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Thread: All about the Rider Switch Pass (aka Rider Swap)

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    All about the Rider Switch Pass (aka Rider Swap)

    All about the Rider Switch Pass (aka Rider Swap)

    If you're a guest at Walt Disney World with small children, one important perk you need to be aware of is the "Rider Switch Pass". This is often referred to as a "rider swap", "child swap", or just a "swap". In a nutshell, it allows a family with children too small (or unwilling) to ride one of the height-restricted attractions to be able to more easily experience the attraction. Throughout this post we'll refer to the Rider Switch Pass as a "swap" for simplicity. Also, we'll call the child who's too small or unwilling to ride the "non-rider".

    How does a Swap work?
    Basically a Swap is a paper pass, similar to the old FASTPASS tickets, that you get from a CM at a height-restricted attraction. It allows part of your party to remain behind with the non-rider while the rest of your party goes on the attraction (using either a FP+ or the standby line). When the original riders return, the person who stayed behind with the non-rider can then experience the attraction using the Swap via the FP+ line. This allows the entire party to experience the attraction with minimal wait.

    As we discuss Swaps in this post, it'll be much easier to explain using an example. So let's follow an imaginary family of five - mom, dad, and three kids ages 10, 7, and 3. The 10 and 7-year olds are tall enough to ride everything, but the 3-year old is only 37-inches tall. That's too small to ride most of the height-restricted attractions.

    How do I get a Swap?
    Part of your party needs to experience the attraction via either the FP+ or standby lines. There is a misconception that Swaps are only available when using FP+; that is not correct. To get the swap, approach the CM at the ride's queue entrance and ask for a Swap. This is where your mileage will definitely vary because the process of distributing Swaps isn't very standardized. Some CMs will definitely want to see the part of your group who's going on the attraction to ensure you're "eligible" for a Swap (you can't just request one whenever, it's supposed to be in conjunction with guests riding via FP+ or standby). Some CMs will definitely want to see the non-rider. Other CMs will just give you a Swap if you ask for one without any questions. It typically varies by attraction, and some attractions aren't well set up for the "typical" Swap process. For example, take Soarin'. The attraction is downstairs in EPCOT's The Land pavilion. Strollers aren't allowed in The Land. So if the non-rider is asleep in the stroller when the party's FP+ window opens, you're not going to have to wake up the non-rider and haul him or her all the way downstairs just to get a Swap. The CMs at the Soarin' queue or desk will just give the people going on the attraction the Swap when they ask. They might need to explain the whole kid-asleep-in-the-stroller situation, but experience shows that the CMs aren't going to deny you the Swap. Basically, even though your experience getting a Swap may differ quite a bit over your vacation, you're not going to be denied a Swap if you're eligible.

    How and when do I use a Swap?
    This is where Swaps are really nice - they have a lot of options for being used. When you use the Swap, it's good for up to THREE guests. That means depending on your situation, some of the initial riders may be able to ride again. Taking a look at our example family, let's say that dad and the two older kids ride Space Mountain using a FP+; mom gets the Swap and takes the 3-year-old on PeopleMover. When dad and the older kids get back, mom can ride Space Mountain while dad stays with the 3-year-old and the two older kids can ride again with mom because her Swap is valid for three guests.

    So when can I use a Swap?
    There is a lot of flexibility with a Swap. Historically a Swap has been valid for the entire day on which it was received. That means that the Swap could be used right away or anytime until the park closed. Back to our example family, mom could use her Swap to ride Space Mountain right after dad and the two older kids got off SM, before the family left Tomorrowland. However, let's say the family had other FP+ to use, or had a lunch reservation. They could hold onto the Swap and come back to use it later in the day. Another additional perk that has come about with the change from legacy FASTPASS to FP+ is that the Swaps are usually valid for the entire MONTH during which they were received. So let's say our family got their Swap for Space Mountain on Tuesday June 17th. Their Swap is probably going to be valid until June 30th. Let's say the 3-year-old gets sick and they need to leave MK before using their Swap, but they plan on coming back to MK on Thursday. They'll still be able to use the Swap then.

    Do I need to exchange a FP+ for a Swap?
    In the past, one of the inconsistencies with the Swap process was that some CMs would force you to exchange a legacy FASTPASS ticket before issuing a Swap. In our example family, that means mom would have had to possess, and give up, a FASTPASS to Space Mountain to get the Swap. That said, probably 90% of the time that did NOT happen - the person getting the Swap did not need to exchange a FASTPASS. Why? Because remember Swaps are also valid if the first part of the party is experiencing the attraction via standby. In the new world of FP+, you don't have paper FASTPASS tickets to exchange for a Swap anymore. So as part of your vacation planning, you can set up your FP+ reservations figuring Swaps into the mix. For our example family, dad and the two older kids could have FP+ for Space Mountain while mom and the 3-year-old might get FP+ for a character meet-and-greet or a non-height restricted ride. As you can imagine, this greatly expands your touring ability.

    Do Swaps only apply to too-short guests?
    This is another misconception about Swaps. While most of them are used for the "too-small children" situation, technically Disney World's policy allows for Swaps "either because they do not meet the height requirement or simply do not wish to ride". This is spelled out on WDW's Rider Switch website (see the link below). So if you have a timid child who doesn't want to ride, even if they're technically tall enough to ride, you should be allowed to get a Swap. Many CMs don't realize this, and this is definitely a situation where your experience is going to vary when requesting the Swap. It's advisable to print out the information at the WDW website and show it to the CM if you encounter any issues. You can always request to talk to a supervisor or visit Guest Services if you experience a lot of pushback.

    Where can I find the "official" information about Rider Switch (Swaps) on Disney World's website?
    Here is a link to Disney's Rider Switch information page -

    What attractions offer Swaps?
    Any attraction that has a height-restriction will offer swaps. You can find the "official" list of attractions on Disney's Rider Switch information page - Keep in mind that as new attractions open, this page might not be immediately updated. For example, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has been open for a number of weeks as of this post's writing and it still doesn't appear. Always remember a height-restricted attraction typically will offer Swaps.

    At Magic Kingdom, the following attractions offer Swaps: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train , Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Stitch's Great Escape, The Barnstormer, and Tomorrowland Speedway.

    At EPCOT, the following attractions offer Swaps: Mission: SPACE, Soarin', and Test Track.

    At Disney's Hollywood Studios, the following attractions offer Swaps: Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Star Tours, and Tower of Terror. Toy Story Midway Mania does NOT offer Swaps since it's not height-restricted, even though you
    probably don't want to take really small babies on it due to the spinning.

    At Disney's Animal Kingdom, the following attractions offer Swaps: DINOSAUR, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and Primeval Whirl.

    How about an EPCOT example?
    Both of the "big" attractions at EPCOT - Soarin' and Test Track - are Tier 1 FP+ attractions, meaning you can't get FP+ for both on the same day. Let's assume our family splits their FP+ reservations - dad and the 10-year-old get FP+ for Soarin', mom and the 7-year-old get FP+ for Test Track. Dad and the 10-year-old ride Soarin' using their FP+, getting a Swap for mom in the process. Mom can then use her Swap later in the day to ride Soarin', taking the two older kids along with her (remember, the Swap is good for three guests). When it's time for Test Track, mom and the 7-year-old ride TT using their FP+. The 10-year-old is comfortable enough to use the Single Rider line, so he goes on at the same time mom and the 7-year-old use their FP+ while dad stays behind with the 3-year-old. Dad gets a Swap. Later in the day, dad uses the Swap to ride TT, taking the older kids with him.

    One more example please...
    Now our family is back at MK and is going to ride Barnstormer, another height-restricted attraction. However, the height requirement is only 35-inches and our 3-year-old is 37 inches - tall enough to ride! If the 3-year-old rides Barnstormer, you're not eligible for a Swap and the CM isn't going to give you one if the entire party enters the queue. But if the 3-year-old is tall enough, but too scared to ride, technically following the official Disney Swap policy you should still be entitled to a Swap.
    Last edited by stevenmilz; 07-17-2014 at 03:22 PM. Reason: Sum of all Thrills does seem to offer Swaps, although the return works a bit different due to no FP+ queue.
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