If you’ve been to a Disney Park recently, you’ve no doubt seen happy cast members posted at various locations throughout the park with large cameras in hand.  These are your friendly PhotoPass photographers, and they’ll gladly snap a picture or two (or a dozen!), scan them onto your PhotoPass card, and you can peruse them at PhotoPass kiosks or on your own computer via a free Disney PhotoPass account on the official site.

While this portion of the service is complimentary, there are a plethora of items to purchase once you begin looking at your photos.  From prints to calendars to mugs and more, the possibilities of photo-clad products are varied. You can buy prints one at a time or even a PhotoPass CD, which allows guests to obtain all PhotoPass vacation photos on on CD(s) along with the rights to have them printed wherever they wish. The best value for us has been Disney’s PhotoPass CD,  which is what we’ll be focusing on today.

Now that you have a general idea of PhotoPass, let’s decide if it’s right for you.

The Budget Issue

While Disneyland’s PhotoPass CD is a more affordable option at $69.95, the Disney World price tag of $169.95 can make your decision a little more difficult.  However, currently the PhotoPass CD can be pre-ordered for Walt Disney World at a discounted price of $119.95.  Even with the discount, there can be a bit of sticker shock, especially if you carry your own camera and know you’ll have plenty of pictures.  Then again, when splurging on your Disney vacation, this cost may just be a drop in the bucket.

Get Park Wise:Traveling with a group?  There’s no limit to the amount of photos or cards that can be added to a PhotoPass account.  Join forces with your fellow travelers, and split the cost.

Ÿ√ If you’re not traveling with a group, there is a group on Facebook that organizes PhotoPass shares where strangers traveling during the same time can join one account and divide the price.  This is not sanctioned by Disney nor is it truly monitored, so this is definitely an at-your-own-risk venture.

Will You Use It?

PhotoPass photographers are typically stationed at very picturesque areas in the parks.  You’ll find them in front of castles, giant golf balls, humongous hats, etc.  They’re often spotted near main attractions, or at least main attractions that are visually appealing from the outside.  In addition, they’re often snapping away at character meet and greets throughout the parks.  Occasionally, they can even be found at the resort hotels.

Chances are you’ll want some photographic memories of these locations and experiences.  However, even if you’re not planning to purchase a PhotoPass CD, the photographers will also take pictures with your personal camera, phone, tablet and whatever else you may have.  I really do love PhotoPass photos at character spots, though, because often the photographer starts taking photos even before you can ask them to use your camera.  Your little one’s huge grin as Mickey motions for her to join him, or your laugh as Goofy bows to you are just a couple of the moments they can capture that you may not be able to get.

Get Park Wise: If you do decide to use Disney PhotoPass, tell the photographer that you’ve pre-purchased the CD.  They’ll usually take extra shots, especially if no one else is waiting.

Dining and Attractions

In 2012, PhotoPass introduced two new members to their family in PhotoPass+ and Attractions+.  PhotoPass+ allows guests to add any dining photos (taken prior to your meal at select locations) and on-ride photos (taken at select attractions) to your PhotoPass account.  Attractions+ allows you to add just the attraction photos.

If you typically purchase these photos, the cost of PhotoPass+ or Attractions+ quickly pays for itself.  For example, a photo package taken at a dining location can average $30-35.  With PhotoPass+ you’ll get the physical photo package and have it added to your account.  Typical ride photos start at around $15.  If you’re not interested in these options, it’s probably not worth the price to upgrade.

Mouse-ellaneous Magic

The PhotoPass site encourages guests to embellish and edit their PhotoPass photos.  Borders, character autographs, special event logos and more can be added to any photos taken at the parks and resorts and will be included on the CD.

Another fun aspect of using PhotoPass is the ability of photographers to do “magic shots.”  These are fun graphics added to your photos automatically.  You can hold Tinker Bell in the palm of your hand, be carried away by Mickey balloons or cradle baby Simba.  Ask any PhotoPass photographer if they do any magic shots when you stop for the obvious picture.  Photographers with cameras on tripods typically cannot while photographers with cameras in hand typically can.

Of course, if you’re not a photo geek like I am, you can probably do just as well without these.  😉

So, there’s a basic idea of the main facets of PhotoPass and the most requested information from my guests regarding the service.  Personally, I’m a PhotoPass fan and use it on every trip.  What about you? Is PhotoPass worth the price?