Disney’s Memory Maker: Worth the Cost?
For the past 3 Disney vacations we have purchased the Memory Maker, a photo package that includes all photos taken by the Photopass photographers at all the Disney parks and resorts, plus all of the ride photos. It also gives you access to special borders, stickers and character signatures that can be added to your photos. Considering that the cost of one photo download is $14.95 the Memory Maker can be an awesome deal…as long as you use it wisely.
The first time we purchased the Memory Maker in December 2013 it was called the Photopass+ but for simplicity sake I’ll call them all the Memory Maker. This photo package included a Memory Maker card that photographers scanned to upload our pictures, a CD with Disney stock photos of all the parks and resorts, a CD of all of our photos plus the digital download, all for $149. Our visit was during the holiday season so there were plenty of Photopass photographers at the Disney resorts in addition to the ones at the parks.
We had 12 family members visiting Disney that year and some had their pictures taken by photographers elsewhere in the park. Since I had the only Memory Maker card they received a generic one from each photographer and I was able to use the code on the back to upload their photos to my Memory Maker package.
After our trip I was able to go online and add borders, stickers and character signatures to some of the best photos. I especially loved the Christmas themed ones because this was our first trip to Disney World during the holiday season. I received a CD copy of the pictures in the mail and made copies for the rest of the family. During our first trip we got 184 photos in all and split the cost of the Memory Maker between 5 families, making it a very affordable option for everyone.
The second time we purchased the Memory Maker was 5 months later. We didn’t receive a physical card in the mail nor did we receive a CD of Disney stock photos or a CD of our pictures. Instead the photographers scanned our Magic Bands to upload the photos and we only received a digital copy of them. Since everyone uses the Magic Bands now there’s no way for the photographers to tell that we had purchased (i.e. invested in) the Memory Maker. I felt that with our previous visit the photographers made an extra effort to take nice pictures because they knew we had purchased the Memory Maker. This time around, however, our pictures weren’t quite as nice and we only had 120 photos taken at the two parks we visited (we had a really rainy day at Epcot though).
This year I once again decided to purchase the Memory Maker, though the decision was a little more difficult to make. I was concerned about getting poor quality pictures but ultimately decided to invest once again in the Memory Maker to ensure that we would get a few family photos. Unfortunately the pre-purchase price had increased from $149 to $169 so I was determined to visit as many Photopass photographers as possible to really get our money’s worth.
This vacation was heavily focused on character meets but we also had our picture taken at other locations. We asked about Magic Shots, special graphics that can be added to a photo after it’s taken. Each photographer can do different ones (almost all of them can do Tinkerbell) but don’t forget to ask the photographer in Epcot’s France about getting your picture taken with Chip. That’s the only location you can have it done!
Although we managed to have 219 photos taken at the 2 parks we visited I was pretty disappointed in the quality of the pictures. About half of them were scrapbook-worthy, and of those only about a dozen were truly awesome pictures. Either the photographers aren’t as skilled as they once were or they simply don’t care enough. Many pictures had spots on them, were in terrible lighting, or were taken when we weren’t looking at the camera.
The Verdict: So many people ask whether the Disney Memory Maker is worth the price. For me it’s been most valuable when we went with other family members and during the holidays. Naturally the more photos you take the more value you get from the Memory Maker. Therefore it’s not always a good idea to spend the money on it and instead just have the photographers use your personal camera.
For folks heading to Disney I would only recommend getting the Memory Maker under certain circumstances:
- You plan to use it at more than 3 parks
- You plan to go on the rides that include ride photos or do activities like Jedi Training or Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
- It’s a very special once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disney
- It’s during the Christmas holidays. Photopass photographers are at many of the Disney resorts during the holidays and you can spend a whole day resort-hopping, checking out the themed Christmas trees in the resort lobbies and getting your photo taken in front of them.
- You’re going with a large group, even if it’s just to one or two parks. Splitting the cost of the Memory Maker between 4 or 5 people can make it a much affordable option for everyone. Just be sure to have each family (or person) create their own MyDisneyExperience account online and link their account to the person who purchased the Memory Maker. All photos on the trip will be shared to the Memory Maker holder, even if the group splits up and goes to various parts of the park. Only the person who purchased the Memory Maker can download the pictures but afterwards they can share them to the group, whether it’s through social media, a CD or flash drive or via email. I prefer making a CD to send to everyone but social media is another good option.
If you’re mainly purchasing the Memory Maker for the ride photos then consider purchasing the Attractions+ package instead. At $44.95 you get all the ride photos but the videos from the Tower of Terror and Seven Dwarves Mine Train are excluded (you can only access the videos if you purchase a Memory Maker, they are not available for individual purchase). The Attractions+ package is not available for pre-purchase online. You must purchase it at the photo counter after your first ride.
Tips and Tricks: Don’t rely on the photographers alone for your vacation photos, especially if there is a special character or photo spot that is important to you. During our first vacation we had a large group photo at the ‘Ohana breakfast, the ONLY group photo of our entire vacation, and it was lost by the Photopass photographers. We were assured that it would show up in my account within a few hours so we didn’t bother to group everyone back together for another photo. Big mistake!
Also, the secret to getting good photos with the Memory Maker is quantity because quality is no guarantee. One photographer in front of the castle might be inexperienced so have your picture taken by 2 or 3 different photographers along Main Street, and at different times of the day.
Review your photos at the end of each day. It’s easy to sort through your Memory Maker photos. The pictures are divided by park tabs at the top and then within each park it’s divided by times and meets. For example we have “8:07 am Visiting Stitch” listed first under our Magic Kingdom tab. When reviewing the pictures daily it’s easier to spot missing pictures and sometimes a phone call to the Memory Maker customer service representatives can help retrieve those missing photos.
Would I purchase the Memory Maker again? Probably. If we were to go to Disney for a family reunion or take Stink to experience the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Jedi Training Academy for the first time then I would definitely get the Memory Maker. But for a 3 or 4 day vacation to see the Mouse I’ll probably just stick with taking my own photos.