PhotoPass+: The Pros and Cons

Who doesn’t want awesome pictures of their family vacation?  You’ve probably packed a camera, plus you’ve got your phone camera, maybe your spouse has one, too.  You’ll snap shots as you go, recording memories.  But sometimes you’ll forget to capture that iconic shot you meant to get.  Or yours will turn out fuzzy.  And worse, you probably aren’t getting everyone in that shot (who’s taking the picture?!)

Disney’s got a solution for that: It’s called PhotoPass.  And just in the last year, they’ve added the “plus” portion, as in PhotoPass+.  PhotoPass uses special cards that are scanned by professional photographers in the park each time they take a picture for you.  They are positioned throughout the parks, ready for all of those iconic shots.

 

To obtain those photos, you have a few options.

First, you enter the card numbers at the PhotoPass website to upload the pictures to your account.  Then, you can buy the photos for a (honestly, very expensive) price each.  The other options is to pre-purchase a PhotoPass CD or PhotoPass+ CD (also available as a digitial download), for a much better price, giving you access to every single photo that was taken by the photographers.

I decided to try PhotoPass+ on my latest trip to Disneyland.  The “plus” version includes not only all of the photos you have taken by the photographers but ALSO all of the ride attraction photos available (such as at Splash Mountain and Radiator Springs Racers) AND the photos taken at character dining locations.  At $69.95 when purchased at least 14 days before your vacation ($149 for Walt Disney World), this is an excellent deal.  That’s because a single photo download costs $14.95, ride photos are around $20, and the photo packages at dining locations can be upwards of $40.

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Yes, my husband is pretending to read a book.  No, I don’t know why.

Once I ordered it, Disney sent me a package that included my voucher for my special PhotoPass+ card, as well as a CD of stock photos and my special code for redeeming my free CD or digital package of downloads once I returned.

After arriving at my resort, I wanted to see if I could get my voucher exchanged for my card before my morning in the park – no need to waste time in the morning, in my opinion.  Knowing that one location to use this card is at character dining, I stopped into Goofy’s Kitchen to see about trading it in.  They could do a photo for me, they said, and give me a receipt to get it added to my card later, but they couldn’t give me a card at that location.  Darn.

The next morning was a park morning, and if you know me and the methods I recommend, there is no time to be wasted upon entering the park.  But I had paid for this card, so now I would just do my best to get there first.  The rope drop came a little early and I sped down to photo shop on Main Street.

I got to the door and – it was locked.  Nooo!  I looked up ahead and saw an internal rope holding back the crowds – it was not yet 9am.  So I sent my family up to the rope and told them I’d meet them at the first ride once I had my pass.  I, and a few other families, waited at the shop door.  And waited.

A janitor informed us it would not open until exactly 9am.  9am came, the internal rope dropped and my family went off to the first ride.  The shop door was still closed.  Five minutes later, the shop did finally open, but the cast member seemed unsure how to redeem the vouchers, so it took two employees to help those of us waiting.

Finally, I got my PhotoPass+ card (which is on a lanyard, but I’d not wear it on my neck – lots of people have lost it this way), and continued out to find my family.

The rest of our day was much smoother – using the card was easy (I had used regular PhotoPass cards in Disney World, the main difference here was that you only get one and can’t collect multiples).  We took some lovely shots along the way.

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sierra and cinderella

Having the card was a good reminder to take all of the opportunities for photos.  Where we may have blindly walked by something before, now we were looking for the photographers and stopping for some good family photos.  I really liked that aspect of the card.

We ran into one other issue the following day.  The only ride with a photo capability that ALL of my family wanted to ride was Radiator Springs Racers.  Therefore, this ride was going to be the one that partially made the “plus” in PhotoPass+ worth it.   We were lucky enough to ride this ride twice with almost no wait – once first thing and once later with a fast pass.  But both times, the camera wasn’t working, which meant no ride photo for us!  That was pretty disappointing.

On the other hand, we did enjoy a character breakfast at Surf’s Up with Mickey and Friends at the PCH Grill, and the photo package from that was great!  We got both the physical prints (two 8x10s and two 4×6, the larger photos in a cute cardboard frame), and the digital downloads.  That part of the deal was very worth it, as in the past we have declined to purchase the photos because of the price of the package.

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So would I get this package again?  Over all, I think the value is there if you plan ahead well to use it.  I think it will be more useful when we return to Disney World on our next trip, as there are more PhotoPass photographers and opportunities for pictures.  I enjoyed some of the photos we got from this trip, but some were definitely subpar quality.  You can see a few here that were not exactly fabulous:

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Mmm, yeah, I’m pretty sure those shadows completely ruin the effect going on there…  And the previous one is really really flashed out.

But most of the photos were much, much better quality!

If you think you’ll want some ride photos (and have family members who ride the “big” rides that have photo capabilities) and if you plan to do any character dining, you’ll easily find this package to be a good value.  Throw in all of the other photos you can capture on the way, and this is definitely a good way to capture memories.

 

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