Disney’s PhotoPass service combines new technologies with Disney storytelling

Theme area at Disney’s Hollywood Studios called “Mickey and Minnie Starring in Red Carpet Dreams”. Minnie appears as a Tinsel Town starlet in a ritzy setting straight out of a colorful musical extravaganza. Here, guests can get Minnie’s autograph, take their own photos with her, and have a Disney PhotoPass photographer on hand to capture all the special moments. (David Roark, Photographer) David Roark

Guests entering the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida often see photographers in the park taking pictures of families and friends traveling together. These Disney cast members are part of the amazing PhotoPass team helping Disney fans capture their memories.

While many people who venture into the Disney Parks view the service as a way to simply snap their photo in front of the large park icons, Disney PhotoPass offers much more than just a click of the shutter.

In 2021, Disney introduced a new way to get unique photos at the theme parks with Disney PhotoPass lenses. The lenses are included with the purchase of Disney Genie +, the paid theme park skip-the-line service, and can be accessed through the My Disney Experience app. The augmented reality lenses allow guests to put themselves in a fun Disney background or munch on virtual snacks, all through the power of technology, much like Snapchat or Instagram filters. According to a Snap press release, “Our Camera Kit AR developer tool enables apps like My Disney Experience to bring the power of Snap’s camera to their platform.”

The partnership between Disney and Snap, the company that owns the popular social media service Snapchat, has evolved, allowing Disney to release more PhotoPass lenses. Some of the newer lenses are park-specific, including a fun one where guests can stand in front of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom and see the park icon transform from scaffolding all around into the shimmering castle that’s in the park today. Other fan favorites include seeing yourself as a ghost from the popular Haunted Mansion attraction, or shooting icy powers out of your hands like Elsa from Frozen. The lenses can be used for up to 45 days after the last day of Disney Genie+ purchase, so Disney fans can continue having fun with augmented reality after their trip to the parks.

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In addition to using augmented reality lenses, Disney Genie+ allows guests to download their onboard attraction photos from their day at the Disney Parks. While some of the attraction photos are simply with friends and family in a roller coaster vehicle whizzing past a camera, others, like Haunted Mansion, add a little more excitement.

As guests slide through the first part of the attraction, there is a hallway that has portraits on one side. The photo is taken at the end of the hallway. The beauty of this onboard attraction photo compared to others is that you don’t have to tap a MagicBand or park ticket at a touch point at the end of the ride, as the photos are automatically added to a guest’s PhotoPass library via Bluetooth technology on the My Disney Experience App or by connecting to a MagicBand.

No matter where someone sits in the ride share, the photo always turns out great. Because Disney has been working on a new technology that places the photographic artwork in the best possible position around each guest or group of guests. The spooky photos include images of the hitchhiking ghosts seen at the end of the ride.

are offering guests of the Walt Disney World Resorts in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., magical augmented reality experiences to share with friends and family – and some beloved Disney characters. (©Snap ©Disney) ©Snap ©Disney

Disney PhotoPass also allows guests to virtually add their photo to Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World through a program called Cinderella Castle – Mural of Memories, also in partnership with Snap. This allows guests to select a photo from their Disney PhotoPass library and use augmented reality technology to add a chosen image to the growing mural of photos that is digitally imposed on the castle through an AR lens and will last for at least three years. Guests can view their virtual photos over and over again and also see photos of other families.

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Disney has announced that annual pass holders and cast members will receive free access to the activity, but a start date has not yet been announced. For those outside of the above groups, Cinderella Castle – Mural of Memories comes with a hefty price tag of $9.99, which may discourage some Disney fans from attending the experience.

As Disney continues to add more PhotoPass experiences to its parks, it’s up to individual guests to decide if the cost of Disney Genie+, which tiers each day, is worth it for them to skip the lines and have access to some of the new innovations from Disney PhotoPass or if they want to purchase the option to download their photos from their trip, including photos from rides and pictures they took with photographers in the park for a set fee of $69 for a day.

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I’m a theme park journalist who always dreams of my next roller coaster ride, my first steps into a fascinating land or tasting the latest in theme park cuisine, Instagram-worthy or not. My work has appeared on multiple outlets such as Popsugar, Insider, Reader’s Digest, TravelPulse, Buzzfeed, Observer, Family Vacation Critic and more. I am currently working on visiting every Disney theme park around the world and rating every Disney park snack you can buy. Besides theme parks, I enjoy cooking and baking for my family. You can follow my theme park adventures on Twitter @megand513 and Instagram @minglingwithmegan.

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