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.

Animal Kingdom Lodge — A great place for couples!

Savanna at Kidani Village

Savanna at Kidani Village

Where you stay can be a big deal. Or not. Depending on how much time you will be spending in your room, you might not be super worried about where you stay. Even though we are go, go, go, I really do care about where we stay. We’ve never stayed at a value resort. I’m sure they’re fine, but I just don’t think it’s for us. Our first visit to Disney, we sprang for a Deluxe resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was lovely. It wasn’t cheap, but it was lovely. And we think you’d like it, too.

Honest to goodness, this is how our morning routine went during our week at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Joshua would go down to The Mara (on site quick service restaurant) and get a muffin, coffee, and tea. We’d sit out on the (small) balcony of our room, eat our breakfast, and watch the giraffes have their breakfast. Or the zebras. Or whoever was being fed on our side of the resort this morning. And we did that every morning. It was amazing.

If that wasn’t enough to get you booking Animal Kingdom Lodge, don’t worry, there’s more. We’re not pool people, but the pool area was really nice. Lots of deck chairs, and there’s a snack bar and a waterslide. Yes, you heard me, a waterslide. And if food is more your thing, there is no shortage of amazing dining at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We’ll be doing an entire post about our favorite Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurant, Sanaa, and Boma and Jiko are located here, too. We also appreciated that the gift shop at Jambo House is huge. If there’s something you need, they probably have it. I think it’s the best gift shop I’ve seen at any Disney resort.

But obviously the big draw to Animal Kingdom Lodge is the animals. Besides watching them from the balcony of your room, there are also larger viewing areas complete with comfy rocking chairs all around the resort. You’ll even see the animals while you walk to your room through the huge windows that look out on the savanna. There are rooms on the property that don’t have a savanna view. They’re slightly cheaper, but I really think it’s worth it to splurge on the savanna view rooms.

Jambo House, where we stayed, is located right next to Kidani Village, a Disney Vacation Club property. Kidani Village has a separate savanna, but you don’t have to be a vacation club member to visit Kidani Village and enjoy the savanna or Sanaa. We’ve only stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge once, but we always eat at Sanaa and spend time watching the animals.

Alright, so why do I think it’s particularly good for couples? Besides the food and the food and the food, oh, and the animals having breakfast right outside your room. There are a couple of reasons. First, the rooms are fairly big with a well equipped bathroom. They’re tastefully decorated and very comfortable. We had a room with two queen beds, and it worked out very well for us. It was great to be able to spread out our maps and plans and papers and things on the spare bed. The rooms can be a little dark, so if you need light for makeup, I’d bring a lighted makeup mirror. I also think that the Animal Kingdom rooms offer great privacy. We never heard noises from the rooms around ours, something I can’t say for other resorts.

Transportation to and from the parks is limited to busses. The ride to the parks other than Animal Kingdom can be a bit longer than they are from other resorts, but it didn’t bother us. What’s an extra five minutes when you’re heading to a Disney park? I’ve read reviews from others that mentioned very long wait times for busses. There were a few times that it felt like we’d seen three Epcot busses and no Hollywood Studios busses, but I don’t think wait times are any different from other resorts. And again, what’s an extra five minutes? I find the time waiting for the bus to be a great opportunity to chat with other families.

Why haven’t we stayed there again, then? Well, the biggest reason is cost. It isn’t super cheap to stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. And for whatever reason, we got a really great deal that first year. It’s been considerably more expensive since then. But if it’s ever in the budget again, you can bet you’ll find us on the balcony with a muffin watching the giraffes, because you can’t beat it.

AllEars has a great fact sheet on Animal Kingdom Lodge that will give you all the details about this amazing resort!

Have you stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge? Are you considering it for a future visit? Do you have a favorite resort?

Welcome to WDW for Two!

My name is Shawna, and I couldn’t be happier that you’re here. WDW for Two has a very simple goal: I, along with my DH Joshua, want to help couples get the very most out of Disney. Joshua and I don’t have kids, but we love Disney World. Whether you’re childless, have an empty nest, or you’re just looking for a vacation without the kiddos, we think Disney should be on your list of possible vacation destinations.

We're Wilderness Explorers!

We’re Wilderness Explorers!

Joshua and I made our first Disney visit for our fifth anniversary. We spent an amazing week at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, chased characters, rode rides until I was sick, and ate amazing food. And we were ready to go back almost as soon as we arrived.

We’re on our way to Orlando for our next Disney anniversary trip in just over a month. Excited would be about the understatement of the century. We’ll be staying at Port Orleans Riverside for the first time. We’ll be dining at Be Our Guest for the first time. We’ll visit Ariel’s Grotto for the first time. I think it is so great that there’s always been something new to see for every visit. This trip also marks a very significant birthday for me. We’ll be celebrating me turing *gulp* thirty. Joshua booked us for the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage for my birthday! I’m really excited.

And you can be sure you’ll hear all about that and the rest of our trip right here. Or you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to keep up with us on our trip, too.

Have something to add? We love comments and email, so don’t be shy. We look forward to hearing from you!