Photographs have long been one of our most favorite souvenirs from our Walt Disney World trips, and Memory Maker has always been an easy way to ensure that we got tons of fantastic pictures to look back on after we return home.
But, with all the changes in the procedures (at least for the time being) are PhotoPass and Memory Maker still worth it?
Here’s some things to consider:
What are PhotoPass & Memory Maker?
PhotoPass is the name of the photo service found at Walt Disney World.
Described by Disney as a way to “capture priceless memories”, the PhotoPass service is not only popular but also very easy to use.
With a combination of PhotoPass photographers strategically stationed at fan-favorite photo spots throughout the parks and ride photos on select attractions, you’ll have lots of opportunities for photos during your visit.
And since somebody else is taking the picture, you’ll actually be able to have everyone in your photo with you, too.
Now, this is where it can get kind of confusing:
PhotoPass is free to use and you can take as many photos as you want. But, if you want to keep any of your photos, you must purchase the digital downloads or prints.
That’s where Memory Maker comes in.
If you have photos that you want to purchase you’ll have a few options to do that.
You can choose to pay for a print or digital download of each photo or you can even put the photo on a wide array of photo products like phone cases or mugs. For one or 2 photos, it is probably best to just purchase them a la carte.
But, if you want more than just a couple or if you want to keep every PhotoPass and ride photo, you’ll definitely want to consider purchasing Memory Maker.
Memory Maker is just one of the many photo products you can purchase. But, this one gets you digital access to every single photo taken by a PhotoPass photographer plus all of your ride photos.
How are PhotoPass and Memory Maker different now?
Before we dive deeper into whether or not they are still worth it, let’s start with a handy list comparing what things are the same and what things are different.
The good news is that lots of things with PhotoPass and Memory Maker are the same:
- PhotoPass photographers are still stationed in the parks.
- When you’re on rides, if you have a MagicBand, Disney will automatically add your ride photos and, on select rides, ride videos to your My Disney Experience account.
- Photographers use either your MagicBand or a PhotoPass card that you’ve linked to your My Disney Experience account.
- Magic Shots are still available.
- Annual Passholders receive PhotoPass photos and ride photos and videos if they’ve added that option.
But, there are some things that are different:
You must wear a mask in all your photos.Disney has relaxed this policy, and guests are no longer required to wear masks when in outdoor common areas.
- The only Portrait Studio currently available is the Disney Springs location.
- There are fewer opportunities for PhotoPass photos, though the number of options and photographers in the parks continue to grow.
If you’re paying full-price for Memory Maker you’ll find that the cost, which is $199.00 (when not purchased in advance), is definitely not cheap.
There are sometimes discounts available, with the most popular one being the $30 advanced purchase discount, which brings the total down to $169.00.
The downside to this discount is that if you select this option, you must wait 3 days to activate your Memory Maker. So you can’t take a bunch of photos before you decide to buy it.
But if you plan ahead and purchase it before your trip you’ll see a nice bit of savings.
There are sometimes other discounts available, but those can change frequently. Be sure to double-check available discounts before purchasing.
Are PhotoPass & Memory Maker still worth it?
This is a tough one, because it truly depends on your situation.
Worth it for these reasons
First-timers or important trips
Special trip where you want to make sure you snap as many pics as possible? You’ll probably get a lot of use out of the PhotoPass system and find it handy to be able to download all of your pics using Memory Maker.
Everyone in the pic
That way nobody is left out behind the camera.
Large travel groups
Everyone in the group can add pics to their account, and whoever buys Memory Maker can download for everyone. Lots of people for the cost of 1 Memory Maker purchase makes it easier to justify.
People traveling alone often like the convenience of having somebody else take their pic so they don’t have to ask anybody to use their phone to snap a photo.
Planning to participate in a runDisney event, booked a Capture Your Moment session, or have some other special occasion planned? These all give lots of reasons for pics to be taken, making it more worth it.
Not worth it for these reasons
Missing/too few ride photos
You have to keep your mask on while riding most attractions, and if a ride photo has a guest without a mask on, Disney won’t publish it. That means even people who kept their mask on might not get a ride photo if another guest took theirs off.
No mask, no photo.
Fewer PhotoPass photo opportunities
You can still find lots of PhotoPass photographers in the parks, but the truth is there are fewer than before.
You also won’t have the opportunity for many photos with characters because very few of them have PhotoPass photographers.
And, even though most character meals have reopened, there’s no photo opportunities there, either.
Curious where to find the photographers in the parks?
You can use the My Disney Experience app as a start, but keep in mind that depending on the day of the week or even the time of day, you may see more or less PhotoPass photographers out and about than what is indicated on the map.
PhotoPass lines too long
While the number of PhotoPass opportunities has decreased, the parks are very busy now. That means there are often long lines for pics.
We are encouraged that Disney World has been working to hire more and more photographers, so hopefully this won’t be as much of an issue in the near future.
PhotoPass tips and tricks
Strike a Pose
All the regular poses are still popular, but if you don’t feel comfortable removing your mask for a photo you can get creative with how you pose.
For example, you can get some adorable shots of you facing away from the camera (for example you facing Cinderella Castle).
You can also use some of your own props (like a foldable handheld fan) to hide your mask, if you want.
Or, if you’re like us, just embrace and normalize the whole mask-wearing experience by making a fashion statement with your face coverings.
There are so many options for cute and adorable masks these days. And if you are the kind of person that likes DisneyBounding or you just want to match your mask to your outfit of the day, do it.
You can get some cute pics that way!
Don’t forget to ask for Magic Shots
Magic Shots are still a thing! Don’t be afraid to ask your PhotoPass photographer if they can take them.
This is also a good way to get lots of pics from just one stop.
One thing we have noticed is that there seems to be more of a delay than ever in receiving your photos – especially your ride photos.
That is partly due to the fact that Disney is reviewing photos to ensure that there is proper mask compliance in them.
It can be nerve wracking if you’re waiting for a picture to appear, but just know that you may have to wait a bit longer than you’re used to.
If a photo never shows up, Disney has a easy-to-use online form for those situations. You’ll need to tell them the date, location, and time, and they typically do an excellent job of tracking down anything that is missing.
Maximize your purchase
If you decide to purchase Memory Maker, we highly recommend you maximize that purchase by getting as many shots as possible. And, as we mentioned above with fewer opportunities you may have to get more creative.
Try to grab photos at different times of the day or in different combinations (if you’re traveling with a group).
And, most importantly, if you did purchase Memory Maker, don’t forget to download your photos! If you catch it in time (before your 45 days are up) you can pay $19.95 for an additional 15 days worth of access. But, the safest thing to do is to just get them downloaded as soon as you get back home.