Is it true what they say about film and airport xrays ?


Old timer
Nov 3, 2000
We ve planned this trip for so long and prob cant go back to WDW for at least 3 years. Im very worried about my film being ruined coming and going to florida. We got a great deal on film at sams now Im leaning twards buying film in florida and having it developed before we leave. Please let me know what you have done in the past. Are there ways to protect your film?

I thought the same thing when I went down in August, but I didn't have a problem with the film when I got back and had them developed. The security people told me, as long as it wasn't 1000 speed, then it would be fine. Don't worry about, you shouldn't have any problems.


I was told that it wouldn't hurt the film. Two years ago, all 16 rolls came back BLANK! This year I was happy I was driving. Well, car broke down and flew home. Had 65 rolls of film(all speeds in my carryon) and only one roll came back blank. That could have just been a bad roll of film. I did worry the whole time about my film. If you have a car with you, I would take a trip to Walmart one hour and develop before you return home.
The only time I had trouble with film was when I left it in my checked luggage. It does not come back blank, but with ghosts (areas that look like viewing through a sheer curtain) and white spots. Checked luggage gets stronger x-rays than carry-ons.

I have never had a problem with film in my carryon, and since the unfortuante incident, I always carry it with me. I use a lead lined bag and put exposed film in it. Can get a lead lined bag at Wal-Mart I believe. It will last for years.
Ok, for once i can be the expert on this site, and not the fool asking ?'s!!

This is what i do for a living.I am the manager of a 1-hr. phot lab, and i can tell you this:

Invest in the lead lined bag.Some airports have stronger X-rays than others.And yes, X-rays can ruin film (but not always) Either way why take a chance?

I have seen film come back from Disney get ruined both in the checked luggage and in carryon bags.
Sometimes if you hand the lead bag to the airport security, they will pass it to you on the other side of the X-ray after examining it physically.

These days as everyone is getting stricter on airline security, X-rays are getting stronger, and last longer.

Just thought i would give some professional advice, and hopefully save someone a headache later!

All of my rolls of film (400 speed) from WDW in 1999 came back with purple & green fuzzy borders, and were somewhat dark. They weren't completely ruined (well, a few were), but they certainly weren't very good. I believe I had some of them in the carryon and some in the checked luggage. The film developer (Walmart-1hr) said it appeared the film had become too hot, probably from airport x-rays. I read somewhere that you can put all your film in ziplocs so security can see what it is, and not have to put it through x-rays. I will definitely do this next time I fly.


Disneyland 1982
Aug. 1983, May 1985, May 1987, Oct. 1996
Polynesian July 1999
March 2001--Buena Vista Suites
Well mouse lover, it sounds like you were the victim of X- ray damage. Either that or something happend at the lab that they didn't want to tell you about. But i doubt it. Just goes to show you that it CAN happen,and it's worth the few extra dollars to invest in the lead lined bag.
We are still deciding, but will either get a lead lined bag or simply have the film developed in the parks. On the way to Orlando, security in Phila. is very happy to simply have you open the bag & look at the film - it never goes through x-ray. (At least ours hasn't!) Coming home - every time! - security refuses to do this. They insist you put it through saying "It won't hurt it." I wonder if they've ever tried it? It can be hit or miss - by why take the chance? I know we won't again! :(
Well, I guess we've had a film, does that make me the expert at the other end of the spectrum? LOL!

As the name implies, I am an X-ray tech by trade. I would have to say that, IN GENERAL, the quality of x-ray created by the airport machines is NOT very strong. After all, if it was, wouldn't the attendants be wearing lead aprons? However, I would agree that it is not impossible for the x-rays to cause some film damage. Although, I never personally experienced it happening to me and I do beleive that sometimes damaged film happens in other areas (prior to purchase, in the lab or accidental exposure to white light), I think an investment in a lead bag for film is a good idea.
It's probably worth the peace of mind, at least!

CBR 9/95, 5/96
Poly 10/00, 02/01
I was told by security that 100 or 200 speed film should be OK. If your worried about your film, you don't need to put it through the X ray machine, they will hand check it for you. I did this and had no problems.
Were is the best place to pick up a lead lined bag and how about do they cost? Also we just bought a new digital camcorder should that film also be put in this bag? Its great to be able to get answers from all these experts. Im in the building material supply business, that usually doesnt come in handy in WDW. ;)
We have never put our film through the the x-ray machines. We use 800 speed and put all of ours in a ziplock bag and they check it by hand. We also don't put our digital camera & camcorder through it either. They hand check those too. Are we being too cautious?? They usually just have us turn on the cameras so they can see if they work. Both of our cameras are $1000 each and we were afraid to take a chance.


<font face="comic sans ms" font color=#9900FF font size="4"><marquee direction="right" align="middle" behavior="alternate">Disneyworld, were dreams really do come true!!</marquee> </font>

<font face="comic sans ms" font color=#3333FF>All Star Movies May 1999 </font>
<font face="comic sans ms" font color=#FF66FF>All Star Movies May 2000</font
You should be able to find the lead lined bags at any camera shop.I believe that walmart also sells them.They shouldn't be too terribly expensive.

As far as digital film goes, i'd put it in there also just because you never know what really happens to your luggage in transit.And being digital,and computeized, any magnetic contact could affect it.

In my opinion, its better to be safe than sorry!
When I bought MIL's camera (a avantex) in the paperwork it said do not let the film go through xray. Im not sure what speed advantex camera's are...
I know my friend with a minolta had the same thing happen :( when she came home from a family funeral.
When we put our laptop through the xray (after asking MANY times to please handcheck the bag and them insisting it was fine). We got to Seattle w/a broken (wouldnt even boot) laptop. Im still angry about this.
So Im leary about putting anything 'special' (ie:film, laptop ect...) through the xray. Id rather take the time to hand check it.

Rachel in Alaska
Mom to Joey 9
Taking him to Disney for the first time March 23, 2001
I just went on to the Kodak website to price lead lined bags and found an interesting article on Xrays and film.

According to Kodak, lead lined bags are not practical because they are harder to Xray which leads to the technician increasing the intensity of the Xray until he can see through the bag. Therefore, the film is exposed to stronger Xrays. Their advice is to put the film in a carryon and ask for hand inspection.

You can read the article in full at the following link.
Why take a chance? Buy a lead-lined bag or bags. A lead-lined bag is cheap insurance against the loss of your photographs. I've had one that I've used for over 20 years; they never wear out unless you abuse them.
Thanks for all the great answers. I'll be heading out this weekend in search of a good bag.
Rather than take a chance, FedEx your film home. Just ensure you select the option for "signature required" or else they will leave the package at your door. You can also have it shipped to your work if no one would be home.


Dreams Unlimited Travel is committed to providing you with the very best vacation planning experience possible. Our Vacation Planners are experts and will share their honest advice to help you have a magical vacation.

Let us help you with your next Disney Vacation!

facebook twitter