Saving Money on PhotoPass

In this increasingly work-driven world, every family getaway is a special event. I want to remember every smile, every funny moment and every silly hat I make my husband try on. Taking lots of photos is one way to capture the memories, but it can be a little one sided …

Rob wearing hats
The many hats of Rob

I’m the amateur photographer in my family, so I am either not in the photo at all or I am extraordinarily blurry (thanks for trying, Rob). The photos of both me and my husband are few and far between. At Disney World, at least, PhotoPass changes that.

Disney’s PhotoPass service is, let’s be honest, a piece of marketing genius. Not only can Rob and I finally appear side-by-side in our vacation photos, but we can also appear alongside some of our favorite Disney characters with the aid of the PhotoPass Magic Shots!

PhotoPass photo with Simba

I, personally, love Magic Shots. There are a variety of these pixie-dusted shots available—my current favorite is the baby Simba shot available in Animal Kingdom, but I am prepared to desperately love the Hitchhiking Ghosts if I can ever find a photog who can do it.

But why am I telling you all of this? If you’ve been to Disney World, you know all about how awesome PhotoPass is. And, if you haven’t, my favorite PhotoPass primer is the Definitive Guide on Stitch Kingdom. Bookmark that sucker.

NOW we all know that PhotoPass is brilliant.

Well, it’s brilliant until you realize exactly how much all of those memories are going to cost you. A single photo print is priced at $14.95, and the unlimited PhotoCD is currently hovering at $169.95 (or about 11 prints). And that’s just to get your photos. If you want to make fancy souvenirs, like mugs or Mousepads (hehe), be prepared to spend even more.


Like everything else at Disney World, PhotoPass isn’t cheap. Though they do run special offers, which change regularly, there are several other ways to save on the photo disc. And I’m going to share them with you:

Save $50: Pre-Order
For several years, PhotoPass has offered a pre-arrival deal for those who are willing to pay for the disc before their trip. Right now, the pre-order is going to $119.95. Still not cheap, but it’s a $50 savings over what you’ll pay if you wait. And if you decide that you don’t want the disc after your trip, you can request a full refund. You can take advantage of this offer here.

Save $84.97: Smartly Space Your Trips
In 2011, my husband and I made two trips to WDW relatively close together: one in October and one in December. With some forethought and planning, we were able to get photos from both trips on the same PhotoPass PhotoCD, paying only once for photos from two trips. We simply used Disney’s policies to our advantage.

october and december
Two photos taken two months apart in the same spot from the same PhotoPass CD

You have a full 30 days after your first photo is taken to “claim” your photos by inputting your PhotoPass card code into the website. We waited the full 30, even though it was agonizing. Once the photos are claimed, they have another 30 days in the system before they’re deleted. Because our trips were only 60 days apart, we were able to get both trips on one disc, saving half-off each trip!

This is, of course, not an ideal solution for everyone, but for Annual Pass holders and DVC members, it may be a viable option.

Self-portrait: one way to get good photos

Save $110 or More: Share an Account
If you can find three or more families who are traveling at the same time—or even soon before or after—you are, then it can be a huge savings to share the cost of a single PhotoPass Photo CD. The process is simple: once you have a group of three (or more) families willing to participate, pick a trustworthy and tech-savvy group leader to be in charge of the account. That person will collect the money, purchase the PhotoPass CD and then make a copy of the CD for everyone in the group once it’s arrived.

Sharing an account isn’t against Disney PhotoPass rules, but you really shouldn’t get into a PhotoPass share unless you’re working with people you trust. Message boards (like and Facebook Groups are a great way to get to know people on a more personal basis, so you’ll feel more comfortable putting your trust, money and pixie-dusted photos in someone else’s hands.

I have personally never gone this route, but I know two different groups of friends (both came together in Facebook Groups for WDW planners) that have done this with absolutely no problems. (If you’re interested in talking to folks who’ve made it work, send me an e-mail at, and I’ll hook you up.)

Crystal Palace
Blurry photo in Crystal Palace

Save $169.95: Bring Your Own Camera
The un-secret of Disney’s PhotoPass is that the PhotoPass photographers are there to take photos … and they’ll take them with your camera, too, if you ask nicely. Utilizing this strategy, you’ll get all of the best PhotoPass shots (minus the Magic Shots) for free.

We’ve done this in the past with great success, but don’t be surprised or disappointed if not all of your shots come out just right. A lot of the times, the photos taken by PhotoPass photographers with my Cannon Powershot come out blurry. I don’t know if it’s because they’re in a rush or because they’re used to working with their own cameras, but it can ruin a great photo.


What are your favorite PhotoPass Magic Shots? And how do you save money on photos on vacation??

Comments are closed.