Disney's Photopass Service
For a little over eight years, Disney has offered a service to guests called Photopass. The convenience of digital photography paved the way for this unique system that allows Disney photographers to capture pictures of families enjoying their time at Disney World and for guests to then order the images they want. Gone are the days where Mom or Dad are behind the lens and absent from family shots. In this sense, Disney has given families yet another way to make lasting memories with each other. After all, pictures are the best form of a memory ~ when we look back and can see an actual moment in time. The Photopass service has evolved over the years, and now there are several products for guests to consider when visiting WDW. Lets take a look at what options are offered and how they work. But first, a little background for those of you unfamiliar with Photopass. Veterans may want to skip the next two sections...
For guests not yet familiar with how this all works... photopass photographers are stationed strategically throughout the parks. You will always find them at park landmarks such as Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, with the backdrop of Cinderella’s Castle. In Epcot, you will find them at the park entrance with Spaceship Earth in the background... in Hollywood Studios you will have a photo opportunity in front of Sorcerer Mickey’s Hat, and at Animal Kingdom guests get a great shot in front of the Tree of Life. Both Water Parks also take part in the Photopass service. You will find photo-ops in the wave pools, the children’s play areas and coming out of the tubes of various rides. The photographers are also present at all character spots, ready to capture that first meeting with Mickey or whomever it is that both the young or young-at-heart meet. If your little princess has an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, there will be photographers on hand to capture the entire experience. Lastly, there are picture opportunities at several character meals, where photopass photographers are on on-hand to capture a great shot as well.
Upon posing for your first picture, the photopass photographer will present you with a small plastic card to use throughout the duration of your trip. Each time you have a picture taken, the photographer will take your card to scan the shot. This card will hold as many pictures as you can take, so don’t be shy! Each card has a bar code that you then enter online to view all of the pictures contained on it (at the completion of your vacation). It is always smart to take a picture of the card’s bar code in case you lose the actual card. As long as you know the digits in the bar code, your pictures can still be accessed online. And since each photopass account allows you to enter multiple card numbers, you can accumulate several cards throughout the trip and combine the pictures into one account. Disney is rolling out a new system that will incorporate families’ photopass accounts (among other things) onto what they call “magic bands”. A wristband will now store the pictures and replace the plastic cards. But as of yet, we are awaiting the dates that this new system will go live.
This brings us to the next topic... the products offered by Disney’s Photopass service. You may wish to just order prints from the website. There are multiple print sizes and you can even customize them with borders and other details, such as the year of your visit. Disney also offers Holiday Cards, custom photobooks, and other products bearing your families’ pictures (mugs, calendars, ornaments, mousepads, etc.). You can order these products within thirty days of uploading the pictures to the Photopass website. After this, they are deleted from the system, so make sure you don’t wait too long!
Because the prints are expensive when purchased individually ($15 for one 5x7!) and families often want many of the shots from their trips, Disney’s Photopass service also offers a CD with all of the pictures from one account being purchased for a single price. This allows you to download all of your families’ pictures and use them however you like. Currently, if you pre-order this CD at least 14 days prior to your vacation, the price is $119.95. When purchasing the same CD after your 14-day window has passed the cost is $169.95, so there is a significant savings to pre-pay. This is also effective in helping you get as many shots as possible, because once you pre-pay for the CD then you are more inclined to take advantage of the photopass photographers at each opportunity you get.
In 2012 Disney introduced something called “Photopass +”. With this service, you receive the images from select dining locations and other experiences on your photo CD. The following restaurants participate with the photopass service:
1900 Park Fare Ohana (Breakfast only) Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show Chef Mickey’s Cinderella’s Royal Table Tusker House Restaurant (Breakfast only) Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
In addition, the following attractions have an action shot captured on them that have traditionally been offered for sale at the exit of the ride. With photopass+, the CD includes all of the attraction shots as well.
Space Mountain Splash Mountain Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Rock ‘n Roller Coaster Expedition Everest Dinosaur
The cost of this upgraded photopass+ CD is $149 with fourteen-day prepayment, or $199 if you wait. So again, you are receiving a great discount if you commit ahead of time to the purchase.
Disney has recently rolled out a brand new product called “Attractions+”. This is where you can get digital copies of your attraction pictures only. (See list above for participating attractions). So you would not receive any of the regular photopass pictures on your CD. This product is being offered for $44.95 and is a nice option for guests who don’t normally utilize the photopass photographers stationed throughout the parks, yet want to have their ride pictures (without going broke on prints!).
Unrelated to Disney’s Photopass Service, Disney also offers Professional Portrait sittings at the following resorts:
Grand Floridian Polynesian Beach Club Wilderness Lodge Animal Kingdom Lodge
You can opt to order a print package or to receive the images from your session on a CD. The portrait sessions are very popular and they do a great job. My family has had them done at both the Wilderness Lodge and the Grand Floridian and feel that it was worth the money. The cost is currently $150 for the session (which includes the photo CD.) You will also receive a license that allows you to reprint the photos through an outside source.
I hope this information has been helpful to readers. And next time you are on a Disney vacation, remember: there will be no excuse why you can’t be in the family pictures alongside the kids! Make those memories and I think you will be glad to look back and see yourself smiling along with the ones you love!