Photos are a big part of vacation for many people. You want to capture the memories of this special time so that you can share them with friends and family and look back on them after your vacation for years to come. While selfies are great they are not always the best way to capture the moment. Disney knows that vacationers want to get the best photos possible and that everyone wants to be in the picture. That is why Disney offers PhotoPass photography services at both Disney World and Disneyland.
What is PhotoPass?
PhotoPass is Disney’s standard photography service available to all guests.
Photographers stationed around the park will take your photo using professional equipment.
Recognize the photographers from their khaki vests.
Photographers will capture a “standard shot” and often then coach you to take a few different poses. Sometimes they even have props for you to hold.
They will then link your photo to your My Disney Experience by scanning your MagicBand at Disney World. Or link them to you My Disneyland account by scanning your PhotoPass card provided to you by a photographer.
After minutes or 24 hours at the most you will be able to see your photos on your Disney App.
Some of the hotels, like Riviera and Coronado Springs now even have the option to view your photos on your in room TV.
*** After they take your photo with their camera the photographers will be happy to use your phone or camera to take an additional picture. ***
Where Can You Get Your Photos Taken?
Around the Park – Photographers are stationed at all the park icons and throughout the parks at various scenic locations. You can see these location shown with a camera icon on park maps, both in print and on the app.
Characters – Almost all character meet and greets around the park feature a PhotoPass opportunity. These are some of the best photo experiences as photographers can capture the candid moments where you are not posing for the camera. The hugs, smiles, and laughter are sure to make for fantastic photos.
Dinning – Most character dinning experiences start with a character meet and greet of the “main character” at that meal. PhotoPass photographers are available to captures this meeting. However, you are on your own for the characters who circulate during the meal. Though servers are always happy to grab a photo for you with your camera.
Attraction Photos – Several attractions offer on-ride photos, or even videos. Such as the famous Splash Mountain shot just as you start to fall down the waterfall. These are included in PhotoPass. At Disney World, these photos will automatically be placed onto you account through the magic of MagicBands. At Disneyland make sure you are scanning your photo card as you exit the ride to have the photos added to your account.
Portrait Studios – At Disney World there are three PhotoPass studios, imagine a classic Sears Portrait Studio but with Disney flair including Disney backgrounds and props. The use of these studios is free of charge and the photos taken are included in your PhotoPass. There is no appointment needed, though you may have a short wait for your turn. These are a great option is you want some posed photos in a special outfit or even some Christmas Card photos. They are located in Disney Springs, in Magic Kingdom at Sir Mickey’s in Fantasyland, and at the Grand Floridian Resort.
*** This is PERFECT for those with little ones who will be enjoying one of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques, all of which are located near a studio. PhotoPass photographers are also located at the Boutique to capture the transformations. ***
Run Disney – If you are participating in a Run Disney event all of the photography before, after and during your race is included in PhotoPass.
Magic Shots are photos where a little extra Disney Magic has been inserted into your photo. For example a Disney characters or prop. Photographers will ask you to take a special pose while taking the photo and then when you see your photos you will see what magic has been added.
Special Magic Shots are available seasonally and for special events as well.
If you would rather have “normal” photos don’t worry they will always take some of those as well.
PhotoPass Purchase Options
My recommendation and the best deal is to purchase a photo package prior to your vacation. Purchasing prior to your trip will get you a small discount vs. purchasing during or after your vacation. While you have the option to buy one or a small number of photos specifically, as prints or downloads the most complete package and my recommendation is Memory Maker at Disney World or PhotoPass+ at Disneyland. These options will get you digital downloads of ALL of your photos from your vacation. (PhotoPass+ is also included in your MaxPass purchase at Disneyland.)
There are also 1 day versions of these packages at a lower cost. This will get you all your photos from one selected day.
With a purchase of these packages before your tip you will be able to download the photos to your phone and share them on social media as soon as they are available in the app. Then you can download digital copies of all of your photos when you arrive home.
When you are reviewing you photos online you even have the option to add fun banners and stickers to your photos. Perfect for a scrapbooker.
Personally I never go to Disney World or Disneyland without purchasing these packages beforehand.
Upgraded Photography Experiences
Capture Your Moment
This is a new option available at Disney World in the Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom. For an additional fee, $50 per 20 minutes, you can have a private photo session with a PhotoPass photographer. An appointment must be made in advance and there is a maximum party size of 8.
At Magic Kingdom you have the option to chose from several in park locations, including in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Photos and locations are chosen strategically to minimize others being in the background of your photos.
At Animal Kingdom you can have your photos take in the Discovery Island area with the Tree of Life and several other background options.
This is a perfect option to capture a special moment like a proposal or a gender reveal. Also a great option if you are celebrating something during your trip and want to take some special photos to commemorate the occasion, such as an engagement, honeymoon, pregnancy, birthday, graduation, and more.
These photos are added into your PhotoPass and will be included in Memory Maker if purchased.
My Friends Capture Your Moment Session
Disney Fine Art Photography
Located at Disney World this photography division offers either wedding photography services and portrait sessions. As Disney weddings are a whole world of their own I will focus on the portrait session options.
These photos are not included in your PhotoPass and include an additional cost.
There are several package options at multiple price points available to chose from. All options give you digital copies of all of your photos. Some packages include digital enhancements (photoshopped photos) and for some more affordable packages the photos come as taken.
Sessions must be booked in advance.
You have the option to choose from several locations around Walt Disney World. Including all four theme parks and several resorts. The in park sessions are early in the morning so that you are “the only ones in the park” making for amazing settings.
The party size allowed depends on the package and location but range from 2- 40 people. Some packages include both a photographer and an assistant.
*** Fine Art Photography is the perfect option for an extended family group looking to take some professional group photos. ***
Fine Art Photography is the way to go f you want higher quality photos both in the image quality and the photographers experience.
*** Also a fantastic option for couples who want to take some fancier photos to commemorate and occasion like an engagement, honeymoon, or anniversary. ***
Disneyland Signature Photo Experience
Disneyland’s high-end photography session option is the Signature Photo Experience. You have the option of sessions in Toontown or Cars Land. There are a lot of add-ons available as well, including having characters are your session. All sessions include a photographer and an assistant.
As you can see there are a lot of photo opportunities and options at Disney parks. Before you go on your vacation make sure you know what opportunities you want to take part in. My #1 recommendation is to book Memory Maker or PhotoPass+ before your travel. Then make sure to take advantage of the photographers in the parks.
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