Answering Questions About PhotoPass and MagicBands

As Disney World has been rolling out MagicBands, we have been doing our best here to update our readers and listeners on how things are changing:

I just returned from Walt Disney World and used the MagicBands and PhotoPass very heavily while I was there and I have a lot of answers for all of you!

My Experience

I preordered PhotoPass+ and received it before my trip. We were staying at three different resorts at Disney World during our vacation (Boardwalk, Saratoga Springs, and Animal Kingdom – in that order). There were two of us on this trip and we received 3 MagicBands each (they kept sending us emails, telling us to customize are bands, so we did).
When we got to Florida, we were on a tight deadline because I was trying to hit all four parks within two hours, so I could make my bucket list goal of hitting all six parks in North America (Disneyland, California Adventure, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom) within 24 hours (which I did).  When we arrived at The Animal Kingdom,  I just grabbed two MagicBands and we were off. I happened to grab the gray bands, which were for our first resort, the Boardwalk.
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When we arrived at Animal Kingdom, it had actually just closed for the night (I knew it would be tight).  Thankfully, after explaining to the CM at the exit what we were doing, she let us in for a photo.  I was panicked because I knew I couldn't redeem my PhotoPass+ voucher at that time (I was just thankful to get IN Animal Kingdom for a photo with the Tree of Life, I wasn't going to push my luck) and I was worried the photos wouldn't show up. We had our photos taken and our MagicBands scanned. We also had the photographer take some shots with my iPhone, just in case. We repeated this at each park.
When we got back to the resort that night, I jumped on my laptop and logged into my account to find that ALL of my photos EXCEPT Epcot, were already in my account. The MagicBand scanning had worked at each park, except Epcot. It was interesting to me that Epcot was the one that didn't work, because I had told each photographer that I had PhotoPass+,  I just didn't have the lanyard yet. The photographer in Epcot was an older gentleman and he went on to explain how PhotoPass+ worked to me and it was clear that we weren't understanding each other. He also indicated that he didn't trust the bands and that I would always want to scan my PhotoPass+ cards, NOT the magic bands.
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At some point during our hop around all of the parks, I realized that when the MagicBand is scanned successfully by the PhotoPass Photographer, it vibrates. It is very, very subtle (not as strong as a cell phone vibration), and I figured I would be okay going forward as long as I felt it vibrate.
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It was really interesting to get different PhotoPass photographers thoughts on the MagicBands. Most of them were happy to scan them for us and gave no indication that there was another option. We only ran into problems that one time in Epcot and then after a couple of rides, Expedition Everest and Buzz Lightyear. Both of the CMs there told us they didn't have the technology to scan our MagicBands to add photos and would need the PhotoPass+ card. I only used the PhotoPass+ card if a CM insisted on it, because I loved the ease of scanning my MagicBand for everything!
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One CM told us that they were currently testing having the ride photos added to your MagicBand without even scanning it, but it was only 10% accurate right now. Another CM told us that technology was actually working great and we just needed to try it. He challenged me to ride a ride and not have anything scanned at all and go to a photo shop in the park and check it. He said, “Take a photo of your number, if you want, just in case, but it will work!”  We tested this out once and it worked (TestTrack)!  There are some ride photos that have been added to our account twice, just minutes apart, so I'm betting once was added automagically and once when we scanned our bands. Those rides are: Splash, Buzz, Rockin Roler Coaster (this happened 2 out of the 3 times we rode it), and Expedition Everest.
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We were able to add photos to our account successfully by having both my band and my husband's bands scanned.
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I did not end up adding the number from my PhotoPass+ card to my PhotoPass account until I got home (just testing it all out for you guys). After I added the PhotoPas+ card to my account, the screen refreshed automagically and more photos appeared.
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We are, however missing photos. We are missing one set of photos taken at Epcot (the ones with the nice gentleman I told you about, where our MagicBands were scanned).  We are also missing a set of photos taken at Animal Kingdom Lodge in front of the Christmas Tree.  Here is the interesting thing about those photos. The photographer scanned my MagicBand and I felt it vibrate. He said, “Let's scan his too, just to be sure.” I mentioned that I felt it vibrate, so we should be okay, and but he wanted to scan my husband's anyway. I watched him scan my husband's band, I watched the light change and I asked my husband if he felt it. He said he did. Those photos however, did not show up on our account. There must be an issue with equipment or something in there, because I know the photographer did his job and everything seemed like it worked.
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I will call the PhotoPass line and have those photos added in. I know the almost exact time they were taken, so it shouldn't be hard.  I do want to point out though, that I have had this many photos missing before when I was just using the PhotoPass+ card and lanyard. So I don't trust the MagicBands for PhotoPass any less than I did the cards. I definitely have a preference for the MagicBands because they were sooooo easy to use and I didn't worry about losing it like I do the lanyards and cards.
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I have said many, many times on the Capturing Magic podcast that I am really excited about all of the technology Disney World is using and I'm happy to see them utilizing it to help us capture those magical memories that happen in the parks. There is A LOT that can be done as they get it all rolled out, and I hope we see it!  Here's what I would LOVE to see happen:
  • ride photos added to my account automagically (we are almost there!)
  • videos with character interactions added to my account automagically (I had the best interaction with Elsa and Anna and I wish more than anything I had it on video)
  • thumbnails of the photos and videos added to the MyDisneyExperience app, so I can see everything being added as it happens
  • the ability to download photo thumbnails and short video clips from the app so I can share through social media as it happens (I love to Instagram in the parks)
  • the ability to download thumbnails and short video clips would also allow me to add them to a Story using the Disney Story App (I love using this app in the parks too) and share it socially, while I'm in there, live
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Your Questions

You've had a lot of questions, so let's answer them! Some of these questions were answered by Aaron, in his own words, in his posts as well (see links above).

Were you able to link more than one MB? We are going in February and I was wondering if my family separates would we able to get all our pictures on one card?! I am a little nervous with all the new stuff!!

All of the MagicBands in your account are automatically linked together and any photos scanned to the bands go to your account. We were able to successfully scan ride photos and regular PhotoPass photos to multiple bands and the photos were added to my PhotoPass account. You will need to have the number on the back of your PhotoPass+ card added to your account manually by doing it yourself on the site, or having a PhotoPass person do it in one of the Photography shops (each park has one by the main entrance).

We are testing them when we come down at the end of the month. The resorts were booked for the first two days so we have to stay in the Hyatt. We purchased our photo pass plus with our resort package and were told we could go ahead and use it. What I’m wondering is will we have to wait to tie it to our armbands or will it start on our first day. (We already have the armbands. They shipped them to us three weeks ago.)

Using MagicBands to get into the park should work that first day fine, they did for us. I did have a hard time using one of my bands for later in the trip for PhotoPass, but that could have just been that scanner or the person that was trying to do it (she really wanted me to just use my PhotoPass+ card from the beginning, she seemed unsure about how to scan the MagicBands for ride photos).

I’m really hoping this means I will be able to link the PP+ to my family’s magic bands. We are travelling in January and this is something that is concerning me. My husband and I often split up to do different rides with our children. We would hate to miss the ride photos because we didn’t both bave a PP+ card.

Yes, my husband and I often go different directions in the parks as well. He did ride some rides and was able to get the PhotoPass photos to our account using his MagicBand without any problems. We didn't have to do anything special with the MagicBand except have them all on the same account in MyDisneyExperience.

So what you are saying is that when a photographer takes our picture he has to scan our PP+ card and our MB?

No, they can scan either one, or both of them if it helps you feel better, but only NEED to scan ONE of them for the photos to be added to your account.

I loved Photopass+ but we had so many photos missing that were not able to be found. We depended too much on the Photopass and weren’t taking as many pictures with our camera. Now I regret it. We are missing about 5 different sets of pictures.

I would definitely call PhotoPass (or email them) and let them know the time and location, what you were wearing, how many people were in the photos, and see if they can find them.

Do you know if linking other magic bands [to PhotoPass will be in effect] when it fully rolls out? now if you try to link magicbands to photopass it tells you they are already linked to another account.

I purchased my PhotoPass+ using the same login I used for MyDisneyExperience, so it was all automated for me and I did not have to add the MagicBands automatically. I viewed my photos from MyDisneyExperience as well.

I’ve been having a problem with linking the magic band and the photo pass. If I go through My Disney Experience I can get my photo pass card and Magic band pictures but can not upload my pictures from my camera. If I go to Disney photo pass website, I can only get the picture that were on the card not the band. I can upload my camera picture to this site. I’ve tried for 3 days to contact Photo pass, just to be put on hold for over an hour each time. I called Disney and the person told me that they would put me on hold and call them and do a conference call, I was on hold for 45 mins. I just would like to put all my pictures together and then order cd, calendar and exc. Does anyone have an answer to how to do this or how to get in contact with someone that does? Thanks

From reading the FAQ on the PhotoPass site, it doesn't look like that feature is available anymore.

I used photo pass+ and had the photographers tap my magic band almost every time we had pictures taken. I am missing several pictures!! I also don’t have ANY pictures from our rides! Please help!!! I am waiting to hear back from customer service…

I am a huge advocate for using PhotoPass, but I don't have access to their system and can't really do anything to help 🙁 Another reader did leave this email address and said she was told they respond to all emails their within 24-48 hours. [email protected]

I’m actually on hold as we speak waiting for someone to talk to me on how to get all my character photos that were taken over the weekend. I have my attraction ones but not my in park ones. It’s annoying they make you purchase a separate attraction photo pass for $15.00. It should all be included since you have to pay $15+ for each photo.

If you purchase PhotoPass+ in the park OR preorder it before your trip, then everything IS included. Ride photos, dining photos, in park photos, everything; all for one price.

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Feel free to leave other questions here and we will do our best to answer them!