Rider Switch saves families time in lines at Disney parks

Posted: Updated:
(Source: Disneyland) (Source: Disneyland)
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! (Source: Disneyland) Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! (Source: Disneyland)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Source: Disneyland) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Source: Disneyland)
Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities (Source: Disneyland) Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities (Source: Disneyland)
Attraction Details for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities (Source: Disneyland) Attraction Details for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities (Source: Disneyland)

Disneyland is a popular summer destination for many Arizona families. Whom are we kidding? It's a popular destination all year long!

No matter when you go, there are times when the younger visitors or somebody else in your group can’t get on a ride. Or perhaps they simply don't want to. That means Mom or Dad might have to miss out to stay with the little one. It’s either that or wait in line a second time. Who wants to do that? Waiting in line twice is not necessarily the best use of time at Disneyland.

Mickey, in his typical family friendly way, has taken that into account. Not wanting anybody to miss an adventure, he implemented something called Rider Switch, and it’s kind of brilliant.

"We use it all the time!" Katherine Colcord said. "It's great! We love it."

Rider Switch is exactly what is sounds like.

“With Rider Switch, one adult can wait with the non-rider (or riders) while the rest of the party enjoys the attraction,” the Disneyland website explains. “When the other adult returns, they can supervise the non-riding Guests, and the waiting adult can board the attraction without having to wait in the regular line again!”

I had never heard of this until a friend of mine from high school mentioned her experience at Disneyland Paris in a Facebook post.

Admittedly her family ran into a snag, but having no clue that Rider Switch was even a thing, I wanted to know if it was just at Disneyland Paris or if visitors to The Happiest Place on Earth (Disneyland in Anaheim, CA) and The Most Magical Place on Earth (Walt Disney World in Orlando) could take advantage of the service, as well.

The answer is yes. Yes, they can. And should!

How it works

When it comes to Rider Switch, it’s up to you to be proactive. First, make sure it’s available on the attraction. Grab the first cast member you see and tell him or her what you’d like to do.

It’s also a good idea to check in with cast members you see along the way. They’re great at what they do, but they have many, Many, MANY guests to look after. You have to help them help you.

When you get to the front of the line, have a quick conversation with the cast member who greets you.

“At least one adult member of your party and the Guests who are not riding will be given a Ride Switch Pass and asked to wait in a designated area (usually outside of the attraction). This group is ‘Party 2,’” according to the Rider Switch information page on the Disneyland website.

The first group hops aboard and enjoys the ride. When that group – “Party 1” – get off, they find the rest of the family.

The second group uses the Rider Switch pass to ride without waiting in line a second time.

“If the person in Party 2 waited alone with the child, he or she may bring up to 2 other Guests back to ride the attraction with him or her,” according to Disneyland.disney.go.com. “Please note that only 3 Guests are allowed per Rider Switch Pass.”

Rider Switch isn't just for human guests. It's can also be used for service animals.

Disneyland attractions offering Rider Switch

  • Autopia
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • California Screamin’
  • Gadget’s Go Coaster
  • Goofy’s Sky School
  • Grizzly River Run
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Jumpin’ Jellyfish
  • Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters
  • Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Radiator Springs Racers
  • Silly Symphony Swings
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Space Mountain/Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours – The Adventured Continue
  • Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘Em Buggies

Rider Switch at Walt Disney World

[Pick up where you left off reading]

Disneyland should be fun for everyone

"Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment and accessible experiences for our Guests," reads Disneyland Resort FAQ.

That is exactly the reason that in addition to Rider Switch, Disneyland “offers a host of services to help Guests with cognitive disabilities—including those on the Autism Spectrum—maximize their Resort experience.”

“In particular, the Disability Access Service is designed for Guests who are unable to tolerate extended waits at attractions due to a disability,” according to Disneyland’s Autism and Cognitive Disabilities Services webpage. “This service allows Guests to schedule a return time that is comparable to the current queue wait for the given attraction.”

But you can’t just scoop up active return times for everything at once.

“Guests can only have one active return time at a time. As soon as an outstanding attraction return time is redeemed, Guests can receive a return time for the same or a different attraction.”

Using DAS requires a bit of pre-planning. 

You have to make arrangements in person at the guest relations locations at the main entrances to Disneyland (City Hall) or Disney California Adventure Chamber of Commerce). It might be a good idea to have a doctor's note with you to help explain what you need. 

When you need a quiet break

Sometimes the Disneyland experience can turn into sensory overload, particularly for people with autism. Meltdowns are a part of life.

That in mind, Mickey and his team designated some break areas – places where it’s relatively quiet -- should a guest need a little downtime. Just ask a cast member where the nearest one is.  

Along similar lines, there are companion restrooms at “select locations” throughout the parks.

“Each is larger than a traditional restroom which can be helpful if a Guest needs assistance or requires that someone accompany him or her,” according to the Disneyland website.

Before you go

Mickey and company are all about planning so they put together some useful guides to help families with kids (of all ages) on the spectrum get ready for their magically epic (epically magical?) visits.

Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment and accessible experiences for our Guests.

There is general information, including tips on how to prepare for your adventure, what to bring and more.

[ONLINE: Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities]

A separate guide provides specific details about each attraction so you know what to expect. The comprehensive matrix includes scents/smells, flashing lights, loud noise, periods of darkness, bumps, fast, lifts off ground, wet, element of surprise, type of restraint and amount of time.

[ONLINE: Attraction Details for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities]

And one last thing

Want to check wait times, find characters, make dinner reservations or see you PhotoPass Photos? There's an app for that. Naturally. It's available in the AppStore and on Google Play.

More Disneyland magic!

Unlocking the secrets of Disneyland: The magic is in the details

Grown-up getaways at Disneyland

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.