During family vacations, I usually bring my SLR camera to take photos. For our Disneyland trip, I purposely left it at home. Mainly because it was a yaya-less trip with two active toddlers, and I also had to bring my breastmilk pumping gear along with all of the kids’ stuff while we explored the park.
Here are the three options we tried in taking our family photos at Hong Kong Disneyland:
Option 1: Do It Yourself (DIY)
DIY is obviously the cheapest, but most exhausting option. The park doesn’t allow selfie sticks, so I used my camera phone more for quick shots of the kids (before chasing them) and some selfie family shots.
Pro – easy and quick, no extra spending.
Con – compromise on quality and variety (relying on selfies and strangers to take photos). Selfies are cute, but with four faces in the screen, not much of the background is recognizable so we often have to ask ourselves, “Where was this taken again?”
My experience: If you’re making your own family album, use your camera phone to take photos of the rides and different sights around the park, no people. An album with just still photos of you and your family can get a little bit boring and repetitive.
Detailed shots are also great in helping kids remember their experience. Mati usually asks me questions and there are times we don’t understand each other, so photos and videos help him remember and identify what he is referring to.
Option 2: Disneyland HK Photo Pass
Disneyland Hong Kong also offers a photography service called Photo Pass, where photographers are stationed throughout the park to take photos of the entire family.
Based on their website, there are nine stations where photographers are positioned around the park. Photographers also show up during scheduled character apperances.
Pros: Photo Pass is ideal if you want a professionally-taken posed family photos of your Disney visit.
We had our photo with Woody at Toy Story Land, and the photographer then gave us a card with a QR code.
Pros: I liked that photos from Photo Pass are stored for 30 days, because it took me a week before I got to downloading the app and scanning the QR code.
Pros: You can download your photos with cute touches like a character’s signature of Woody, or special digital HK Disneyland frame as part of the cost of each download.
Price: The cost for each download is 69 HKD, and you get cheaper rates the more photos you purchase.
Cons: During our entire two-day visit to Disneyland, we just saw one Photo Pass photographer.
Cons: When selecting a photo to check from the Photo Pass app, the entire photo is blurred. They don’t use watermarks, so you have to use your finger to unblur a small portion of the photo, then swipe around the photo to clear up the rest of it portion by portion. Basically, you don’t get to see you photo as a whole.
Professional Photography by Sweet Escape
We were very pleased with our Sweet Escape experience last year (also in Hong Kong!), so I booked their service again this time around.
In all honesty, I was initially a bit hesitant to book a professional photographer because I was self-conscious. I had given birth only a few weeks before, so I was still bloated and heavy. But you only get to have your first Disney experience once, so we went for it!
Pros: Sweet Escape offers the most comprehensive service. You can choose between a one-hour or two-hour shoot, and have a mix of posed and candid shots all around the park.
Pros: Sweet Escape has a very curated pool of photographers. We were blessed with an awesome photographer. Harris was not only knowledgable on where the best places to take photos, but was patient with the kids, and even helped us carry around our stuff. Bonus: He also had a Magic Access year-round park pass, which also serves as a discount card for Disney merchandise.
Pros: Quick turn-around time. Sweet Escape promises to have photos ready in 72 hours. We had our shoot on a Saturday morning, and had all of our shots ready and edited by Monday afternoon. Such a hassle-free transaction!
Cons: Sweet Escape is the most expensive option of the three, but there are ways to save with Sweet Escape.
Sweet Savings with Sweet Escape
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Sweet Escape also dropped their prices a month ago. Last year, during out shoot at Inspiration Lake, the 2-hour photo session was priced at $400 usd. At the time we booked for Disneyland, Sweet Escape lowered their prices down to $300 usd. A one-hour shoot is now $180 instead of $240.
Sweet Escape also has a lot of credit card partnerships year-round for extra price discounts or extra photos. Or you can use my referral code and get $25 off on your first booking.
I write about our Disneyland HK Sweet Escape experience (with tips!) in the next post.
Living in The Moment
It’s really a balance between living in the moment, taking everything in, while also having photos to remember your Disneyland experience by.
Core memories are stored in the heart. Keepsake photos of smiles, laughs and even tears can quickly bring these wonderful moments to mind.