Suntan lotion?: Got it.

Water Bottle? : Yes.

Money?: Yup.


Room Keys?: I got mine.

Park Tickets?: I have them.

Taking the Camera?: Yes.

Extra Batteries?: Where are They?

Memory Card?: There’s no more room!?!?

Should we just leave it?: I guess.

My wife and I have had this conversation on more than one occasion over the years. It usually happens before a long outing to the parks, or when we know we’re going to a park that isn’t close to the Resort where we are staying. As you can see, it usually goes well until the camera question. Taking the camera to the parks is always a tough decision for us. I like to take the pictures of the Parks and the Family, but carrying the bag around gets to be a pain. Most of the time, we’ll take the camera in the morning, and not in the afternoon or evening. We travel lighter after lunch it seems. Before that though, we take the video camera and the still camera and the bag with extra batteries, an extra memory card and all the other paraphernalia. Sometimes we actually only carry the Camera Bag to carry the sun tan lotion and other small items we may need during the day, while I carry the camera around separately I know that seems odd, but I’m sure (hope) there are many other people that do it also.

There are times when you want to take the camera with you for a specific reason. Maybe you want to take a picture of something you had seen the day before and wanted to remember it, so taking the camera makes sense, other times you are thinking of nothing but going through the Park and going

through every Attraction you missed earlier in your trip, you don’t want to take the camera, but you never know what character you may meet or if when you get to the Magic Kingdom, You decide you want a picture of the kids in front of the Castle, because Main Street USA seems empty that day. So, What Do you DO?

On days like this, you leave the camera behind. If you want that Picture of the kids in front of the castle, you can still get it. Disney has this wonderful Unknown Magic that will make it easier on you. It’s called Disney’s PhotoPass. Visitors to the Parks may have noticed these people before, I’m sure, and if you’ve been to other amusement parks, they have similar programs. For first Time Disney Visitors let me explain it to you, when you first enter any of the parks, as you see the Park’s Focal Point (the Castle, Sorcerers Hat, Tree of Life, Spaceship Earth) there are cast members walking about. These cast members are part of Disney’s Photography Corps. Known as the PhotoPass Photographers, these cast members are professional photographers, there to take pictures of you and your family while framing you with a Magical Background. They also add extra little Disney touches to your Photos.They are in all Four Theme Parks and not just at the entrance. A lot of times these cast members are at character meet and greets and just roaming around the Parks.

I know some cynical people reading this will say, “But this is just another way for Disney to take my money”. If that is your attitude, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog anyway, but for a cast member to take your picture, it is free. Not only that, but you don’t have to purchase anything at the Park. Now, that is a Magical thing, because that means there is no pressure from Disney or from your kids to get a picture.

What happens is this; when they take your picture, they record information from a little card onto the memory card of the camera. This saves the pictures under your card number (make sure you have your card handy throughout the day, that way if any other PhotoPass people take your picture you can have all the pictures on the same account). Then you can look at the pictures later, either at the park (there are areas in each park that you can go and view your pictures, with help from cast members, or at home at your own convenience. This service is available on line for quite awhile after your vacation ends, so you can take your time putting together your scrape books or even finding that perfect picture for your Christmas cards.

PhotoPass may not seem like a big thing, but if your family is in Disney World for the first time, it is great to have a Family Picture where no one is left out because they are taking the picture and the picture is professionally done. These Pictures of your Magical Experience will be treasured for years to come. At this moment, I’m looking at a picture of my Parents with the Grandchildren standing in front of Cinderella Castle that was taken three years ago, it is making me smile to remember that trip.

So, now you know, you can leave the camera behind and still get a great family picture in any of the parks that will let you remember your Magical Experiences for years to come.