Flash! You’re a Star: Why Does Disneyland Take Your Picture

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There’s a question we get quite frequently: Why do cast members at Disneyland take your picture the first time you enter the parks? Are you destined to be the next Disney star, or do you just look particularly good in that new outfit you chose for your visit to the parks?

In reality, the answer is less flattering and much more mundane. It all has to do with the security and sanctity of your Disneyland ticket.

Understanding the Disneyland Ticket and Picture Connection

Entrance gates to Disneyland California Adventure park, one place where they take your picture at Disneyland
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Why does Disneyland take your picture? It’s a fair question. In the hustle and bustle of getting people into the parks, few cast members explain why they’re snapping of shot of your face into their phone.

However, to understand why Disneyland takes your picture, it’s helpful to understand a little about Disneyland tickets. Park passes are offered in a few different varieties.

First, there is the standard one- to five-day ticket. This ticket option allows you to enter one park per day for the specified number of days on the pass. For instance, if you purchase a 5-day ticket, as we did on our recent trip to Disneyland, you may visit either Disneyland or California Adventure on five separate days.

If you wish to visit one park in the morning and then “hop” to the other in the evening, you can add the park hopper option to your ticket. This extension to the standard ticket allows you to pass back and forth between the parks on the same day.

At other times, Disney may offer special ticket options, such as a California resident ticket or a half day ticket. Tickets like these are good only during a specified time or provide admission during certain hours.

Regardless of the type of ticket you purchase, you will find restrictions associated with your purchase. These usually include valid dates of entry, or as noted with the California resident offer, residency in a particular location.

All tickets however, are valid only for the person whose name is on the ticket. This is where taking your picture at Disneyland comes into play.

Why Does Disneyland Take Your Picture: Answer Revealed

Entrance gates, where they take your picture at Disneyland
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In short, Disneyland takes your picture to protect your purchase and prevent unauthorized users from entering the park on your dime.

The first time you use a new Disneyland park ticket, you will scan the card or electronic pass on your phone with a cast member, who will then snap your photo. Each time you scan your ticket thereafter, your picture will appear on the cast member’s device.

Electronically matching your face to your ticket, ensures that only you can use the pass you purchased. That way, if you lose your phone, you get hacked or even if you lose a paper copy of your ticket, no one else can use this information to get into the parks. They simply won’t have the right face.

Having a photo record on hand also makes it easier to retrieve a ticket if yours becomes lost. Your filed picture is easy proof that you are the owner of the lost ticket.

At Disney World, a similar system is in place to prevent fraud. However, at the Florida parks, it’s your fingerprint that ties your ticket to your person. Each time you tap your MagicBand, plastic ticket key card or MobileMagic pass, you’re also required to scan your fingerprint.

Security measures like these do more than protect your ticket from fraudulent use. They also help to guard against other types of fraudulent transactions. Once upon a time, Disney tickets were sold without expiration dates. People would then pass tickets with unused days onto family and friends.

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This made sense, since an individual would have paid full price for the unused days. Unfortunately, disreputable resellers also bought and sold these tickets. At times, truly bad actors would sell tickets without any unexpired days, leaving the guest with a ticket they couldn’t use at the gate.

Knowing that each ticket is tied to a face or fingerprint decreases instances of fraud and helps to promote a more honest buying experience.

Unfortunately, there is also a downside. Guests who fail to use all of the days on their ticket will now be unable to recoup the cost. Fortunately, Disney’s ticket pricing is now variable. This means you’ll pay less than full price for each additional day you add to your park pass.

So, now you know why Disneyland takes your picture at the gate, and how posing for a photograph could save you hassle down the line if you should lose your tickets.

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Mother daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S.

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother-daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S. We're sharing our experiences, tips and insights to help you more easily get out and explore the beautiful landscapes and places of this nation.


Kathleen Hesketh

Kathleen is a travel agent with Mickey World Travel, a platinum level Authorized Disney vacation planner, where she helps people discover the magic of a Disney vacation and other travel destinations. She is also the chief author and editor for Seconds to Go - a travel blog where she shares experiences from traveling the U.S. with her daughters. Kathleen has been a professional writer for more than a decade, helping businesses craft compelling content to advance organizational goals.

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