of June 19, 2018, Disney has begun to transition from paper Rider Switch passes to all digital using your MagicBand or RFID enabled ticket.
Aside from the Rider Switch being digital, the process is very similar to the previous method in all aspects except for the return time.
As you encounter a ride that has a height requirement, your whole group should be present and you can tell the Cast Member that you'd like to use Rider Switch.
The Cast Member will then scan the MagicBands or tickets of the waiting portion of your group (Group 2). For those people they will see the Rider Switch added to the FastPass section of their My Disney Experience account.
The riding portion of your group (Group 1) will proceed through the line.
Previously guests had anywhere from until the end of the day to, in some cases, the end of the month to redeem their Rider Switch pass.
This new digital method, however, utilizes a return window that is 1 hour long (with a 10 minute grace period).
Note: The new return time restriction is something you'll want to keep in mind when planning out your FastPass+ reservations.
Recommendation: Use Rider Switch with FastPass+
Just like with paper FastPasses we still highly recommend that you use FastPass+ for only the first group. This means that you'd get FastPasses for just the number of people riding in Group 1.
Once your group shows up during the FastPass window (the whole group should show up, including the non-riding child), the Cast Member will scan the MagicBands or tickets of the rest of the group (Group 2). Group 2 will then have the Rider Switch pass added to their My Disney Experience account. That Rider Switch pass will then allow Group 2 to use the FastPass+ line.
This method effectively doubles the number of FastPass+ reservations you can get since the Rider Switch passes work like FastPasses. Here's an example of how this could work for a family.
|1||Seven Dwarfs Mine Train||Get FP+ for this||Ride using Rider Switch||Get FP+ for this (and can also ride using Rider Switch)|
|2||Space Mountain||Ride using Rider Switch||Get FP+ for this||Ride using Rider Switch and use 3-year-old's FP+ to ride||Get FP+ using 3-year-old's ticket although 3-year-old won't be riding|
|3||Big Thunder Mountain||Get FP+ for this||Ride using Rider Switch||Get FP+ for this (and can also ride using Rider Switch)|
|4||Splash Mountain||Ride using Rider Switch||Get FP+ for this||Ride using Rider Switch and use 3-year-old's FP+ to ride||Get FP+ using 3-year-old's ticket although 3-year-old won't be riding|
|5||Barnstormer||Get FP+ for this||Ride using Rider Switch||Get FP+ for this (and can also ride using Rider Switch)|
|6||Stitch's Great Escape||Ride using Rider Switch||Get FP+ for this||Ride using Rider Switch and use 3-year-old's FP+ to ride||Get FP+ using 3-year-old's ticket although 3-year-old won't be riding|
|7||Total # of times on these rides:||6||6||12||0|
The old paper passes did not have a time specified on it, however, the new digital versions do specify a return time with an hour and 10 minute long window. You'll be able to see your return time in the My Disney Experience app.
Warning: it may not always work this way
We've done lots of research and received many reports from people who have told us that Cast Members at some attractions (particularly Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) may insist that everybody must have a FastPass.
(Which begs the questions - if everybody has a FastPass, what's the point of Rider Switch?)
Other rides where we've heard that Cast Members have insisted on everybody having a FastPass include Slinky Dog Dash, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Space Mountain. Could occur at others as well.
However, the way we've described it in this article is how it works at most attractions.
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. That means there is an opportunity to allow the rest of the group (if you have more than 2 adults) to ride twice.
Let's say you have a family with 2 adults and 3 kids and only the youngest child isn't riding. The first group can have 1 adult and 2 older kids while the other adult and youngest child waits. The second group can have the other adult and the 2 older kids (Rider Switch allows up to 3 people). This means the 2 older kids get to ride twice.
What to do while waiting
One of my 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's lots of things to do!
|wdt_ID||Ride||Height Requirement||What to do while waiting|
|2||Seven Dwarfs Mine Train||38"||Ride the Carousel or Mad Tea Party|
|3||Big Thunder Mountain Railroad||40"||Ride the Walt Disney World Railroad around, starting at the Frontierland station and/or play in the play area located just under the train station|
|4||Splash Mountain||40"||Ride the Walt Disney World Railroad around, starting at the Frontierland station and/or play in the play area located just under the train station|
|5||Barnstormer||35"||Casey Jr. Splash ‘N’ Soak Station, Dumbo|
|6||Space Mountain||44"||Tomorrowland Transit Authority|
|7||Stitch's Great Escape||40"||Tomorrowland Transit Authority|
|8||Tomorrowland Indy Speedway||32" to ride||Tomorrowland Transit Authority|
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.