Mother Knows Best is a regular column on Your Highway in the Sky dedicated to celebrating Disney with Kids. Traveling to Disney with kids can be lots of fun. Whether you’re taking a baby or a teen, or any age(s) in between, we’d like to share with you ideas to help you make the most of your family trip. It’s even possible to enjoy a Disney vacation with children of multiple ages!
The Tower of Terror looms over us - unconquered
Back in early 1999, my family of 3 (at the time) set out for our first family trip to Walt Disney World. We had a fabulous time and I very much enjoyed introducing WDW to my husband and 5-year-old daughter. But, something I didn’t enjoy – and something that we are still holding against her – is the fact that we were not able to ride Tower of Terror on that trip! Despite our numerous attempts to persuade Ashley to ride, she adamantly refused. And we walked away from our first trip thinking that next time we’d definitely be riding that thing – no matter what!
Fast forward six years to our second family trip to Walt Disney World – this time as a family of 4 (but, we thought we were smart and brought the grandparents along this time). As fate would have it, my parents only wanted 3-day park tickets and opted out of visiting Hollywood Studios (which was still MGM studios at the time). So, we faced the same dilemma – this time going up against two daughters who refused to ride. And, once again, we left disappointed. Sure, we had a good trip, but Tower of Terror was hanging over our heads; and the fact that we had yet to ride it was really bugging us!
So, by the time our third family trip rolled around in 2009, we got smart! On that trip, we were visiting as a family of 5 (our youngest was 2 at the time). Friends (with a 9-month-old baby) were traveling with us. We needed to figure out a way to make the Tower of Terror a reality this time.
And that’s where Child Swap comes in . . . Man, if only we had known about this before!
If you’re planning an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World, and you’ll be traveling with young children, you need to know about this! Child Swap is the answer to your thrill ride dreams. And, you won’t see any signs about it at the parks, so you need to get a little familiar with it before you go.
As long as you have at least two adults and one child (either too small or too scared to ride) in your party, you can take advantage of Child Swap. Your whole party will get in line for the attraction together. Tell the attending Cast Member that you’ll be needing to do a Child Swap. Then, Parent #1 gets to ride while Parent #2 stays off with the child. When Parent #1 is finished, Parent #2 gets his/her turn to ride without having to wait in the long line. Both parents are happy, and the child isn’t traumatized. If you have a larger party, this can work to your advantage as well. Maybe Dad and 2 older children can ride while Mom stays off with baby; then Mom and the same 2 children get to ride while Dad stays off with the baby.
While the Child Swap doesn’t work the same at all attractions, essentially it serves the same purpose. For some attractions (like Space Mountain), the whole group waits in line together all the way to the loading area – there they get split and the waiting adult(s) and child(ren) wait in the unloading area. Other attractions (like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster) split the parties before you even really get in line. No matter the method, the result is usually a happy family.
Child Swap worked out great for us and, needless to say, we got our Tower of Terror fill – finally! And while I like to think of myself as a fairly good parent, I have to confess something – I was just a teensy bit miffed at Ashley when she finally decided to ride ToT, after having kept us from it for so long!