The Disney parent swap, or Disney rider switch allows parents with small children at both Disney World and Disneyland to ride the rides their children are unable to due to height requirements, or other reasons.
Often times, one parent gets the job of waiting with the little ones, while the other parent takes the eligible children onto the ride. Rather than cause one parent to miss out on the attraction entirely, Disney has created the parent swap—or the officially named Disney rider switch—to fix this problem.
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What Is Disney Rider Switch and How Does It Work?
The Disney parent swap, officially named the Disney rider switch allows parents of children who do not meet the height requirement, (or do not wish to ride,) to minimize the time they spend in line.
It sounds a bit complicated, but basically, it allows one parent to stay with the kids who cannot ride the ride, while the other joins the line and rides. Then, the parents switch, allowing the “waiting” parent to ride without waiting the entire length of the regular queue. This means, parent one does the waiting in line for both.
Let’s Discuss the Disney Rider Switch with an Example.
The Smith’s Use Disney Parent Swap
In this example, let’s use the Smith family of 6, with 2 adults and 4 children.
The Smith’s have four children, two of whom are under 44” tall, and two of whom are above 44” tall.
The Smith family visits Magic Kingdom, and they want to ride Space Mountain, which has a height requirement of 44”. This means 2 of the kids can ride the ride, while the remaining two cannot.
One parent has to stay behind with the younger children, and will miss out on riding Space Mountain, unless they utilize the Disney parent swap, or Disney rider switch program.
When using the Disney Rider Switch, this is how it will go for the Smiths:
First, the Smith’s will approach the greeting cast member at the attraction and ask about rider switch. If it is available at this ride, the cast member will give parent 1 a “ride switch entitlement,” and ask them to wait with the children under 44” and any other child who wishes to ride with parent one.
Parent 2 will now join the regular queue and ride the ride with the children who are tall enough to ride and want to enjoy the attraction with parent 2.
After they ride, parent 2 will return to the rest of the family to watch the children and switch places with parent 1. Parent 1 will then take the remaining child(ren) that meet the height requirement, approach the cast member at the ride with the rider switch entitlement, and be directed to board the ride through the Lightning Lane.
The Smith’s have now successfully used the Disney rider switch.
The Johnsons Use of Disney Rider Switch
Now let’s discuss how to use the Disney parent swap or Disney rider swap if the family is a bit smaller. The Johnson’s are a smaller family of 3, with two adults and one toddler. This makes it a bit difficult to ride many of the rides, as someone always has to stay behind with the little one.
So, the Johson’s decide to use the Disney parent swap, also called the Disney rider switch to their advantage.
The Johson family approaches Space Mountain and asks the cast member to assist them in the rider switch program. The cast member has parent 1 remain with the child, and issues them the rider switch entitlement.
Parent 2 then joins the queue, waits in the line, and rides Space Mountain. Upon completing the ride, parent 2 takes over caring for the child, and parent 1 uses the rider switch entitlement to board Space Mountain without waiting in the regular queue.
The Lopez Family’s Use of Disney Rider Switch
In this example, we will discuss how one member of your party could ride the ride twice with the Disney parent swap program.
The hypothetical Lopez family has 2 adults and 2 children, one under 44” tall, and one above.
When they approach Space Mountain, they know that one child will be unable to ride the ride. Just like the other “families” the Lopez family asks the cast member at Space Mountain about the Disney rider switch. Parent 1 is given the entitlement, and waits with the smaller child.
Parent 2 and the eligible child join the queue and ride the ride. Then, parent 2 takes over care of the smaller child while parent 1 uses the rider switch entitlement to ride the ride without waiting in the regular line.
But, because parent 1 does not want to ride alone, they are allowed to bring one member with them, the older child in this example. This means the older Lopez child can ride Space Mountain twice.
When the parents swap, if one parent waited alone with the ineligible riders, they can bring any one member of their party to ride the ride with them, without waiting in the regular queue, even if that person just rode the ride.
Who Can Use Rider Switch
The Disney parent swap/ Disney rider switch can be used by any parents who have members of their party that need supervision and do not meet the height requirements for a ride, or do not want to ride the ride, for any reason.
How Do I Use Disney Parent Swap/ Disney Rider Swap?
Follow these steps for an easy Disney parent swap experience.
- Decide which parent and children will ride the ride first, and who will wait with the child(ren) and ride second.
- Have all members of your group approach the cast member at the entrance to your desired ride, and ask if the Disney rider switch program is available for this ride.
- The Disney cast member will issue a rider switch entitlement to the MagicBand, MagicMobile pass or key to the world card (plastic park ticket) of the parent and child(ren) who will stay behind for the first ride.
- The waiting parent will wait while the first group rides the ride through the regular queue.
- After the group has ridden, the parents will switch places. The riders with the rider switch entitlement will approach the entrance to the Lighthing Lane, scan their MagicBand, MagicMobile pass or key to the world card holding the rider switch entitlement.
- The remaining riders will then ride the ride without joining the regular queue line.
On Which Attractions Can I Use the Disney Parent Swap at Disney World?
Many Disney World attractions are ineligible for the Disney Rider Switch, also called Disney parent swap programs. This is mainly due to the fact that most, (but not all) of the ineligible rides do not have restrictive height requirements.
Disney Parent Swap Eligible Rides Include:
Magic Kingdom Disney Parent Swap Eligible Rides
- The Barnstormer
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Space Mountain
- Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
Hollywood Studios Disney Rider Switch Eligible Rides
- Alien Swirling Saucers
- Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
- Rock ’n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Star Tours® – The Adventures Continue
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
EPCOT Disney Parent Swap Eligible Rides
- Frozen Ever After
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
- Mission: SPACE
- Test Track
Animal Kingdom Eligible Rides
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
- Na’vi River Journey
On Which Attractions Can I Use the Disney Rider Switch at Disneyland?
Both Disney World and Disneyland can use the Disney parent swap program. A complete list of eligible rides at Disneyland is as follows:
Disneyland Parent Swap Eligible Rides:
- Big Thunder Mountain
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- Space Mountain
- Star Tours
- Millenium Falcon
- Rise of the Resistance
- Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Gadgetcoaster
California Adventure Rider Swap Rides
- Grizzly River Run
- Silly Symphony Swings
- Goofy’s Sky School
- Radiator Springs Racers
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout
When Can I Use My Rider Switch Entitlement?
Many parents wonder if they need to wait around at the exit to the ride for the first parent rider to exit, so they can immediately race to the Lightning Lane and use their Disney parent swap entitlement.
The answer is no. You don’t have to rush to use the entitlement as soon as parent one departs the exit.
In fact, we recommend that the parent waiting for their turn to ride take the child with them and do something fun. Maybe you grab a snack or do a little shopping, or experience one of the many impromptu character experiences or cavalcades.
Depending on the ride you are “switching” on, you may even have time to experience a mellower attraction with a low wait time.
If I’m The Waiting Parent, Do I Have to Ride Alone?
If you’re visiting an attraction with children who are tall enough to ride and want to experience it, it’s unlikely that they want to hang out with the parent waiting to switch.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean the noble parent waiting behind has to ride alone. If only one person has decided to wait, they may take one child who has already ridden with them.
Disney’s website states this policy as follows: “Please note that if the person in party 2 waited alone with the child or non-riding Guest, one Guest may join the person that waited alone.”
We used to take turns, allowing each child to ride a second time with mom, who was somehow always the one who waited.
Disney’s Parent Swap
While Disney’s Rider Switch (often called Disney’s parent swap,) can be a bit hard to wrap your brain around at first, it can be an invaluable tool that allows parents to ride without wasting time or skipping the ride all together.