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.
Keep in mind there is a lot of information on this page, so don’t try to digest it all the very first time you read it. 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.
Universal Photo Connect
Photo Connect is the Universal Orlando program that allows guest 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.
There are two ways to purchase individual prints or the Star Card Package. The first way is to stop by the Universal Photo Connect Stores 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 the shop, the 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 takes up to two hours for your photos to become available in the system. However, 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 either one day or three consecutive days (depending on what you want to spend), and it includes digital proofs of all of your in-park and ride photos. The package also gets you discounts in the parks.
Purchasing the Star Card Package
The Star Card Package can be purchased at the Universal Photo Connect Stores or at participating attractions. It is $49.95 plus tax for one day or $59.95 plus tax for three consecutive days, and it includes:
- Digital copies of all you in-park and ride photos for five days.
- (1) 8×10 or 5×7 photo print per package.
- Photo Connect lanyard.
- Customized Photo Connect Card (with your favorite photos).
- Photo CD of all your pictures (fulfilled online, shipping and handling fees apply).
- Discounts up to 20 percent on prints, videos, and accessories sold at the Photo Connect Stores
- ** These inclusions are subject to change
PRINTS-ONLY VERSION: Universal barely mentions this option anywhere, but yes indeed you can purchase a prints-only version of the Star Card Package for the same prices. This option allows guests to get unlimited 4×6 prints of all the ride, in-park, and character photos. A few points to note: (1) Unlimited means unlimited photos in the sense that each time you ride Incredible Hulk, you can get one more photo printed from your last ride — it doesn’t mean, if you ride Hulk once, you can get unlimited copies of that one ride photo. (2) When you purchase the prints-only package, online access and digital proofs are not included in any way. (3) All your photos can be printed at the Photo Connect stores except Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which must be printed at the attraction. We explore this situation more in the ‘ride photos’ section on the bottom half of this page.
PRE-PURCHASE OFFER: Currently Universal guests can pre-purchase the Star Card Package at this special website address: https://presale.amazingpictures.com/PhotoConnect.aspx. What’s more, the online price is $39.95 for the 1-day package, $49.95 for the 3-day package, so you can save $10 off 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).
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. Annual Passholders can also use the pre-sale link and get the $10 discount.
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 a Photo Connect Store on your way out of the park for the day. 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:
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 some of the character meet and greets. But they are not at every meet and greet, and they usually are not spread around the park in scenic locations like Disney often does. 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.
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.
Once you purchase the 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 the day just to make sure everything is where you want it to be.
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 covers it for Universal’s Photo Connect. How let’s talk about ride photos at the parks…
Ride photos at Universal Orlando’s theme parks
Ride photos are available at these participating attractions:
Universal Studios Florida:
Islands of Adventure:
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster
- Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls
- Jurassic Park River Adventure
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
When you ride one of the attractions listed above, you will get your photo snapped somewhere along the ride. As you exit the ride, you will be able to view your photo on a monitor such as the ones you see in this photo from MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack:
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 inside Universal Studios Florida works a little differently. For Rockit, Universal really wants you to buy a video of your ride, so their offerings focus on the video. Here is what’s available and the prices (click the image to view it full-screen):
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 below (thanks to Attractions Magazine for providing the video).
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
Forbidden Journey inside Islands of Adventure doesn’t have a ride video available, but its popularity has allowed Universal to charge a premium for photos. 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 image displayed on the monitor:
As with the other rides, more elaborate photo collections are available if you still have money left over from buying Harry Potter souvenirs!
Universal Photo Connect: If you are not using the Star Card Package, individual ride photos for Forbidden Journey MUST be purchased and printed at Forbidden Journey. In other works, without the Star Card Package you cannot add Forbidden Journey ride photos to your Star Card to have printed at the end of the day. However, if you are using the Star Card Package, the good news is that Forbidden Journey ride photos can be added.
Printing Forbidden Journey ride photos: We know this is confusing, but here is our best attempt to explain it. Because of branding legalities, the only place you can have Forbidden Journey ride photos printed on-site at Universal is at the actual Forbidden Journey attraction inside the Wizarding World. 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. So, if for any reason you want a Forbidden Journey ride photo printed — whether it’s because this is 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.
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. If you do get your photo taken, they can be purchased at the nearby Photo Connect booth and will look like this (but of course with your family in it):
Keep in mind that, like all character photo opportunities, these ones can also be added to your Star Card 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:
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
If you purchase a Star Card Package, you can get a free personalized Star Card at the Incredible Hulk Coaster, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy, or Jurassic Park River Adventure. The personalized card is available whether you purchase the Star Card Package before visiting one of these attractions, or if you make the purchase at the ride’s photo counter. Here is an example from one of our subscribers who got his card at Jurassic Park River Adventure, but used a photo shot earlier:
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.