© 2014 photobookgirl Disney Photo Pass update

Photo Book Girl’s Disney Memory Maker Review (Part 1)

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UPDATE 6/18/2014: Part 2 of my Memory Maker Review is up! This one is about tips and tricks for making the most out your Memory Maker package while inDisney Photo Pass update the parks! Know before you go!
As some of you may have seen me post on my Facebook page – my family and I just returned from a fun, albeit crazy trip to Disney World. Crazy because we went on a whim. We booked everything the day before we left and were still making arrangements on the day of – we’d never done that before, but the call of the Mouse was just too hard to resist. Let’s just call us spontaneous!Mickey Mouse 2014 Despite the lack of planning, we just rolled with it – I was quite amazed at how quickly we could mobilize with toddler and grandparents in tow. I’ll share some general Disney World tips with you based on our experience in a later post, but the main focus of this post is the new Memory Maker photo package which made its debut in December 2013. It’s not that “new” being about 6 months old now, but it’s still new enough that you may not have tried it yet. With all the options you have when planning a Disney vacation, photos of your trip is another thing to add to the planning list. Is Memory Maker right for you? Read on!

What is Memory Maker?

Memory Maker essentially replaces the old PhotoPass+. The main difference is that Memory Maker is digital only (no printed photos or CD are included) and you can download your photos onto your laptop even as your trip is ongoing. You can make unlimited downloads within a 45 day period, with each individual photo expiring 45 days after it is taken. Once you make your first download, you have 30 days to capture more photos and have them included in the package. The cost includes a limited license (also called entitlement) that allows you to download and print your photos for personal use anywhere you like. Use your photos in your photo books (of course!), calendars, cards plus share your memories on Facebook and other social media.
Disney memory maker

How much is Memory Maker?

The package is $199.99 for Disney World and $99.99 for Disneyland. If you pre-purchase the package before your trip, you get a $50 discount, so the cost drops to $149.99. (There is also a $30 pre-purchase discount on the Disneyland package.) Keep in mind that the advance purchase must be made at least 3 days before your first PhotoPass photo is taken, for all the photos to be included. Since our trip was only a day away, had I bought the package at the discounted advance price, it would not include photos taken within 3 days after purchase. Because it wouldn’t make sense to have to pay separately for the first half of my trip’s photos, I paid the full price. So in short, buy it at least 4 days or more before your trip to take full advantage of the discount. You can buy Memory Maker in advance here. No coupon code is necessary – if you buy in advance the discount is automatically applied.

Do I have to buy Memory Maker before I go?

No, you can actually buy it at the park like I did, but you’ll end up paying full price since you don’t get the advance discount. I didn’t buy it until toward the end of my trip since I was going to pay full price anyway, and we were busy enjoying our trip. I still took photos with the PhotoPass photographers from the start and was able to view them at the photo centers. You don’t have to buy anything in advance to have the photographers snap your photo.

If you buy Memory Maker in the park at one of the photo centers, just grab one of the cards (the Incredibles one above) off the display and bring it up to a Cast Member. After you pay for it, a Cast Member helps you link it to your MyDisneyExperience account. MyDisneyExperience.com is a website where you coordinate all of your dining, Disney resort and FastPass+ reservations. Therefore, any of the friends or family linked within your account can make use of the Memory Maker package. They do not need to have the actual Memory Maker card, they can still get a regular PhotoPass card from the photographer and the cards can be linked from the mobile site or with the help of the staff in the photo centers. Disney PhotoPass Card

How do I use my Magic Band with Memory Maker?

If you have a Magic Band (an RF bracelet that’s links all your reservations, and if you’re staying at a Disney resort, acts as your room key) that band can be linked to your Memory Maker package. A Cast Member helped me do that right after I bought it. So, if any of the folks linked within your MyDisneyExperience account has a photo taken by a PhotoPass photographer, he/she can have her Magic Band scanned and the photo automatically appears in your account – no messing with PhotoPass cards and no need for the person who bought the Memory Maker to be present.

Who in my party can use Memory Maker if I buy it?

Anyone who is linked to your MyDisneyExperience account can have photos taken and added to the same account. So even if you split up, all the photos will be linked and included. If you have any doubts, make sure to check your photos in a photo center before you leave the park.

What photos are included?

All photos taken by PhotoPass photographers including character photos, attraction photos and character meal photos. For attraction photos, make note of the photo number and have them link it to your account. This has to be done within 24 hours of riding.

What other photo package options does Disney offer?

PhotoPass Archive Disc or PhotoPass Archive Download

Disney PhotoPass Archive DiscThe PhotoPass Archive Disc is still available for $169.95, or for $119.00 if you purchase it before your vacation. You get a disc of high res jpeg files of the PhotoPass photos in your account. For the same price you can also get a digital download of all the photos (no need to wait for a disc to ship). The main difference between the PhotoPass Archive and Memory Maker is that character meal photos and attraction photos are NOT included in the PhotoPass packages unless you purchase them separately. (Please note: character meal photos – where you are specifically paying for a meal that features characters (Chef Mickey’s and Cinderella’s Royal Table for example), are different from the general character photos you take in other places around the park. The latter ones would be included with the PhotoPass disc/download.) So, if you don’t care about ride photos and you don’t plan to have any character meals, this package will save you $30.00.

Single photo downloads and Prints

If you only want one or two photos, you still have that option. Single photo downloads are $14.95. Two 4 x 6″ prints or a 5 x 7″ is $14.95. An 8 x 10″ is $16.95. You can buy printed photos in the park, or order them online after you get home.

Attractions+

Attractions+ is a package you can buy in the park which gives you 14 days of unlimited digital downloads of ride photos only. It’s $49.95 for the package.

Other Notes

Memory Maker Archive Disc

If you still want a burned disc of your Memory Maker photos, you can pay an additional $29.95 to get an archive disc of all the photos on your Memory Maker. But, you can easily burn your own CD or make a backup copy to an external drive after you download the photos, so why pay for that service.

Photo Extension

Need more time to view and play with your photos? You can pay $19.95 to get your download time extended to 60 days from the date the photos were taken (instead of the standard 45).

Gallery CD

The old PhotoPass+ also included a CD of more than 350 stock photos of the resorts, characters etc. which you are free to use for personal use. (Memory Maker does not include a gallery CD). When we went to Disneyland last fall I bought the PhotoPass+ package (predecessor to Memory Maker) which included the gallery disc (mine says Disney’s PhotoPass Photo Gallery CD – Third Edition). All the photos are geared for Disneyland in particular and includes photos of the characters, Disneyland and California Adventure park photos, resort photos and special holiday photos of the park taken at Halloween and Christmas. The photos are professional photos taken in ideal situations. You don’t have a thousand random people cluttering your shot of the castle for example and there are a number of unique light trail, firework and nighttime photos – I did use a number of them in my photo books and several of them are pretty stunning. You can still get the gallery disc on the Disney PhotoPass/Memory Maker but you have to pay for it separately. The Walt Disney World Gallery Disc and Walt Disney World Entertainment Gallery Disc are each $29.95. The Disneyland Gallery Disc is $39.95. I would suspect there are some duplicate photos among the three discs. I am contemplating buying one of the Walt Disney World discs to see what they offer. I wish they were still including the gallery disc as it is nice to have.

Is Memory Maker Worth It?

The answer to that depends. The Disneyland one at the $69.95 advance purchase price is a pretty reasonable price for what you get. Even with a 3-day visit, it’s a relatively small add on if you’re a photo lover and if you think you may want to buy a few prints (which will cost about $15 each), you might as well pay a bit more to get ALL the photos. For Disney World, at the $169.95 advance purchase price, I think that analysis takes a bit more consideration.

  • Do you think you and your family will want to take the time to stop at the PhotoPass photographers to have your photos taken, or will everyone be eager to make a beeline to the rides? I never had to wait in line for more than a few minutes to get a photo taken (unless it was for a character photo), but if your main focus is to get on as many rides as possible in a day, or your family is likely to rebel if you require them to pose for too many photos, you may not get the value out of the package.
  • How many days are you visiting the parks? If you are only at Disney World for 3 days, you might not get your money’s worth unless you are prolific photo takers and can really pack in a lot of photos in a single day. I would say we averaged about 35 to 40 PhotoPass shots a day (they will take several photos of you each time – maybe 4 or 5);
  • How many people are in your group? If you’re going as a family or larger group, it is possible to buy only one package and link the whole group through MyDisneyExperience so the cost per person is pretty small. Since you don’t have to all be together to contribute photos to the account, that’s a big plus;
  • Do you rarely take family photos? Let’s face it, it’s hard to get the family together for photos other than for special occasions or trips. If this is the one big photo taking opportunity for your family of the year, it’s worth it;
  • Are you super picky about your photos? PhotoPass photographers are not all professional photographers – some are better at their jobs than others and sometimes their photos don’t come out right. I will need to do some Lightroom adjustments on several of the photos, but on the whole, I’m pretty happy with my photos.
  • Do you own a decent camera? One thing you may not realize is that the PhotoPass photographers will take your picture for you using your camera at no charge. This goes for any park guest, not just those who buy photo packages.  So, you can capture all those moments without paying a dime! If you have a DSLR, the photo taken with your camera is likely to be very similar to the one taken with the PhotoPass photographer’s camera, so you may find that works perfectly fine for you and it’s free!

Photo Book Baby Darth Vader Disney Magic Shot

So, why pay for the Memory Maker package if the PhotoPass photographers will take your photos for free?

  • PhotoPass photographers, although not all professional photographers, may have a better camera than your point and shoot. They are all equipped with DSLR cameras and on the whole they do a good job;
  • Their cameras are generally set up to shoot better than yours especially in tricky lighting situations, such as trying to take a good photo in front of the castle at night;
  • PhotoPass photographers can add special effects to your photos (often referred to as Magic Shots). The really awesome ones we got were part of the Star Wars Weekends event at Disney Hollywood Studios. Look at my little Jedi battling Darth Vader above! These would have been pretty hard to replicate on our own. Darth was added in later – the only thing we saw was the backdrop and the light saber. The Magic Shots with Simba, Stitch and Tinkerbell were pretty cute too.
  • If you like the Disney borders and stickers, you can go crazy adding fun touches to your photos;
  • If you’re photo obsessed like me and want to get as many photos as you can and as many angles as possible (you know there’s always someone whose eyes are closed);
  • If you like the ride photos and are likely to buy them (it would be very hard or in some cases prohibited to take ride photos on your own);
  • If you’re a local and visit often, you may be able to get a least 2 to 3 trips in a 30 day period and rack up the photo count!

Summary

I’m happy overall with the photos we got through the Memory Maker package. The Star Wars Magic Shot ones were especially neat given that we’re big Star Wars fans. We ended up with 227 photos over our 6 day trip. I wish we had taken more, but with the heat (high 80s and muggy) we weren’t always feeling our camera-ready best and sometimes just weren’t in the mood to pose for photos. On other days we had some short but heavy downpours and some drizzle here and there. When it’s rainy it can be hard to find PhotoPass photographers out – understandably. Since I’ve been home I’ve already downloaded my photos and am playing with the software to add the borders and other special effects like character signatures. I’ll be writing another post about using the Memory Maker software itself as well as other photo tips with regard to Disney World, so if you’re Disney bound this year, be sure to stay tuned! If you want to share any of your personal experiences taking photos at Disney, please post below. I’d love to hear from you!

UPDATE 6/18/2014: Part 2 of my Memory Maker Review is up! This one is about tips and tricks for making the most out your Memory Maker package while in the parks! Know before you go! 

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7 Comments

  1. hayley jenkins
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 11:30 am | #

    hello im from the UK and will be going to disney world november 2015 for 3 weeks holiday (not staying at a disney hotel though). i have some questions about the memory maker! do you get all the pictures free (can you go on the website and get them there or do you have to download/pay to get them to put them on facebook etc)
    any reply would be greatly appreciated
    many thanks

    • photobookgirl
      Posted September 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm | #

      Hi Hayley,
      Once you buy the package you get ALL photos for free including ride photos etc. You can go on the website, download them and do anything you want with them – they’re yours! Have fun!

  2. Lisa
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 11:27 pm | #

    Do they still include the printed packages delivered to your table at character meals like they did with Photopass Plus?

    • photobookgirl
      Posted October 30, 2014 at 11:26 am | #

      Hi Lisa, from my personal experience there are no longer printed character photos in the folders anymore. At our last character meal in June 2014, we were just handed a PhotoPass card which you then link to your Memory Maker. If you don’t get Memory Maker then I think you just go to a photo location in the parks and they can help you get your digital download. It can also be linked to your My Disney Experience account. Hope that helps!

  3. Joe
    Posted May 19, 2015 at 12:40 pm | #

    Hi! Can you tell me if you aren’t staying in a Disney resort, if it is easy to order and attach to park passes and wristbands? I am hoping to purchase this but not sure how easy it is? Thank you!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted May 23, 2015 at 11:03 am | #

      I’m not sure about the process, but the wristbands are available for sale apart from resort stay, so I don’t think it should be a problem. For in-depth disney info, I think this site is really good and very detailed. I bet she has the answer here. Have fun! http://wdwprepschool.com/

  4. PaulM
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 4:49 pm | #

    When I was at WDW a few months ago, I noticed the PhotoPass folks were all using the Nikon D7100…so it was easy to hand them my own D7100 and they already knew how to use it. Ok, they use the automatic settings, but they have good glass and good external flashes. One last note; if you buy an annual pass for WDW, it now includes MemoryMaker. We factored that in when weighting the cost of passes.

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