If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World with young children and/or thrill-averse kids, you are going to want to know how to make the most of the Rider Switch Service. Simply put, Rider Switch allows parents to take turns on an attraction their children can’t or don’t want to ride.
Let’s cover all the details about Rider Switch, which Magic Kingdom attractions offer Rider Switch, and how to make the most of this very useful feature!
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What is Rider Switch?
So, what are you supposed to do when you have kids who are either too short or too scared to go on a ride or attraction at Magic Kingdom, but you have older kids or adults that still want to go on?
Rider Switch to the rescue!
How this works is that you can split up your group so that at least one adult is able to supervise the kids who can’t or don’t want to ride. And that adult is then able to ride after the first group has come off, by going through the Lightning Lane.
How to Get Rider Switch at Magic Kingdom
The first thing you want to do is to approach the cast member with your entire party. They are usually located near the Lightning Lane entrance of the ride, or standing underneath umbrellas (though this can vary by attraction). If you’re not sure who you’re supposed to talk to, just ask any cast member at that attraction and they’ll point you towards the right person.
You’ll explain that you’d like to utilize Rider Switch. They will then ask you who will be the second group (or person) going on the ride. This means the adult(s) who will be waiting with the children who can’t or won’t ride.
Usually cast members will allow one other person to ride with that adult so they don’t have to ride alone. Think of it as allowing a plus one for those in the second group. 😉 The cast member will then scan the Magic Band or park ticket of the second group, to issue a Rider Switch entitlement.
The first group will ride while the second group waits.
When the first group comes off, the second group will then get in line to ride via Lightning Lane, thus saving time for that second group.
Rider Switch Real Life Examples at Magic Kingdom
This can sound a little confusing so let’s do a couple examples with real life situations.
Here is how our family of 5 used Rider Switch at Magic Kingdom for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train:
Our family consisted of 2 adults (S + J1), 9 year old (K), 6 year old (J2) and 22 month old (I)—who is too short to ride.
We approached the cast member and told them that mom and the two older kids would be riding first (S, K, and J2). Dad would be riding in the second group and he was allowed to have one of the kids ride with him. So J1 + K became the second group. They both had their Magic Bands scanned to issue Rider Switch.
S, K and J2 entered the standby lane and rode together while J1 supervised the toddler.
Once S, K, and J2 got off, it was Dad’s turn. So J1 and K (his plus one) scanned in and entered the Lightning Lane to ride while S, J2 and I hung out nearby.
Rider Switch Example with Larger Group
Let’s do one more example with a larger party, from when our family and a friend’s family did a trip together to Magic Kingdom.
Here is how our group used Rider Switch at Magic Kingdom for Space Mountain:
Our travel party consisted of our family of 5 (S—Mom, J1—Dad, K—9yo, J2—6yo, and I—22 month old) and my friend’s family of 4 (L—Mom, J3—Dad, E—5yo, and N—2yo).
We approached the cast member altogether and told them we’d like to use Rider Switch. K and J2 were tall enough to ride but didn’t want to because they aren’t huge thrill seekers. The two moms chose to be the first group (S + L), with the dads (J1 + J3) being the second group. The dads got their Magic Bands/park tickets scanned, and hung out with all the kids nearby. S and L entered via the Space Mountain standby lane.
If K and J2 had wanted to ride with us in the first group, they could’ve ridden again as J1 and J3’s “plus ones”. But this is always up to the cast member’s discretion.
Once the moms (S + L) finished with the ride, it was the dads’ (J1 + J3) turn. They scanned in and entered through Lightning Lane instead of standby, thus saving some time.
*NOTE 1: if you already have a Lightning Lane for a ride via Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane purchase, they will only scan the band/ticket of the “plus one” who will be joining the adult in the second group.
*NOTE 2: if you don’t have Lightning Lane for the ride (as noted in my examples), the first group will always be the one waiting longer, as they are going off the current standby wait time.
Magic Kingdom Attractions with Rider Switch
Alright, now that we know a little bit about how Rider Switch works, let’s get into which Magic Kingdom attractions allow you to use Rider Switch!
There are currently six attractions at Magic Kingdom where you are able to utilize Rider Switch, though this will change to seven once Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens up (formerly Splash Mountain). Basically, they are all the rides which have a minimum height requirement.
Here is how they’re spread out throughout Magic Kingdom.
Space Mountain – 44” height requirement
Tomorrowland Speedway – 32” height requirement to ride, 54” to drive
TRON Lightcycle / Run – 48” height requirement
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – 38” height requirement
The Barnstormer – 35” height requirement
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – 40” height requirement
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (opening late 2024) – 40” height requirement
How to Make the Most of Rider Switch at Magic Kingdom
Hopefully you now understand what Rider Switch is, how it can be used, and which attractions you can use it on.
But you might be wondering—what on earth is the “waiting” group supposed to do?
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with just sitting around nearby. There’s always something to look at. But that’s pretty basic.
Instead, let me give you very specific ideas for how to make the most of Rider Switch with the waiting group, based on each attraction.
If you’re using Rider Switch at Space Mountain, there are several things you can do!
- Get a snack! Your closest options are Cool Ship (a popcorn stand), Joffrey’s (for coffee and pastries), Lunching Pad (for pretzels and other standard Americans fare), and Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies (all sorts of ice cream and even churros).
- Potty break – This is a good opportunity to use the restrooms. The nearest one is right behind Joffrey’s.
- Find some characters – Always check the My Disney Experience app and filter for “characters” while looking at the map. It’ll show the most accurate schedule for the characters. But most commonly, we have Stitch, Buzz Lightyear, and Chip and Dale in Tomorrowland area.
- Go on other rides – You’ll need to take into account of the wait time to see if it makes sense. Generally, a lower wait time will be better so that you can meet your first group in an efficient manner. For example if Space Mountain is a 30 minute standby wait, and Buzz Lightyear is 35 minutes, it probably doesn’t make sense to do it. Rides near Space Mountain with guaranteed lower waits are Carousel of Progress and Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.
- Check out gift shops – Nothing wrong with looking for souvenirs, right? The closest one to Space Mountain is Tomorrowland Launch Depot. Or you could walk a little further and look at the merch in Star Traders.
- Watch nearby rides – Even if you’re not riding them, it can be fun to watch nearby outdoor rides. Your bed bets here are Tomorrowland Speedway, Astro Orbiter, and Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover.
If you’re using Rider Switch at Tomorrowland Speedway, here are some things you can do nearby that can help you make the most of your time.
- Get a snack! – Cool Ship or Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies are your closest options. Tomorrowland Speedway is located on the border of Fantasyland so it’s a short trek to Chesire Cafe (where you can find yummy pastries!). For more substantial food, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe is right there as well for burgers and chicken strips.
- Potty break – The closest restroom is next to Star Traders. There is another one next to Chesire Cafe.
- Find some characters – We’ve met Alice just outside of the Mad Teacups before. There is also the Mirabel meet and greet, and Winnie the Pooh character meet and greets nearby. But those character meet and greets may have longer waits. So it might not make sense if the wait time for Speedway is very short.
- Go on other rides – Mad Tea Party is never a long wait, so it’s a good one to squeeze in. You could also go around the corner to Dumbo, which also never has a long wait. Go the opposite direction back towards the center of Tomorrowland, and you could do Peoplemover or Carousel of Progress.
- Check out gift shops – The closest one is Star Traders, but you could venture into Fantasyland and check out Hundred Acre Goods next to the Winnie the Pooh ride.
- Watch nearby rides – You could try to catch sight of your family on Speedway, watch Astro Orbiter flying high, or watch the Mad Tea Party spinning.
TRON Lightcycle / Run
If you’re using Rider Switch at TRON Lightcycle / Run, these are some ideas on what you can do to make the most of your “waiting” time with the kids who can’t or don’t want to ride.
- Get a snack – Joffrey’s or Cool Ship are your best bet. It doesn’t make sense to venture any further than that unless someone is super hangry.
- Potty break – There are restrooms right underneath the TRON curved canopy. If you walk further up away from Tomorrowland, there are also restrooms at the Fantasyland train station.
- Go to a play area – Casey Jr Splash n Soak station is near the train station, and is a fun little area to let young kids get out of their strollers and run around a bit.
- Go on other rides – It is a little tougher since TRON is a little bit tucked away from the other rides but Dumbo might be a doable option.
- Check out gift shops – The closest gift shop is Tomorrowland Launch Depot, right next to the exit of Space Mountain.
- Watch the rides – There are benches underneath the canopy near the restrooms, so you could try to catch a sight of your family members speeding by on TRON!
If you’re using Rider Switch for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, there are several options for you!
- Get a snack – There’s a lot to choose from! You can go to Storybook Treats (for sweet treats, and ice cream) or Friar’s Nook (for tots, hot dogs, and mac and cheese). Those two are the closest. Other options include Chesire Cafe (pastries), towards the Mad Tea Cups. Or Pinocchio Village Haus (flatbreads, pasta), just past the carousel.
- Potty break – The restrooms closest to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is next to Chesire Cafe. Or you can go to the ones next to Pinocchio Village Haus.
- Find some characters – Winnie the Pooh and Tigger are right across the way. Princess Fairytale Hall is also nearby, but waits for the princesses can get pretty long, so you’ll want to check wait times beforehand. Sometimes Cinderella’s stepsisters or the Fairy Godmother are in the area. Make sure to check the My Disney Experience app!
- Go on other rides – Mad Tea Party, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Prince Charming Regal Carrousel are the closest. I’ve often taken the youngest ones onto “it’s a small world” since wait times are generally low, but it is a little bit more of a walk. You could also hop into Mickey’s PhilharMagic show (12 min show without long waits).
- Check out gift shops – The closest one is Hundred Acre Goods, filled with Pooh merchandise. You could go next to Princess Fairy Tale Hall to Sir Mickey’s and get pixie dusted. Further down towards Peter Pan’s flight and it’s a small world, you can find Fantasy Faire.
- Watch nearby rides – Just around the corner from the entrance, towards Enchanted Tales with Belle, you can get great views of people riding Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. It could also be fun to watch the carousel spinning around or watch the Mad Tea Party as well.
If you’re using Rider Switch for Barnstormer, check out these possible options to make the most of your time.
- Get a snack – Go inside Big Top Souvenirs to grab a snack. That’s the closest place to find some food. You may be able to find popcorn carts nearby as well.
- Potty break – The closest ones are at the Fantasyland train station.
- Find some characters – You can usually meet Daisy, Donald, Goofy and Minnie inside Pete’s Silly Sideshow, but wait times can vary here. Barnstormer is really quick coaster, which also typically doesn’t have long wait times. So you may not have enough time to get over there.
- Other rides – your best bet here will be to do Dumbo! Barnstormer is such a quick ride that it won’t make sense to go anywhere further to do other rides. You could also let your kids play in Casey Jr Splash n Soak area
- Gift shops – Big Top Souvenirs is your best bet for souvenirs and other merchandise.
- Watch nearby rides – Barnstormer is an easy one to watch from outside. You could also watch Dumbo flying without riding, or maybe even catch a glimpse of the Walt Disney World Railroad train coming through.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Get a snack – Some nearby options include: Golden Oak Outpost (chicken strips, fries), Pecos Bill (tex-mex, churros), and Westward Ho (stand with corn nuggets, candied bacon, variety of beverages). A little further and you can go to Tortuga Tavern or go past Country Bear Jamboree to Aloha Isle to grab your favorite Dole Whip treats.
- Potty break – The closest is at the Frontierland train station. Alternatively, there are bathrooms inside Pecos Bill Tale Tale Inn & Cafe
- Characters – The closest official character meet and greet is probably Jack Sparrow, right before you get to Pirates of the Caribbean. But it might not be a short wait. You can also sometimes spot country bears hanging outside of Country Bear Jamboree. Another way to see characters in this area is the character cavalcades or parades. Both kick off from Frontierland, which is really convenient. Currently Festival of Fantasy parade happens twice a day (12pm, 3pm), and the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade is posted at 5:10pm
- Other rides – You could venture to Tom Sawyer Island, or do the Country Bear Jamboree Show. Walk a little further through the shortcut next to Country Bear Jamboree and you could hop on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. If you walk further down in Frontierland, there is the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade, which is not a ride, but a fun little carnival-style shooting game.
- Gift shops – The closest is Big Al’s, which is a little stand selling frontier themed merch. Frontierland Trading Post next to Country Bear Jamboree. Or if you have pirate lovers, you could check out Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar, which is near the exit of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
- Watch nearby rides – You can catch sight of the rollercoaster zooming around, see the rafts taking folks to Tom Sawyer Island, watch guests splashing down on Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, or watch the Liberty Belle Riverboat go by.
Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (opening late 2024)
- Get a snack – Tiana’s Bayou Adventure is a little bit closer to all those eats listed for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
- Potty break – It’s located pretty much in between the train station restrooms, and the Peco’s Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe restrooms. You could walk a little further to Tortuga Tavern restrooms or the Pirates of the Caribbean bathrooms in Adventureland.
- Characters – The closest one is Jack Sparrow, as you walk towards Adventureland. If you happen to be getting Dole Whip at Aloha Isle, you can find the Aladdin & Jasmine meet and greet right there too. However, these character meet and greets can have longer waits. Another way to see characters in this area is the character cavalcades or parades. Both kick off from Frontierland, which is really convenient. Currently, Festival of Fantasy parade happens twice a day (12pm, 3pm), and the Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade is posted at 5:10pm
- Other rides – The nearest attractions with low waits are Tom Sawyer Island and Country Bear Jamboree show. If Pirates of the Caribbean has a low wait time, it could be worthwhile hopping on there. Otherwise, you could do also venture over to Enchanted Tiki Room or Magic Carpets which rarely have long waits.
- Gift shops – It’s located closer to the same gift shops listed for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
- Watch nearby rides – You could watch your family splashing down here on the bridge, watch the rafts taking guests to Tom Sawyer Island, or watch the Liberty Belle Riverboat go by.
Do you plan to make the most of your time utilizing Rider Switch? It’s a great opportunity for ALL family members (highly sensitive or not) to do things that they want to do.
But it also doesn’t hurt to just veg out nearby and wait for your group either. <3
If you need extra support and want to find community with other parents of highly sensitive or anxious kids going to Disney, I encourage you to join my Facebook group!
You can ask all your questions and get feedback from a wonderful group of Disney-loving parents who are also looking to better manage the meltdowns and maximize the magic during their Disney World vacation.
I also share lots of tips, trip reviews on Instagram. Make sure to follow so you catch my stories, where I do share a lot of information and real life parenting of highly sensitive kids.
Lastly, don’t forget to download your FREE copy of my must-have Disney ride planner tool! Use it so you can easily keep track of which rides you want to avoid and which you want to try with your highly sensitive kids. It will make planning your park days SO much easier!
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