We have always loved Disney’s PhotoPass Service – Disney photographers located throughout the parks who take your photos, either on your phone or camera, as well as with their camera. They make it easy to get everyone in your group into one photo-op together. All of the photos the photographers take on their cameras get linked to your My Disney Experience with a simple tap of your Magic Band. In your account you can view all your photos and decide if you want to purchase them. Combing through the photos and deciding which are the perfect ones to purchase can be tricky (and expensive). But then there’s the Memory Maker – giving you access to every single photo a PhotoPass Photographer takes, plus all of your ride photos for one cost.
We’ve visited Disney World a number of times without purchasing the Memory Maker, figuring the photos the photographers take on our phones would be enough and we would purchase the few we wanted. It wasn’t until we became annual passholders on our honeymoon trip that we got to experience the Memory Maker (which comes with being passholders), and honestly, I can’t imagine going to Disney without it. Here are a few of the reasons why:
Without the Memory Maker, each digital download of a photo taken by a PhotoPass Photographer, or an on-ride photo, is $14.95 USD. This can add up very quickly, as we have personally experienced. The Memory Maker is $169.00 USD if you buy it in advance. This advance price takes three days to activate, so it’s advantageous to decide ahead of time if you want the Memory Maker so it’s ready to go as soon as you arrive at Disney. If you wait to purchase the Memory Maker when you’re at Disney the price goes up to $199.00 USD. Both price points might sound like quite the added expense to your vacation, but the advance price is about equal to purchasing 11 photos individually. On one trip we purchased 10, and we would have bought more if the price wasn’t quickly adding up. On our last trip with the Memory Maker we got about 300 photos! To us, that’s great value and there are many photos we wouldn’t have been able to capture just on our iPhones.
Magic Shots add Disney characters and ‘pixie dust’ to your photos. You might find Tinker Bell in the palm of your hand, see yourself being pulled into the air by balloons, or sitting next to the Mouse himself. Disney has greatly increased the availability and creativity of their Magic Shots in just the last year. They have seasonal Magic Shots, such as the Headless Horseman during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party, and the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival has an Orange Bird Magic Shot.
They’re just plain fun, and something you’re unlikely to buy for yourself at the individual photo price. As much as you may ask, they’re not something you can get when the PhotoPass Photographer takes your picture on your personal device…that technology isn’t ready just yet. I’ll admit, a few years ago, we thought the Magic Shots were a little cheesy, but in the last couple years we’ve come around to them, as Disney has created more unique shots that appeal to seasoned Disney fans (the Dole Whip Magic Shot has our name written all over it), and they’ve become part of the Disney experience.
You can stay up to date on the recent Magic Shot offerings by following Disney PhotoPass Service on Facebook. And if you are interested in Magic Shots when at Disney, it never hurts to ask the PhotoPass Photographer if they have any Magic Shots, though in our experience, they usually include one in their photos if they have one to offer.
PhotoPass Photographers are at character meet and greets snapping pictures throughout your entire encounter (for the fans of candid shots). Some of our favourite photos from our last trip were from our character meet and greets, specifically with Safari Donald at Animal Kingdom. Together with his handler they created some hilarious and memorable moments that resulted in some great photos. Thankfully we got all these photos because we had the Memory Maker and we didn’t have to pick and choose which ones to purchase individually. There are PhotoPass Photographers located at over 50 character locations in Walt Disney World, which means a ton of photos for you if you’ve purchased the Memory Maker.
More recently Disney has started to incorporate props into some of their photo opportunities. One of the prop photo spots is in the Tangled rest area in Fantasyland. If you head there in the evening, you’ll find a PhotoPass Photographer with a light up Tangled lantern that makes for a simply lovely photo. The China pavilion at Epcot also has a similar photo op, with a light up lotus flower. The other one we came across was during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in front of the Haunted Mansion where guests were given a lantern to hold. It made for a very spooky and festive photo. These are all unique photo opportunities, and guests seem to really enjoy them, given the length of the line at the Haunted Mansion for that photo-op. We think you’ll definitely start to see more and more of these prop-based photos popping up around the parks, so keep your eyes open!
Ride photos can capture pure joy, fear or excitement, and they are included when you have the Memory Maker. Purchasing ride photos individually, or through the Memory Maker, is the only way to get clean ride photos (without watermarks splashed across them). It’s a great way to get photos of your first time (or 100th time) riding an attraction. Plus, as you get to know where the cameras are on the attractions, you can plan to do something fun for the photo – scream at the Carnotaurus on DINOSAUR, pretend to be flying through space on Space Mountain, or look extremely competitive on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (that last one isn’t difficult to pull off). Some attractions even have short videos they take of you on the ride, whether it’s a slow-mo ride-by on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train or capturing the exact moment you drop on Tower of Terror. All of it is included in the Memory Maker purchase!
Disney has dramatically increased the number of PhotoPass Photographers in the last year. PhotoPass Photographers can be found at 8 dining locations, 11 attractions, and over 60 icon locations (like the Tree of Life, Cinderella Castle, the Partners Statue etc.) We didn’t have to look very hard to come across a photographer and because we had the Memory Maker, we thought ‘why not?’ and got our picture taken at almost every opportunity we came upon. The sheer number of photographers located throughout the parks helps you get the most value out of purchasing the Memory Maker.
Disney World is a place to create memories, and we love that the Memory Maker gives us hundreds of photos to help us remember the amazing times we’ve had there. The Memory Maker is one of those extra purchases that may not be for everyone, the value can depend on the length of your trip, or you might just be totally content with photos you can snap on your cell phone. However, we definitely think it’s worth some consideration. Without Disney PhotoPass Photographers and the Memory Maker we wouldn’t have photos of our engagement in front of Cinderella Castle, the time we rode Dinosaur all by ourselves because the parks were empty due to Hurricane Irma, and we wouldn’t have such festive photos from the holiday parties (see them all below)!
Have you purchased the Memory Maker before? Was it worth it for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments below!