I emailed Guest Services to inquire about the practice of using the FastPass+ (FPP) queue to obtain a Rider Switch (RS) ticket. What prompted me to do this were several interesting discussions on the Lines Chat about the practice of using RS in the FPP queue.
The discussions seemed to stem from folks wondering if they should book the entire party, or just half of it, for Flights of Passage, Seven Dwarves Mine Train, etc. - and other folks mentioning their experiences in acquiring RS through the FPP line at those two specific attractions has been hit or miss lately. CMs (some, but not all) have been requiring the entire party to tap in for FPP before giving RS to the first party going through for FoP and SDMT.
The discussion was good on both sides. One side said they believed the value of the RS was lost if everybody planning to ride the attraction had to have FPP to use the FPP line when acquiring RS. The other side pointed out that the RS would have been “earned” by only waiting 10-15 minutes through FPP line - whereas folks without FPP would have waited 1-2 hours in the Standby (SB) line to “earn” the same RS privilege. Further, the folks in the party not riding the attraction the first time through could do something else while they waited. Therefore, purposefully pre-booking more than 3 FPP for the entire family in order to use RS to extend the number of pre-booked FPP a party has would be paramount to abusing the system.
Consider the following example about a family of 4 (Mom, Dad, DS14, DD8). Mom and Dad decide to get tricky at Animal Kingdom and - in essence - pre-book FPP for 6 attractions. They book as follows:
- Mom and DS: Kali River Rapids, Flights of Passage and DINOSAUR
- Dad and DD: Its Tough to Be A Bug, Primeval Whirl and Expedition Everest
Upon arriving in Dinosaur Land, USA, Mom and DS head towards DINOSAUR. They check-in with the CM and say they need RS - and point to Dad and DD, who (a) have purposefully position themselves a little distance away (as to be out of discussion range with the CM); and (b) “wave” when pointed to. The CM gives the RS lanyard to Mom and DS. While waiting, Dad and DD ride TriceraTop Spin.
The family meets up after their rides. Dad and DD head to Primeval Whirl and check-in with the CM (and request RS). This time, Mom and DS stand a little ways away and wave. While Dad and DD ride Primeval Whirl, Mom and DS ride TriceraTop Spin.
Finally, the family uses their RSs. Dad and DD ride DINOSAUR - while Mom and DS ride Primeval Whirl. This approach allowed the entire family to go through the FPP lines for DINOSAUR and Primeval Whirl, and use SB for TriceraTop Spin.
Clearly, this is not what Rider Switch was intended for. Nobody in the family is scared or unable to ride any of the 5 attractions offering RS in Animal Kingdom (Kali, EE, FoP, DINOSAUR and PW). However, in the “game” of Disney World, everybody is always looking for an edge or a loophole they can exploit. It used to be bringing extra Magic Bands to the park and getting 3 more pre-booked FPP at the kiosks using them - or using a friend’s AP MB. Those loopholes were closed within the last year of writing this thread. The latest rage seems to be booking varied FPP within your party - and using RS to extend the value of those FPP.
After observing and joining the Lines Chat Discussions - and considering the various scenarios, I decided to email Guest Services to ask if RS is supposed to be used through the SB or FPP line - and if it is either - what restrictions are placed on the use of FPP to obtain RS. I received the following email (which I abridged as/where noted):
Thank you for contacting the Walt Disney World® Resort! Thank you for bringing this to our attention!
What Is Rider Switch and How Does It Work?
If Guests in your party can’t or don’t want to board an attraction, you don’t have to miss out!
[abridged by Brian, because they seriously just copied/pasted the policy directly from their website]
If the person in Party 2 waited alone with the child, he or she may bring one other Guest back to ride the attraction with him or her. Please note that only 2 Guests are allowed per Rider Switch Pass.
[NOTE: This is where the copy/pasted policy ends]
It is very important that when taking advantage of the Rider Switch in the Fast Pass+ line everyone in the party intending to ride the attraction has their Fast Pass+ booked for that specific attraction.
We hope you are enjoying your visit! If you have any more questions do not hesitate to reply this e-mail.
And there you have it. While this last paragraph, which I bolded for emphasis, is not part of the “official” Policy - this is an official response received from WDW Guest Services. This clearly explains why some of the Cast Members, especially at Seven Dwarves Mine Train and Flights of Passage, have recently been requesting all members of the party (who will be riding) to tap in at the FPP entry before handing out the RS lanyard to the first portion of the party going through FPP.
So let’s revisit our family of 4. This time, however, let’s make DD8 scared of fast rides with drops - and scary monsters (like dinosaurs). As a result, RS makes sense for this family. If they were to follow the letter of the “law” according to the CM who replied to my email, Dad and Mom would book FPP as follows:
- Mom, Dad and DS: Flights of Passage, Expedition Everest and DINOSAUR
- DD: TriceraTop Spin
When the family gets to Dinosaur Land USA, they do the following:
Mom and DS ride DINOSAUR - requesting RS and pointing to Dad and DD. Meanwhile, Dad and DD ride TriceraTop Spin.
Dad and DS ride DINOSAUR next - using Dad’s FPP and the RS for DS to get a second ride with Dad. Meanwhile, Mom and DD ride TriceraTop Spin via SB line.
Mom and DS wait in SB for Primeval Whirl - requesting RS and pointing to Dad and DD. Dad rides TriceraTop Sping once with DD via SB. He then takes a break and sends her on another time using her FPP. If Mom and DS aren’t back yet - Dad is tortured one final time riding TriceraTop Spin with DD.
Dad and DS ride Primeval Whirl next - using Dad’s FPP and the RS for DS to get a second ride with Dad. Mom gets off easy, only having to repeat TriceraTop Spin one time.
In this example, everybody in the party that planned on riding the first attraction (DINOSAUR) had an FPP booked ahead of time. The “value” of RS through FPP queue was (a) DD didn’t have to wait in line or stand around while the first party rode the attraction; and, instead, got to ride TriceraTop Spin with the supervising parent (Dad); and (b) DS got TWO rides on DINOSAUR via the FPP line - vs. only one. Clearly - there is still value in getting RS through FPP, even though Mom, Dad and DS all had FPP for the attraction.
I’ll wrap up by offering this third and final scenario for our family of 4 … keep DD8 scared of some rides so RS is applicable (vs. an abuse of policy). Family thinks Flights of Passage is REALLY important to them, and they don’t want to take any chance of them running into a CM that requires all members of the party who intend on riding FoP to tap-in when the first portion of the party goes through FPP and requests RS. So, the family decides to use a hybrid approach from our first two scenarios and books FPP as follows:
- Mom: Kilimanjaro’s Safari, Flights of Passage and DINOSAUR
- Dad: Kilimanjaro’s Safari, Flights of Passage and Primeval Whirl
- DS: Kilimanjaro’s Safari, Flights of Passage and Expedition Everest
- DD: Kilimanjaro’s Safari and TriceraTop Spin
Here’s how their rides shake out:
Family rides KS together
Mom checks in on DINOSAUR, requests RS for Dad and DS (Mom points, Dad and DS wave). While Mom rides DINOSAUR solo, DS and DD ride TriceraTop Spin together (Dad is spared the agony). When Mom returns, she rides TriceraTop Spin with DD while Dad and DS use RS to ride DINOSAUR
Dad checks in on Primeval Whirl, requests RS for Mom and DS (Dad points, Mom and DS wave). While Dad rides PW solo, DS and DD ride TriceraTop Spin together again (Mom is spared this time). When Dad returns, he sends DD on TriceraTop Spin alone using her FPP (smart Dad), while Mom and DS use RS to ride PW.
DS checks into Expedition Everest, requests RS for Mom and Dad (DS points, Mom and Dad wave). While DS rides EE solo, Mom and Dad by DD an ice cream - but tells DD not to tell DS (family secrets are the best). When DS returns, Mom and Dad ride EE using the RS. DS buys DD and ice cream - but tells her not to tell Mom and Dad (family secrets are the best). DD is very, very happy.
Mom and DS ride FoP together via FPP line, request RS for Dad. If Dad is asked to by the FoP FPP CM - he taps in to FoP to prove he has an FPP for the ride - otherwise - he modifies his FPP for Kali River Rapids. Either way, Dad rides FoP with DS using the RS ticket. DS gets two rides on FoP!!
If Dad wasn’t asked to tap into the FPP for FoP when Mom and DS requested RS - Dad tries to modify his FoP FPP to Kali River Rapids. If he’s successful, the family could try to have Dad ride KRR solo and request RS for Mom/DS to use later.
Is this approach still “abuse” of the intention of the system? According to the CM that emailed me back … the answer is most definitely YES. However, The family has booked a family experience FPP (KS) and all members intending to ride FoP have booked that “RS hit or miss” attraction just to be safe. Therefore, the family is only trying to use the loophole in the system for their third FPP choices and, even then, the first rider always has to ride solo. Every family is different - and for some families this approach may work.
Last thought: what if the family was 5 people and only 1 didn’t want to ride the rides? Now you could have the first party of 2 riders go through with pre-booked FPP and request RS for the other party of 2 riders go through using RS - and nobody rides alone. I’d still personally pre-book FPP for the entire family for Kilimanjaro’s Safari; and, pre-book FPP for the four that would ride Flights of Passage. However, I may try and split the 3rd FPP for those 4 people across only 2 attractions - and if we were able to get RS for FoP without having all four folks tap in, then I’d try to modify those other two FPP for something else.