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Disney's photo package, Memory Maker, is service that can be purchased in advance online or upon arrival at Walt Disney World. Disney has photographers stationed throughout each park in a variety of locations, and pictures taken at these locations can be downloaded through Memory Maker. Ride photos and videos can also be accessed through Memory Maker, assuming that after you've gotten off a ride, you've used your magic band at the photo screens to grab your picture. The debate over whether or not purchasing Memory Maker is worth it has been long, winded, and ongoing, mostly because the decision is highly subjective. Here's an in-depth look at whether or not Memory Maker might be right for you. We'll start by looking at the pros and cons and finish with some final thoughts.
1. It's simple to use
Memory Maker makes it easy to get pictures throughout each of the parks without having to lug a camera around. it's true that the photographers can take photos for you with your own camera or phone, but it feels a little bit awkward to ask (at least I feel awkward), and it's really nice to not have to worry about your camera's battery, what setting it's on, or if the photographer will know how to work the zoom. We had several photographers who did their job well and just snapped a few shots, but we also had quite a few photographers who really went above and beyond to get some unique photos, I think especially because we had honeymoon buttons blazing on our shirts. On our first day at Magic Kingdom, our photographer spent quite a while trying to get the perfect photo of the fireworks going off behind us, even though there was a line. He managed to take one of my favorite photos from our trip.
2. Unique photo-ops
Magic shots and photo frames are a really fun way to add some extra flair to your photos, and Memory Maker offers plenty of these opportunities. Some of our favorite photos from our Disney trips are ones that are specific to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Food and Wine Festival. Disney seems to be adding more of these unique photo enhancements each year, too. The Headless Horseman at the Haunted Mansion during MVMCP is one of my particular favorites.
3. Ride Videos
Another really fun thing about Memory Maker is that it also includes ride photos and even videos. The video for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a lot of fun, but our favorite is the Tower of Terror video. It's a fun mix of pre-recorded video that shows off the attraction and personalized images from your own ride.
1. It's not exactly cheap
The cost of Memory Maker is currently $149 if you buy it at least 3 days in advance, and $169 if you buy it for immediate use (like when you're already at the parks). This is important to consider, especially while weighing how much you value photos from your vacations.
2. It can use up valuable park time
This is another important aspect of Memory Maker to consider, and one I think many people overlook when deciding whether or not to purchase. When you've already spent $150+ in advance on photos from the parks, you're probably going to want to spend time actually getting those photos taken, and it can become a bit of a time-waster. Lines to get your photo taken can be long, especially if it is in a high-demand area, like in front of Cinderella Castle, or if there is a special prop. We often found ourselves struggling with waiting in line for a photo v. waiting in line for a ride, but the photo always won out because we felt like we had to get as many as possible to make up the value. I like getting fun photos from our vacations, especially at Disney World, but my husband doesn't care nearly as much. I felt like I was constantly begging him for just one more picture, reminding him that we'd already paid for them so we kind of had to.
So Should I buy it?
We decided it was worth it to us to purchase Memory Maker for our honeymoon, and I'm glad we did, because we got a lot of fun pictures and videos that we otherwise wouldn't have. We had plenty of leisure time to stop for photos, so that wasn't as a big of a deal for us. And obviously, it was a a special occasion, so the splurge was justifiable. That being said, I don't think we will purchase it again, bar another particularly special occasion.
If it is your first time at Walt Disney World and you'll be spending at least 4 days in the parks, it might be worth it to you too, especially if you really value trip photos or you really hate having to lug around your own camera. I think getting some photos from a child's first trip that they will be able to look back on is valuable, and the ride videos and magic shots definitely up the ante when you add kids into the mix. Your trip needs to be long enough to actually get a reasonable amount of photos taken for what you're paying, though, and I don't think less than 4 days is enough time for that to happen. Unless you're spending all your time taking photos. Which...I guess is a thing you could do. But, really, The Haunted Mansion is more important.
If it's not your first time at Walt Disney World or a special occasion, I wouldn't recommend purchasing Memory Maker. And if you are taking a shorter trip or know members of your party might resent having to stop each time you enter a park to get your picture taken, I definitely think it's a pass. It really is important to consider that to get $150 worth of photos, you're going to have to take the time to get those photos taken.
One final things to consider is that you can have the Photopass photographers take your photo, then you can decide after you've checked it out online if you want to purchase it individually. You have 30 days after your trip to make this decision. This is definitely an option if there's one specific photo you really want or if you want to get your photos taken on a strictly if-we-have-time-and-the-line-is-short basis. It will still cost you, though. Individual downloads are $15 each. That's a far cry from the $150 cost to be able to download all photos and videos from your trip, which could be in the hundreds considering each photo stop usually yields 3-4 photos. We've considered purchasing a photo before after our trip when we didn't purchase Memory Maker, but once we saw that a single photo was $15, we ditched that idea. Spending $150 on 100+ photos seems acceptable. Spending $15 on just one wasn't worth it to us. I guess it wasn't that good of a picture...