Automated cameras to replace human Photopass at indoor character meets

File this under, “It’s so crazy, I can’t make this up” category.  Walt Disney World will soon begin eliminating live Photopass photographers at indoor meet and greets in favor of a camera in a box taking automatic photos.  Here’s the details:

Beginning November 26 at the Tinker Bell meet, an automated camera will capture your treasured memory instead of a human Photopass person.

After you complete the meet and greet the kiosk will demonstrate your photo image (s) and you’ll tap your MagicBand like you would at a ride photo.

This system was tested at Tinker Bell’s meet last year, but most guests rated it moderate to poor as an inexperience at the time.

Look for this technology to be phased into every indoor meet and greet, unless you feel it is a poor experience and let Disney know. If you like the experience, then share that feedback as well.

What are your thoughts on automated character meet photos?

130 thoughts on “Automated cameras to replace human Photopass at indoor character meets”

  1. This story LITERALLY MADE ME CRY! I have a grandson due any day now and our BEST memories over the past 4 years at Disney have been with Characters and the beyond amazing Photographers! There were 26 photos taken with Merida and my granddaughter in November because they wouldn’t let go of each other! They kept saying MY TWIN! Omg! My heart is broken. The Tinker bell photos with her after she just learned to walk were ALL amazing! I look at my Mickey stickers on my guitar case from 40 years ago and wonder if I would have had the love for Disney if born recently. So sad.

  2. I emailed Disney, and this was the response I received.

    The Walt Disney World Resort will continue to have more than 100 locations where Disney PhotoPass photographers will be there to capture personalized and customized photos for our Guests. We know our Guests enjoy the interaction with our Cast Photographers and Characters and we will continue to create those magical, one-of-a-kind memories. We will be installing automated cameras at nine locations that will capture moments of the experience from start to finish to allow guests to receive a wider variety of photos from which to choose. All photographers will continue to support other Disney PhotoPass locations across our parks so they can use their creativity to capture personalized photos for our Guests.

    1. Thats all well and good, but you can’t tell me that capturing the interaction from a box is the same as interacting with a human. The Photopass photographers not only interact and provide cute ideas for pictures, but can get multiple angles. A remote box can’t do any of that. So very disappointing that they are bent on following through with this. :(

    2. This stinks! There is absolutely no way a box can capture images and know when to be ready much less create a pose for a family!! Disney needs to get back to the way Walt created it. Technology is a great thing, but when it does not work, it is HORRIBLE. How many times will not working happen??? And, technology cannot just take over the world! Humans are needed for some things.

  3. If they do this across the parks, I will no longer pay 169.00 for a photo pass. Its getting ridicules the short cuts they are taking just to make a buck and in the mean time, charging for onsite hotel parking at there resorts…keep taking those small perks away from your loyal customers and they will not longer be loyal.

  4. Use Twitter. It’s the fastest way to bring about a real time reaction. Public Twitter shaming is the best way to effect change in their opinion. @WaltDisneyWorld, @WaltDisneyco

  5. Horrible idea! What if you are not ready? I like that they give you cute ideas. Plus they can take pics when they see fit, not predetermined every xx amt of seconds . Hoping this will change.

  6. I think this stinks. The best photos were when the photographers used some creativity. Feels like Disney wants to eliminate humans. I think if they could get my money without my actually bring there, they would opt for that.

  7. This is horrible news. The Memory Makers are just that. They catch so many great moments that a box never will. Sad days ahead as Disney continues to find ways to increase their revenue and decrease guest experiences.

  8. Good think Walt is not here. He would disapprove of this. This is not the Disney way. The photographers add to the experience. I agree this is a very bad idea.

    1. I agree with Chuck….Walt would disapprove and I disapprove also. It takes away the human interaction. Are we suppose react to an object and get the same quality of photo….I don’t think so. The photographers are important and add to the experience.

  9. I agree with much of the sentiment expressed here. Some of our favorite photos are candid shots captured by the PhotoPass photographers and I doubt those will continue to exist with an automated box. Sad.

    1. A lot of people already did and Disney put out a statement saying they’re still moving forward as planned. But I mean totally tweet them or something and tell them your thoughts

    2. Tweet @waltdisneyworld or @wdwtoday. Call photopass guest support (4075604300) or stop by geust relations if you’re visiting and make a complaint in person. Send emails write letters and feel free to do ALL these things. Only speaking up will stop this from happening!

  10. All of these comments here are great! And the support for the photographers is fabulous. But if you don’t ALL reach to Disney itself, it won’t matter. So everyone who has commented here, send an email to Disney!!!!!! Tell THEM how you feel!!!!!

  11. This is simply ridiculous! An automated camera can’t choose just the right second to capture a perfect moment! My favorite pics are alwats the candid shots of my son interacting with the characters! Gives me just one more reason to bring my own camera! Not to mention all of the hard-working souls they will ne eliminating! So unfair. Very poor decision Disney.

  12. Well Disney finally found a way to save me some money. I will not pay for memory maker again… There is no way a box can capture the magic.

  13. This is unreal… now they are going to laid off more people and charge more money. It doesn’t make sense. The interaction with humans is now becoming less and less. The photographers in the kiosk is what make the experience ultra special for everyone. How can they be replacing it with a box?

  14. This goes against the true spirit of Disney and the magic of the moment. Your photographers greatly enhance the experience. We’re allntired of too much tech, and it sounds like Disney is putting money and technology above the Magical Kingdom experienced and loving interaction between spontaneous gifted photographers. So disappointed, this is a true failure of the Disney spirit

  15. What a bad idea! I’m all for change and improvements but why in the world would they do something that completely kills the magic? I have not heard anyone agree that this is a good idea. I guess I’ll have to start taking my own photos again.

  16. This is a HORRIBLE idea. I’m a mother of a son with special needs and nothing takes the place of the kind photographers we’ve had through the years who have been patient and wait, and work with my son to capture the best most memorable moment. I hope you do not do this.

  17. They are only doing this so you have to use their photos and they dont take yours on your phone or camera anymore. It is stupid. Some of my favourite photos are the ones where my kids see characters for the first time, or first approach them or candid shots. People create moments NOT boxes!

  18. This makes me so sad. And very disappointed in Disney. I rave about the magic the photographers capture. There is no way Disney photos will ever be the same from a box! I know I won’t be suggesting photo pass to my clients anymore. They would get better pictures with their own cameras. #haveaheartdisney #itsnotalwaysaboutthemoney

  19. I think this is a crazy idea! Smh! It’s so sad and unfortunate I’m sure this isn’t something that Walt invisioned of his magical place! Who doesn’t love the Disney photographers! As other people mentioned these people are part of the magic of Disneyland! I really hope this doesn’t go through!!!

  20. Ditto to everything above. As a disabled person, my family and I rely on the PhotoPass photographers and Memory Maker package for most of our trip photos. Not worrying about the logistics of taking photos from a wheelchair is worth it to me. I have always been pleased with the magic the photographers have captured for our family. I am deeply disturbed by this.

  21. This is just a terrible idea. The best photographers should be with characters, not NO photographer with a camera in a box. I’ve gotten some amazing shots from photopass photographers with characters. They simply cannot replicate that with a box. Or even come close. On a trip last year to Disneyland, my son was so smitten with Tinker Bell. The photographer when behind Tink and took a picture from between her head and wing (which you could see in the photo so you knew who it was) and caught the most precious look on my sons face. No, a hundred times no, dont takes this away!

  22. What about all the pictures you get leading up to the staged picture? We have amazing pictures of our kids faces looking at the characters, the character interacting with our kids and then a staged smiling pic. The magic will most definitely be lost if we only get a staged picture from now on.

  23. Wow – this is a TERRIBLE idea! I hope that they don’t do away with the human element. We have gotten so many magical moments because of the photographers catching things we didn’t pose for or even know they were capturing!

  24. A box cant make my toddlers smile, a box can see a magical moment about to happen, a box doesnt have the patience needed to make a child feel safe. A box cant make a parent cry with the care and gentle words when creating special moments for my children. This is taking the magic away……

  25. Is there a petition in place yet, if not we need to start one, akso sending emails and comments to guest relations and guest service is another most do.. this cant happen

  26. I encourage every one to send an email to Guest Services, as I just did. I reminded them that the cost of a DW trip goes up each time we go (several times a year). So far we’re willing to pay that because the magic is still there. Once they start messing with the magic we’ll have to reconsider.

  27. Horrible idea. I love how the photographers were so cheery and helped incahe my children’s attention during each photo. You can’t get that from a machine

  28. Yuck. Where is the customer service? The Human touch – how to pose , etc? Surely they make plenty of money elsewhere. So people said they didn’t like this and – hey – let’s implement it anyway – people will still come.

  29. Wow this is a horrible idea! At the end of the article it states that it was tested last year and was rated moderate to poor as an inexperience…I guess they don’t really care about the surveys they take either, what a shame! Photographers give you a great experience with the characters and help make your little ones feel comfortable, what can a machine do?! WTG Disney, another bad change you’ll be making…

  30. As a recently retired photo pass photographer from Animal Kingdom I have to let you know this is an awful idea. A box will never capture the overall experience our guest has while in with a character. I can’t tell you how many times during my employment as a cast member I heard the words guest experience repeated over and over.

  31. Recently retired from Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom as a photo pass photographer. This is a bad idea Disney! The majority of the guests thanked me for my efforts of getting the unique photos a stationary box will never get.

  32. My daughter is very shy and HATES pics. Most photopass pics, she’s missing from them. Except that one time in HW on Sunset Blvd Tower of Terror Photopass. The Photopass Photographer quickly turned around and captured some MAGICAL smiles and laughs as he snuck pics of Ashley. People walking by clapped and laughed. Can an automated camera do that?

  33. Just wrong the photo folks get photos on the move or the moment sometimes that no box will ever get and when you get that special moment of your kiddo with that special person they live to meet …captain jack, Mickey , any princess …..

  34. Maybe this will be a 2d image, but maybe Disney will incorporate a new technology into this experience. There is the potential to capture a more 3D immersive experience. So as one commenter said, capture that moment the child runs up to hug the character, but why not be able to view that from all 360 degrees and not miss any of the details of that interaction. And then choose if you would like a 2D version of that interaction. There is so much technology they could take advantage of, such as making sure everyone is smiling and not blinking. Whether they do or don’t we will have to wait and see.

  35. Horrible! What about all the photos taken when the photographer squats down to get the right angle of a little one? Or when they find the right angle when dealing with a shy child? Or when they capture the special moments of when the child walks up and the initial greeting talked place before the posed picture? As an AP holder I cherish all these photos, not just the posed ones.

  36. And just when you think Disney couldn’t get any more greedy … and they continue to cut costs, charge more, and take away more magic .

  37. How the picture robot work is that it’s going to be taking rapid pictures more of like a video. Then it has the programming to select pictures (or a still image from that video) that most of the guests download and make those available to purchase.
    The characters and attendants will have special training to make sure the robot takes those “great candid photos”
    They did this because they are loosing money having a photopass photographer with the characters and robots don’t have to go on break or to the bathroom and don’t get sick etc.
    I am strongly against it, it takes that human element out and it makes everything seem like a factory and assembly line.

  38. I agree with all of the above comments. This whole idea is messed up on every level. The article states, “Look for this technology to be phased into every indoor meet and greet, unless you feel it is a poor experience and let Disney know.” The question is, will Disney see these comments? They need to. Just posting on a comment thread won’t change anything. How do we get our comments to Disney?

    1. Right, it won’t matter. The article says they tested it and it got negative feedback. But, they are proceeding with it anyway. They care about 1 thing only!

  39. Greedy greedy greedy. Disney is hetting way too greedy. Prices go up, experience quality goes down; it’s disgusting. These will not take good photos. My favs of my child will always be the close up photos of her running up to the characters. Looks like i wont be getting anymore of those.

    1. I agree, the only photos I have ever bought are the close up ones of my boys’ faces as they first approach the characters. They are some of my favorite photos from our trip, they show the true joy. I don’t like this change.

  40. Check out any photo booth photos you’ve ever taken- they are rarely good because it is automated timing, not a human waiting for the right moment to capture. So disappointed in this move!

  41. This one is tough to swallow. When you think about what it costs to operate an attraction versus what it costs to take pictures and then look at the revenue for each, I have to believe that pictures are one of the biggest money-makers for Disney. I mean, we’re all paying $200 for a set of digital images, call it $1 per picture. If they’re taking 5 pictures of 30 guests an hour, they’re taking 150 pictures an hour; or the equivalent of $150 worth of pictures. Seems like a good investment for a $15 per hour photographer.

    1. The $15/hr pay rate is for CMs who are in a union. Photopass people are not in any union so they are not getting paid that much. My daughter was a Photopass person in the MK and thinks that Disney is looking for more and more ways to cut their costs and still raise their prices in as many ways as they can. I do think Walt would be very disappointed, but I don’t think corporate cares about anything but the bottom line.

  42. For the posed head-to-foot photos, a “camera in a box” will take the same photos. I just wonder if the attendant will be triggering the photos and how often. Will you get photos during the hugs and laughs? Or just the look-at-the-camera shots at the end?

    As the queues for meet and greets became more controlled, I grew to rely on the photogs to get the candid shots at the beginning of the meet simply because I was not allowed to get into position for them. I hope in a box meet, I won’t be seen as getting in the way. I can hopefully get my candids and then jump in for the family box shot at the end.

    Would be nice if they did video too. Maybe a short clip or two.

  43. I want my money back. The only reason I get the Gold Annual passes is for the Photo pass. I am a single dad and don’t have an extra adult to take photos for me. This is a JOKE! This might be the last year for Disney, they just keep asking for more money but cutting out the experiences. Sad.

  44. As a parent of a special needs child, this is a terrible move by Disney. We always talk to the photographer about taking more time with our son, getting candid shots and not using the flash (if possible) due to his photosensitivity. This will basically eliminate any indoor meet and greets for us (two of which happen to be his favorites).

  45. But the best part of the photos are always the interaction photos! The photos of our faces as we walk up to the characters! The photos won’t be as magical anymore

  46. Guests deserve more of the human touch. Photopass can be mobile and catch those images and angles and P.O V that a maschine cannot- Not acceptable!

  47. I feel like character greet lines are going to end up getting longer because people are going to start wanting to take all of their own pictures of their kids and family members with characters

  48. One of the worst ideas I’ve heard! Disney is really screwing this up! The majority of the photographers do a fabulous job at capturing those special moments. And they can take a photo on your camera or phone as well if you’re not doing Memory Maker. I actually do both. Sometimes the lighting is off on a camera but the phone will do pretty well. Just depends. However, Disney is dropping the ball by eliminating the personal element with the photos! As a single mom to a high school senior our November trip may very well be our last trip ever as it is getting more difficult to come up with the money the way prices continue to increase. Glad we’re getting the photographers in for our last big trip (except for possibly our last day which is the 26th). This is so disappointing. Shame on Disney!

  49. This is very sad. We’ve had many wonderful experiences with the photopass photographers. They are part of the Disney magical experience! I guess I will be carrying my camera backpack again to get my own shots of my family at Disney. I definitely will be giving Disney my feedback!

  50. Seriously,you can’t have a human being stationed to take pictures???
    So much for personal attention to the high paying Disney guests…Sad…Sad,they really need to think this one over again….

  51. The pictures they capture of the kids faces when seeing a character for the first time are truly magical. A box can’t captire that. Booo Disney

  52. Completely disappointed, the photographer was part of the experience. Is a box going to capture extra moments that only a human can see. Disney you really need to re think this as your losing a very personal touch.

    1. You write cast complaints, or tag @wdwtoday on twitter and tell them your grievances. You can also write an email, or go to Guest Relations and complain. Also, those people in the white shirts carrying iPads asking guest satisfaction questions will inevitably be asking what people think of this. Tell them how horrible you think it is

    2. I just contacted them through the ‘MyDisneyExperience’ website. I logged on via my computer, scrolled down until I saw the option to ‘contact us’. In the upper right corner of the next screen was an ’email’ icon. I clicked that and there was a form I could fill out. There is an option to select what this email is about and I scrolled down to the bottom on that was ‘PhotoPass’.

      Hope this helps and that many contact Disney about this negative change.

  53. Besides the loss of a pro to help pose and capture those unposed memories, my Major Concern is the safety of the character. Too often guests having a little too much fun endanger the characters.

    1. True but just having a real live person there taking pics increases the safety of the character. If something immediate happened, the box isn’t going to help!

    2. Character attendants are often busy with handling the queue, answering a guest question, or even attending another character in locations like Princess Fairytale Hall. Photopass Photographers are trained to look out for the safety of performers and guests during interactions, and act when attendants cannot.

    3. “Photographers don’t handle safety. Character attendants do that”

      ….except for when they don’t and photopass has to step in for the characters.

    4. “I get it” So do you rescind your previous statement? Because it’s wrong.

      The Attendant’s job description may state that, but the photographer is right there at all times, and is the first trained line of defense for a character.

      Delete your comment or post a retraction if you “get it.”

  54. We are usually impressed by the perfectly timed photos of the photographers. My heart feels heavy to think of a machine trying to capture those moments. I will wait and see how it works, but I just feel sad about this.

  55. Horrible idea! If thry tested it and we said it was poor then why implement it?! We pay almost $200 for photos! You NEED a human behind the camera for these expirences! What the heck Disney?!

  56. This is awful! The photopass people catch some candidates that are awesome! Goodness knows what we will get from a machine. Why disney? Why?

  57. This makes me sad as the pictures that some of the photographers capture are amazing and couldn’t be replaced with a robotic photo opportunity.

  58. This is makes me really upset and will make me rethink purchasing the memory maker ever again- the photographer capture such special pictures and there is no way the automated cameras could ever do the same! This is really upsetting to think this is what Disney is turning into!!!

      1. They have already begun cutting photographers hours, i am very personally connected to many, one is my daughter. Her heart is broken because she truly loves what she does, especially with guests & characters. This is a terrible idea for all reasons stated. No they don’t get $15/hour, at least not the ones who aren’t new…and they talk about making magic and guest experience being key…yet they are taking that away!! We all need to raise our voices & close our wallets, then maybe Corporate will get it when guests aren’t happy & they lose money!!

  59. They are making everything less magical. What is going on with Disney? Would Walt have wanted to remove every magical experience for it’s guests?

  60. This makes me so sad :( Photopass employees often capture magical unplanned/not posed moments at angles that an automated system will never be able to replicate.

  61. I think it is a bad decision and it will probably result in a decrease of Memory Makers being purchased. I don’t think I would purchase one if all the inside pics were automatically taken. Who knows how they would turn out

  62. I hate this idea. Part of what I love about photooass is the magical moments with characters they catch. I can take a posed picture on my own, why would I pay for Photopass to do that

  63. What a bummer, the pictures that the photographers catch are some of my favorite. They know how to create moments in those photos.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.