Dear Disney Traveller:
If you haven’t already read my “What to know before you go” post then I would head over and have a quick read of that one first. This post, however, is about enhancing your experience inside the parks once you are there.
Photo Pass: This is one of my favourite Disney products! You can buy a photo pass when you arrive a Disneyland or online before you go. The main benefit to buying online beforehand is that they send you a CD with extra stock photos that you can use. The downside is that you have to order it within a certain amount of time before your planned visit and allow long enough for it to be delivered it’s also hard to find the right site for this. We found that they gave us quite a selection of stock photos in our online account anyway so next time I won’t buy it in advance, just when I get there.
You can buy the photo pass from a few places in the parks and in Downtown Disney, they are available at the photography stores in each area, here they will give you a lanyard with a barcode which you simply need to present at the rides and to the stationed photographers so that they can link your photos to your account.
The ride photos are always fun but when you buy them individually they can be $15 each. The photo pass is $39usd for unlimited photos for 1 day and $78usd for a week, this means that you can have the photo every time that you go on a ride. If you are there for a few days you will probably do most rides more than once and this will help you take some funny photos and you can choose the best of them later.
On top of the ride photos, there are photographers stationed around the parks at scenic points. Think in front of the castle, the fountain, the giant Ferris wheel etc. To find just have a look at the Disneyland App which will show you them all. When you get to the photo point the photographers are usually standing with a Tripod, though in some spots they just have the camera around their neck. Either way, you can usually spot them pretty quickly. Wait your turn and then show them your photo pass. They will take a variety of photos for you in different poses and help suggest them to you when you start running out of ideas. They can also set up a photo for a “Magic Shot” which is where they photoshop characters into the photo with you.
In addition to all of the ride photos and the scenic photo stops you also can use the Photo Pass anytime there is a photographer at a Character Meet and Greet. Some characters won’t have a photographer with them but most of the more famous ones will have them.
It is also good to note that if you don’t have the photo pass these photographers will always take a couple of photos with your own camera or smartphone too.
FASTPASS: Firstly you automatically have access to the Fastpass system as a part of your entry ticket. You don’t need to pay extra for it like you can in some theme parks.
Fastpass is a system that waits in line for you so that you can enjoy yourself doing other things. Not every ride offers Fastpass, however, there are 7 or 8 rides in each park that do and you can also use it to reserve great seats for the World of Color show.
You are allowed to get 1 Fastpass every 2 hours or a new Fastpass when your last one is ready to be used if that is less than 2 hours away. Hot Tip: The time when you are allowed to get your next Fastpass will be printed on the bottom of your Fastpass ticket.
For rides, the Fastpass gives you a timeframe to return between and when you do you then have access to a special line which moves much quicker than the regular one. My recommendation is to make sure that you have your next Fastpass before you return to the ride for your turn.
You can have several Fastpass tickets at once depending on what times the Fastpass return is for the rides. You can also see when the Fastpass return times are using your Disneyland App.
What can you do while you are waiting for your Fastpass though? Well, you can enjoy the other rides, the app will show you estimated wait times for these. You can have some lunch or dinner, go shopping, see a show or parade or if you know that you love that particular ride you can even line up in the regular line for it and when you’re done if your Fastpass time is close then it’s almost like you get to ride twice in a row.
Planning out your day in the park: This will depend on how many days you will have there and what your interests are. If you want to see the shows and parades then these will structure your day as they are at set times.
There are a couple of rides that are more popular than others and the Fastpass times and the lines fill up sooner than the rest. The new Cars Ride in California Adventure is one, Toy Story Midway Mania is another and I would guess when the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride opens where Tower of Terror was this will too. It is a good idea to try to get to these rides or Fastpass machines first thing in the day.
I don’t tend to plan out the whole day, instead, I plan a couple of moves ahead and I find that my plans are constantly changing. I use the time that I am waiting in line for rides to check the Disney App to see what the wait times are doing and what characters are nearby for photo ops.