Thursday, June 19, 2014

Memory Maker: What is it, and is it worth it?

By Melissa

Disney’s Memory Maker has recently undergone some changes. Not only did they change the name (it used to be PhotoPass+), but they've incorporated the MagicBands instead of a separate tag.

At the time I’m writing this, the Memory Maker CD costs $149 to pre-purchase three or more days before your trip (or when you plan to begin using it). (*As of December 2014, pre-purchase price is $169.) Regular price is $199, and you can begin using your Memory Maker account immediately.

When you meet a Disney photographer in the street or at a character greet, they take your photo and scan the Magic Band that is linked to your Memory Maker account. Many attraction photos (Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Pirates’ League, Bippity Boppity Boutique, etc.), are included as well. When you get off the ride, you find your photo on the screens, then go to the photo counter and give the Cast Member the photo number and scan your MagicBand in many cases, the magic of Disney now recognizes you via your Magic Band and they are automatically added. You can still go to the counter and add your photos manually. Many of the character meals that offer photos for purchase are also included in the Memory Maker package. Anyone linked to your account (via the My Disney Experience website) can add photos to your Memory Maker account by scanning their MagicBand. You can split into groups and simultaneously add photos to your Memory Maker account.

All of your photos will be stored on Disney’s Memory Maker website for 45 days from the date they are taken. You can edit the photos – do things like remove red eye, crop, and add “stickers.” They even have many character “autographs” available to add. You can then save the new versions of your photos on the site. When you’re finished editing everything, order your photos.

Ordering photos can be done one of two ways. Since you've pre-paid, you get a digital copy of every photo loaded to your Memory Maker account. You can download them directly from the website, or you can request a disc be mailed to you. The Memory Maker website allows you to purchase prints or gift items with your photos on them, but you also have the freedom to use other websites & services to create gift items and order prints after you download your photos. (I found it was way less expensive to take advantage of sales or special codes at Shutterfly than to order from the Memory Maker site.)

I know you’re thinking $150 $169 for pictures is a lot – especially since it’s just the digital files. And it is. But for our trip, it was completely worth it. We've never been ones to purchase ride photos. But with Memory Maker, we got them all. And since my son rode Splash Mountain seven times (yes…seven), we had a very fun progression of his first “real” ride experience. (My husband actually started doing funny poses for the photos after about his third ride. See above - back row!) We also got the photo from our Chef Mickey’s dining experience, which would've been about $35 if purchased alone.

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, I was actually in some of our photos. Usually, I’m the one behind the camera, capturing our family’s memories. But with Memory Maker, I was in a lot of pictures. And I didn't have to worry too much about if I got just the right picture during my daughter’s first time to meet Cinderella. I knew the Disney photographer was my back-up, and was probably getting a better shot than I was. Every photo we got from the Disney photographers was high quality, and set up well. The only issues we had, honestly, were our own. If your two year-old decides to scowl, nothing will change her mind.

You can ask the Disney photographers to use your own camera to take a photo. And they will happily oblige (I’m told the camera must have a strap on it). So that is an option if you decide $150 $169 just doesn't fit into your budget. But you won’t get any attraction photos or any of the dining experience photos included since those must be purchased separately or with Memory Maker. And at frequently $30 or more each, those add up quickly.

Overall, for us, it was definitely worth it. I personally took over 1,000 photos during our 5 days in the parks, and we had over 250 photos in our Memory Maker account.  It’s something we will continue to budget for future trips.

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