Is Memory Maker Worth the Cost for Your Next Walt Disney World Vacation?

Memory Maker Walt DIsney World
Credit: Disney

Planning a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort can take lots of time and research, and as you navigate through Disney’s website (or conversations with your travel agent) you will be presented with lots of optional add-ons. From Park Hopper tickets to ground transportation, there are a lot of ways to customize your Disney trip to cover exactly what your family needs. One such add-on is Disney Memory Maker, which includes unlimited PhotoPass downloads taken throughout your trip (including some Magic Shot options). But is Memory Maker worth it? Let’s find out!

What is Memory Maker?

Disney Memory Maker is an optional add-on to your Walt Disney World vacation that includes unlimited downloads of all the pictures of you and your family taken by Disney PhotoPass photographers throughout your trip, as well as all on-ride photos (so be sure to pose as you head down the drop on Splash Mountain!) and videos, and select character sighting photos.

Disney PhotoPass Cast Members are stationed throughout the theme parks, including in front of theme park icons like Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, Spaceship Earth in EPCOT, on Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and by the Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

PhotoPass Cast Members can also be spotted in areas in each Disney Park like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land, throughout the countries of World Showcase, by Expedition Everest, and more. If you are visiting Disney World during certain times of year like the holidays, you may even find them ready to capture photos of your family in front of the Christmas decor at Disney resorts.

And, a Disney PhotoPass photographer can create unique “Magic Shots” that may surprise you with extra Disney characters or theming magically added to some of your photos!

How much does Memory Maker cost?

PhotoPass Magic Kingdom

Credit: Disney

The cost of Memory Maker depends on when you purchase it as an add-on, so if you are already set on it, be sure to add it to your reservation soon! If you purchase Memory Maker three days or more prior to your trip, the cost will be $169.99. During your trip, the price goes up to $199.99. If you pre-purchase with less than three days to go, only photos after that three-day mark will be available to download, so be sure you are timing your purchase right if you are cutting it close.

How do I use Memory Maker?

Memory Maker On RIde Photo

Credit: Disney

Using Memory Maker is easy! Simply present your MagicBand or theme park ticket to the PhotoPass photographers who take your photos. Your ticket or band will be scanned and the photos will show up in your account on the My Disney Experience app (or website) soon after they are taken.

Make sure everyone in your party has their accounts linked through the app. By doing this, anyone can scan their band and all of the photos taken will be available to download.

What about rides? If you are wearing a MagicBand, ride photos will show up on your account automatically (your band is actually “magically” scanned from a distance while you are on the ride.) With no MagicBand, be sure to touch your ticket to the reader below the monitors showing the photos at the end of the attraction.

Are there any alternatives to purchasing Memory Maker?

Memory Maker Animal Kingdom

Credit: Disney

Sort of. If you truly want unlimited photo downloads, Memory Maker is really the only way to make this happen. If you have an Annual Pass or are traveling with an Annual Pass holder, and the passholder purchased the optional PhotoPass add-on, they would have the ability to download photos (assuming your profiles are all linked in your My Disney Experience account.)

Otherwise, you have a couple of options. You could purchase Memory Maker for just one day rather than the length of your stay for $69. You could do this before, during, or after your trip, so if you do not have Memory Maker pre-purchased, you could come home and review your photos then only purchase the single day with the photos you’d most like to download.

If you only visit Walt Disney World for two days, two single-day Memory Maker purchases will cost less than the pre-purchased Memory Maker, but for more than two days, if you want to download all your photos, Memory Maker is really your best option.

Cast Members can also take photos with your own camera or phone, however, this practice was paused for much of the parks’ reopening due to COVID-19 concerns with handling Guest items. It is technically allowed now, but you may feel less comfortable handing your phone over (to a Disney photographer or other Guests) this than you would have before the pandemic. It is worth noting that PhotoPass Cast Members are using professional cameras, so the quality might be better in their photos, and that Magic Shots cannot be done with your own device.

Is it worth it?

Disney PhotoPass

Credit: Disney

Like most anything at Walt Disney World, it depends! Memory Maker is a great way to get high-quality photos, with everyone in the picture, and without having to hand your phone off to someone else. With no alternative to Magic Shots, those photos only add to the value, and for some families, the convenience of Memory Maker cannot be understated.

Especially when traveling with young children, it is often easier to coordinate photos when a photographer is calling the shots and ensuring that the whole family is in the picture. Some Guests also report taking more photos because they want to get the most value out of their purchase, which might seem counterproductive, but in the end it does seem worth it because they come home with more photos than they would have.

At the same time, a minimum of $169.99 is a hefty cost. If you are planning a vacation on a tight budget, you may want to opt for the single-day Memory Maker purchase and just prioritize family photos that day of the trip, or stick to using your own camera. If you do decide to purchase Memory Maker, just be sure to use the advance purchase to get the cheaper rate!

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."

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