My husband and I are headed for a week in late February with our kids (8, 6, and 2) . While I consider myself pretty experienced at WDW, this is the first time we’ve gone outnumbered. We have no trip-mates and our youngest will have just turned 2. The older two will be able to go on pretty much everything, and I am a little apprehensive about all of the rider swap we will have to do. Does anyone have first-hand experience managing this? I’m sure we will figure it out just fine, but I love hearing other perspectives.
If it’s relevant, we will be staying at Swan Reserve, 7 park days and 1 water park, giving us a lot of cushion in terms of time. We will always break in the afternoon for naps, but there may be extra time when my husband stays in the park with the older two while I manage the toddler. Trying to be realistic while also making sure I get to do things too!
We too are a family of 5! We have been coming together since DS was 1. As you know, Disney has so many great places for kiddos of all ages. Most of the rides that require rider switch are either next to a ride that the youngest could enjoy or a play area. Although rider swap can be a bit time consuming, Disney does a great job of making it easy.
I will also add… we are past this point with our kiddos now as our youngest is 6 but I do miss it! We are here now and I have been looking at the young families and i have fond memories of traveling with a toddler. Don’t blink because time moves so fast!
Have the RS rules easily accessible on your phone. From my experience, some of the CMs don’t fully understand the RS rules.
Trade off days with your husband. When DS (then 2) napped and DD (then 4.5) stayed at the parks all day, my wife and I traded off who would stay at the parks with DD (and who would go back to the resort with DS).
See how it goes. We took DD8 and DS(almost 6) in October and they did not want breaks in their park days. They were having too much fun!
Understandable, but I suspect you will have a blast ate WDW with your 3 kids!
Paging @Jeff_AZ and @lolabear_la (who will both likely be pretty busy today) - they have a lot of experience with RS, from what I’ve seen.
Your situation is similar to ours. We have four kids ages 4-11 so right now the youngest needs RS for most big rides.
There are lots of strategies to maximize your efficiency but I would just say first off to allocate one hour to each thrill ride that you need to swap for. You might finish it faster, but many rides end up using the whole time, even with LL. Soarin’ is one of the most agonizingly slow rider swap / LL rides.
I wrote a blurb on how to use RS in the Genie+ thread.
We didn’t do RS rides but did notice plenty of things toddlers could do near the big kid attractions.
First I would make a list of all the RS rides. Then if their are any that either adults can skip, don’t do rider swap for those.
Also, you could plan to do some of the rides during nap time. Each parent taking turns staying in the parks (if the older ones do not want to go back for nap time).
When I had kids those ages we’d often plan parts of days with one parent with the older 2 and the other one with the youngest. Those were often the most fun parts of the day because it was much less stress. I’m the mom and our youngest is the girl so I’d go do girl toddler stuff with her while DH would do much more grown up rides with the older 2. That’s also a good way of getting into restaurants because you’re asking for a smaller party size.
My sister swears by this approach but it doesn’t work as well for our family because 1) we like to be together and 2) both DW and I like to ride all the thrill rides as much as possible.
So as a variation of this, we will sometimes get a rider swap pass in the morning but not use it until later.
Each person in your party can hold only one rider swap pass at a time, so you can only do two rides that require rider swap before needing to use one of them if you have two adults. But by doing high-demand rides that do not require rider swap to supplement, you can avoid wasting time doing rider swap and keep your party moving along in the precious morning hours and use the rider swap passes (which are essentially a special pool of lightning lane passes) during the afternoon.
Another variation is for one group or riders to rush ahead to a ride while the attending adult finishes up lunch with the youngest, then they join at the exit and switch.
Still another variation is to not use rider swap at all but to split into two parties and have one half do a family ride and the other do the thrill ride, then switch, doing a hand-off of the little one in between. This doesn’t work so well if the family ride requires LL because you will be one LL short since you have a repeat rider.
But if one person wants to ride the thrill ride twice and skip the family ride, you can have the repeat rider use the youngest’s lightning lane for the thrill ride and then have the youngest use the older child’s lightning lane for the second ride on the family ride. Magic Mobile and/or switching MBs may be required. I’ve done this combo strategy at Navi River Journey / Flight of Passage.
You are right that my approach doesn’t work that well if the adults want to ride thrill rides. I can’t ride any thrill rides (preference plus bad back issues) so for me doing kiddie stuff with my toddler was perfect. Actually now that all the kids are older (DD is now almost 12) there isn’t anyone left to do the non thrill rides with me, boo.
Sounds like you could use a Liner buddy! There are several Liners who don’t do thrill rides as much or are happy to sit them out and take it slow.
WDW is the BEST place for those us of who don’t ride rides, with all the shows, restaurants, great shopping etc. I’ve been bored in places like Six Flags (and even nicer ones like Busch Gardens) but never get bored at WDW.
Thank you for the tip! I’m hoping to do my best to soak it all in Enjoy the rest of your trip!
So you can no longer use the old RS/FP hack where the first group to go had a FP, but the second round who hadn’t snagged a FP just used their RS? Like if only two of us bought Genie+ for the day? (Not sure we would actually do this, but I was thinking of hypotheticals). Thanks for your knowledge!
I think we are going to use some of the split method too! Unfortunately I do like thrill rides and I’ve been to WDW while pregnant with each child, so several of our trips I haven’t been able to do the more intense rides because of that! So I want to make sure I get to do them this time. Thanks for the reply!
You can technically do this at some attractions depending on protocols, but at the most popular ones (GotG, RotR) they will often redeem everyone’s LL first, then scan two bands for RS. The only individual who doesn’t need a LL is the young one not riding at all.
Our experience is mainly at DLR, rider switch is generally the same but there are nuances. The main one being we find at DLR they still usually (except on the newer or highest demand LL rides) give out 2 extra people to re-ride with the one that stays out with the too-small child but in WDW the two times we have been with more than 2 kids is that they were very strict with only assigning one companion and stating up front that it would only be one and could not be be more. Which is fine since that’s the policy they stated they have. There were two exceptions we saw, once at Test track where they saw we had 3 tall enough kids but one was staying out because it was too thrilling for him and so they allowed both our older kids to join DH on his re-ride. And then at Flight of passage we got a major pixie dust when the CM went to add two extra, saw we had a third tall enough to ride and she said “I’m not supposed to do this but give me that band anyway” and added our 3rd tall enough kid too.
So my first tip is to be prepared to figure out which rides that each kid will be the companion re-rider and find someway to make it even. Our older kids have gotten old enough to realize that if they don’t get to ride the ride a 2nd time we’ll get them ab extra treat or add a few extra dollars to their souvenir budget and are happy to sit out.
And the reality of our experience is that once we started going outnumbered we’d split up a lot but that was more due to our 3rd and 4th kids’ personalities and they were just a lot easier to manage that way.
But to maximize it if you both want to do it is absolutely defer using the rider switches to midday when the lines are longer. It takes a long time to do the ride and the swap so it’s easier if one non-riding-parent does an activity with the younger one , could be a character meet, a play area, a show or a nearby ride the young kid is tall enough for.