For many, if not most, vacationers, photos are among the most cherished souvenirs from their travels. That certainly is true of guests on Disney vacations, myself included. And now that we are going to Disneyland for the first time, I have been planning for these photos — choosing outfits and iconic locations and making character-dining reservations.
The first decision I made was whether we wanted to purchase PhotoPass+, a product that allows you to buy all the professional photos you have taken in the parks for one price. At Disneyland, that price is $99.95, but you can save $30 by pre-ordering PhotoPass+ at least 14 days before your arrival. There is no limit on the number of professional photos that you can have taken, although they must be taken within a 14-day period. The price also includes photos taken at Disneyland on attractions and at character meals. Plus, you receive a photo CD of more than 300 professional stock photos of Disneyland Resort. Given that individual photos cost about $15 and character meal photo packages cost about $30, opting for the photo package was a no-brainer for my family.
Knowing that we were purchasing the PhotoPass+ package, I booked dining reservations at three of the four restaurants where the dining photos are included: Goofy’s Kitchen, Ariel’s Grotto and Disney’s PCH Grill. Because of time restrictions, we opted not to eat at the Plaza Inn. (It’s also very similar to the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, so we chose experiences that are unique to California.)
We’ll also try to ride all the attractions whose photos are included in the PhotoPass+ package: California Screamin’, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Radiator Springs Racers, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. PhotoPass+ may be the push I need to finally get on Tower of Terror. Or I might just be happy with photos of the kids!
Disneyland photographers also help guests create “Magic Shots.” For one of these photos, a guest is asked to pose in a particular way for the shot. Later, when the image appears online, there will be an addition of a character or prop added to the photo. Some guests love these images, and others can do without them. I would like to have the three “Magic Shots” in Cars Land but will be happy enough if we don’t make it to the others.
Here are some of the current “Magic Shots” at Disneyland:
** Bouquet of Mickey balloons, at park entrances (Disneyland and DCA)
** Tinker Bell, Olaf, Chip and Pascal, mostly near Sleeping Beauty Castle (Disneyland)
** Stitch, at Paradise Pier (DCA)
** Flo, in front of Flo’s V8 CafÃ© (DCA)
** Mater, near Radiator Springs Racers (DCA)
** Lizzie, in front of Radiator Springs Curios (DCA)
** Mike Wazowski, in Hollywoodland (DCA)
How it works:
** If you purchase PhotoPass+ in advance, you’ll receive the CD of stock photos and a voucher in the mail. On your first day, you’ll need to stop at one of the sales centers inside Disneyland or Disney California Adventure to exchange the voucher for a lanyard and PhotoPass+ card, which you’ll have photographers scan each time they take photos.
** You have 14 days from your arrival date to accumulate photos.
** Then, you have 30 days from the date each photo was taken to claim it online.
** You have an additional 30 days from the date the photo was claimed to order your Photo CD. You also have the option to download your collection of photos, if you prefer that format.
** Before you order the CD, however, you may want to edit your photos. You can save the same photo in multiple versions with various Disney borders or embellishments. Once you order the CD, you won’t have access to the Disney editing tools — unless you want to buy additional copies of photos before they expire.
One final note: Beginning this week, Disney’s PhotoPass service — meaning, all Disney Parks professional photos — will be watermarked for viewing. Once the photos are purchased, the watermark is removed from the high-resolution versions. This process is used to prevent people from taking a screen shot of a photo instead of paying for it. Many companies use watermarks, including the photo service for runDisney events, so I’m actually surprised it’s taken Disney Parks this long to implement the process. The exceptions are PhotoPass+ and Memory Maker photos, which can be seen without watermarks because the guests has pre-purchased the photos.