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Disney Keeps These PhotoPass Secrets So Well Most Guests Never Even Notice Them!

The view stations

Camera Center

Image: Disney

Eventually, your photos make their way to the view stations.  The view stations are the areas in the park where you can buy and view your photos.  They are all located in the front of each park, on your right side as you walk in.  There are also view stations at Disney Springs, Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Disney's Beach Club Resort, although the resort locations may have odd hours, especially off-season.  It usually takes a few hours for the photos to upload and make their way though QA to the view stations, although I've seen them move though the system in about forty-five minutes occasionally.

The view stations are great for buying and viewing photos, as well as asking questions about the Disney Photopass service.  Personally, I always recommend that guests stop by at least once to view their photos, especially around the end of their trip.  Why?  Because it is not uncommon for photos to mysteriously disappear.  No one likes it when this happens, but just like anything in life, no system is 100% perfect.  In most cases, the photo hasn't totally vanished.  As mentioned, it's common for photos to occasionally get "stuck" on a photographer's camera.  In that case, it just requires some time (and occasionally the help of a PhotoPass supervisor) to get them "moving" thought the system at the end of the day. 

Main Street Theater

Image: HarshLight, Flickr (license)

In other cases, the photos turned out perfectly but get scanned to the wrong card or Magic Band.  Think of a time when you met a character in a high traffic area.  People may have been moving though the line quickly, handing the photographers a handful of PhotoPass cards, cameras, and phones.  Sometimes a photographer may scan the wrong party's card, or they scanned the card but it didn't associate correctly it gets merged into the next party's photos.

In any case, a lost photo can be easy enough to find.  Remember all the photo tagging?  They come in handy.  The photographers at the view station have the ability to search for photos by park, day, time, location, and character.  Just tell the photographer that you took a photo at Magic Kingdom in Tomorrowland with Buzz Lightyear between 1:00 and 2:00 and with that all the photos taken in the time period in that location with that character can be retrieved on the screen.  Then it's easy to spot your family and get the photos added to your account.  However, this solution can have a few flaws.

If you don't remember exactly when or where your photos were taken, it can get complicated.  This is especially hard when you know you took a photo on Mainstreet, USA but you don't remember exactly where you were standing, which is hard considering there might be ten photographers up and down the street at one time.  Occasionally, photos do just disappear.  I was once helping a women find photos her family took with Pocahontas the day before in Disney's Animal Kingdom.  I did a search in a specific time period and nothing came up.  We kept expanding the time until I just did a search for all of the Pocahontas photos taken in the entire day, yet no photos showed up at all!  Luckily, photographers can take down a guest's information and a description of their photos and pass it off to the QA team, who have a better chance at recovering the photos.

Independence Day

Image: Disney

While in the view stations, guests can add some fun additions to their photos, like digital stickers, borders, and even character signatures.  Check in around the holidays and you can find a couple of seasonal borders.  But then the big questions come in - if you didn't get the all-inclusive Memory Maker package, should you print your photos in the park or download them at home?  The answer all depends on you.  The photographers never receive a commission for the photos they take or sell, so while some may encourage you to spend the most money, most of the good photographers I know are more interested in helping the guest get exactly what they want.  There are many articles out there about the pros and cons of Memory Maker, but if you decide not to get it, don't stress!  There are still many decent print and digital options for all price ranges. 

The Internet

Disney Photo Book Covers

Image: Disney

Finally your photos make it to the Disney PhotoPass website, and the My Disney Experience app.  If you take a picture and don't immediately see it on your computer, don't panic!  It usually takes twenty-four hours for them to appear, although I have heard from guests that it occasionally happens sooner.  It is here that guests can view their photos at their leisure without waiting on a line in the parks.  Just like the parks, you can add borders, stickers, and character signatures.  However, online there are many more products offered.

One of the most fun products is a photo book, which currently costs $79.95.  The book contains 20 full color pages with a variety of covers, page layouts, and other options.  The book allows you to put in as many photos as you can fit, including photos taken from your own device and uploaded onto the Disney PhotoPass website.  You may see a few sample books in the parks, but this has to be done online because of all the pages are so personalized and unique. 

There are also other personalized products that are only available online, like calendars, greeting cards, phone cases, mugs, magnets, mouse pads, and Christmas ornaments. One of my PhotoPass co-workers always recommended a fun hint to guests who wanted to buy prints but not spend too much money - make a calendar online for $24.95, add your photos, and then pull it apart when you get it.  The calendar has thirteen pages (one for each month plus the cover), so pulling apart the product give you up to thirteen photos with a cool background.  In fact, some of the pages allow for two photos per page, so you get more bang for your buck!  Also, if you want a gift for your Disney-loving friend and don't know what to get, go online!  You can upload your own photos and make a nice gift, even if you haven't been in the parks in a while.

Calendar

Image: Disney

Another perk of using the Disney PhotoPass website is the online support.  The email and phone number listed online goes right back to the QA department instead of some general Disney phone operator.  They truly are wizards when it comes to helping with the tough problems, like combining photos from different parties or looking for lost photos on their system.  They even have an online form where you can fill out information about your lost photo, including descriptions of each member of your party.  You also have the ability to attach a photo so QA knows who to look for.  The website also has a ton of FAQ questions so you can attempt to solve the problem on your own.

Just like any other department at Walt Disney World, there are lots of people working onstage and backstage to make sure your PhotoPass Photos come out perfectly.  Using the PhotoPass service is free to everyone, but if you do use it remember that there are many steps between seeing a photographer in the park and holding your printed photo in your hand.

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