If you’re travelling to Walt Disney World or the Universal Orlando Resort with a small child, you’ll inevitably come across the question of what to do when the child is too small for an attraction but the rest of your party wants to ride. This problem pops up so frequently that both parks have specific plans in place to assist you. These are designed to allow everyone in your party to ride with minimal disruption to your day, despite having to take turns waiting with the wee ones.
What’s confusing for many Orlando visitors is that Disney and Universal approach the issue in completely different ways. If you’re traveling with a child who may be too short to ride certain attractions, take a few moments to familiarize yourself with these policies ahead of time so you can make the most of the options available to you.
1. Disney won’t allow small children in the queue
If you have children in your party who are too short to ride a particular attraction, they won’t even get past the entrance at Disney. If they can’t go on the ride, they can’t go in the queue. It’s important to set up your rider switch before you get in line because Disney’s system is designed to let the child who isn’t riding go enjoy something else while the first half of the party rides. The party members who aren’t riding receive rider switch passes that work like FastPasses when they return.
One person in the party can also ride twice. This means that if Mom and Dad have Big Brother who can ride Dinosaur and Little Sister who’s too short, Mom can ride with Brother while Dad waits, then Brother can go again with Dad while Mom waits. This way no one has to ride alone.
2. Disney’s Rider Switch tickets have no time limit
Rider switch passes look much like the old FastPass tickets. The benefit for these is that there’s no time limit on them. If the guests who aren’t riding head across the park to do something else and don’t want to come back and take their turn till a little later, that will work just fine with this system.
3. Universal asks you to wait in line together
At Universal, your entire party has to wait together. This means that even small children who can’t possibly meet the height restriction will go through the entire queue with you. If you don’t have an Express Pass and you want to take turns riding Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts when it has two-hour wait, you will all be waiting in line alongside the impatient toddler who won’t even ride. This system keeps your party together, but it can present some challenges when you’re in the queue with children who won’t get much of a reward at the end of the wait.
4. Universal provides child-friendly waiting areas during the ride
Since children have to wait in line with you at Universal, there’s a handy waiting area for them to sit in while the rest of the party takes turns riding. On some attractions (such as the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man), this is a spacious room with chairs and televisions. However, some are so crowded even the amenities can’t make them comfortable (such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey). Others, like Bluto’s, don’t have much more than a few outdoor benches.