Rider Switch - What? How? When? Where? Who? Why?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Prior to our trip, I tried to brush up on the all important "rider switch." I had a hunch that our little one would be shying away from the more thrilling rides. After hearing conflicting information online and within podcasts, I located the "official" Rider Switch Service information through Disney's website. I felt confident that it would "work" for our trip, but I would be lying if I told you I wasn't a little worried. With the arrival of FP+, rumors were swirling that rider switch would not work anymore, at least not in the same way it had. I did some more hand wringing. I woke up worrying about it, that this great system wouldn't let both Steve and I experience things like Thunder Mountain with our Thunder loving girl.

Allow me to put you at ease that based on our experience, Rider Switch is (at the time of this post) still very much happening. The second rider is still able to have a member of their group accompany them on the attraction; the big kid who wants to ride can do so twice. It's a nice perk for big kids.

As I referenced in our Trip Report (Day Two Part I), we totally flubbed our first switch off at Thunder Mountain. We neglected to get a Rider Switch pass and had to try to use our son's Magic Band (who had a FP+ reservation, but not riding) to get my daughter on again with me for my turn. I'm not sure this would work as a long term solution and for that reason, I won't recommend you do this. As you pass through the Magic Band turnstiles, your name comes up and I'm not sure my Caroline could have passed for Connor. My thought is that this is still "a test" and they aren't enforcing things like that... yet.

Though the official site provides an excellent overview, complete with a list of attractions where you can use this service, I offer these additional tips.

  • There is a time limit on the Rider Switch Pass

Your rider switch pass is good only on the day it is issued and it will clearly say that date on the pass.

  • Your rider switch pass will gain you access to the FP+ line, even if you did not use FP+ for the first ride.

That is to say, if you don't have a FP+ reservation and your party waits in the standby line, on return with the rider switch pass you will not have to wait in Stand By again. It is like a FP+ for one part of our party. We had a FP+ reservation for an attraction on our last day that we chose to change as the line was short enough to accommodate a Stand By wait instead. We utilized Rider Switch instead and were granted FP+ entry for the second ride. Keep in mind, you do NOT need a FP+ reservation to use Rider Switch.

  • Know two things before you an approach an attraction with Rider Switch; that you plan to use Rider Switch and who will be riding and who will be waiting.

You must enter the line to request the pass and having this sorted out in advance will prevent a roadblock at the cue and any potential confusion, or when kids are concerned, disappointment over who is and is not riding at this exact moment.

  • As soon as you enter a cue with your entire party including those NOT riding, ask the very first cast member you see for a "Rider Switch Pass.

The cast member will want to see who is not riding and will then hand you a Rider Switch pass. Do not lose this because this is your ticket to ride again.

  • After the switch off, approach the first cast member you see at the FP+ entrance (if enough time has elapsed, keep in mind this could be a new cast member) and hand them the Rider Switch Pass. They will hand it back to you to hold until you are through the final turnstile at the front of the line.

You will wait in the FP+ line to ride again. Our daughter was absolutely tickled that she got to ride again in such a short line for something she enjoyed and wanted to ride again.

  • In most cases, our son was not unhappy about the switch, but I would suggest finding a distraction to pass the time.

Connor was very happy to not ride, but he would have been miserable sitting by the entrance waiting for his sister to come back. Luckily, there are MANY distractions to pass this time. There are shops near the exits of nearly every attraction, an ice cream or popcorn wagon is never far away. Near Thunder, you can sit on the bridge and watch people come down the Splash drop. Find something JUST for them and do it up.

We successfully used Rider Switch four times during our trip; twice at Thunder, once at Primeval Whirl, and once at Space though my girl was not up to riding a second time with me. There is always a possibility that these guidelines will change, everything at WDW is subject to change at anytime, but Rider Switch is still very much a reality today. I would find it hard to believe that it would not continue seeing the number of families who utilize the service. It is a definitely a big kid perk, but oldest children seem to get so few things all to themselves. Let's let them have this one. Happy families come back, having this service makes things much easier, and easy makes people happy. I hope they don't touch this service because I am a huge fan.

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