One of the questions we get most frequently is about whether Memory Maker is worth the cost at Walt Disney World. In fact we get it so frequently we made an entire episode out of it! In today’s episode, we take a look at what Memory Maker is, how to use it, and how to save money when buying Memory Maker. We include tips that should save you some money and help you decide whether Memory Maker works for your family or not!
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Photopass vs. Memory Maker
New visitors to Disney World may be confused by the terminology surrounding Disney’s PhotoPass service and Memory Maker. The two terms are not exactly referring to the same thing although they are highly related.
For the uninitiated, Disney PhotoPass refers to the service by which Disney photographers will take photos of your family with their cameras. PhotoPass photographers are stationed at some of the most photographed locations around the parks, like Cinderella Castle or at popular character meet-and-greet locations.
Memory Maker is the name of the product offering that allows you to purchase those PhotoPass photos. You can download your images using the My Disney Experience app or on the Disney website during and after your vacation.
Memory Maker costs $169 if you pre-purchase at least 3 days in advance of your vacation and $199 if you purchase after that point. Annual passholders have Memory Maker included.
Getting Your Photo Taken by a Disney PhotoPass Photographer
If you want your photo taken by a Disney PhotoPass photographer, it’s simply as easy as finding one (and sometimes queueing when lines form) and having them snap away. After a set of photos is taken of your party, the photographer then can add those photos to your My Disney Experience account one of three ways: by scanning your MagicBand if you have one, by scanning your hard plastic RFID ticket, or by scanning a thin plastic Photopass card (that you can then link later to your MDE account).
Benefits of Memory Maker
One of the biggest benefits of Memory Maker is simply the encouragement and opportunity to get everyone in the shot. Many parents know the burden that comes with always being the family photographer and never being in your vacation photos. Purchasing Memory Maker often means you return home with many more Christmas-card and scrapbook-worthy full family images.
Another benefit is the access you get to ride photos and videos. Many of the thrill rides at Disney World have on-ride cameras to capture your reactions at pivotal moments. On most occasions, you will see screens as you exit a ride and will scan your Magic Band to add these photos to your account. But there are a few rides (like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) that have secret cameras that will get shots of you via your Magic Band that will magically appear in your account.
Last and perhaps least, Disney PhotoPass photographers have the ability to take Magic Shots with their cameras — adding little extras like putting Tinkerbell in your hand if you pose for them a certain way. It’s not a make or break benefit, but it’s often a fun extra, especially for young kid photos.
Cons of Memory Maker
While Memory Maker does have a lot of benefits, it’s not a perfect offerings. For you serious photographers out there, you might not always be entirely happy with the photograph quality. While Disney PhotoPass photographers have expensive professional cameras, they mostly aren’t professional photographers. Whether they capture the perfect shot is a bit hit or miss.
A new con of PhotoPass and Memory Maker is the fact that Disney is now adding robots to take photos at some character meet and greets. It remains to be seen whether these fixed location cameras can capture the same moments that humans could (spoiler alert – we think they won’t).
Finally, as with all package purchases, there’s always the pressure to get your money’s worth. Don’t fall into the trap of spending all your time at Disney getting photos just because you paid for Memory Maker. Don’t allow it to change your touring plan but rather enhance it.
How to Save Money on Photos at Disney World
While Memory Maker is pricey, there are still hacks and tricks for saving money and still returning home with a few good family photos.
First, you can simply use the PhotoPass photographers but not purchase their photos or Memory Maker. All photographers are always willing to take a shot or two with your phone or camera in addition to theirs. So don’t be afraid to still approach the PhotoPass cast members even if you decide Memory Maker isn’t in your budget. You don’t have to tell them you have not purchased!
Second, you can also share Memory Maker with family and friends to cut down on cost. Link your accounts as friends and family in My Disney Experience. The owner of the Memory Maker will then be able to see and download all the photos from everyone linked.
One caveat — the Memory Maker owner is the only person who can download the images. That means that the owner will need to download images and send to other participants or be willing to share their MDE login (which gives other people access to your tickets, dining reservations, etc.). Only share with people you trust!
Because the Memory Maker window is open for 30 days, families who are taking vacations at slightly different times can even still successfully share. For example, if your family has a trip January 1-5 and your neighbors have a trip January 15-20, there is no issue sharing because both trips fall within the 30 day window.
What is Memory Maker and is it worth the money? We answer these questions in today’s episode – discussing our favorite things about Memory Maker, potential drawbacks to buying Memory Maker, and ultimately whether we think it’s worth the cost. Plus, tips to save money on your Memory Maker cost that we use and love!
If you like what you hear, please share the podcast with others you think might enjoy it. Also, we’d appreciate if you subscribed on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, PlayerFM, iHeartRadio, or Google Play (please leave a positive review if you’re enjoying the show), liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter!
You can also e-mail us at disneydeciphered AT gmail DOT com. Connect with Leslie @TripswithTykes on social media and Joe @asthejoeflies.
Leslie’s post on whether Memory Maker is worth it or a waste of money.
1:27 – What’s the difference between Photopass and Memory Maker? Are they the same thing?
3:37 – How to add a photo to your My Disney Experience
6:10 – Benefits of Memory Maker
8:26 – Magic shots
9:51 – How is the photo quality?
11:53 – Memory Maker cons and drawbacks
13:39 – How to get good photos without Memory Maker
15:00 – Tips for saving money on Memory Maker and extending its use
22:50 – Disney Dos and Don’ts