Hello! We just returned from a magnificent Disney Land & Sea trip complete with sunburns, too many souvenirs, and a few extra pounds. There will be plenty of upcoming photos/posts/videos coming at you soon.
This is the first trip we've purchased Memory Maker, and we have plenty of thoughts on the matter. The answer if you're considering whether to purchase Memory Maker is: it depends. There of course is no one size fits all, particularly for Disney Vacations. Such is life, I suppose. Here is a roundup of what you should and shouldn't expect and some thoughts.
WHAT WE LOVED
Here's a tip for you: any Photopass photographer at Disney will also take a photo with your personal camera or phone if you ask. No problem. So, if you choose not to purchase Memory Maker, you can still get a photo with Mickey and your whole fam. However, something that I really loved about our photos with Memory Maker is that the photographers photograph (with their Photopass cameras) interactions before you even pose that turn out great. The below photo of Ashley showing off her Goofy shirt to Goofy is priceless.
Night time shots are also a little tricky with your camera unless you have a really good camera or one that specializes in dark photography. We wouldn't have gotten this fun shot without the professional photographer's lighting and camera since it was night time.
Magic ShotsSometimes the Photopass photographers will pose your party a certain way for what they call a "Magic Shot." When you view your photos, you'll have a Disney character or something else (like butterflies) included in your photos. Magic shots aren't the biggest selling point of Memory Maker, I'll admit, but they're pretty fun, particularly if you have kids. Sometimes they'll tell you what the shot will include, sometimes it's a surprise. Either way, we loved dancing with Olaf :).
Your whole party will be in the shot.This is the main selling point of Memory Maker for most people. It goes without saying that knowing that you can have your whole party in photos from all around the parks is really nice. They'll also take photos with your personal camera as well, but the Photopass photos usually turn out better.
Ride Photos ( + videos!)Yes, ride photos are included and they'll show up in your account AUTOMATICALLY (which is creepy yet convenient.) I have to say, most ride photos for us turn out looking pretty terrible and we'd never purchase them. Since they're included with Memory Maker, we actually do keep them. Even if it's just to laugh at. (We're going to try to get better/more fun with these!) And very recently, Disney also started creating ride videos for select attractions.
WHAT YOU MIGHT BE DISAPPOINTED IN
There are no Photopass photographers for Character Dining.
We are always purposeful in reserving at least one character meal. It's sort of tradition. It's also a good way to meet with characters that have long lines, or are harder to find in the parks. However, despite the great photos that come from character interactions in the parks, character meals do not have Photopass photographers. There will be servers or attendants around that will gladly snap a photo with your whole party, but they're not professional photographers, and they'll have you use your camera. (Below photo taken with an iPhone at 1900 Park Fare breakfast.)
The photos aren't guaranteed to be perfect.
Nothing is perfect, even at Disney. There were several instances that our photos were too dark, or blown out. It happens, and luckily we had a ton of other photos. However, we didn't really get a good shot of us in our "costumes" at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in front of the castle, which was disappointing. Here are some more shots that turned out super dark.
Not all humans will look good in the photos.
This trip, I (Magen) was sick starting the second day there, and pretty much never got well. Although I continued to put on a brave face and still had an amazing vacation, I had to really push at certain times to continue to stand upright. As the week (and as the photos) progress, you can definitely see there were times that I was just.not.feeling.it. The photos showed it, for sure. Not all, just some! This is par for the course for all photos, though, right? Not everyone looks perfect in every photo.
This is probably the main point of consideration for someone contemplating purchasing Memory Maker. The current cost is $149 if purchased ahead of time and $199 if purchased at the park, which is a pretty hefty price tag for photos. If you're considering it, definitely plan to purchase it prior to your trip. Photopass photos cost around $20 each if you decide to purchase individually, so it's possible that there will be lots of photos you'd like to download and it could pay for itself quickly, particularly if you have a big family.
This is where the"it depends" comes in. If you're on a once of a lifetime- will be years before you return - huge family- trip, then yes, it will be worth it. Each photographer will take several photos and each person in your party can take individual photos plus group shots. They'll pretty much cater to your groups needs. You'll come out with plenty of wonderful, treasured photos.
If you're in a situation like we are (visit fairly often with a small party) then that is when we lean towards recommending not to purchase Memory Maker. We got more than enough photos on our own cameras. Plus, we will be going back very soon and plan to re-take any photos we didn't think turned out well last time. There is actually only a few Photopass photos that we liked more than our own, so next trip we will likely not purchase it. (Unless we win the lottery and have unlimited disposable income. Fingers crossed.)
If you're on a tight budget, then save the $150 for a fun experience like a character breakfast. You can have the photographers use your camera for great photos (and they're happy to do so and even offer in many instances) and have a perfectly wonderfully commemorative trip.
Have you ever purchased Memory Maker? What was your experience? Please leave in the comments any tips or advice that you have!