Get Park Wise: Top Tips on Using Disney PhotoPass

Written by Jessica Ma'ilo. Posted in Disney, Features, Park Wise, Walt Disney World

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Published on April 18, 2013 at 12:01 am with 16 Comments

A couple weeks ago, we pondered the question of whether or not Disney PhotoPass is worth the money.  If you decided it wasn’t, maybe these tips will sway you or give you a few ideas you can use with your personal camera.  If you decided it was, here are a few ways to help you get the most out of Disney’s PhotoPass service.

Take Several Photos in the “Same” Spot

Yes, there may be only a 15 foot difference between cameras, but each photographer has different experience and a different eye, so that second stop may make all the difference.  Besides, who doesn’t like a few options when looking for a framer?

Get Park Wise: Speaking of having several options to choose from, I want to reiterate a past tip.  Make sure you let your photographer know you have or will be ordering the CD.  They are likely to spend a little extra time snapping away if they know you’ve got unlimited photos.

Turn Around

While smiling for the camera in front of Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella Castle probably tops most visitors’ photography lists, take a look behind the photographer and consider getting a great shot on Main Street USA.  One of our favorites is Tower of Terror on one side, Sunset Boulevard on the other.  Some locations aren’t so exciting (like the flip side of, say, the Tree of Life when entering Animal Kingdom), but take a second to look both ways before moving on.

Two different backgrounds, one location!

Come Back at Night

If you’re PhotoPassing outdoors, the time of day can make for completely different pictures.  Cinderella Castle is a site to behold in the morning, but it can be absolutely breathtaking at night, especially if you’re visiting while it’s dripping with magical ice during the holidays.  Disney does a fantastic job with lighting, and with tripods in tow, PhotoPass photographers can capture a gorgeous nighttime version of a photo you took earlier in the day.

Scan the Area

If a photographer isn’t busy, ask if he’ll come to another area close by and snap some pictures there.  We’ve met a great photographer on several occasions in Epcot.  If he doesn’t have a line of guests waiting, he’ll do a mini photo shoot with us.  He’ll guide us to picturesque spots in his area or follow our lead as long as we remain close to where we found him.  Now we try to color coordinate in Epcot.  ;)

Have Fun

Photographers, like characters, will usually play if you start the game.  By the second or third day, we’re kind of over the “Smile and say Mickey!” typical family pictures, so we’ll make goofy faces or funny poses.  On our trip last month, the little guy and I brought a couple of newbies with us and had lots of fun being silly for our photographers.  You can also usually get a nice smile out of your kiddos if you promise them a crazy picture next.

Get Park Wise: Don’t forget to ask for the magic shots that we discussed in the last PhotoPass article.  Just ask your photographer which ones she can do, and strike a pose.

Take as Many Pictures as Possible

Make like you’re on the red carpet, and stop for all the paparazzi.  There is no limit to the amount of pictures that can be on your CD (they’ll send as many as needed for all of your images) or how many PhotoPass cards can be entered into an account.  Give one to every person in your party, especially if you’ll be going separate ways.  Make sure all of the PhotoPass codes are entered into one account, though, or they won’t be on the same CD(s).

And here’s a bonus tip so you don’t end up doing it all for naught…

Take a Picture of the Back of Your Cards!

I tell all my friends and clients to do this as soon as they get their PhotoPass card(s).  Take a moment to snap a pic with your phone.  You can even email or text it to yourself as an extra precaution.  This way if you lose the card, you still have the code and can enter it online.  I recently had a friend on her first trip to Walt Disney World call me almost in tears on the last morning of their vacation because she’d lost her PhotoPass+ lanyard and card.  She told me she had forgotten to take the picture despite the numerous times I’d slipped that into conversation.  I directed her to the PhotoPass desk at the park they were visiting that day with instructions to show the cast member a photo similar to one they had taken with their card.  Luckily they were able to find the pictures and issue a new card.  Save yourself the headache and heartache…TAKE A PICTURE OF THE CODE!!

Have I changed your mind on the worthiness of PhotoPass?  Any more tips on how to get the most out of it?

About Jessica Ma'ilo

Jessica is a special education teacher by day and blogger and Fairy Godmother Travel agent by evening. When not supervising play dates or sleepovers, she can be found creating, sewing or singing. She loves hitting the Disney Parks, and she and her family escape to the World and Land as often as they can. She can be contacted at [email protected], and you can also check out her family blog, Magic, Memories, Mayhem.

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  • tofubeast

    Great pointers.

    I would add:

    1. If you go to Akershus or CRT (or other restaurants where you get a picture with a character with your meal), you will find a code on the back of the print. You can enter that code and then have the digital version in your photopass.

    2. Use props. We got a Mickey ears ice cream and brought it over to a PP station in front of Cindy’s castle. My husband and I took some funny pics of us sharing the treat. (each of us took an ear to bite off). We’ve also turned around and had a picture of out backs taken looking at the castle. This is a very cute shot especially if you have embroidered Mickey ears.

    3. Have the PP photographer take a picture with your camera as well.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      We’re PhotoPass+ers now (photos are added automatically by the photographer), but great tip for those who are buying dining photos out of pocket!

      I also LOVE your second one! We may have to play around with props next time!! And the reverse shot is such a sweet idea. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  • Norman Gidney

    Thanks for the great article Jessica. Best tip? Unlimited pics on your CD, Take as many pics as you like.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Thanks! We definitely make use of that tip. One trip we ended up with seven CDs!! That was a bigger group, but I had to laugh when the big box showed up instead of the usual smaller one that actually fits in the mailbox.

  • markwcricket

    If you are able to find the PhotoPass CMs that do the special shots, try to remember date and time,if missing on your CD, they will try to find them in their computers with descriptions, date and time. That didn’t work for us, but you might get lucky.

  • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

    Did you lose the shots entirely or just the “magical” portion? We’ve had the baby Simba shot done without the little lion showing up in the final product. Haha! Just a kid with her arms cradling nothing. PhotoPass was able to stick him in there once we alerted them, though. ;)

    If you have missing images, there is a lost photos form on the web site. We have had that work for us on all occasions, but it’s just a matter of luck. Uploading a picture from the same day (even better if it’s in the same spot) is helpful so they know what outfits to look for, etc.

  • Claybob

    Great tips and advice. To all you out there who “opt to pass” on the photo pass…think again. It is the best “bang for your buck!” I also advise “first timers” to get the photo pass and to take a picture with your phone of the back of the card. Cards do get lost!

    We always opt for the CD and have told the staff that very thing. Man, they snap many more pictures that way. We usually hit ever photographer we see…you can’t have too many shots to pick from. Sure, some are better than others, but that is why you have a lot taken. Also, we found the photographers (who, I might add, are always friendly) get tired of taking the same family shots all day. They really like to interact with you and if you want to do some crazy stuff…they are more than happy to do it for you. It breaks up their day nicely. Many times we’ve had comments from people waiting in line…”Wow, that is so neat! Why didn’t I think of that!.” We actually had a family come up to us later in the day thank us to say they saw what we were doing and now they are doing that as well.

    One more tip…most shots are “full body shots.” They have you and maybe the castle in the background. Sure, those shots are nice…but you are totally overshadowed by the castle. Ask for some close ups! It puts the focus on you and the background is there but subtle. They make for some nice additions to the vacation shots. But most importantly, smile and look as if you are actually having fun.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Thanks for chiming in today! Couldn’t agree more with your thoughts!!

  • james woods

    also–you can have these pics for free. You don’t have to buy them, which seemed weird to me, because why would Disney pass up a chance to make money? (ps. I LOVE disneyland, so don’t be mad at that comment). But it’s true. I think you have to log in before 30 days, then the pics are available for 30 days after you log in, but I’ve got all my photopass pics from last weekend for free. They’re on my mobile phone right now!

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Thanks for reading this week!

  • Michael Greening

    Another tip to think about is framing and sizes. Since you can put any amount of photos on the CD, go to the website and crop each image in different sizes, 4×6, 5×7, 8×10. Then put all the different clip art options they offer onto each size image. You never know what size you might need or what type of frame you want to put it in, so give yourself every possible option. It doesn’t cost anything other than time.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Great tip! I tend to leave most of mine as the default 4×6, but if I know I’ve got a framer, I’ll play with the sizes. It’s only necessary to do this on images with embellishments added (autographs, borders, etc.) since most computers have the ability to edit size. However, if you edit one with a border or other graphic, it may be cut off.

  • http://micechat.com Dusty Sage

    Love the two shots in one spot tip. I’ve never thought about that!

    Had to use Photo Pass this week to take the photo for my annual pass and had they snap a few additional shots that I can use for social networking profile pics.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      Thanks! It doesn’t work everywhere, but there are a lot of great backgrounds that are getting completely ignored.

  • PatMcDuck

    Last time I was there, we got a magic shot in front of the Little Mermaid ride in the new Fantasyland. My son is holding Sebastian, it is so cute, I love it.

    • http://magicmemoriesmayhem.com Jessica Ma’ilo

      How cute! We’ll be on the lookout for that one on our next trip.