How To Get A Free Roller Coaster Photo At Six Flags or Disney World

Published 7/17/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
By MoneyBlueBook

Cheapskate, Appropriately Frugal, or Brilliantly Simple? You Decide

Well we've finally reached the dog days of summer - the hottest stretch of heat sweltering days of July and August. For those of you who live in colder climates, bless your hearts - enjoy the mild temperatures while you can because colder weather will be upon you soon. But for everyone else who lives in a state or region that enjoys four seasons year round with hot and humid summers like I do, it's time for all of us to get outside and enjoy that nice sunshine warmth.

One of the best ways to get some mild exercise, and enjoy the great outdoors with the family at the same time is to visit an amusement theme park like Six Flags, Busch Gardens, or Disney World. Now you might be thinking to yourself - wait, visiting an amusement isn't exercise and it sure isn't the great outdoors. Where is the huffing and puffing, and where are the essential greenery that make up the great outdoors? I guess that's where you and I differ - I consider the great outdoors to be anywhere that's not cooped up inside an air conditioned house or apartment on a summer's day spent watching TV or playing Nintendo Wii. As long as you are out and about, walking around outside, enjoying the sun's natural Vitamin-D inducing rays, you are immersed in the great outdoors my friend.

In addition, all that walking around, waiting in line, and strolling from roller coaster ride to concession stand is definitely exercise. It's not exactly running an Olympic marathon, but you'll likely burn off some needed calories in the process. The last time I went to Six Flags, my poor puppies (my weird slang for feet) ached after walking around all day. I visited the amusement theme park during pre-season so the lines were incredibly short and non existent, prompting me and my travel companion to walk around even faster to ensure we hit every single roller coaster ride and gaming stand by day's end. It was a fun, but rather tiring and dizzying experience.

You're Getting Off Track Again - What About The Free Roller Coaster Photos?

Now, anyone who has ever been to one knows that spending a day at the amusement park does not come cheap. In fact, most places are pretty expensive and if you're not careful about your budget or keep a tight reign on careless spending on snacks and drinks, you mind find yourself blowing more money than expected - just like you do at the movies. At amusement theme parks like Six Flags, you can expect to shell out anywhere from $25 to $50 per person depending on your age and height, and even more on top of that for meals and other gaming experiences. At mega theme parks like Orlando Florida's Disney World resorts, tickets range anywhere from $70 for young children to more than $160 for adults for multi-park access. Thus, any little thing you can do to cut costs here and there will help you save lots of money in the long run and prevent you from losing your financial mind.

Here's a little tip I picked up a while back on how to get free roller coaster photographs of yourself and free on-board pictures of your friends at any amusement theme park. After every major roller coaster ride, as you're walking down the exit ramp rather dizzily from the experience, you're likely to bump into the ubiquitous roller coaster souvenir photo booth. At the stand you'll usually find a sales counter along with multiple television monitors mounted high up, cycling through live digital photo shots of roller coaster riders taken in various stages of facial displays ranging from joy and happiness, to sheer terror (but they are usually all funny). The images are all photos automatically taken by strategically mounted on-ride cameras located throughout the track. Oftentimes, the cameras are installed on segments where the riders experience the greatest speed, resulting in a variety of funny displays of wacky and distorted expressions due to excitement, fear, or just plain wind resistance. Sometimes, all occupants of a single roller coaster car are displayed in one photograph, and sometimes only two or four people are displayed at one time. The photos on the display screen are usually numbered and park customers willing to purchase their own can do so. The instant photos are usually available immediately after the ride is over should you choose to buy them - and they frequently come in a variety of specialty trinket forms like T-shirts and key chains. The prices charged however, are frequently expensive rip off prices. A tiny wallet size photo may cost in excess of $15-20 each. Larger photos may be priced as high as $25-$35 each. Keychains and T shirts can easily cost in excess of $25-$45.

For those who want to get their roller coaster photos for free, you'll have to act fast as soon as the ride is over. Usually the rollercoaster souvenir booth video displays cycle through the most recent ride results from one car to another before moving on to the next set of new vehicle riders. As guests exit the ride, the display screens update the photos with the latest riders, thereby gradually burying the photos of riders that came before. If you want to save some money, take the limited time opportunity to raise up your digital camera, zoom in, and take a direct digital photograph of the display screen when your rollercoaster shot cycles through. You'll want to act fast as your photo will likely only be flipped through a few times before disappearing for good. If you're quick, you just might be able to walk away with a high quality, free roller coaster self shot.

The last time I was at Six Flags, I did just that for numerous rides. It sort of baffled me at the time why no one else was doing it though. As soon as I saw the screen display of my friend and I, I raised my Canon Digital Elph sky high to rise above the crowd of riders waiting to buy souvenir photos, and quickly snapped off a few free shots. As soon as I did that, everyone looked at me with eyes widened, and immediately took out their own cameras to do the same - frantically snapping their own self pics as the display screens flipped to images of them. Such frugal tips seem so common-sensical that we oftentimes fail to realize that we can easily get many things for free just by trying.

Financially or Morally Ethical? It's Up To You - But Remember, You Did Pay The Price Of Your Pricey Admissions Ticket

While I doubt Six Flags, Disney World, Disney Land, Kings Dominion, Busch Gardens, or Cedar Point officials condone this type of free photograph taking, I've never noticed any signs or ticket stub fine print restricting this frugal (albeit freeloading) practice. Support the park and pay your $35 roller coaster souvenir photo at Kingda Ka or any other popular ride if you want. However, in my opinion, you've already paid for your price of amusement park admission, so you might as well maximize your budget by taking advantage of free photographing opportunities. Once you snap a photo with your digital camera, you can pretty much make as many digital prints as you want.

I suppose the lawyer part of me feels compelled to address one more concern. As for questions about copyright infringement legalities, don't worry. Copyright laws only protect the rights of actual tangible mediums of expression whether it be an expression of writing, photography, or music. Yes it would be a possible copyright violation if you were to copy the digital photographs off of the souvenir booth computers directly and reproduce them (that might be considered criminal theft as well). But by using your own personal digital camera to take a photograph of the monitor indirectly, you are in the clear. Feel free to snap away. You are now your own paparazzi!

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11 Responses to “How To Get A Free Roller Coaster Photo At Six Flags or Disney World” 

  1. CA READER says:

    LOL...The title of your article piqued my interest -- it pays to be practical!

  2. Mimoji says:

    Free photo, yes. But is it a good-quality photo? Probably not. My family has taken pictures of pictures in the past, and the photo quality is quite bad.

    An accurate comparison to these "free photos" would be someone taking their video camera into a movie theater. Sure, you'll get to see the movie, but the color will be off, you'll see the projection curtains, and perhaps the backs of people's heads. It's not worth the quarters that you'll save.

  3. All for Frugality says:

    Hey it might not be a "good-quality" photo, but at least you'll have a picture. Better to have something of "lower" quality vs. having nothing at all!

  4. Raymond says:

    Mimoji,

    Digital camera technology has advanced quite a bit over the years.

    You'd be surprised...with my 10 Mega Pixel super zoom digital camera, you'd be amazed at how clear and accurate the photo shots can get. With one of those handycam video cameras that piraters use to record movies in the theater work, they are shooting the films from way back in the audience - a distance of quite a ways away. Plus, not only are they zooming in from afar (which lowers the quality drastically) they are video recording in the dark (which is inherently lower resolution quality than regular digital photos).

    But taking shots of a rollercoaster video display, you are only shooting from 5-7 feet away at most. The digital photo results are quite decent!

  5. Mimoji says:

    Raymond,

    The "pictures of pictures" that my family took were actually with film cameras, and no digital camera can beat that quality. I say "bad" because it is not like the quality you would get if you simply made a reproduction of the photograph.

    When you take a photo of a television, you are undoubtedly going to get some glare, even some horizontal lines, b/c cameras aren't meant to take photos of television screens. I challenge you - the next time you go to an amusement park, take a picture of the screen and then buy that same photo. You will definitely see the difference. But of course, if photo quality doesn't really matter to you, then my point is moot.

  6. Tiffany (Life on the Road: Home Business, Homeschool and Cats!) says:

    I don't think anyone will say that the quality "doesn't matter"... But as a previous comment stated - if I can't afford the pricey photo they offer, this is WAY better than nothing!

  7. bethh says:

    This to me smacks of stealing. If you don't want to pay for the picture, then don't. They're a pretty stupid gimmick anyway!

  8. Vince says:

    For all of you think your getting a quality photo, you are wrong. It cracks me up how so much of you think the better the mega pixel the better photograph (research this on-line), keep in mind your taken a picture of a TV set. The quality is low and most of you have no clue how to print photos accuratly.
    Any picture that is supplied from a company with their own equipment and you take a photo of this, your are in the wrong with copyright laws. There are many different laws regarding copyright. I work for a company who does these photos and we had a lawer look at our rights and we are covered by the copyright law. Though, we can't catch everyone, but for the most part we do. Just like if you walked into a photographers studio and why he/she is taken a picture and you snap one off while he/she is doing this you are in the wrong. It's the same thing at a park. That place you veiw the photos is the studio. Use your heads! The person above is good at trying to ruin business for others cause of what he thinks he pays. The reason why parks charge alot is to keep the parks running. they do have people who fix these rides. So if you want to rob them of that, then you will have no parks to attend. Go shop at walmart and ride the little rides out by the door if you want to save money.

  9. philip says:

    I was recently at the St. Louis Arch, they do a little photo op as you are about to go up. The pictures were on the wall afterwards. Anyway back to the point, there was a sign saying that it is illegal to take a picture of the images that are up. At a federal facility like that it would be a really bad idea to try it.

  10. Honey says:

    It's illegal to do that you can get in trouble if you are caught by the wrong person if they want to be an A.hole. Six flags/Disney owns those images so yeah they will get mad if you do that if the guys behind the monitors don't say anything to you I guess they don't care or too busy or maybe someone forgot to tell them or they aren't jerks lol either way try to be discrete if you go to do that.

  11. Raymond says:

    Honey,

    Yes Six Flags or Disney technically owns those images on the display TV sets. However, if I use my own digital camera to snap a photo of those images, I believe it's perfectly legal to keep them as my own. The amusement park may have policies prohibiting park patrons from engaging in such practices and ultimately boot me out of the park, but I doubt they'd be that anal about it. Of course, I might be wrong!

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