by Brittany DiCologero
Memory Maker is the photography service offered by Disney that allows guests to pay one fee in order to digitally download any PhotoPass photos taken on their trip. That’s right, Memory Maker includes ALL photos taken by a Disney photographer, or even on a Disney attraction. From photos of you and your family in front of Cinderella Castle, to character meet and greets, or the drop on Splash Mountain, all of your photos will be included in the Memory Maker package.
Cost vs. value
The price for Memory Maker actually went down a couple of months ago– not something Disney ordinarily does, but this works out well for us because it makes the package even more valuable. Memory Maker is currently priced at $169, unless you purchase it at least three days before your trip, in which case you’d have a $20 savings, making the total cost $149.
The value of Memory Maker really depends on your own personal preferences, however I have a couple of different criteria I use in determining that the package is actually a good deal.
At the most basic level, Memory Maker is worth the money because of how many photos are included. With an unlimited amount of photos to download, there is no doubt that if you were to purchase PhotoPass pictures separately you would be running up a pricey bill. But not every family would purchase each and every PhotoPass picture, so here are a couple of other ways we can still determine the value of Memory Maker.
If you’re a professional, or even perhaps an amateur photographer, you might think it sounds a little crazy to speak so highly of PhotoPass pictures. As far as professional photography goes, PhotoPass is probably not the best thing out there. But when compared to the pictures that the average Disney guest takes on their own cameras, it is not surprising that PhotoPass likely wins in terms of quality.
Some guests are hesitant to purchase Memory Maker because they know they can hand any Disney photographer their phone or camera, and get the same photo with no cost at all. In my opinion, this is extremely dependent on the specific camera you have. If you know your camera is uncooperative when you try to use it at night, the photos are probably not going to come out any better by handing it off to a PhotoPass photographer. I’ve actually gone to Disney a couple of times, and had the photographers use my own (circa 2009 point and shoot Walmart special) camera, and I would usually end up disappointed and wishing I had a better download of the PhotoPass version instead.
For instance, that time I met Tiana and Naveen Theresa’s (my college roommate) 21st birthday trip:
In general, you also tend to end up with more pictures on the PhotoPass card/Magic Band than you do on your own camera. (I doubt this is a ploy to get guests to purchase PhotoPass products, as the photographers do not receive commission or anything like that, but it is worth noting). In the case of character meet and greets like our Tiana and Naveen example, you’re likely to end up with some more candid photos on your PhotoPass account, and those can make for some of the best pictures with the characters:
I don’t regret passing on Memory Maker during the trip when the above photos were taken– for college students it really just wasn’t in the budget for us at the time. Since graduating however, I would not pass on the chance to purchase Memory Maker (if I didn’t have an annual pass that is).
Get everyone in the picture
I know, I know, this point literally sounds like a Disney commercial, but getting everyone in the picture really is one reason why purchasing Memory Maker is such a good idea. Without Memory Maker you can either A) run into problems like the photos above when your own camera is used, and/or B) hand your camera off to a random person, who has no idea what he or she is doing, and be left with a terrible photo.
Have you ever asked a stranger to take a picture of you, only to see that it came out extremely poorly, but you didn’t want to bother them some more for another one? Memory Maker takes care of that awkwardness. You’ve already paid for your photos, so understandably you want your money’s worth, and a Disney PhotoPass photography will be happy to take multiple photos until you end up with the right shot.
Memory Maker also includes ride photos, which to be honest was never a deal breaker in the past, but recently I’ve actually really begun to appreciate having them be included. Without Memory Maker, you tend to have two opposite extremes of guests– the ones who spend a lot of money buying ride photos (although Disney does have a separate attractions photos only package) and the people who insist on taking pictures of the screen that displays the photo when they exit the ride.
To be honest, I don’t think either of those are great ideas. You’ll either end up with overpriced prints of photos that you’ll never know where to display, or horrible cell phone pictures of the ride photos on the screen, likely with someone’s face blocked out. For these reasons, I appreciate that ride photos are included in the price of Memory Maker. I never feel pressure to spend the extra money on the ride photos I end up really liking, and I’m also never tempted to take bad cell phone pictures of the monitors. Knowing I’ll be able to download the ride photos anyway, also gives me motivation to make the photos as fun as possible:
Magic shots are a cool perk of any PhotoPass service because you cannot get them on your own camera. Some of them are kind of cheesy in my opinion, but in general we usually really like them and have fun with it.
All in all, we think Memory Maker is a good deal for most guests. I say most because like I mentioned before, if you’re really into photography, you probably will not be as happy with the pictures as the average person will be. For the average guest however, I think the convenience factor, along with the little perks like magic shots and ride photos, outweighs the cost (unless of course your trip is only a day or two long, in which case you’ll have a hard time taking enough pictures to make the price a good value).
When you include Memory Maker in your Disney trip package, it’s super convenient to be able to walk through the parks and stop for a quick photo whenever you see a PhotoPass photographer. You don’t need to dig your phone or camera out of your bag, and bother some random guest– you can just scan your Magic Band and come home to some decent photos from your trip.