Disney’s PhotoPass is the photography service inside Disney parks. You can find the photographers at the character meet-and-greets and scattered around in their recognizable khaki vests. It’s a very convenient way to get photos since they can snap a handful of pictures and then scan a card (or your MagicBand) so you automatically have access to the photos for a few months online. It’s also an easy way for camera-wielding moms like me to actually get in the photos. Great, right?
The thing is that PhotoPass is very hit or miss. Sometimes the photos come out great and I know that people have gotten their favorite-family-photo-of-all-time from PhotoPass snapshots. We, however, have had fairly abysmal luck with the PhotoPass system since we are neither naturally photogenic nor blessed with cooperative children. This streak of bad photos also keeps us from jumping in to very many PhotoPass lines, so at the end of the trip we usually come away with about 40 PhotoPass photos total and 35 of them aren’t all that great.
Sure, you’re thinking, “Oh, you’re just being a big vanity bag. Your children are lovely. You guys are fine. Get over your fat mom phobia and embrace family pictures.”
It’s really not me, guys. It’s a combined Morgan effort mixed with hit-or-miss photography skills.
It’s amazing that we simultaneously look like we’re shiny, standing in the dark, falling to one side, and photoshopped in to look like we’re at Disneyland when really we were just at the local mall. Memories!!
The thing is, those PhotoPass photos do expire after a few months so after every trip I’m faced with the decision of whether or not to save the handful of photos that are OK and also whether or not to save the handful of photos that are terrible but which represent a moment I didn’t get a picture of (like meeting Ariel). I should add in that prints and digital downloads are $15 per photo so saving just six mediocre photos can easily add up to almost $100.
Note: there is a Memory Maker deal that allows you to purchase an unlimited amount of photos from your trip and we took advantage of that when we got married because my whole family piled all of their PhotoPass cards onto one account and then split the total. I adore most of those and love seeing all of the photos that everyone got, both with and without me. That being said, that’s the only trip I’ve been on where we’ve ended up with more than 50 PhotoPass pictures to choose from, so the Memory Maker isn’t something we would usually need BUT if you are really taking advantage of the PhotoPass system I would say that it’s worth it.
So what do you do when you have only a handful of PhotoPass photos and you don’t love them enough to pay $15 each but you also don’t want to totally lose them? Enter the PhotoPass calendar.
The calendar has been a fun way for us to balance wanting the OK photos without wanting to pay $15 each for them. It comes in at $25, which includes 13 photo pages (months + cover) and you can pick from different themes and layouts of up to 5 photos on one page. Yes, the quality is a little lower than it would be if we bought the prints or the downloads, but once they’re scanned in I’ve found that they’re perfectly acceptable substitutes, especially when reprinted as part of a photo book. Plus, calendar!
My tips would be to choose layouts that will be easy to crop down if you just want the plain picture. Also, if you have a photo that you really want to frame and hang in your home, I would spring for the digital download. Like I said, the calendar is great quality for scanning and sharing online or in a printed photo book, but when they’re blown up you do get some blurriness and pixelation. (I only know this from trying to crop them way down. We have yet to get a PhotoPass photo that I want to frame.)
The fun thing about making the calendar is that it usually leaves us with some wiggle room to add in attraction photos or unflattering photos that we wouldn’t have kept otherwise, like the first photo I showed you. I love that the attraction photos go right onto the MagicBands now, by the way. I’m just sorry that we lost out on all of those photos together back in 2002 when we were at the parks every day! It’s like remembering the dark ages.
Any PhotoPass secrets you’d like to share with the class? We could use them because we’re going back to WDW in a week and a half!
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