If you have been to any of the Disney theme parks within the past 5 years or so, you probably know at least a little bit about the PhotoPass system. The run down is that you get a photo snapped by their in park photographers and then they hand you a little plastic little that lets you view the pictures at Guest Services or online when you get home. This has many advantages over the old system where they would snap a photo and then, before you leave, you had to hand the vendor your special photo ID number. Previously, you would have a card for each picture snapped. With the PhotoPass system you can use the same plastic PhotoPass every time you get your picture taken. Disney takes care of all the rest. Did you forget your photo pass card at home? No problem! Just get another card and when you get home you can actually add in a new card. The benefits are endless, and my personal favorite is actually being able to take your time and select the very best pictures from your entire Disney vacation, not just each individual theme park. The website actually saves them for up to six months.
At this point, I'm assuming that you have already registered for a free PhotoPass account, and you have at least viewed your pictures online. Hopefully, from your entire vacation in Orlando (or where ever you happened to visit the mouse) you have found at least one picture you simply can't live without. Oh, and don't forget to buy a cute photo frame when you're actually in the park!
You Realize You Could Just Pay for It Right?
Lets get one thing out of the way first: You realize you can actually buy the photos right? I wanted to take a few moments to say that by actually taking the time and money to flat out purchase your photos, you help support the Disney photographers. They technically work for Kodak, or at least they used to, but that's not the point. You can actually buy prints, digital downloads, and other household items with your picture on them straight from the site. Personally, I think that the picture of my little one tugging on Santa's beard would make a great gift for my dad. (He actually has a long white beard and my friends jokingly refer to him as Santa all year round!)
I personally think that the cost of the digital download (at around $15) is a bit steep, considering you would still probably need to purchase the prints somewhere else. I would also like to point out that you can actually purchase the prints and use a conventional scanner to create your own digital photo for use with photo printing sites. My wife and I actually did this for a group photo of the entire family in front of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World. Once we scanned it, we could pretty much do whatever we wanted to with the photo. We even purchased a few prints from our local Walgreens photo lab. We didn't notice any differences in image quality but, just remember, that while you can always go from a larger photo to a smaller one, it's very difficult to go the other way around.
Searching Through Your Computer's Cache
If you have taken the time to actually flip through all the photos on your computer, you have already technically downloaded the images to your computer. When you surf the web, your computer generally saves a copy of all the images and files you have seen. This process is a bit different depending on what browser you use. My suggestion is to clear your internet cache, view all of your PhotoPass files in a slide show, and then go searching through your cache files. Once you find them you can actually just copy them to wherever you want!
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This work around can be a bit tedious, but is simple if you are familiar with image editing programs. Since there is no watermark in the photos, you can actually just take a screenshot of your computer! No, I'm not telling you to take another camera and actually take a photo of your screen, but instead save a copy of whatever is on your computer's screen at any particular time. For windows users it truly is as easy as hitting the "Print Screen" button. Nothing happened you say? Technically, when you press the print screen button you are actually just copying a screen grab of your computer's desktop display to your clipboard. To complete the process you need to paste your image into a photo editing program to actually save it. Luckily, Microsoft has provided Paint Brush free of charge! Just open up Paint Brush and click edit, then paste. It really is that simple. From there you have the ability to crop the images if you would like.
If you have a Mac, it's actually even easier! You can skip a few steps in the process and simply press all three of these keys at the same time: "Shift+Command+4". This keystroke combination will instantly change your mouse pointer into a small set of cross hairs. Just click and drag a box around whatever image you want to capture. This not only crops the image, but also saves a copy to your desktop!
Use Your Cell Phone!
Again, I don't mean actually taking a picture of the screen when you preview the photo at guest services, or your home computer screen! In fact, if you try to pull this little stunt while in Disney, they will actually turn off the monitor or change the image really fast. I have seen guests try to pull this one on the staff, and they won't let that slide. Not to mention, your picture will more than likely turn out horrible!
Instead, I mean using your cell phone to actually download the image. I happen to use an iPhone, so I'm familiar with how to do it on an iOS device such as an iPhone, iPad, or iPad Mini, but I'm unfamiliar with how to do it on an android device. Just open a web browse and log into the Disney PhotoSass site. From there you can browse your images. If you find one you like, just point to it and hold the image until you get an option to save the picture. This will add it to your camera roll. Or you could always just do a screenshot on your phone! You accomplish this by pressing the home button and the top power button at the same time. You should hear a shutter sound and it will be saved (again, to your camera roll).
Remember: part of the fun of family memories are the photos! I would also like to point out that there is one truly clever work-around to the Photo Pass system: Ask them to take a picture with your camera! I have seen more than a few guests actually agree to have their photos taken, but only if the photographer will take one with their camera as well. I have never seen an official Disney photographer refuse their request! Even when taking pictures with Santa, they actually encouraged us to make multiple shots with our own. Just don't forget to be kind,and actually pose for their professional photo as well!