Savvy Disney World visitors know all about Disney's PhotoPass service and how purchasing Memory Maker can help to capture your precious vacation memories.
But, even the most informed Disney World travelers don't always know about the cool PhotoPass Portrait Studios you can use - all for free!
These conveniently placed studios let you snag fun (and sometimes ridiculous!) photographs that you can add to your Memory Maker or, if you don't have Memory Maker, purchase separately.
Here's how they work...
First, some basics
If you're new to Disney World planning the term "PhotoPass" may be foreign.
Simply put, PhotoPass is the name of the free photography service offered by Disney.
Throughout the parks, guests visiting Disney World can find PhotoPass photographers stationed at popular photo spots (like in front of Cinderella Castle, the Tree of Life, Spaceship Earth, etc.).
PhotoPass Photographers will take your photo for free, and if you'd like, they'll even take your photo for you using your personal camera.
You are then able to review your photos in your My Disney Experience account. If you want to download or print them, however, you'll have to pay for them.
Memory Maker is the most popular way people purchase their PhotoPass pictures because it includes unlimited downloads of all the photos taken in the park for 1 price, currently $169 if purchased ahead of time or $199 if you buy it after you arrive.
(There's also a Memory Maker One Day that you can purchase inside the My Disney Experience app for $69.)
And when we say all we mean all photos taken in the parks, including ride photos and any Magic Shots you might have taken with PhotoPass photographers.
Memory Maker isn't cheap, but it can definitely be worth it if you utilize lots of opportunities for photographs, including taking advantage of the portrait studios.
Disney PhotoPass Portrait Studios
The portrait studios are free for anybody to use, however, unless you have Memory Maker you'll have to pay to download or print the photos
Reservations are not required; photos are taken on a first-come, first-served basis and anybody is welcome to have their photos taken!
Disney PhotoPass Studio at Disney Springs
Location: Disney Springs in the Marketplace section
Backdrops available: a wide variety of green screen options, including princess and park specific scenes (ask the PhotoPass photographer for current selections)
Props available? Yes
If you've ever found yourself over by the Ghiradelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop you might have seen the PhotoPass studio and wondered what it was.
Not only can you swing by here to preview or purchase photos you've taken in the parks (if you don't have Memory Maker and/or My Disney Experience), you'll also find 2 indoor studios with virtual backdrops available.
Now, this is where it gets fun.
Virtual backdrops are PERFECT for family photos, but they are also the perfect thing for slightly less formal portraits, like this one:
Or this ridiculous one (yes...that is a dinglehopper she is combing her hair with):
And this is only a small selection of the backgrounds (and props) available.
We've seen backdrops themed for nearly all the princesses, ones with holiday themes, and even some that show other Disney parks (like Disneyland).
Royal Portrait Studio in Magic Kingdom
Location: Sir Mickey's behind Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom
Backdrops available: a fixed backdrop/scene that includes castle windows overlooking the woods
Props available? Yes
The newest studio to open is the Royal Portrait Studio in Magic Kingdom.
Located inside Sir Mickey's, this studio offers guest the opportunity to take pictures with a fixed castle-esque backdrop.
There's 2 spots inside for photographers to work, and the space here is a lot more limited when compared to the Disney Springs studio, but it is still a lot of fun.
Disney's Grand Floridian
Location: 2nd floor of the Grand Floridian
Backdrops available: a fixed backdrop/scene
Props available? Yes
Again, the backdrop at this location is fixed (and not the virtual one like you'd find at the Disney Springs location) but these backdrops do make for lovely portrait-style photographs.
Planning a visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique?
If you are planning a visit to one of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique locations we highly recommend you set aside time to get some photographs taken at one of the studios afterwards so that you can capture the moment while hairdos and outfits are still fresh.
The same is true if you've visited the Pirates League or if you're dressed up for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
Final thoughts on Disney's PhotoPass Portrait Studios
- If you have already purchased Memory Maker, a visit to one (or all!) of these studios is a great way to maximize your purchase.
- Consider planning ahead for photos by wearing matching shirts or costumes.
- Visiting during less busy times (like first thing after opening) makes it easier to try out different props, backdrops (at the Disney Springs location), and groupings.
- A visit to one of the studios is a great way to commemorate a special event or birthday, graduation, etc.