In this guide, we’ll examine Universal Photo Connect in detail, and we’ll provide you with all the information about ride photos available throughout Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.
We’d like to kindly advise you up front that there is a lot of information in this guide, so don’t try to digest all of it on your first read through. But do take the time to review all the details and advice we offer before your trip, because this program can be confusing to guests and Universal Team Members alike.
First we will discuss Universal’s Photo Connect service, and then we will discuss specifics about ride photos. Let’s get started!
Universal Photo Connect
Photo Connect is Universal Orlando’s program that enables guests to collect, view, and share photos, and also create one-of-a-kind custom memorabilia.
When you enter Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure, you will be greeted by a photographer who will offer to take your party’s photo. As with Disney’s PhotoPass, the photographer will take a series of pictures and hand you a Photo Connect Star Card with a QR code. You may use the same Star Card throughout your day at Universal Orlando – at both theme parks and on all participating rides – but you do need to get a new card each day of your visit (unless you purchase the Star Card Package, as we will explain further down the page).
Unlike Disney’s PhotoPass, with Universal Photo Connect your pictures are not automatically available online. Instead, you are given the option to purchase individual prints or purchase the Star Card Package, which will give you online access to digital proofs of your images.
For guests already on-site, individual prints or the Star Card Package may be purchased at the standalone photo stores or at ride photo locations. The standalone stores, better known as the Universal Photo Connect Stores, are located just inside the turnstiles at each park. The shop at Universal Studios Florida is pictured above, and here is the shop at Islands of Adventure:
When you step inside, a Team Member will ask for your Photo Connect Star Card. If you happen to have more than one card, they will be able to merge them. It isn’t necessary to stop at the Photo Connect counter immediately after your first photo is shot because it can take up to two hours for your photos to become available in the system. However, you must – repeat, you must – view your photos inside either park before the end of the day – Photo Connect cards are good for the same day only (again, unless you purchased the Star Card Package).
The only way to have the ability to view your photos online is to purchase the Star Card Package. The package covers multiple days and includes unlimited access to digital proofs of all of your in-park and ride photos.
Purchasing the Star Card Package
The Star Card Package currently offered at the parks can be purchased at the Universal Photo Connect Stores or at participating rides. It is $69.95 plus tax for three consecutive days, and it includes:
- Unlimited access to digital copies of all you in-park and ride photos
- Photo Connect Lanyard and Star Card
- (1) 4×6 and (1) 5×7 photo print at the time of purchase or redemption
- Smartphone Connectivity with the Amazing Pictures app – Android or iOS
- Exclusive pricing on park photo prints – as low as $2.00 per print
- ** These inclusions are always subject to change
What does “unlimited access” mean? This means that once you have included a photo as part of your collection during the period for which your package is active, you will be able to access that photo and view/download it at any time in the future using the Photo Connect website, which we’ll discuss in a bit, or the mobile app. In this sense, once your photos are part of your account, your access to them never expires.
What if there are 10 people in my family, do we just need one package? When you purchase and activate your Star Card Package, you receive two Star Cards for that package. Using these two cards, you can add as many photos as you’d like to your account. So if you have 10 people in your family, as long as you’re happy collecting photos in one account using two cards, you’re set.
PRE-PURCHASE OFFER: Currently Universal guests can pre-purchase the 3-day Star Card Package at this special website address: https://presale.amazingpictures.com/PhotoConnect.aspx. What’s more, the online price is at least $10 less than the in-park price. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t give users any details about how long purchases are valid for, but we’ve been told by Photo Connect that they are good indefinitely (meaning the voucher you purchase today should be redeemable even if you don’t travel for six months or more).
1-DAY & 3-DAY EXTENSIONS: Although not widely advertised, guests on-site may purchase package extensions, one day for $24.95 or three days for $39.95.
1-DAY & 14-DAY PACKAGES – ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Universal Photo Connect has now made available a 1-day and 14-day version of the Star Card Package, but – and this is a big “but” – the 1-day and 14-day options are only available online as a pre-order, not in the parks. To check out pricing and place your order, visit the pre-sale site.
ANNUAL PASSHOLDERS: You can also purchase a Star Card Package in-park for $99.95 plus tax, but it is good all year. Please note that this price nearly doubled in August 2014 to the current $99.95, but it’s still a good value. Annual Passholders can also use the pre-sale site to get a discount.
PRINTS-ONLY VERSION: Discontinued.
WET ‘N WILD ADD-ON: If you purchase the Star Card Package for your Universal Orlando visit, and you are also planning to visit Wet ‘n Wild, then you can purchase an add-on option for $20.00 that lets you add unlimited photos from Wet ‘n Wild onto your account. This add-on option isn’t advertised, so you’ll need to ask for it when you arrive at Wet ‘n Wild. (You can also purchase a photo package at Wet ‘n Wild as a standalone item, but we won’t get into those details here.)
Universal Photo Connect online
For guests who are using the Star Card Package, the online portion of the Universal Photo Connect service is fairly straightforward. All you have to do is visit UniversalPhotoConnect.com. The URL is also found on the back of your Star Card, and you will receive an email at the address you provide when you purchase the Star Card Package in the park.
Once you register on the site with your email address, you can access your photos by entering the code on the back of your Star Card. From that point on any photos added to your card will go directly into your online account. That being said, we recommend that you stop by a Photo Connect Store on your way out of the park each day you’re visiting. You just want to make sure all of your photos have been properly edited and placed in your account.
In addition to viewing and downloading standard prints, the Star Card Package also allows you to order a large variety of products from the website when you return home.
Finally, there is an app available for iPhone and Android that will allow you to view and share your photos using your mobile phone. Keep in mind that full use of the app requires that you already have your Star Card online account set up, which you need to do on the desktop website.
Universal Photo Connect – important reminders
Before we discuss ride photos at Universal Orlando, let’s review several key points to consider when working with the Universal Photo Connect service:
1) There are less photographers available around the Universal Orlando parks than you may have seen at Disney World. You usually will find a Universal photographer at the front of each park and at the major character meet-and-greets (like Transformers, the Simpsons, and Shrek)…
But photographers are not at every meet-and-greet, and they usually are not spread around the park in scenic locations like Disney is well known for doing. So if you want lots of photos to remember your trip, you definitely need to bring your own camera. Think of the Universal Photo Connect service as a supplement to the pictures you’ll be taking and as a way to get ride photos.
2) If you want to be able to view your photos online, you must purchase the Star Card Package. In the old system, purchasing any photo print would make all of your photos available online. This is no longer the case.
3) Only the 3-day and Annual Passholder Star Card Packages are offered on-site at Universal Orlando. If you’re interested in the 1-day or 14-day option, you must pre-purchase the package online.
4) Once you purchase and activate your Star Card Package, all photos added to your Star Card should be automatically uploaded to your online account. Nevertheless, we still recommend that you stop by a Universal Connect Store at the end of each day you’re visiting just to make sure everything is where you want it to be.
5) If you don’t purchase the Star Card Package, you must view and purchase prints the same day your photos are taken. Without the Star Card Package, any photos you have on your temporary Star Card are forfeited at day’s end.
That’s a lot of stuff to remember, isn’t it? Don’t worry – this guide isn’t going anywhere. Just be sure to bookmark it and come back once or twice more before your trip to review the details.
Now that we’ve covered Universal Photo Connect, we’ll talk about ride photos on next! Continue to page 2
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