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, the adults switch. I will share some tricks to help you make the most out of the Disney rider swap so that you can ride even more. Here are the details on how the rider swap Disney system can work to your advantage.
The Basics: How to Use Disney Rider Switch
If you are a Disney first timer or are new to using the Disney child swap here is how it goes. 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.
Child Swap Disney Attractions
Let’s pretend you are traveling with your little one and both adults want to ride the “bigger rides”. This Disney rider switch 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 Disney
- 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: Rider Swap Disney and Using a Fastpass
If you are looking to kick it up another level, then I will show you how to use the rider swap Disney feature with your Fastpass. When booking your Fastpass attractions be sure you reserve them 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).
Step One… 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
Step Two… 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 Child 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.
Different Fastpasses using the Disney Rider Swap at Magic Kingdom
In this pretend situation, I will use Magic Kingdom as the example park when using different fastpasses for each adult and adding on the Disney rider switch bonus.
- 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. Alternatively, you could add Buzz Lightyear Spin (which usually does have a wait) and not repeat fastpasses.
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 as I 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.
Disney Restaurant Recommendations
Disney dining options continue to improve. Here are some of my recommendations when visiting Disney World:
LAND AND SEA PACKAGE
Are you looking to combine a Disney Cruise vacation with a Disney World stay? Nothing extends the magic more than combining a Disney cruise with your WDW vacation. I can help book your stay at one of the Value, Moderate, or Deluxe resorts, book your dining, and Fastpasses. It may make sense to stay off-site, if you are considering staying nearby, check out these options on the best family resorts in Orlando. To try and cut down on some costs, you may want to take a look at how to do Disney on a budget and what to bring on the trip using this Disney packing list.
If you are planning on doing both a visit to Disney World and a Disney Cruise, I recommend doing your trip to the parks first and then finish it off with a Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral. Here’s why – while a Disney World vacation is fantastic, it is not always relaxing. You are waking up early, running around the parks, and trying to make it to the next attraction for days. On a Disney Cruise, you will vacation at a much slower pace and be pampered by the signature Disney service. In addition, Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, is probably one of the best beach vacations you’ll ever have!
If you have not booked your Disney Cruise yet and are just looking at options, I would recommend using a travel agent to help you with the planning and give you some onboard credit as a thank you for using them. I have been on 5 Disney Cruises in the past 8 years and am a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. I can share my tips and tricks about cruising with Disney, provide free onboard credit, review check-in procedures, and go over what types of things to do on/off the ship. By the way, my services are completely free! If you’re interested in a free quote or even if you have already booked and would like to transfer it over so that I can help you, email me and we can get started.
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