Category Archives: Walt Disney World

An Overview of PhotoPass

© Disney

© Disney

Disney PhotoPass is a free photography service available at the Disney parks, resorts, and on Disney Cruise. Photos are a huge part of our Disney vacation. Joshua usually takes over a hundred of photo a day while we’re on vacation. That often means there aren’t a ton of photos of him, since I don’t take nearly that many pictures myself. Generally the only photos we have with both of us are taken by a character handler or a PhotoPass photographer. Well, except for our selfies.

Selfies don't always cut it

Selfies don’t always cut it

The PhotoPass service is entirely free. We receive our PhotoPass card in the mail several weeks ahead of our vacation, along with the rest of our package information. When the card arrives, I register the card online. This way, if I happen to lose the card during our vacation, any pictures taken up to that point will automatically appear in my Disney PhotoPass account. Don’t have a card before you arrive at the parks? No problem. Any Disney PhotoPass photographer can give you one. My suggestion is to take a picture of the back of the card right when you get it. That way, you can still register it online if you should happen to misplace the card. If you do lose your card, you can always get another. Multiple PhotoPass cards can be registered with the same account.

When it comes time to have your photo taken, simply hand your PhotoPass card to the photographer. They’ll scan the card, return it to you, and then they will often take several pictures. I really love the photographers who encourage you to do something fun or silly in the pictures. It’s a nice change from your typical “here-I-am-in-front-of-Cinderella’s-castle” photos. (Ahem, such as the one above….) And that leads me to Magic Shots, my favorite PhotoPass feature. Magic Shots are poses into which Disney will insert something special. For instance, you can have a picture with Tinkerbell in your hands standing in front of Cinderella’s Castle.

Tinkerbell on our photobook cover

Tinkerbell on our photobook cover

PhotoPass photographers will also take pictures with your own camera, too, if you just ask. There was one photographer we encountered who wouldn’t take pictures with a cell phone camera, but that is very rare.

With regular PhotoPass, on-ride photos (Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, etc) and character dining photos are not included. Recently, Disney introduced PhotoPass+ which does include these photographs. The PhotoPass+ CD, which includes all your photos, is $149 if you order it before your vacation, compared to $119.95 for the regular PhotoPass CD. They are $199.95 and $169.95 respectively if ordered after your vacation. Since an attraction photo can run $15 each, if you are a big fan of the attraction photos, the PhotoPass+ might be a great deal for you. (The Disneyland resort prices are the same for PhotoPass and PhotoPass+ at $69.95.) You can get the full scoop on PhotoPass vs PhotoPass+ on the PhotoPass site.

One of my favorite PhotoPass photos.

One of my favorite PhotoPass photos.

So do I recommend PhotoPass? I do, but with a few caveats. Since the PhotoPass photographers will take pictures with their camera, and with your camera, there’s really no drawback. If, heaven forbid, something happened to your camera, you would have the PhotoPass photos available to you. Since I’m such a sucker for Magic Shots, that’s a big part of why I like PhotoPass. But the prices are steep. We do a photobook every year, and it runs us over $80 shipped. I could definitely make a photobook cheaper through other vendors, but I’m a sucker for the Disney themed cover choices and scrapbook items. The photobook is the only PhotoPass item I’ve ever ordered.

A page out of one of our photobooks

A page out of one of our photobooks

If you are interested in ordering PhotoPass photos or souvenirs, you can often find special offers directly on the PhotoPass site.

So what about you? Do you use the PhotoPass service? What do you think of PhotoPass+?

Behind the Seeds — A Backstage Tour of The Land Pavilion

Winter Melon

Winter Melon

Behind the Seeds is a backstage tour of the Land Pavilion at Epcot. Of the special tours at Disney, this is one of the more economical. Adults are $18 (the Disney site lists $18-$20, but it was $18 when we visited in fall of 2012). If you’re a Vacation Club member, annual passholder, or Disney Visa Card holder you’ll get a 15% discount.

The lettuce spells Epcot!

The lettuce spells Epcot!

Behind the Seeds is an hour to an hour and a half walking tour of the backstage of the greenhouses that you see on The Land ride. This was something Joshua had wanted to do since our first ride on The Land. He is an avid gardener. His vegetable garden supplies us with fresh veggies all summer long, and he grows beautiful roses. So he was in heaven on this tour. I really enjoyed it, too.

A vanilla tree!

A vanilla tree!

Disney grows many foods that you eat and cook with, but probably couldn’t grow yourself. I enjoyed seeing where these things come from.

A tomato tree?

A tomato tree?

They also specialize in growing common plants in in unusual ways. This is a single tomato plant grown a bit beyond normal scale. A previous tomato plant held a world record for the most tomatoes harvested from a single plant in a year. They also research growing plants with very little water to help produce food in arid regions.

The cucumber is being grown into a Mickey shape!

The cucumber is being grown into a Mickey shape!

One of my favorite parts was when our guide explained to us how they make their Mickey shaped veggies. The vegetables are grown in a Mickey shaped mold and the vegetables grow to fill the mold. There were cucumbers on the vine that had their Mickey molds on them. I loved that the sign said “Earning my Ears”! We also got to sample the delicious cucumber that was grown in the greenhouse.

The tilapia were very excited to have a snack.

The tilapia were very excited to have a snack.

It was also really neat to feed the tilapia. The tank just went crazy when we tossed the food in. I loved that the tour was interactive. It was great to be encouraged to get close and ask questions and touch (some) things. We were very fortunate to have an extremely friendly and knowledgable tour guide. As much fun as I had, Joshua enjoyed it 100 times more. If you have any interest in plants or gardening, I think you will really enjoy this tour.

In the interest of full disclosure, you can find some less than stellar reviews of this tour. However, we really enjoyed it. I would encourage couples to give this tour a shot. It’s affordable, it’s not terribly long, and hey, it’s air conditioned.