BREAKING: Walt Disney World Switching to Digital Rider Switch Pass (or Baby Swap) at Attractions to Combat Fraud

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In continuation of Disney’s effort to enter the digital age in all aspects of their theme park operations, the “Rider Switch Pass”, sometimes referred to as “baby” or “child swap” by some, will be going digital later this month at Walt Disney World.

The Rider Switch Pass is currently available at select Walt Disney World theme park attractions that feature a height requirement. This process is in place to allow families with children under the height requirements a chance to ride while a family member waits with the child outside. One person gets a rider switch pass, joins and waits in the standby queue, and when they get off of the ride, they then take over child duties while the other family member uses the pass to join the FastPass+ return line and avoid waiting basically twice for the ride. It’s a simple system that’s worked (debatably) well for years.

By the end of June, this process will switch to a digital rider switch pass, basically scanning a guest’s MagicBand or media card to add it to their entitlements. All of the guests who will be riding in the party of three that will use the FastPass+ queue will have to have the entitlement on their account to enter. The major changes here are that the entitlement is going digital, removing the Cast Member physically checking a printed ticket, as well as the Rider Switch Pass now only being valid for a certain length of time on the day issued (previously valid for up to an entire month). Guests will also now be unable to hold more than one rider switch pass at a time.

These old rider switch passes are easily sold on eBay or Craigslist (in fact, the picture above is from a recent eBay listing), even though the paper says not for sale on the bottom.

Cast Members are currently being trained for this upcoming digital conversion and should be fully trained within the upcoming weeks for a full rollout by the end of June 2018 should all go according to plan.

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About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

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  • It seems like Disney brought this on themselves by making the paper passes valid for a month. A day or two would be sufficient.

    • The odd part is they already issue date specific swaps for 7 Dwarfs and FoP, presumable due to demand.

      Must have been a cheap and easy upgrade within their system.

  • Interesting ramifications.

    I don’t see why they are not allowing more than one rider swap pass at a time. Having to juggle schedules with little children means that you don’t always get time as a family for a mother and father to go back to back before another fast pass is scheduled.

    Also, any word if you can have a fast pass for a ride and a child swap for the same ride at the same time?

    I feel sorry for those who learn of this between scheduling fastpasses and arriving at the parks.

    • Assuming it works the same as Disneyland’s version, which has been up pretty much since MaxPass was introduced, here are the basics:

      You can have a FP and a Rider Swap for the same attraction.

      You can also have FPs for other attractions as well.

      If you return within the FP return window, the FP will be used before the Rider Swap pass. (occasionally the system will mess up and use the wrong one, just talk with the cast member at the attraction if this happens and they can fix it)

      If the remainder of your party is entering the FP queue, then you (and anyone going with you) must have a FP as well to get the rider swap. If the remainder of your party is entering the standby line you do not need a FP. In other words all waits need to be equal.

      While the official rule is you can only hold one rider swap per person, the CMs will often find ways to work around this if they can.

      • At Disneyland, assuming the entire party has FP, can a child riding with parent 1 get to ride again with parent 2?

      • What if one of the guests that are being “swapped” is 2 and can’t get a fast pass because they do not have a valid ticket media?

    • This is us. We have a 2-year-old who clearly can’t ride a bunch of rides. I booked my FPs on Memorial Day 60 days out. I got a FP for only me for FOP and planned on doing rider swap with my husband since that is was what Touring Plans and other sites recommended doing. All our other FPs have the both of us in the party and are rides our daughter can ride, but I am getting worried about our FOP now. I don’t mind the switch, but it would be better to do before people have made their FP plans and could plan accordingly.

      • That’s a bummer.

        Since you only need 1 FP, you might be able to snag one one for FOP, especially on your park day.

        • We are trying every day (and multiple times haha)! I am hoping we can RD and go straight there and swap that way if anything.

          • The “one FP for a swap” doesn’t always work anymore anyways. We tried that for Seven Dwarfs and they said the waiting party had to have FPs and be scanned right then. Most of the time that didn’t happen (one other time on Everest), but it was always a little risky to bank on that working. We knew it could fail at anytime, so we were okay with it.
            Hope you’re able to get one. I never tried day of for FoP, but I was generally surprised by how much you could get on the day of if you kept refreshing over and over.
            If you’re going to RD it, make sure to get there early!

  • People ruin everything by taking advantage of a nice perk. They always try to beat the system and it’s wrong. Selling them on EBay? Really? I’m glad Disney has stepped up and out a stop to it.

      • I think she means that the current system allows the rider swap person to take up to 2 people with them. Will they be allowing this or will the person that is watching the child be expected to ride it alone?

        • “All of the guests who will be riding in the party of three that will use the FastPass+ queue will have to have the entitlement on their account to enter.”

  • Tom,

    Will someone be able to get and use a rider swap pass if they have a fastpass for the same attraction later that day?

  • I agree with the previous comment of not being able to hold more than one being a problem – also, the potential time limit is difficult as well. Having to immediately re-ride the ride with the other parent swapping in can be really difficult, both because of schedules with other Fastpass+’s or because of dining reservations, etc. One big reason though is that it’s very difficult to make the child who can’t ride have to wait through 2 rides. We already have difficulties with waiting once, and have to find something else to do while the other parent and child are riding.

    Our daughter is 4 years old, but is very small for her age (not even the average size for a 36-month-old). She’s still not tall enough to even ride Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Train. She’s more than old enough to understand that she’s missing out on these rides though. We have to take her elsewhere and do other rides while our son is riding a ride. Having to wait at the ride, then make her wait again as we do an immediate swap will almost certainly lead to some meltdowns. This was a major part of our planning – how to juggle all of this. This will just now make it almost impossible for us to use Rider Switch on many of the rides, and we were always telling non-Disney parents how great it is to go with young kids because of this feature.

    They could at least tie them to your MagicBand for the length of your stay, maybe.

    This is a bummer.

    • Also, you have to be in the line to get scanned to use rider switch which means the other parent will have to lug small child/baby into the line to get scanned then walk back to waiting area. this is a terrible idea and will results in countless meltdowns.

      • Exactly – we actually very much avoided bringing her up to the entrance with us when doing the swap. We’d have her way back with the other parent and just kind of quickly wave at the Cast Member asking where we were, then quickly move on to something else. We were strongly avoiding bringing her up to a ride entrance to only tell her, “Nope, you’re not riding this one.” She’s tiny for a 4-year-old (hasn’t even been on the growth charts since she was a few months old), but she certainly acts her age – meltdowns and all. We always had to sell what we were doing with her while other parent and son (who is only 20 months older, but at least 10 or 11 inches taller, and he’s average height) went on the ride. Trying to tell her, hey, we’re going to do something better and brother and mom are just going and doing something else for a few minutes is harder when you have to go up to the entrance. I think we will have to give up on Rider Swap entirely most of the time if it means we’d also have to stand around and wait for them to be done, then make her wait another round – just not going to be possible.

        • I totally agree with all this. It would be nice if they could take advantage of this opportunity to make things better by going digital. Using the old rider swap system could also be a strategic pain, since you might have to lug your kids near the ride entrance so that the CM can see their screaming faces before giving you the lanyard. On the other hand, some CM’s will just hand you one without seeing any party, which is convenient if you aren’t lying, but opens things up to the potential for abuse. (This also doesn’t really help much, since you don’t know for sure they will give it to you without seeing your party.) It would be nice if you could have rider swap put on your MDE account, either at guest relations or just the first ride you use rider swap on. They confirm you have a non-riding kid in your party, set you up with it, and then you don’t have to worry about bringing them anymore. While I can see making you use the pass that day (we’ve taken advantage of the current windows before, but okay, I’ll concede that), I don’t see the point of making you come back within an hour or whatever. That makes it extremely difficult. As Anthony said, it’s often too hard for a multitude of reasons to ride something twice in a row. Okay, it’s not Disney’s fault you have kids, but this is supposed to be a family vacation destination, so why make it that much harder? Riding something like Splash Mountain even with a FP can take 20-30 minutes total. Flight of Passage we’re talking 30-40 minutes. It can be a big ask to commit that time right now, rather than letting you go back at another time when it’s more convenient. And while I can see limiting you to one swap per ride, what’s the point in saying you can’t get more than one at all? There’s not even that many of these rides per park. Just limit it to three or something.

  • They could easily do this and not have the pass expire the same day. There have been MANY times where we were unable to use the rider swap pass immediately, or even that day, often because the Fast Pass or SB waits were too long to ride it back to back.

    I am totally ok with this, but since its going digital there is no real reason to make the return window any more narrow than it is already.

  • We used this system happily last year, since my husband and I have a nearly two year old. Planned to use it again in Sept. The ones I remember having only said it was valid for a day? Or maybe it was good for the next day? I don’t recall it being for multiple days, I just thought that was how it worked that it needed to be used the same day.

    The loophole that I noticed though is that they will give you a rider swap even if you are going through fastpass. So say I could get three fastpasses, and set him up for three different ones and we could each use the rider swap meaning we could get six fastpasses for the day. I’m wondering if this isn’t what they’re trying to combat instead? And fair enough, we don’t deserve extra fastpasses just because we had a kid. But that as pretty nice to be able to come back outside of that narrow window when my daughter decides to have a freak out or to ride the people mover for the eightieth time.

    • The expiration date on the swap depends on the ride. Our Mine Train swap expired the same day. The Speedway was good through the end of the month.

      This is disappointing, as I like to give them to people if we’re not able to use them. For instance, due to time limitations we weren’t able to use a swap for Flight of Passage. It was really nice being able to share with a family heading to the standby line.

  • I didn’t know how the passes worked before. Could I have asked for a child swap, got in standby, then left, and walked right into the fastpass line?

    • They give you a lanyard at the entrance when you ask for child swap and then you trade that for the actual pass once you’re almost to getting on the ride.

  • Why are people worried about holding more than one at a time? I am understanding the scenario is that I am getting in line. My wife is watching our kids while I go do this awesome ride. Then when I am done, I will watch the small ones while my wife gets through the ride as quick as possible. Seems like if we try that with multiple rides at a time, that isn’t fair. Its nice that Disney allows the waiting to go on outside the compact queues.

    • More than one rider swap pass adds convenience to allow flexibility in touring schedules that get very limited by touring with a young child.

      Flipping the question around – what abuse is solved by not having more than 1 rider swap pass that isn’t already solved by having everyone check in to the ride and scanning the rider swapper bands?

      Example
      Lets say parent 1 rides Splash Mountain at 10am and Big Thunder at 12pm. Does it matter to the theme park or other guests if parent 2 rides Splash or Big Thunder at 10:30am, 1pm, or 7pm? But it can matter a lot for the parents – where maybe one parent stays in the park to take in extra rides. Or frees up time in the early part the day for kiddie rides while the younger child has more energy.

      • Th abuse of your partner waiting long in line for a long ride while you bounce around with your child getting him fast passes for other rides. Then you get to fast pass that long ride

        • That’s not how it works. The other parent has to take the older child on the ride to get a swap (with the smaller child also present or visible nearby). Parent 2 can’t just go up with a young child and request a swap.

          • Yes, someone has to wait in most of the line before they actually get the swap pass.
            When you have small kids, you want to try to front load the day with things for them to do, before they’re cranky and either napping or having meltdowns. That’s a good time to be using the swap passes, since nobody is going to get enjoyment at that time of going on a ride all together. You might want to, say, go on Splash Mountain earlier when the line is shorter, or for using your FPs more strategically, and you can swing the 20-30 minutes it takes someone to go on that (we did this on our vacation last week), but asking you to immediately do it again can be a lot. There’s only so long your kids can play at the Splash playground, plus, you’re using up more valuable time when you can all be doing things together. It’s a tricky thing to be fair about, and I can see how people without kids think it’s unfair, but Disney is so clearly family centered, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to make all this more easily doable even when you have younger family members. If you don’t have small kids, chances are you can stay in the parks longer and be more flexible, which I think more than evens your odds.

  • I just visited Disneyland in California last week, and they already have this system digitized. My husband and I did the parent swap many times over the 3 days we were there. When hubby and my 2 older children went through the entrance, we told the operator we were swapping and they scanned my ticket and my 2 older kids tickets and we were able to go through the fast pass line when we swapped. We also used it when we had fast passes already. My husband loaded all of our tickets onto the Disneyland app on his phone, and all of our barcodes were able to be scanned off of there.
    I was surprised to see that WDW hadn’t gone digital already.

  • To resolve a customer support issue, Disney World granted me several Multiple Use fast passes. One for each day that I have a ticket. I was told by Disney to be careful not to show up early for a fast pass reservation, the system will use the multiple use pass and not the reserved fast pass.

    So I go to an attraction, acquire my rider swap pass, and upon my return to use the rider swap pass, will the new fast pass system know to grab my rider swap pass and not my Multiple Use pass?

    Our current fast pass reservations are set so that we can take the smaller children to another attraction, and come back to do the rider swap attraction at a later time. Looks like this system will be forcing us into staying at the rider swap attraction. Meltdown City..

  • OR, maybe, if you are parents bringing a 2 year old child to Disney World, you just have to realize there are some sacrifices you are going to have to make… maybe getting on an “adult” ride is going to be a little more inconvenient for you.. too bad. If you didn’t realize that before going to WDW with a 2 year old, then, for lack of a better phrase, you’re an idiot.

    • Well, I would think the purpose of rider swap is to make it possible for parents of small children to be able to enjoy Disney World’s rides and experiences together! Pixie dust to any parent/grandparent who is able to go on a Disney vacation and share such a magical trip with a young ones! Looking forward to our next trip with our small grandchildren in September!!

  • So would this scenario still work? Using Hollywood Studios…2 older kids with one kid under 2.

    9:30am….
    Adult 1(plus kid 1 and 2) – Has FP+ for TSM. Goes on ride.
    Adult 2 gets rider swap, and goes on with Kid 1 and 2 right after they get back (or within the time frame)

    11am
    Adult 2 – goes on RnRC with FP+
    Adult 1 – gets a rider swap and goes on with Kid 1 and 2 right after

    This scenario worked prior for tier A rides. Will this still be possible after the change?

    • In your scenario it sounds like it is possible, but both adults, as well as the kids who are riding, have to have fp+ for the rides. Otherwise you are fastpassing people who didn’t originally have that entitlement.

  • If both parents have to have a fastpass now, then what is the point of child swap?
    I made our fp reservations in May for our July trip (two parents and one child) and we used our 3 fp strategically, two used on ride our child would like and the third used on a roller coaster (my husband getting a different one than me) at each park. I understand that those of you that go without children feel cheated by this system and I myself thought it was too good to be true too but touring plans and everyone else recommended using this option because it was valid and acceptable to I did. If both parents have to have a fp for a roller coaster to use child swap, what is the point of using child swap at all? We would just both individually ride during our time windows of our fastpasses.

    • Ok, I looked on Disney Parks Mom’s website and they state that only the first parent needs a fastpass, the second parent does not; however, they must be present when first parent is entering fastpass queue and all bands scanned (parent one and two in my case —only have one child who doesn’t meet height requirement). However long the standby line is (if its 55 minutes for example) is how long (minus 5 minutes) the second parent must wait before riding. So, the second parent can go back to the line after 50 minutes have passed and go through fastpass queue. They will have one hour from the 50 minute mark to ride. You cannot have more than one rider switch credit on your account so stacking fastpasses for multiple rides (for example a fastpass for parent one at 7dmt 9:30-10:30 and fastpass for parent 2 at splash mtn at 10:30-11:30 probably won’t work out).

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