How the Disney Photo Pass Works
Disney PhotoPass Service was introduced in 2012, and they provided us with complimentary PhotoPasses at the Cars Land media event so we could check it out. As a photographer, even when I go with family, usually I come home with tons of Disneyland photos, but I'm not in any of them. So I took the opportunity of having the PhotoPass to have my photo taken all over Disney California Adventure to test out the new pass and see how it works.
The Disney PhotoPass is a plastic card encoded with a chip that can be scanned by the park's official photographers and on any rides where photos are taken mid-ride. For a flat rate, you can have your family photos taken by every photographer in the park and get a CD of all the photos sent to you at home. Considering that the park charges $15 for a single photo download or 2 4x6 prints, the Photo CD is a great deal.
The biggest benefit to using the photo pass is that you get a bunch of high-quality photos of everyone in your party without one of you having to take the photo and miss being in it. If you plan to split up and go in different directions in the park, you can get multiple cards and link them online before ordering your CD. It's also great if you happen to be visiting the park on your own, as I was since selfie sticks are banned at Disneyland.
In addition to getting the physical CD or a download of the CD, you can order any number of photo souvenirs from the website from a mug to a scrapbook including the PhotoPass photos, general photos of the park and any photos of your own that you want to upload and add.
Where to Get the Disney PhotoPass
Get your PhotoPass from the first photographer you see when you enter either Disneyland or Disney California Adventure to have the maximum opportunities to use the pass. You can also get PhotoPasses from Guest Relations if you happen to be stopping there for something else.
How It Worked for Me
So, as I mentioned, I ran around the park having my photo taken with Pluto, Chip & Dale, Red the Fire Truck, Mickey and the Red Car Boys and any number of other characters and locations. A couple of days after I went home, I went online and was easily able to register my card and see my photos. I followed the directions to order my CD with the promotional code and chose the download option, rather than having a CD mailed to me because I was impatient to show you how it worked.
I immediately received a link to download a zip file, which I did. The only problem was, that instead of the whole batch of photos there was only one photo and the limited license agreement. I went back and looked to see if there was some other box I needed to check, but the pre-order version of my photo CD showed all the photos were there.
I called the contact phone number and got a busy signal, so I emailed support. The auto-response said someone would get back to me in 24-48 hours. I received an email about 2.5 hours later with a link to download the rest of the photos. It was a little confusing since it wasn't a response from support, but rather, just a re-issue of the confirmation email, this time with a link to the whole batch of photos, plus a few random souvenir park photos thrown in. Each file is big enough to print an 8x10 print.
I was only in California Adventure, and I didn't take advantage of all the photo opportunities I could have. The contact sheet above shows the photos included in my CD order.
Tip: If there are a bunch of people in your group, make sure the photographer takes a lot of shots to make sure you get one where everyone has their eyes open.