5 Reasons Memory Maker Is Worth the Cost

Disney is always rolling out all sorts of perks to help guests enjoy their time at the Walt Disney World resort to the fullest. One of our favorite services is the PhotoPass system. A PhotoPass Cast Member is an in-park (and sometimes at resorts, character meet and greets, and restaurants) photographer who is standing by to take your photo at convenient locations such as in front of Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life or, of course, Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom.


With the PhotoPass System, guests can purchase any of the photos taken by a PhotoPass Cast Members – which is all linked to your MagicBand. You simply approach a photographer, pose for a few photos, and allow him or her to scan your MagicBand (if you’re an off-site guest, you can still use an RFID-enabled card the photographer will provide you with). Your photos will be automatically linked to your My Disney Experience account for digital download, and they’re available for your personal use right away should you want to share your trip on Facebook in real-time or e-mail a picture to Grandma back at home.

All of this has been made even better with the purchase opportunity of Memory Maker. Memory Maker comes in one lump sum and allows you to have access and rights to ALL of your PhotoPass Photos. This includes ride photos as well! Investing in Memory Maker will cost you $199, or $169 if you jump online and purchase it at least three days in advance of your trip.

Despite the cost – I do it every single time. True, the cost is steep, but to me, my vacation photos are priceless — and having access to every single group photo taken during my trip is so worth the price tag. Ultimately, it’s going to depend on how important group photos are to you and whether or not your family will take the time to seek out all of the photographers so you don’t end up spending close to $200 on only a dozen photos. We will also say it’s included in the purchase of Annual Passholder tickets which makes it an awesome perk as an Annual Passholder.

Here are five reasons why you might want to consider investing in Memory Maker for your next trip.

  1. Priceless Souvenirs. When you visit the Walt Disney World resort, you will probably return home with a suitcase full of souvenirs, from t-shirts to ear hats to stuffed animals. But most families would probably agree that the mementos they treasure most are those group photos on Main Street, U.S.A, or a candid photo of your four-year-old meeting Mickey Mouse for the very first time.

Plus, if Mom or Dad is usually the designated photographer of the family, the Memory Maker service allows the entire family to be in the picture every single time. It also eliminates the need for “selfies” and constantly having to ask strangers to take a family picture. Also, keep in mind that if a Disney photographer does take a few shots of your family that you’d like to purchase separately later on, without Memory Maker, each photo will set you back at least $15 a pop.

During character meet-and-greets, Disney’s photographers will almost always take several candids of your family giving Goofy a high-five or fist-bumping Baymax. Capturing the look on your daughter’s face when she meets the real live Ariel for the first time may very well be worth the money you invested in Memory Maker.

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  1. Photo Quality. Of course, Disney’s photographers are always more than happy to take a photo with your personal camera or cell phone. For free! So why shell out the money for Memory Maker? If you have any plans to print your vacation photos, you may be far more likely to score a crystal clear shot of your family in front of the illuminated Spaceship Earth at night than if you rely on your smartphone or the small point-and-shoot camera that most people tote around the parks.

I’m not saying that every Memory Maker photo has been perfect, or even superior to ones I’ve taken with my own camera. And, to be honest, when I view my photos on-line, I am sometimes left wondering if the “professional” photographer had ever actually used a camera before. It’s pretty clear that there are some photographers who genuinely want to take a picture-perfect shot of your family, and others who are just biding their time until their next break.

But since I don’t own a pricey DSLR camera, the professional-quality nighttime shots alone have always been worth the cost for me. You can pose for as many photos and with as many photographers as you’d like (I always hit them all at least once), so if you pre-purchase Memory Maker and plan right from the beginning to get your money’s worth, you can return home with hundreds of print-worthy photos of your entire family together.

  1. Extra Shots. You’ll also have access to all kinds of extra shots that you would never be able to take with your camera. The Memory Maker feature includes an assortment of “magic” shots — a photographer will pose you and, later, a graphic of a character like Stitch or Olaf will be superimposed onto to your photo. You can get a shot of your family being lifted away by Mickey Mouse-shaped balloons, or enjoy one of Memory Maker’s latest additions when you click on a photo in your My Disney Experience account and see that it has been animated with a flying Tinkerbell.

You will also have access to  your in-ride photos (and, in cases like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, an in-ride video), so you can print as many copies of you and your family screaming on Space Mountain or shooting aliens in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin as you’d like.

Lastly, Memory Maker will also grant you access to the posed photos of your family enjoying select dining experiences, including certain character meals at restaurants like Chef Mickey’s, 1900 Park Fare, Tusker House, and ‘Ohana, along with Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show.

  1. Add-Ons. Once your photos have been added to your My Disney Experience account, you will have the ability to crop them however you choose, in addition to adding borders and all kinds of other photo enhancements. Scored the perfect photo of your family in front of the sparkling castle at Christmastime? There are an assortment of holiday-themed borders you can add to make your photo that much more magical. If you managed to spend some time with Anna and Elsa, you will have the option of adding their signatures or other Frozen-themed enhancements right to your picture.
  1. Shared Accounts. Among the most useful aspects of the new Memory Maker system is that you can share it with a larger group of travel companions. If you’re visiting the Walt Disney World resort with a group of friends or extended family members, you can all have images added to one master account — even if you’re not taking photos together.

Just be sure your entire party is connected to you via the Friends and Family feature in My Disney Experience, and every photo they take will automatically be added to your account. Once you start dividing the cost, you will have significantly decreased the amount you spend per picture, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to take advantage of the Memory Maker service.

About Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer L. Nelson donned her first pair of personalized mouse ears at age 4. A lifelong Disney fanatic and avid runner, the New Jersey resident visits both Walt Disney World and Disneyland several times a year to cross the finish line of one of runDisney’s half or full marathons; among her proudest accomplishments to date was completing the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend’s 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon to earn the coveted inaugural Dopey Challenge medal. When it comes to theme park touring, she’s a self-described “commando” visitor who arrives at rope drop, follows a strict touring plan (and never waits in line!), and soaks up the Disney magic until the final gift shop has closed. She is a freelance writer and editor who blogs about her personal weight loss journey, running exploits, and Disney obsession at www.thefinalforty.com.