We recently took a family vacation to the Disneyland resorts in California. It had been a few years since I had been there. One of the changes is that now when you have your picture taken by a Disney photographer they hand you a PhotoPass, which is a card the size of a credit card that gives you access to the photo via that newfangled thing called the www – or world wide web. Later, log into DisneyPhotoPass.com, sign up, and enter the code on the back of the cards that you collected throughout your stay. Then you can order products with your photos printed on them, add Disney logos to the pictures, or buy them as digital assets – including reprint rights.
So let’s get right to the good and bad of this service, and I’ll toss out some advice for future Disney visitors:
Photo Quality – All Disney photographers aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re not going to get every shot perfect. Don’t rely on them 100%. My photos of my daughter with Mickey are just as good as theirs were, higher resolution, and virtually free. Â If you’ve got a good DSLR you probably pride yourself on taking better pictures anyway. However, if you’ve got a point and shoot, the PhotoPass is a veryÂ convenientÂ backup plan.
Shooting down – Kids and Disney Characters are all relatively short. The Disney photographers tend to stand and shoot down on the scene. A better shot is at the eye level of the subject, which means kneeling down to get the perfect shot. This is one area where your own photo will probably be better.
Eyelines – Â Of the 10 photos I had on PhotoPass, only two of them had proper eyelines – where everyone in the photo was looking at the camera. This is partly because I had a friend taking photos with MY camera while the Disney photographer was taking photos also. Â In the heat of the moment at least one person was looking at the wrong camera. Â Of course this also messed up the shots taken on my camera because, again, someone was looking at the Disney camera. The two PhotoPass shots that didn’t have this problem were the ones where theirs was only the camera to look at.
The lesson here is to take that extra moment andÂ alwaysÂ ask for one more photo. Speak up and tell everyone which camera to look at. Also, remember that every time you’re taking a photo with a Disney Character there will probably be a Disney photographer there too to confuse the subjects. Figure out what your plan is going to be – let them take their photo and then yell for everyone to look at you, or visa-versa.
Convenience vs Card LossÂ – The PhotoPasses are easy to carry around, but for some they might also be easy to lose. The only important piece of information on the card is the ID number printed on the back. One site suggested taking a picture of the ID number. I think that’s a little crazy. Â How about this, just don’t lose the card. A lost card will mean a lost photo.
Another option that you can use the same PhotoPass over and over. Â Just hand it to a Disney photographer and they’ll just add their photos to your pass. It’s less cards to carry around. The onlyÂ caveatÂ there is to make sure a busy photographer doesn’t give your card back to the wrong person. If you don’t mind carrying them you can collect cards all day long – that part is free.
Early expiration – PhotoPass Photos don’t last forever very long. The advertised expiration is 30 days past the date the photo was taken, then another 30 days once you claim them to do something with them. Â Our photos expired about 60 days after the vacation, so they’re not kidding. Â Luckily I was able to order what I wanted before they expired, but right under the wire.
The lesson here is DON’T MESS AROUND AND LOSE YOUR PHOTOS due to being LAZY. Log in and get them as soon as your vacation is over.
Price – Like everything else at Disney, this isn’t cheap. Digital downloads were the only product I was interested in buying. Those are $14.95 per photo! I read somewhere that you can buy a CD of your whole trip for $99, which would be better than the 30 bucks I spent on 2 photos.Â But I didn’t notice this offer anywhere.
We did get suckered into buying a photo pack at Goofy’s Kitchen, partially because of a misunderstanding. I asked if we could also get the digital copy of the photo, since we paid for the actual printed photo. Â They gave me the photo card and said that I could get it online. Â But like I said, an additional 30 dollars later…
Once you turn a set of photos into a digital download “product” they can be downloaded 10 times and are only available for download for a couple of weeks. Again, there’s another point of weakness in the plan. I think for the money Disney should host the photos FOREVER.
Digital Image Quality – On the positive side the photos have a very decent digital image quality at 3000 x 2000 pixels and a reasonable 1.7 MB per photo. Â But you be the judge. Â Here is an actual photo so you can see for yourself.Â What the heck am I doing with my hand? Is like I’m a Muppet doing jazz hands.