Universal Photo Connect & ride photos

On this page we will examine Universal Photo Connect in detail, and we will 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 on this page, so don’t try to digest all of it on your first read through. But, eventually, 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.

Summer 2014 update: As of July 8, Diagon Alley is now open at Universal Studios Florida. There are Photo Connect opportunities in this new land, but we haven’t had a chance to fully document them yet. We’ll get this guide updated as soon as we can – thanks for your patience.

First we will discuss the Universal 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.

Universal Photo Connect Store located at the front of Universal Studios Florida.

Universal Photo Connect Store located at the front of Universal Studios Florida.

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:

Universal Photo Connect (photo sharing service at Universal Orlando): Store located at the front of Island's of Adventure.

Universal Photo Connect store located at the front of Islands of Adventure.

Universal Photo Connect (photo sharing service at Universal Orlando): A family checks out their photos.

A family checks out their photos.

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 $59.95 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.
  • 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. In this sense, once your photos are part of your account, your access to them never expires.

What happened to the free photo CD?  A free photo CD including all of your photos used to be included with the Star Card Package, but it’s not anymore. However, you may still purchase a photo CD if you’d like for about $60.00 plus tax.

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 $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 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 & 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 $59.95 plus tax, but it is good all year. That is one incredible value! Keep in mind that the Annual Passholder offer is only available for the digital version of the Star Card Package, not the prints-only version (explained next). Annual Passholders can also use the pre-sale site to get the $10 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 that let’s 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)…

Krusty the Clown & Sideshow Bob near The Simpsons Ride.

Krusty the Clown & Sideshow Bob near The Simpsons Ride.

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 do not 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 Star Card are forfeited at day’s end.

That’s a lot of stuff to remember, isn’t it? Don’t worry, this page 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, let’s talk about ride photos at the parks…

 

Ride photos at Universal Orlando’s theme parks

On-ride photos are available at these participating attractions:

Universal Studios Florida:

Islands of Adventure:

In addition, permanent photo ops (not on the ride, but in or near the ride building) are available at:

Finally, there is one Universal self-photo kiosk – it may or may not be staffed, but is very cool:

  • Jurassic Park T-Rex (IOA)

For ride photos and the permanent photo ops, you will get your photo snapped and then be able to view it on a monitor such as the ones you see here for MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack:

Ride photos at Universal: MEN IN BLACK photo monitors and order desk.

MEN IN BLACK photo monitors and order desk.

If you decide you’d like to capture the moment forever, proceed to the photo desk located near the monitors. There you have three options:

  • If you are using the Star Card Package, present your Star Card and individual ride photos can be added to your account.
  • If you are not using the Star Card Package, you can present your Star Card (or get a new one) and have individual ride photos added. Just remember that, without the Star Card Package, you must purchase prints at a Photo Connect Store by the end of the day!
  • The final option is simply to purchase prints right there at the ride photo counter. For example, at MIB, the most economical option for a print is a single 5×7 photo, which is available by itself for $21.95 or with a basic frame for $24.95. More elaborate printed souvenirs are also available.

Now let’s discuss a few exceptions to what we’ve explained about Universal Orlando’s ride photos…

 

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at Universal Studios Florida works a little differently. For Rockit, Universal really wants you to buy a video of your ride, so its offerings focus on the video. Here is what’s available and the prices (click the image to view it full-screen):

Ride photos at Universal Orlando: Packages available at Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

Packages available at Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

As you see in the photo above, Rockit also has kiosks where riders can view their media, select a option, and make a purchase. At every other attraction this must be done at a central photo desk.

If you decide to purchase your Rip Ride Rockit music video, you’ll get a DVD with a personalized version of what you see here:

Universal Photo Connect: Ride photos taken at Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit can be added to a Star Card, and they can also be included in the Star Card Package. However, videos must be purchased separately.

 

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Due to it’s popular and licensing agreements, Universal charges a premium for ride photos at Forbidden Journey. The most economical option is a single 8×10 for $29.95 or a single 8×10 + two 5×7′s for $34.95. The Forbidden Journey photos look like this:

Stephanie & Brandon - souvenir Universal Orlando photo.

Stephanie & Brandon – souvenir Universal Orlando photo.

As with the other rides, more elaborate photo collections are available if you still have money left over from buying Harry Potter souvenirs!

Printing Forbidden Journey ride photos: We know this is confusing, but here is our best attempt to explain it. Because of licensing, the only place you can have Forbidden Journey ride photos printed on-site at Universal is at the actual Forbidden Journey attraction. This is different than every other ride on-site, whose ride photos you can have printed at the attraction or at the Photo Connect stores as you leave the park. So, if for any reason you want a Forbidden Journey ride photo printed – whether it’s because you want to purchase it outright, it’s the one you want to use as your free Star Card Package print photo, or because you’ve purchased the prints-only version of the Star Card Package – remember that any Forbidden Journey photo printed on-site MUST happen at Forbidden Journey.

Universal Photo Connect: If you are using the Star Card Package, the good news is that Forbidden Journey ride photos can now be added to your online account. If you are not using the Star Card Package, individual ride photos for Forbidden Journey MUST be purchased and printed at Forbidden Journey.

 

Transformers & Spider-Man

Neither of these attractions offer on-ride photos, but, because of their popularity, guests often ask about them. So here’s what you need to know.

Transformers: Again, there is no on-ride photo opportunity here. Instead, Universal offers a very elaborate meet-and-greet opportunity for guests to interact and have their photos taken with the Transformers characters (alternating between Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Megatron). If you do get your photo taken, those images can be purchased at the nearby Photo Connect booth.

Transformers character photos.

Transformers character photos.

Keep in mind that, like all character photo opportunities, these ones can also be added to your Star Card or Star Card Package for save keeping.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man: There are two photo opportunities associated with this attraction, neither of which happen on the ride, but both of which you may be interested in. The first one is actually offered inside the regular queue for the ride, where you can have a photo taken in the Daily Bugle newsroom, and it will come out looking like this:

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man in-queue photos.

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man in-queue photos.

There is a Photo Connect kiosk in the Spider-Man gift shop to make your purchase or save to your Star Card (shown above). Keep in mind that, if you use the Express or single rider queue, you do not pass by the Daily Bugle photo op, so you’ll have to make a special trip through the regular queue if you really want this photo.

The second Spider-Man photo opportunity is a traditional meet-and-greet, which happens in the building across the street from the Spider-Man attraction. Information about the exact location and character times can be found in the in-park map.

 

How to get a personalized Photo Connect ID card

Personalized Star Cards may be created and purchased for around $5.00 plus tax at either MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack (USF) or Jurassic Park River Adventure (IOA). If you like this idea, your personalized Star Card will replace your generic card. It is worth noting that any photo currently on your account can be used for the personalization. Here is an example from one of our fans who got his card at Jurassic Park River Adventure but used a photo shot earlier:

Personalized Universal Photo Connect card.

Personalized Universal Photo Connect card.

Please note that the personalized Star Card used to be included in the Star Card Package, but that is no longer the case. If you’d like a personalized Star Card, you’ll have to purchase it separately.

 

This completes our ‘Universal Photo Connect & ride photos’ page. I know some of this information is confusing if you have never used Universal’s photo system before. Like we stated at the top, don’t try to fully understand everything the first time you read this page. Instead, bookmark it and revisit it a few times before your trip.


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