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.
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.
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.
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+?