Our family has been fortunate to have received complimentary Memory Maker during our last Disney vacation so we could try it out and the PhotoPass Service. First, I wasn’t quite sure it was worth the money and second, I wasn’t quite sure how it worked. After having experienced it, I have the answer to my question- “Disney’s Memory Maker – Is it Worth the Money?”
PhotoPass vs. Memory Maker: What is the Difference
PhotoPass is a service where you can get photos taken by Disney Photographers at various locations and places around Walt Disney Parks. You can then look at your PhotoPass album and decide which photos to purchase. OR you can purchase Memory Maker and you can get all the PhotoPass photos for one price. So if you want all 300 photos that were taken during your trip, you can get them all digitally and do not have to pick and choose.
Memory Maker Cost
You get a cheaper rate for Memory Maker if you buy it in advance. So the ROI (return on investment) is greater and more value. Plus, if you purchase it in advance, it starts from the moment you walk through the first Disney Park, so you don’t miss a day from the money you invested into the service. Just make sure to purchase it at least three business days before your trip if you want the advance purchase price. Otherwise, there is a three day waiting period and any Photo Pass pictures taken during that time are not part of Memory Maker and you have to purchase them separately.
Reasons to Have Memory Maker
Having the Memory Maker is even more of a bonus, so I don’t have to worry about being selective about the photos that Disney is taking. I know I will get them all without having to pay a-la-carte. The more photos the better! So we take advantage of all the PhotoPass opportunities and we have great visual memories as a result of not worrying about ‘how many’, or ‘what is this going to cost when we get home.’
Reasons to have PhotoPass
Having the PhotoPass Service, you don’t have to whip out your cell phone every two seconds. While I still did, because it is not like you have a personal photographer following you around everywhere, there are times when you can just enjoy the moment. For example, when we get photos with characters in the parks, I want to see my kids faces light up as they see Tinkerbell – and if I can constantly trying to find my phone, I miss those precious moments. Plus, juggling my phone with pens and the autograph books is cumbersome and it is nice to just focus on helping my children get a signature from Mickey Mouse.
Another reason to jump on this photo train is that you get photos you wouldn’t normally get. For example, I got a photo of my daughter’s first ride on Splash Mountain because I had the Photo Pass/Memory Maker – a photo I would not have gotten, and one now that I treasure. You even get fun videos – I love the 15 second video of our family on Tower of Tower in Hollywood Studios. Or ones that capture a special moment in time! (The look on our faces in the picture below is priceless!) Plus, as part of your package, you get some stock photos which are fun for memory books and decor (and don’t forget the Magic Shots!)
You can edit your pictures within the PhotoPass website with custom stickers and borders relating to Disney and key attractions. So that is a fun feature if you like to be creative. You can also get better photos than you would get if you took it yourself. These are professional photographers with professional cameras so you get a good family photo of everyone in front of the castle, don’t have to worry about whether the flash went off or not, or if you have red eye. It is nice to get good photos from the trip!
A photo posted by charlenechronicles (@charlenechronicles) on
Lastly, it looks like everyone is on the trip! Since someone else is taking the photos, your whole travel party gets in the picture. No longer does it look like you or your spouse stayed at home! Or that only the kids took a family vacation!
Yes, you could ask strangers to take a photo of your family, but if you are shy, no one wants to stop, or for other reasons, it is nice not to have to chase a stranger, and have them potentially walk away with your camera! Plus, believe it or not, if a stranger takes a photo of you, even with your device, they (legally) own it. Who wants that legal hassle overhead?! So avoid the lawyers and get more family photos without tackling a stranger to get them. (You get the license to use the PhotoPass photos and print them when you download them, so make sure to get a copy in case you get any issues from the photo printing service you use.)
Needless to say, we get a lot more family photos when we use the Memory Maker service and that it one of the best reasons to use it. You can even share one Memory Maker with everyone as long as the entire travel party is linked together under your My Disney Experience Account. So it can be a money saver since everyone can chip in for Memory Maker and everyone can download the same photos. Unlike without it, where each person who wants a photo will each have to buy the photo separately!
The PhotoPass website also has things like ornaments, photo books and other Disney goodies for your photos, so it may be worth taking a look.
PhotoPass with MagicBand and PhotoPass without MagicBands
It is easy to use IF you have a magic band. While the magic bands are provided when you stay on Disney Property, you also can link up your own ‘paper’ tickets if you are not staying on property – you just have to buy your own Magic Band in one of the retail stores or gift shops. Once you do, it makes using the PhotoPass and Memory Maker super easy. Just make sure to link your tickets/MagicBand to your PhotoPass Account using the MyDisneyExperience app or webpage. After getting your photo taken, the Disney photographer scans your MagicBand and it pops up, almost instantly, in your PhotoPass account. If you don’t want to get a MagicBand, then you can get a plastic PhotoPass card that the photographer scans – you just have to pull it out each time you get a photo taken – so that can be a bit of a bummer if you constantly have to take it out of your wallet or backpack – but not the end of the world.
Your photos last online for about 45 days so make sure to download them ASAP or they will be gone! So set a reminder on your calendar before you leave for vacation to remind yourself to download them when you get back.
Now, does this mean you get to leave your camera at home? Not exactly. There are still opportunities where you will want your own camera and not all attractions and experiences have PhotoPass (e.g. many of the Character Meals.)
To learn more about the Disney Memory Maker, click here. Going forward, it will be part of our Disney vacation budget as we truly did think it was worth the money!