by Tanya Dennis
Photos submitted by Tanya and other A Time to Treasure Travel agents
What is PhotoPass? And what is the MemoryMaker?
There are cast members at Disney theme parks whose only job is to take photos of guests. As you walk through the parks, resorts, and restaurants, you’ll see these PhotoPass photographers in some of the best spots. They’re easy to recognize in their uniforms: navy pants or shorts; white shirts; khaki cargo vests; and, of course, camera equipment. 🙂 (Those on Main Street in Magic Kingdom have white pants instead of navy.) Just walk up to them, they’ll take your photos — sometimes even using props or special poses — then they’ll scan your MagicBand. Easy-peasy!
In the past you could order a DVD-type disk of all your PhotoPass snapshots. A few years ago Disney introduced the MemoryMaker, a digital package to enhance the PhotoPass experience.
PhotoPass is the service, but MemoryMaker is the package.
My family has always loved PhotoPass! The PhotoPass cast members are professional photographers who never fail to take great shots. Some of my very favorite family photos have come from these opportunities.
A PhotoPass Experiment
Not too long ago my husband bought me a new camera lens for my birthday and, having invested so much in the equipment, we decided to try going it alone. We did not order the MemoryMaker in advance (which saves guests $30 off the regular price). Instead, we decided to take my digital SLR camera and new lenses and try to get the shots ourselves.
The PhotoPass photographers will use your camera, if you ask them. For the most part, they were very kind about it. A few, I could tell, were not thrilled, but they did it anyway. Some had props that they would only use when shooting with their cameras, not mine. Perhaps I could have pushed for that, but I didn’t. Their job is to sell the PhotoPass, not give me all the perks for free.
I did, of course, let them take whatever they wanted with their camera. I scanned my band and figured if there were any truly great shots, I’d purchase them when we got home.
It turned out, there weren’t any really exceptional shots on their reel that I didn’t get on my own. This family shot, for example, was with my camera, not theirs.
Is MemoryMaker worth it?
So, here is the $200 question: Is MemoryMaker worth it?
The short answer: YES!!
Especially for first-timers!
And family reunion trips!
And any other special celebratory trips!
The long answer: If you don’t fit into the categories mentioned in the short answer above … It depends. Do you want to take a nice camera and shoot your vacation yourself? Or do you want to trust trained professionals to do it for you?
Leaving the camera at home can be incredibly liberating. No pressure to capture every memory — you get to actually experience and enjoy the moments instead! No stress over using the right settings or focus or lens at the exact right moment memories are being made. No frantically covering that camera when it starts to rain or an attraction suddenly squirts you with water. And let’s not forget that no camera bag means less to put through security and less to carry around the parks every day!
(I reluctantly admit that my chiropractic bills after that trip cost a LOT more than what we saved not purchasing MemoryMaker. Tip to the wise: splurge on a GOOD and comfortable camera bag! I have since upgraded and recommend this slingback. If you have a lot of equipment, this Wanderer backpack is a great choice.)
All but one of these are PhotoPass snaps. Can you guess which one isn’t?
It’s true: there aren’t always photographers waiting everywhere you want a shot, but who doesn’t have a camera on their phone these days? There is the cost to consider, so let’s dissect that, too.
Let’s talk PhotoPass and MemoryMaker costs.
It costs absolutely nothing to use PhotoPass. They’ll take 100 or more pictures of you and your family and never charge you a dime. The cost comes when you order those images.
If, when you get home, you fall in love with the images they took, you’ll have to pay to get them. Here’s how much:
- To download a single photo = $14.95
- To purchase two 4×6″ prints = $14.95
- To purchase one 5×7″ print = $14.95
- To purchase one 8×10″ print = $16.95
The MemoryMaker is $199. You can get it for $169, if you order it in advance (at least 3 days prior to arrival). So, you only have to get 10 or 11 good shots to make it worth your money. Clearly ordering individual photos is far more expensive in the long run than just ordering the package.
Can you remember the last time you hired a professional photographer for under $200?
But there’s more! Disney’s PhotoPass Studio at Disney Springs invites guests to have professional family portraits taken with a number of scenes and props. Both standard backdrops and digital green screen effects make this a great opportunity for guests. You can find yourselves in the middle of your favorite movies! And all the images are INCLUDED with active MemoryMaker packages.
MemoryMaker includes your posed family photos, but also character dining, ride/attraction photos, AND “magic shots.” These specially enhanced photos offer a little extra pixie dust to your portraits. Some of these feature Disney characters added to your shot. Others include video enhancements! You cannot get these without the MemoryMaker.