If your group of Mouseketeers range in height from 36”-6’6”, then Rider Switch is something you need to know about and take advantage of. In fact, you might go so far as to say Rider Switch can be a parent’s secret weapon to experiencing more rides with less wait! What am I talking about? Well, there aren’t any Know Before you Go facts today, so let’s get started with Disney’s definition of Rider Switch:
“If Guests in your party can’t or don’t want to board an attraction, 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 (or riders) while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction. When the other adult returns, they can supervise the non-riding Guests, and the waiting adult can board the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again!”
If that made sense, then it probably sounds great! If not, don’t worry, we are going to break it down and give you some real life examples today. First, I want to give you a quick rundown of the rides offering Rider Switch. Here we go!
Frozen Ever After
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Those are 17 pretty amazing rides! Did you notice a common theme? Most are thrill rides with minimum height requirements of 38” or more. Many come with physical conditions warnings as well. So, expectant mothers or riders with high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, or motion sickness, should not ride.
Chances are you have at least one person in your family or group that falls into the categories just listed. While they may not be able to ride any of these 17 rides, the rest of your group probably can. Of course, someone that wants to ride is usually left behind to watch the rider unable to participate. With Rider Switch, the odd man out won’t be missing out for very long. Let’s go over the basic procedure so you know what I’m talking about.
This list comes straight from Disney:
To Use Rider Switch
- First check with a Cast member to see if Rider Switch is offered at the attraction in question.
2. Once at the attraction, approach the greeting Cast Member with your entire party. At least one adult member of your party and the Guests who are not riding will be given a Ride Switch pass and asked to wait in a designated area (usually outside of the attraction). This group is “Party 2.”
3. The other party members (“Party 1”) ride the attraction.
4. After riding the attraction, Party 1 locates Party 2 and gives the Rider Switch pass to the adult member who will be riding. Party 1 takes over supervision of the non-riding children or Guests.
5. Party 2 enters and boards the attraction without having to wait in the regular queue a second time. The Rider Switch Pass must be presented to a Cast Member at this time.
If the person in Party 2 waited alone with the child, he or she may bring one other Guest back to ride the attraction with him or her. Please note that only 2 Guests are allowed per Rider Switch Pass.
Follow these simple steps and everyone that wants to ride gets to ride. Actually, at least one lucky rider could possibly ride twice!
That is the basic use of Rider Switch, but there are a few tips that can make it even better.
#1 – Combine Fastpass+ and the Rider Switch Pass
Party (a) can make a Fastpass+ reservation for everyone on the initial ride before ever arriving in the park. When they arrive at a ride like Space Mountain they can still ask for the Rider Switch Pass, only this time Party (a) would use their Fastpass+ to avoid the standby queue. When they finished and meet up with Party (b), the other adult can ride and take 1-2 guests from Party (a) with them using the Rider Switch Pass. In essence, 1-2 guests from Party (a) are using a second Fastpass+ without having to make the reservation. Genius!
#2 – Any Adult can Represent Party (b)
Even without a baby in tow, those with motion sickness may opt out of the roller coasters. Riders in the example above can repeat the process we just covered with one exception. When they finish the first ride and then meet up with Party (b), the adult from Party (b) could hand them the Rider Switch Pass. Party (a) can take the same group for a second ride using the pass, while Party (b) waits one more go around. This works best if Party (a) all use a Fastpass+ for the first ride. We don’t want to leave Party (b) alone too long. Again, this process is like obtaining a free second Fastpass+.
#3 – The Rider Switch Pass isn’t restricted by a time window
Unlike Fastpass+, the Rider Switch Pass does not require you use it during a certain time window. So, Party (a) can take the first ride and then wait till that night, or possibly the next day to use the pass. In this way it is even better than having a bonus Fastpass+ because you can use it whenever you like. I love this idea for outdoor rides. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is the perfect example. You could obtain the Rider Switch Pass early in the day, let Party (a) ride immediately, and then wait till nightfall to use the Rider Switch Pass. This would enable at least one rider in your group the experience of riding both during the day and night. Big Thunder feels like a very different ride once the sun goes down, so I think this would be a fantastic way to get the full experience!
So there are 3 tips that you will find helpful if employing the Rider Switch Pass. If you have been wondering what the non-riders can do while waiting on the riding party, well I’m getting there! You don’t have to feel like you are losing time while waiting on the first riding party to return. This can be a great time to make a pit stop for parent or child, grab a light snack, sit and give your feet a rest, or even find activities for those too short to join in the riding fun. Best of all, take advantage of other nearby rides the bigger thrill seekers may have no interest in.
I really want to give you my tips for every ride, but for time’s sake we will highlight just a few.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad & Splash Mountain
These rides are located next to each other in Frontierland. There is a great little play area for small children on the Splash Mountain side. Riders exiting Splash Mountain will walk right past this area so it can be a good spot to wait for the first group of riders.
My other favorite thing to do at both of these rides is people watch. Big Thunder has a good lookout near the exit of the ride where the runaway train comes steaming around a curve and back into the mountain. This is a fun spot for the rest of the group to try and spot their riders coming around the bend. Of course, Splash Mountain also has a great lookout. You can watch for your group to crest the top of Chickapin Hill before making their big splash into the Briar Patch!
If your group is going standby on either ride and they have a decent wait, you could walk over and catch a showing of The Country Bear Jamboree. The wait is usually minimal here, and the 16 minute show provides seats, a/c, and a daily dose of corny jokes.
Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain & Stitch’s Great Escape
On the other side of the park, these 3 rides have more than enough around them to keep you entertained. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, and the Carousel of Progress all open their doors to guests of any height. The Carousel of Progress is your sure bet for minimal wait times, but there is one other ride I like even more for passing the time. Don’t forget about the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. Not only is it a super relaxing way to spend 10 minutes, it also offers you the chance to move through the show buildings of Space Mountain and Stitch’s Great Escape. If someone in your group gets a little upset they don’t get to join the big kids, you can tell them you are taking a secret tunnel inside the rides! The TTA actually goes right through the middle of Space Mountain, so it will be like their special way of experiencing the ride.
Let’s move over to Epcot, and I’m going to give a super fast run down. Listen to our podcast on Mission: SPACE and Test Track for a full break down of the fantastic play areas. Each has more than enough to do, and both are located at their respective ride’s exit making a meet up very easy. If you are waiting on Soarin’, go ride Living With the Land, or get a jump start on lunch at the Sunshine Seasons. Frozen Ever After wait times have you feeling left out in the cold? Warm up next door at the Gran Fiesta Tour in the Mexico pavilion. No height requirement, and probably no wait either!
Star Tours, Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror
Hollywood Studios can be a little tricky. There are some shows you can try to schedule your ride times around, but I would plan to split up some of your time here. Riders in Party 1 should try and knock out both Tower of Terror and Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster at the same time as they are right next to each other. Star Tours is across the park and is currently next to a big construction area. Your best bet here is catching Muppet Vision 3D or watching Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple just outside of the ride.
DINOSAUR & Primeval Whirl
I’ve saved the best for last! If you want to give the little ones a chance to burn off some energy, let me introduce you to my friend The Boneyard. This is a huge, elaborate, open air play area located at the entrance to DinoLand U.S.A. As the name suggests, the theme is that of a giant dinosaur dig site. Inside, kids 10 and under can explore the multi-level maze, slide through caves, and even dig up a Wooly Mammoth fossil in the big sandpit. The only problem with The Boneyard is that your little ones may want to play here longer than it takes the big kids to ride DINOSAUR and Primeval Whirl!
All right, I know that is a good bit of information. Hopefully I haven’t overwhelmed you with scenarios and touring plans. Remember it is all about having fun! If you feel comfortable using this information to give Rider Switch a try, go for it. If it sounds like another thing you have to stress over, don’t mess with it.
If you have any questions please let me know! You can send us your thoughts on Rider Switch by commenting below, messaging us on our Facebook page, or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know today’s episode hasn’t taken us on a specific ride, but I have to tell you I’m kind of geeking out over Rider Switch! Anything I can use to help my family spend less time in lines, and more time on rides makes me very happy.
To become an official member of the Rider Alliance, support us by visiting patreon.com/wdwrideguide
Follow the WDW Ride Guide on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/wdwrideguide