A visit to Walt Disney World is filled with a mountain of magical and memorable moments. For tadpoles, that can mean watching a favorite character come to life before their eyes. Luckily for us, Walt Disney World offers a complimentary photo service all around property called PhotoPass. PhotoPass photographers are stationed around the resort to grab those group shots — and some of them are sprinkled with a little extra pixie dust! PhotoPass also covers ride photos, character experiences and dining photos. We've got all of the details about using PhotoPass, including which photo packages are available and which spots you don't want to miss. Say "cheese!"
How PhotoPass Works at Walt Disney World
First thing's first: PhotoPass is the name of the photography service offered at Walt Disney World. This covers your ride photos, as well as some optional stops around property with photographers. You'll find PhotoPass photographers stationed at icons around the resort, including the Tree of Life, Cinderella Castle, the Millennium Falcon and more. However, you may also see some in spots that you wouldn't expect. Recently, we saw a line for a PhotoPass photographer on an average wall in Batuu, and we thought, "that's strange." Guess what? While the wall looked basic, the PhotoPass photographer had a Magic Shot — where a character or special effect shows up in your photos — featuring Baby Yoda! You'll also find PhotoPass photographers at select character experiences, including character dining or meet and greets (note that these are currently modified or unavailable at Walt Disney World). There's often special photo-ops for celebrations or events that are only around for a limited time.
Using Disney PhotoPass service is toadally free. If you spot a PhotoPass photographer and would like a pic, hop in line. The PhotoPass photog will ask for your MagicBand and quickly scan it (this is one of Lily's favorite jobs). If you don't have a MagicBand, no worries! The PhotoPass photographer will hand you a card, so put it away for safekeeping. After you ride an eligible attraction, you may see stations after the ride to tap your MagicBand beneath your ride photo (including Space or Splash Mountain); others will automagically appear in your My Disney Experience account, such as Expedition Everest and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
While having your photo taken using the Disney PhotoPass service is free of charge, downloading or keeping photos comes at an additional cost. Walt Disney World offers a few photo packages, including Memory Maker, that can be added on to your vacation so that you don't miss a single moment!
All About Memory Maker and Other Photo Packages
Photos can be purchased individually, but Walt Disney World also offers a photo package called Memory Maker. Memory Maker includes all of the photos taken, either in a single day or for the entire length of your visit. Also included in Memory Maker are ride photos and videos, stock photos and videos, and we've even gotten a voicemail from Buzz and Woody! Some of these enhancements are only available through Memory Maker — they can't be purchased separately. If you expect that you'll want to purchase more than a couple of photos, or have a long trip ahead, there's value in getting Memory Maker — especially if you purchase in advance of your trip.
How Much Do Photo Packages Cost?
If you're an Annual Passholder, PhotoPass photo downloads are included with your pass. If you're not an AP, photo packages are an add-on cost. All photos you take will be uploaded into My Disney Experience. Prior to purchasing, there will be a watermark over your photos. You can opt to purchase individual photos a la carte. To give you an idea of price, photo downloads are generally about $18.95 for a set of two 4 x 6 prints or one 5 x 7 print, or $20.95 for one 8 x 10 print. Do keep in mind that prices do not include tax or shipping and are always subject to change. If you think you'll only want a couple of photos (especially since you'll need to keep your mask on for photos at Walt Disney World), a la carte may be the way to go.
Alternatively, there's Memory Maker. Memory Maker is a photo package that includes all of the photos from your trip, whether that's a single day or 10 days. If you purchase Memory Maker in advance, you can save some green! Memory Maker options include:
- Memory Maker One Day ($69) —includes all of your photos and videos from one day of your choosing. May be used upon purchase.
- Memory Maker Advance Purchase ($169) — includes all of your photos and videos from your vacation. You must wait at least three days after purchase to activate.
- Memory Maker ($199) — includes all of your photos and videos from your vacation. May be used upon purchase.
One added benefit to Memory Maker is that you cannot only download your own Disney PhotoPass photos but also those of up to 25 members of your Family & Friends who share media with you on the My Disney Experience website or app! For large groups or even families who may split up, that means any of you who are connected can use their MagicBand to upload the photos to one central location, for one price.
You can purchase Memory Maker in My Disney Experience. Your photos will expire 45 days from the date they're taken, and once they expire, they can no longer be purchased or downloaded. If you need more time, as long as you're not past your expiration date, you can pay an additional fee to extend your access to the photos for an additional 15 days for $19.95.
When downloading your photos, they'll come in fairly large ZIP files with some stock photos and video as well. If you'd prefer not to download directly, there's a USB option for $34.95 (it's the same cost for an archive disc).
New for 2020, Disney World introduced a private photoshoot option at Magic Kingdom called Capture Your Moment. For 20 minutes, a PhotoPass photographer will discuss available photoshoot locations and discuss what you'd like before, well, capturing the magic! Each session is $50. Downloads of your photos are included in Memory Maker; for those without an Annual Pass or Memory Maker, photos can be purchase a la carte. To book a Capture Your Moment session, call 407-939-7758.
Finding or Adding Your Photos in My Disney Experience
There are a few ways you'll add photos to My Disney Experience. You may be handed a PhotoPass card, tap your MagicBand with a photographer or a ride photo area, or you may find some photos automatically appear. With a PhotoPass card, you'll need to follow the instructions on the back of the card to link your photos to your My Disney Experience account. Anything done with your MagicBand should happen automatically. However, some photos are taking longer to appear in My Disney Experience because there is a review process at this time to ensure that all guests are properly wearing their masks. If you aren't wearing your mask, your photo may not appear (we've even seen a few photoshopped masks appearing!). If you aren't able to find your photos, you can report a missing photo at (407) 560-4300. Cast members will try to help you track it down!
To find your photos in My Disney Experience, head to the menu and select Photos. You should see your photos listed below. In the top right-hand corner, you'll see an option to Link Photos. This is where you can enter the information from a PhotoPass card to populate your photos, by either scanning the card with the camera feature or typing the link in. If you don't have a MagicBand, this is also where you'll find the link to show your PhotoPass code. We highly recommend snapping a screenshot of this — it makes it so much easier to show photographers without having to worry about load time or losing battery power! It's here that you can also manually link your Memory Maker if you purchased it without being logged into My Disney Experience.
Where to Find Magic Shots and Instagram Walls
Exclusive to PhotoPass are Magic Shots. Magic Shots are photos with a little extra pixie dust, like the Baby Yoda we mentioned earlier. Others we've seen include Tinkerbell appearing in your hands or Remy appearing as an International Food and Wine Festival exclusive. There's even some shots that involve perspective, such as Tiny World and Super Zoom (taking you standing next to Cinderella Castle, to a view high above Main Street, back to pinpointing you among the other guests!). You'll often find special photo-ops during festivals or special events, with props, Magic Shots and backdrops. You'll have plenty of opportunities to take iconic photos! However, if you're looking for some selfie spots, there are also some Instagram-worthy walls around property, including:
- The Purple Wall (near Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland)
- The Tangled Wall (the restroom area in Fantasyland — and you'll sometimes find a PhotoPass photographer across the way at Peter Pan's Flight with a lantern prop as night falls!)
- Neverland Wall (Fantasyland, outside of Peter Pan's Flight)
Disney's Animal Kingdom
- Fichwa Fellow (outside of Harambe Market in Africa)
- "You Are Most Beautiful" (in Harambe Market in Africa)
- Moss Wall (Pandora, near Satu'li Canteen)
- The Coca-Cola Wall (near Drinkwallah, in Asia)
- Children of the World wall (across from Harambe Market, Africa)
- Bubblegum Wall (near the exit doors to Spaceship Earth)
- Toothpaste Wall (The Seas with Nemo and Friends, as you exit the pavilion)
Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Batuu Blue Stripe Wall (next to the entrance to Droid Depot in Galaxy's Edge)
- Popsicle Stick Wall (Toy Story Land)
At any time, you can log into My Disney Experience and see where PhotoPass stops are near you! Hop into the map function and toggle to PhotoPass.
Memory Maker Pros and Cons
You may be wondering, in the digital age, why should I waste my time on a photo service? Here are our honest thoughts on Memory Maker:
Memory Maker Cons:
- Your photos expire, so you have to remember to download them before they disappear.
- The cost. While you can save some money by purchasing a single day or buying in advance, it's still an added cost (and that's a lot of Dole Whips). The longer your trip, the more reasonable that cost may seem.
- If you're an avid photo-taker anyway, you may find your phone or camera is enough for you.
- Masks are required right now. Some other theme parks are allowing guests to remove masks for photos, but Disney World is not one of them. That means that all of your Memory Maker photos will involve a face covering. While this wasn't a con for us, per se (safety first), it's good to keep in mind.
- There are less PhotoPass photographers around right now. There are still PLENTY of stops, but we did notice one missing from the Magic Kingdom entrance, near the Mickey floral sculpture.
- Likewise, PhotoPass photographers are not available currently at character dining experiences (since these are modified) or Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (which is temporarily closed).
Memory Maker Pros:
- Everyone can get in the photo! No more mom or dad missing as they snap the family or asking a stranger to help.
- Everyone on your Friends and Family list can get in on the photo fun for one price.
- You don't have to dig for your camera, or remember to take photos — you see a photographer, you can stop. Voila! For me, this takes one extra worry off of my plate during a vacation.
- It's quick and easy to get your photo taken — the shot is already set and ready for smiles.
- While I know my way around a camera (and Tad really, really knows his way around a camera), PhotoPass photographers are true pros. They take better photos than I could most of the time.
- Most trip photos are then accessible in one central location.
PhotoPass Tips and Tricks
- If you're interested in Memory Maker, be sure to purchase in advance! Likewise, be sure anyone hopping along for the trip is on your Family & Friends list in My Disney Experience so that you can share photos.
- PhotoPass photographers cannot handle your phone or camera at this time due to health and safety precautions.
- If you have Memory Maker, my kids hate me for this, but I suggest that you stop at (almost) every PhotoPass stop. Since all photos are included in your Memory Maker, it never hurts to grab extra shots! While most photos we've taken have been good quality, in our opinion, there have been a few that are just meh. Take advantage of the options at your disposal so you have plenty to choose from.
- There are often several photo stops for the same area; there are usually about four or five for Cinderella Castle! If there's a long line at one, and you aren't particular about the shot, keep walking. On Main Street especially, folks tend to stop at the first photographer they see, so that first line is often the longest.
- PhotoPass photographers are great about different configurations in the shot, but if you have a particular setup or shot in mind, it never hurts to ask. When Tad got a button for making Honor Roll, for example, the rest of us got kicked out of the shot to shine the spotlight on him — and we asked if Lily could join him for one afterwards.
- On that note, if you are celebrating something, iconic photos are a great way to commemorate the trip!
- Ask about Magic Shots. If that particular photographer doesn't have one available, they can point you to someone who does!
- PhotoPass stops, MagicShots and special effects are always changing. Stop and ask if you have questions — cast members are hoppy to help!
- Set a calendar appointment or reminder to snag your photos before they expire if you invested in Memory Maker!
- If you have a dining reservation close to or after park close, keep an eye out! PhotoPass photographers are often around even as the park closes to snap those beautifully lit nighttime shots.
Is Memory Maker Worth It?
We get this question a lot, and our answer is always: That depends! You know your family and the amount of photos you'd like best. If it's your first time at Walt Disney World and you'll be there a while, Memory Maker may be a good investment to ensure that you get all of those magical shots. If you're a seasoned visitor who will be there for a short period of time, you may find that purchasing must-have photos a la carte and using your phone the remainder of the time is all you need. This really varies by family!
No matter what you decide, we are big fans of Disney PhotoPass service. From capturing the wonder of seeing Mickey in person for the first time, to adding pixie dust to otherwise traditional shots, it always leaves a little extra magic in our photo memories.
Have you used Disney PhotoPass or Memory Maker before? What were your thoughts? Did we miss any tips or tricks? Be sure to share with us in the comments below!