If you’re planning a trip to Disney and have kids of all ages, then the child swap Disney function will be a lifesaver. While it can be referred to as many things: child swap, rider switch, and rider swap, it is essentially the same thing. Disney rider switch allows one parent/adult to wait with a child while the other parent rides. Then, they switch. I will share some tricks to help you make the most out of the system. So here are the details on how the rider swap Disney system can work to your advantage.
The Basics: How to Use the Disney Rider Switch System
In order to use the Disney rider switch, you must have a child that is either is under the height limit for that attraction or simply does not want to ride. The whole family goes together to the entrance of the line and lets a Cast Member know that they wish to use the Disney child swap service. Then an adult (and up to 2 other guests) ride while the other adult and the non-riders wait or go do something else.
Did you catch that? An adult and up to 2 other guests can use the child swap. This means that if you are a family with 2 older kids and a younger one, one adult can ride with the two big kids, while the other one waits with the baby. Then, the kids can go again with the other adult. The cast members no longer give you a Disney child swap pass like they used to. Now it is digital and is loaded onto your Magic Band. These are the official rules for the Disney Rider Swap Feature.
Simple Use of the Disney Child Swap System
Let’s pretend you are traveling with your little one and both adults want to ride the “bigger rides”. This Disney child swap option lets one adult ride while the other one stays outside with the little one and then the second adult swaps and doesn’t have to wait the line (usually they will send you through the Fastpass lane). Here are the height restrictions for all four Disney parks and which attractions have the Disney rider swap option.
Attractions that Offer Child Swap at Disney World
- Thunder Mountain
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Stitch’s Great Escape
- Goofy’s Barnstormer
- Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
- Frozen Ever After
- Mission Space
- Test Track
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Star Tours
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
- Primeval Whirl
Step it Up: How to Use a Fastpass and the Rider Swap Disney System
Here is how to step it up when booking your Fastpass attractions (30 days before if you’re staying offsite and 60 days before if you’re staying on Disney property). If you don’t know much about the Fastpass system at Disney World, check out Disney’s FAQ page. For this example, the sample itinerary I will show you will pretend that both adults have 1 older child who rides everything and a little one (or non-rider).
Book your 3 preferred Fastpass attractions the moment you can. Here are some Fastpass secrets and tips for each of the four Disney parks:
- Best Magic Kingdom Fastpass Strategy
- Best Animal Kingdom Fastpass Strategy
- Best Hollywood Studios Fastpass Strategy
- Best Epcot Fastpass Strategy
Once you book your Fastpass rides, follow the same procedure that I outlined above. All of you walk up to the Cast Member and say you want to use the Disney Child Swap option. They will load the digital rider swap on the second adult’s Magicband. One adult rides with the older kid, and the other adult stays with the younger one. When the first adult and older kid return, the second adult rides and can take the older kid with them to ride again. Meanwhile, the first adult stays with the little one. This way, everyone gets to ride without waiting in line, and the older kid gets the bonus of riding the attractions back to back with each adult.
While this is a great option for families, there is another trick that will essentially get you double the Fastpasses. You see, technically, the second adult who receives the Disney child swap doesn’t need the Fastpass. The child swap loaded onto their Magic Band acts like a Fastpass. So technically, both adults could get different Fastpasses and double the riding time. Here’s how…
Game Changer: Level 2 – Using Fastpass and Disney Rider Swap
Ok, here is where we kick it up a notch with the Disney rider switch policy. What I will show you will help your family ride more attractions with less wait if you have a little one or a non-rider. Now, of course, this Disney rider swap system means that you will not ride as a whole family.
In the first example, I explained how to use the Disney rider swap option for two adults and a little one. Then, I explained how to use the Disney rider switch for two adults, an older kid, and a little one. For this example, I am going to pretend there are 2 adults, 2 older kids, and a little one. Here is a little Fastpass secret to help you use your Disney child swap.
Book a different Fastpass for Each Adult – Magic Kingdom
- Adult 1 gets a Fastpass for Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Thunder Mountain
- Adult 2 gets a Fastpass for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Splash Mountain
- Book a Fastpass for Older Kid 1 to match Adult 1 and Older Kid 2 to match Adult 2
Here is the brilliance behind this plan if you schedule it right: Again, everything is customizable to what rides your family prefers, but note that Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain, and the Mine Train all have long waits without a Fastpass. If your family loves thrills then the 6 Fastpass attractions should interchange with those 4 rides.
Sample Fastpass Schedule:
Adult 1 takes Older Kid 1 on Splash Mountain (their Fastpass) while Adult 2 stays with Older kid 2 and little one. Then, Adult 2 rides Splash Mountain with Older Kid 2 and Older Kid 1 and Adult 1 stays with the little one.
Adult 1 takes Older Kid 1 on Thunder Mountain (their Fastpass) while Adult 2 stays with Older kid 2 and little one. Then, Adult 2 rides Thunder Mountain with Older Kid 2 and Older Kid 1 and Adult 1 gets lunch ready or gets a table somewhere.
Adult 2 takes Older Kid 2 on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (their Fastpass) while Adult 1 stays with Older kid 1 and little one. Then, Adult 1 rides Mine Train with Older Kid 1 and Older Kid 2 and Adult 2 stays with the little one.
Adult 2 takes Older Kid 2 on Space Mountain (their Fastpass) while Adult 1 stays with Older kid 1 and little one. Then, Adult 1 rides Space Mountain with Older Kid 1 and Older Kid 2 and Adult 2 stays with the little one.
Adult 1 takes Older Kid 1 on Space Mountain (their Fastpass) while Adult 2 stays with Older kid 2 and little one. Then, Adult 2 rides Space Mountain with Older Kid 2 and Older Kid 1 and Adult 1 stays with the little one.
Adult 2 takes Older Kid 2 on Splash Mountain (their Fastpass) while Adult 1 stays with Older kid 1 and little one. Then, Adult 1 rides Splash Mountain with Older Kid 1 and Older Kid 2 and Adult 2 stays with the little one.
Now, a few things to note:
- This schedule is just a sample of the most popular rides with height restrictions.
- Arrive at the park 30 minutes before it opens and try to ride the attractions together that tend to have longer wait times that you DO NOT have a FastPass for – Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Small World, or a character greeting
- Remember that you have an hour to use the Disney Rider Switch option after they load it onto your Magicband. Cast members usually will give you a 10 minute grace period if you’re late, but not much more (don’t push your luck).
- Here is a sample Fastpass strategy for Magic Kingdom (with tips and height guidelines too)
For the other 3 Disney World parks, use the guidelines below for the recommended Fastpasses. If you are going to go all ninja and get 6 Fastpasses with the two adults like a mentioned above, then double what you love or use the recommendations mentioned.
What to do While Waiting for the Others Riding
While you are waiting for the rest of your group, consider doing something instead of just sitting around. I mean, you are in Disney World; there’s plenty to do! Consider grabbing a snack like Dole Whip, or seek out some air conditioning at a store and do some window shopping. You could also open up the My Disney Experience App and check to see what’s going on in your vicinity, such as a character greeting, special event, or even a ride with little/no wait.
Final Thoughts on the Rider Swap Disney Feature
While this does take some planning and strategy, using the child swap at Disney is a great way to still do all of the rides even if you have a baby or non-rider. We have been able to take advantage of the Disney Rider Swap on various trips in the past and can still use it when we travel in a larger group with little ones. If this post was just too much information and too complicated, then don’t worry and try to use the Disney child swap whenever you can. Even using it once can allow more people to ride; however, I highly recommend planning out your group’s Fastpasses in conjunction with the Disney Rider Switch to get the most out of your Disney adventures.
If you are visiting Disney for the first time, then you’ll need to know what to pack for Disney World and how to do Disney on a budget. If you’re looking for something to do besides the parks, consider going to Disney Springs or booking a Disney Cruise. Pin this post for later!
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