So I was chatting with some of my fellow Disney Addicts on the founder of Chip and Co’s awesome Facebook page, appropriately entitled “You Might Be a Disney Addict if…”, on the subject of Disney’s awesome, but expensive, PhotoPass service.
Here’s the dealio, pros and cons, ups and downs, fors and againsts, Captains and Tenielles of the infamous PhotoPass CD:
The pros are obvious: you get professional photographs of your family in some of the most fun and beautiful settings you can visit. Instead of mom or dad or weird Uncle Harold being stuck behind the camera, everyone gets to be in the picture. Nighttime shots are guaranteed to come out, with both family and background lit correctly and with proper equipment. Then there are the post production benefits. PhotoPass photogs can set up “magic shots”, like the oh-so-tasteful one my husband and I did on our first trip together. I cradled my arms, a cartoon Simba cub was digitally placed in them, and Josh got a charming “THAT’S NOT MINE!!!” look on his face. Classy. And don’t forget that you can add frames, captions, and cropping to your photos. Don’t tell me you have never wanted a picture of Aunty Marge with Tinkerbell flying up her nose. You, too, can live that dream.
The cons are pretty obvious as well, and really it is one big fat smelly one: cost. PhotoPass CDs cost $149.95, which is a lot of cheese. It should be noted that while this does not include any printing, it gives you the rights to print or have printed as much as you want, so you are not just paying for the digital files, but the copyright release. Fortunately, if your heart is set on it there are ways both to reduce the cost, as well as get the best value per picture for all those dollars.
1) Preorder. Prepay for that puppy and you get a cool fiddy dollars off the price. That’s a character meal or two. That is the really huge Stitch stuffed animal. It’s not insubstantial. In addition, if you find you are aren’t enamoured of the pictures taken during your trip, you can get a refund for the unused CD. Kind of win/win.
2) Hello, annual pass! What awesome discounts you hold for me, including the CD for 99.95. Passholders are as going to find the most benefit of combined PhotoPasses, which we will get to in a minute.
3) Forget the CD and instead spend some time getting creative making a photo book. These have a lot of benefits. First, they are very high quality and quite customizable, with padded, engraveable covers and heavy duty pages. They run about $80 for 20 pages, and can include PhotoPass pictures, your own snaps-uploaded to your account, and archived postcard quality stock shots of landmarks and characters which is awesome for a nice clean establishing shot of the Castle without someone else’s weird family included. Also, you already have prints now, in the form of the tangible book, so there are no further printing costs. This is personally my favourite option.
4) This is, in my opinion, the least favourable option, but remember you can always just browse your pictures and order the individual ones you like. It’s 14.95 minimum for those prints, but you must absolutely have one printed, framed, and mounted on your wall like a bison head, it is arguably the most affordable in terms of raw numbers. You just get the print, though, no copyright release, so don’t expect that you will be able to get more cheap prints from a photo shop.
So that’s how you reduce your cost. If you go with the CD (at a reduced rate, remember!) , there is a way you can make that 100 beans amount to pennies per print. You have 30 days to register your PhotoPass, after which you have an additional 30 days to purchase related media after registration. This gives you 60 days (and keep careful track, they cut it off strictly) to upload any passes you have, from all the visits during that time, and order a CD. There is no limit on the number of pictures on your “disc” ; if you have lots, you will get more than one physical disc, but they are all part of the same album (Your family has its own boxset!!!! WOOHOO! FREE BIRD!!!) Go merrily berserk taking pictures every time you see a PhotoPass photographer. Take one with everyone. Now just the kids. Now just the grownups. Now all girls. All boys. Take one where everyone is looking in different directions. How about one where everyone’s eyes are closed? Magic shots for everyone! If you can think of a pose or scenario, ask the PhotoPholks if they will do it. They likely will. Just be kind and if there is a line, offer to divide up your “photoshoot” and drop to the end of the line in between. Make sure you get all the characters you see, as well as all the photo op spots.
Also remember that the photographers will use any cameras in your party to take pictures, too. They may end up being just as good.
Cute little story. When my husband and I got married, we did the wedding ears thing and got pictures taken all over the park. We had a photographer named Edwin see and recognise us from the morning as we found seats for the parade and he called us out onto the street, already near empty in prep for the parade. The Dream Along With Mickey show was going on at the Castle. Edwin told us to be ready, and then counted off the music he was so familiar with, timing shots to the pyrotechnics and giving us a picture of our own firework display!
And always remember that cast members and no small number of fellow guests will always take a picture for you if you ask. Our very favourite wedding picture was taken by a Jamaican janitor named Trevor. And that cost us no cheese at all.