Disney World’s New ‘Rider Switch’ Feature Is a Game-Changer if You Hate Lines

Plus, 4 other new park additions coming this summer

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We don’t need any additional bells and whistles to entice us to book a trip to Disney World. After all, the most magical place on Earth is a place we return to on repeat for tried-and-true favorites. (Think: Pirates of the Caribbean at the Magic Kingdom, a trip around Spaceship Earth at Epcot, the fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle.) Still, there are quite a few new additions to look forward to this summer, including Disney’s brand-new ‘rider switch’ feature. Here, everything new to hit Disney this season.

1. ‘Rider Switch’

Disney’s Genie+ service is designed to help minimize wait times by allowing you to book ride appointments. But what if you’ve got a kid who’s too young for a particular experience? Does that mean you have to hang back while the other parent  reaps the fast pass perk? Not anymore. Disney just added a brand new feature to Genie+ called Rider Switch, which allows adult guests to take turns without having to wait on the line anew. To utilize, simply tell the cast member who is checking you in for your ride—they’ll designate one of you as “party one” and one as “party two” so one person waits with the kid while the other ones rides, and vice versa. It’s worth noting that you can utilize the Rider Switch experience with or without Genie+.

2. Splash Mountain Finally Re-Opens

Following almost four years of refurbishments, Splash Mountain is set to re-open at Disney World (and Disneyland in California) this summer. The ride—which is now called Tiana’s Bayou Adventure—will feature a new theme based on the 2009 hit film The Princess and the Frog. A description on Disney’s website reveals that riders will join Princess Tiana and jazz-loving alligator Louis on their journey through a shimmering bayou as they prepare for a spirited celebration during Mardi Gras. A few TikToks posted by @disneyparks recently gave an even bigger behind-the-scenes glimpse. But don’t worry: Fans of the original Splash experience can expect the same format—a water ride with a thrilling drop at the end.

3. The New ‘Encanto’ Sing-Along

This one has a limited run, but anyone traveling to Disney World between June 10 and September 6 will have a chance to check out the brand-new Encanto-themed summer sing-along, taking place at the CommuniCore Plaza stage at Epcot. The name of the show is called “¡Celebración Encanto!” and it will run on repeat throughout the day. Kids will relish the chance to belt out songs like “The Family Madrigal” and “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and adults will enjoy a moment to just…sit down.

4. ‘The Lion King’ Celebrates 30 Years

It might make some of us feel ancient, but this summer officially marks 30 years since the release of The Lion King. To celebrate, Animal Kingdom will be pulling out all the stops between June 10 and September 6 with a range of new merch, special meet-and-greets and culinary treats for park-goers to enjoy.

5. 1900 Park Fare Opens

Located at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, 1900 Park Fare is a new entry to the character dining experience. Open for breakfast and lunch, the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat buffet with visits from Disney characters like Aladdin, Mirabel, Cinderella and Princess Tiana. As for the food? Expect dishes like Tiana’s Gumbo or Grand Floridian Strawberry Soup, as well as a carving station and kid-friendly favorites like pizza and mac-and-cheese.

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Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...