Pictures are, and always have been, a major part of any Walt Disney World vacation. Whether snaps with characters or that perfectly posed shot in front of the castle, pretty much every guest who has ever visited the Vacation Kingdom has taken or posed in at least one photograph with their group’s camera or (in recent years) smartphone.
What some guests may not realize is that in addition to their personal cameras, Disney provides its own photographers. If you’ve never heard of this service before, don’t fret, these 11 things you need to know about Disney’s PhotoPass are a crash course in the system — and frankly, even those of you who have heard of it may just learn something new.
Let’s dive right in:
1. PhotoPass photographers are stationed around the park, often near iconic photo-spots like Cinderella Castle or the Main Street Train Station in the Magic Kingdom. These photographers will take perfectly framed photos of guests posing with Disney World landmarks. PhotoPass photographers are also present at character meet and greet locations — though Disney has attempted to automate the process in some locations in recent years — and are trained to document any and all interactions guests have with said characters, ensuring that any improvised magical moments are captured for posterity. Following their snap, the photographer will scan your MagicBand, allowing your photo to be viewed through your account.
2. While getting photos later on may cost money — we’ll get to that in a bit — Disney PhotoPass photographers do not charge for their service. Photos are taken free of charge.
3. In addition to their professional camera equipment, PhotoPass photographers will also take photos with your camera or smartphone. In other words, yes, they’ll capture that “perfect for the ‘gram” shot you’ve been dying for.
4. Attraction photos are also part of the PhotoPass system. Some rides, like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, go a step further and offer on-ride videos in addition to photos.
6. In addition to the theme parks, PhotoPass photos are also taken at most resort character dining experiences, as well as specialty dining events like the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian Village Resort and the Fort Wilderness Resort’s Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. PhotoPass photographers are also available in the lobby of certain Disney resorts, including the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and the Polynesian Village Resort throughout the day.
7. If you’re attending one of Walt Disney World’s special seasonal events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, PhotoPass photographers are stationed at various holiday locations throughout the Magic Kingdom. They can also be found at special holiday-themed photo ops at the other theme parks, as well Disney Springs and the lobbies of some decorated Disney World hotels.
8. If you’re celebrating a special occasion like an engagement, honeymoon, or anniversary, be sure to let your PhotoPass photog know. They’ll often take a longer session, perhaps even at a special location, if circumstances allow.
9. In addition to normal photos, PhotoPass photographers will also ask you to get into specific poses to which Disney characters and other magical effects can be digitally added later. These photos are referred to as Magic Shots.
10. PhotoPass photos can be purchased in several different ways. They can be bought at numerous PhotoPass centers located in the parks and resorts of Walt Disney World. They’re also available on the Walt Disney World app for 45 days following the end of your stay. The photos can be purchased individually, or you can purchase a Memory Maker package, which offers unlimited downloads of PhotoPass photos, as well as other benefits.
11. PhotoPass downloads are included for free with most levels of Walt Disney World annual passes, including Premier, Platinum, and Gold levels.
Whether you’re just hearing about PhotoPass for the first time or you’re a WDW veteran who thought you knew all about it, we hope you’ve learned something new about the system. If you have any other PhotoPass tips you’d like to share, be sure to let us know in the comments below.
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