If I can make it about me for a second:
Last Friday, I surprised my girlfriend with a proposal, right in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Calfornia’s Disneyland park. It’s a little cheesy, but we’re both into it, and I’d say it went very well, given that she’s now my fiancée.
Better yet, we were able to share the moment with our friends and family back home: I put a word in the ear of the official Disneyland park photographer before we did our first pose, pictured here, and now we have 30-some-odd photos of the big moment that are ours to keep, forever.
In fact, thanks to a relatively new offering from Disneyland called PhotoPass+, we got all those photos, plus all of our photos from rides like Splash Mountain and Tower of Terror, plus an impromptu meeting with Star Wars’ Boba Fett — all for $39, total.
It’s amazing. For $39 a day or $69 a week, PhotoPass+ gets you unlimited access to all of the official photo opportunities in Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. We now have enough high-quality photos to fill a photo album, commemorating what turned out to be an extra-special Disneyland visit.
Here’s how PhotoPass+ works:
- Download the Disneyland app, which is handy anyway — it can tell you wait times for every ride in Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. Plus, it tracks things like dinner reservations for you, and you can even buy park tickets straight from within the app.
- Within the app, you can buy one day of PhotoPass+ for $39, or a week for $69. You can buy PhotoPass+ in advance, you just need to activate it on your first use. If you don’t want to do it via app, you can buy a physical PhotoPass+ card at the park, but I think it’d be easier to lose.
- If you see a Disneyland photographer, recognisable with their giant cameras, khaki vests, and Disney nametags, you can have them take a photo of you. Some of them are just walking around picturesque spots in the park, like Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and almost every Disney character encounter is attended by a PhotoPass photographer.
- After they take the shot, have them scan your PhotoPass+ barcode, either on your phone or your physical card. Within a few hours, it will appear on the app, where you can download a high-quality version suitable for printing or Instagram, your preference. You have 45 days after the photo is taken to download them.
- The process is much the same for ride photos: Just find your photo after you’re off the ride, and it will come with a code you can punch into the app to claim it.
I had no idea this even existed, before I started frantically Googling for ways to make sure that the proposal was caught on camera. Now, not only did we get the engagement photos, but all of our other photos for the day, too. Dollar for dollar, I’d rather have this than an official Disneyland t-shirt, though I bought one of those too. Oops.
There are some shortcomings to PhotoPass+. We really lucked out when we found our photographer — especially photogenic spots in the park can have long lines before you get the chance to take your photo, which meant we didn’t get as much use out of it once Disneyland started filling up later in the day.
And, just to repeat, these are all digital downloads. If you want a print copy to take home, you’ll need to pay the $13 or so starting price for an official Disney photo print. Of course, once you have your high-quality photo downloads, you can just take them to your local Target or pharmacy and pay a few cents to have them printed there, too.
Walt Disney World resort in Florida has a similar offering, called Memory Maker, that offers more customisation and personalisation of the photos, like unique filters and stickers. That one costs $149 if you buy at least three days in advance, and lasts for 30 days.
On a final note, we stopped by Disneyland’s City Hall for free “Just Engaged” buttons. They don’t get you any privileges, but boy, did it brighten our day to be congratulated by Disney staff and well-meaning strangers during our visit.