Walt Disney World is a great vacation destination for families with littles. Even the tiniest of littles will be able to experience more than 50 attractions that have no height requirement. On my little one’s first trip to Disney at 6 months old, classic attractions such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and Frozen Ever After delighted him.
Still, there are times when older kids and adults may want to ride some of the more thrilling attractions. Understanding how to use Rider Switch can help your family enjoy a balance of family-friendly attractions and thrill rides.
There are over 20 participating attractions throughout Walt Disney World that offer Rider Switch, including those that are currently operating on a virtual queue.
Rider Switch Basics
Overview of Rider Switch
A quick one-sentence overview: Disney offers Rider Switch so that both parents can ride an attraction that one or more of their kids may not be able to ride.
The first adult waits in line and rides the attraction while the second adult stays with the child(ren). When the first adult is done, the second adult uses their Rider Switch pass to bypass the standby line and ride the attraction, while the first adult stays with the child(ren).
When you arrive at the attraction, bring your whole party to the entrance so that a cast member can assist you. Some attractions feature a Rider Switch checkpoint, while others just have a cast member with an iPad. If you need help finding where to go, just ask any cast member and they can point you in the right direction.
Let the cast member know who will be waiting with the non-riding members of your party, and they will receive a Rider Switch Pass. These are given directly through the My Disney Experience app, so you’ll need to scan a MagicBand, ticket card, or your MagicMobile.
This is a simple description of how Rider Switch works, but there are ways this could vary for your family. I’ve included some example scenarios below to show how this may work for your family.
Scenarios for using Rider Switch
If you are a family with two adults and one non-riding child, the process is pretty straightforward. Each parent takes a turn riding the attraction while the other stays with the child. This gets more complex when you add more children into the mix.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, an eligible Rider Switch attraction
2 adults/2 children
Let’s say parents Melanie and Hayden are visiting Walt Disney World with their children Micah and Murphy. Micah is tall enough to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but Murphy is not. In this case, all four of them would visit the entrance to the attraction. Melanie would get a Rider Switch Pass, tell the cast member who she would like to ride again with, and stay with Murphy while Micah and Hayden ride.
While they are waiting for the ride, Melanie and Murphy explore Fantasyland and get a Mickey Bar. When Hayden and Micah return, Melanie and Hayden swap and now she gets to ride Seven Dwarfs with Micah. Disney has recently changed their policy and now only ONE rider may ride again with the waiting adult. This is done as a courtesy, so that the second rider doesn’t have to ride alone.
2 adults/3 children
If Melanie and Hayden return a couple years later with a new baby, the scenario changes again. Murphy is now tall enough to ride Seven Dwarfs and can’t wait to ride with her parents. However, because of the rule, both kids cannot ride with both parents.
You could approach this a couple of different ways: Hayden could take both Micah and Murphy on Seven Dwarfs while Melanie stays with the new baby, and then one of the kids could ride again with Melanie. Or one of the kids could ride with Hayden first, and then the other kid could ride with Melanie once Hayden is finished. It all depends on your family’s dynamics and kids’ temperaments, which option would work better for you.
Using Rider Switch with Lightning Lanes or Virtual Queues
My little one in the splash pad while Mama rode Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Rider Switch isn’t just for the standby lines; you can also utilize this service in combination with Lightning Lanes and Virtual Queues. Combining these services can help you get through the lines even faster, giving you more time for other family attractions.
The most important thing to know is that everyone who is riding the attraction must have a Virtual Queue reservation, a Genie+ Lightning Lane reservation, or an Individual Lightning Lane reservation. If there are three people in your party riding the attraction and one non-rider, you’ll need to have a valid pass for the three people who are riding.
If we use our family from above, Micah and Hayden can go through the Lightning Lane at Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. Melanie stays with Murphy and they visit the nearby splash pad. When they are done, Melanie can use her Lightning Lane pass and take Micah again with her on the attraction.
It’s important to note that you still need to get the Rider Switch pass set up before going on the attraction. This will allow Micah to ride again with his mom even though he already used his Lightning Lane.
If you’re planning a trip to Disney with littles and would like help navigating all the challenges that come with that, I’d be thrilled to assist you. When you book with Dreams Unlimited Travel, our services are always free to you, and we’re here to help with all your questions about Rider Switch, Genie+, Lightning Lanes, and more!
Mel Dupell is a Dreams Unlimited Travel Agent who lives in Salem, Oregon with her husband Hayden and toddler son, Micah. She has been a lover of all things Disney since she was a little kid and has experienced the magic of Disney as a baby, a little, a pre-teen, a teenager, a young adult, and now as an adult with littles of her own.
Join Mel as she shares tips, tricks, and insights on traveling to Disney Destinations with littles.