The Disney PhotoPass is one of the best perks of a Disney World vacation. But Disney has taken it one step further with the Disney Memory Maker add on. Should you pick and choose the Disney PhotoPass images you’d like to purchase or spend the extra money for Disney’s Memory Maker? What is a Capture Your Moment session? Will either package work on a cruise? How do you get your photos, and how long are they available for?
Be sure to read our tips and tricks before you purchase your photo package during your Walt Disney World Resort vacation in Florida.
THE DISNEY MEMORY MAKER VS DISNEY PHOTOPASS
WHAT IS THE PHOTOPASS AT DISNEY WORLD?
As you enter the Magic Kingdom (or any Disney Park for that matter), you’ll find Disney employees with cameras stationed throughout the park. They offer to take that iconic picture in front of the castle with their beautiful camera, posing with the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, and more. After getting the perfect shot, they’ll then scan your MagicBand or hand you a PhotoPass card with a web address and a 16 digit ID number.
These nice employees are Disney PhotoPass photographers, and the photography service is complimentary (although the photos are not). All you have to do is simply log into your My Disney Experience account or visit Disney’s website and put in your 16-digit number to view the PhotoPass photos from your vacation.
Disney PhotoPass photographers will also take a picture with your camera if you ask.
From there, the Disney PhotoPass allows guests to view and purchase the digital files of the photos taken by Disney Photographers online and at the theme parks. Guests can order the photos at the theme park or view and purchase them online or on the My Disney Experience app when they get home.
Previously, PhotoPass came with the Annual Pass, but that is no longer the case. Now annual pass members must purchase it separately for an additional $99 for the year. Just remember, if you are buying annual passes for the entire family, you only need to pay for the PhotoPass add on for ONE person, as you’ll be able to view and download photos of up to 25 members of your Family & Friends list.
Be sure to check your add-ons before you finalize the purchase, though. Not sure if this is still the case, but last time we checked they auto-add the PhotoPass to every annual pass in your cart – but you only need one!
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WHERE CAN YOU FIND DISNEY PHOTOPASS PHOTOGRAPHERS?
There are 25 Disney PhotoPass locations in all four Walt Disney World theme parks (including character meet and greets, as well as ride photos), both water parks, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques at Disney Springs and Magic Kingdom, and select character dining locations. Private photo sessions are also available for an additional charge at four different Walt Disney World Parks.
Recently, Disney added a PhotoPass Studio at Disney Springs too, so now you can have your portrait taken against a regular or special backdrop. And, you don’t need to take time out of your theme park day to do it! No reservations are required and all of the photos taken here can easily link to your My Disney Experience account where you can purchase and download them. They’re also included in an active Memory Maker package!
WHAT IS THE DISNEY MEMORY MAKER?
While the basic Disney PhotoPass lets you view and then purchase individual pictures, Disney’s Memory Maker works by allowing you to collect an unlimited number of PhotoPass pictures taken throughout the park and download all those photos directly to your phone or computer. This includes every post photo taken during your trip PLUS your photos from the rides.
You know the one where you are screaming as you plummet down Tower of Terror or zoom off on Rockin’ Roller Coaster? With the Disney Memory Maker, you’ll be able to download that to your phone and share with your friends before you’ve even left Hollywood Blvd!
Memory Maker links all photos taken by a PhotoPass photographer, select dining and attraction photos, and any of your family’s own photos to your My Disney Experience account which can be accessed on the app or online. When getting your photo taken, have the photographer scan your MagicBand, Memory Maker card, or Disney PhotoPass card to add the photos to your account. Note that some on-ride photos will automatically link to your account without you needing to do anything.
You can purchase a Memory Maker in advance for a discount (just keep in mind that there is a three day waiting period before photos will appear in the account), or, for a slightly higher price, purchase and use it immediately.
One of the coolest features of the Disney Memory Maker, other than having your own personal photographer, is that you can share it with your entire party (up to 25 members of your Friends & Family list in your My Disney Experience account). So if you are on a multi-generational trip with your parents, adult siblings and all the cousins, the group can share one Disney Memory Maker account at no additional cost. You’ll be able to easily see, and share everyones photos.
WHEN YOU WANT TO PURCHASE A DISNEY PHOTOPASS INSTEAD OF DISNEY MEMORY MAKER
The Disney PhotoPass is perfect if you only want a couple of shots from the Disney PhotoPass photographers, but the Disney Memory Maker is a steal if you’ll want multiple photos.
An individual photo download currently costs $18.95 through My Disney Experience. So, if you’re planning on purchase 4 or more photos from your trip, you’ll find that the Memory Maker is a good bang for your buck.
HOW MUCH IS THE MEMORY MAKER AT DISNEY WORLD?
Admittedly, the Disney Memory Maker is expensive ($199 as of this writing – or $169 in advance). However, if you plan on visiting with as many characters as possible, posing for every photo op, or even scheduling a special photo session, it could be well worth it. Plus, instead of hiding behind a camera, you can enjoy the moment and watch your children’s faces as they meet Mickey for the first time (or the 100th).
If you’d prefer to just have unlimited downloads from only one day of your trip, you can purchase Memory Maker – One Day for only $69. And, don’t forget that Disney World Annual Passholders can add the unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads option to their purchase for $99 per year.
WHY YOU NEED A DISNEY MEMORY MAKER WITH TEENS TOO
Though, my teen and tween are past seeking out the characters, they loved using the Disney PhotoPass for the attraction photos. It even became a game to see what crazy poses we could do each time. As we waited in line we strategized our moves and then die laughing at the end as we scoped out our photo. Sometimes the laughter came from the antics of just our family acting crazy, sometimes it was our family with the random person in the next seat – which made it all more hysterical.
Even my husband, who tolerates my constant picture taking was stopping at each station down Sunset Blvd. to get a series of shots closer and closer to Tower of Terror. Long story long, the Disney PhotoPass had everyone in the family acting goofy (pun intended) and we were able to get everyone in the photos – yes, even mom! Having the Disney Memory Maker meant I didn’t have to choose between photos – we could get as many as we liked.
In the end, our family had a great time BECAUSE of the Disney PhotoPass Memory Maker, and it added a lot to our vacation that even years later, we are talking about.
MAGIC SHOTS AND OTHER SPECIAL PHOTOS
In addition to the family posing with Mickey Mouse, there are also a variety of Magic Shot photo ops throughout the parks. What are Magic Shots? Magic Shots add Disney characters and fun surprises to your photo after it is taken. For example, the Disney PhotoPass photographer had my boys and I pose on Hollywood Blvd. in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, pointing at the street in shock. When we got our photos back, Stitch was popping out of the street. At another location we held our hand out and Tinkerbell appeared resting on our palm in the photo.
Disney has even recently added Tiny World Magic Shots, which are a 360-degree capture experience, and Super Zoom Magic Shots at all four parks. These are super fun to pose for and make for an extra special memory to look back on.
Want to do something extra special? Use your My Disney Experience App to schedule a Capture Your Moment session. For those not familiar, Capture Your Moment is a personalized 20-minute photo session with a Disney PhotoPass photographer reserved in advance. Sessions can include up to eight guests and are available at all four theme parks at various locations.
These are great for birthdays, first visits, baby announcements, honeymoons, babymoons, beating cancer, anniversaries, graduations, adoptions, surprise returns home from deployment, and so many incredible personal achievements. Bookings can be made up to 60 days in advance and are an additional cost on top of your park ticket.
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HOW LONG IS A DISNEY PHOTOPASS GOOD FOR?
There is an expiration date on your photos, regardless of whether you are opting to purchase Disney PhotoPass photos individually or you have purchased a Disney Memory Maker to gain access to all of your photos. All Disney PhotoPass photos will expire 45 days from the date the photo was taken. There is an option to purchase an extension to that expiration if you need more time to go through them. The extension will give you access to your photos 60 days from the date that they were taken.
NOTE: Even if you have purchased a Disney Memory Maker add on, your photos still expire 45 days from the date the photo was taken. You MUST download or purchase photos within that time frame (or purchase an extension). On day 46, much like Cinderella’s ball gown, the photos disappear forever and you cannot get them back.
HOW DO I LINK MY DISNEY MEMORY MAKER TO MY ACCOUNT?
If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, you can link your Disney Memory Maker and Disney PhotoPass photos to your MagicBand or MagicBand+ and, in turn, your My Disney Experience account. If you are wearing your MagicBand or MagicBand+ on an attraction that has an on-ride photo op, it will automatically link the attraction photo and/or video to your Disney account, but you can also touch your band to the photo at the end of the ride – just to be sure.
To link your Memory Maker, go into your My Disney Experience app or account. Go to “Tickets and Passes” from the menu.
You’ll need to select the “+” sign in the top right corner and choose “Link Tickets & Passes.”
Then, type out the 12-character ID found on the back of the Memory Maker card you received.
Note: MagicBands are required to link attraction videos to your Disney account. If you don’t have MagicBands, you can use your park ticket – just touch it at the touch point next to the preview screen after you get off the ride.
HOW DO I GET MEMORY MAKER LINKED TO MY MAGIC BAND?
To link your Memory Maker to your MagicBands, go into your My Disney Experience account app or account and do the first two steps above – Go to your “Tickets and Passes.” Then, instead of typing in your Memory Maker card number, type in the MagicBand ID number located on the back of the band. This is the same for syncing the new MagicBand+ to your account.
HOW LONG CAN YOU USE MEMORY MAKER?
If you purchased a Disney Memory Maker in advance, you’ll have to wait three days to start getting pictures to show up in your Memory Maker account. If you purchased the immediate option, you can begin capturing and downloading photos immediately. Those who purchase the PhotoPass add on with their Annual Pass will need to wait until their annual pass is active to access unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads.
Keep in mind that the Memory Maker window is 30 days from the first photo download. However, remember ALL your photos will expire within 45 days of being taken (unless you purchase an extension to 60 days from being taken).
DOWNLOADING YOUR DISNEY MEMORY MAKER PHOTOS
There is an easy system to download your Disney PhotoPass photos in the My Disney Experience app, but it does take some time to figure out, so don’t wait until the last minute. You can also customize your photos with Disney borders and stamps.
I ended up customizing most photos with a few different options, as well as leaving it as just a photo. It takes quite a while to go through them, especially if you have lots like we did. Most people won’t need to worry about the Memory Maker window for taking the pictures, it’s more important to remember when the photos will expire – and be gone forever.
DOWNSIDE TO DISNEY PHOTOPASS AND DISNEY MEMORY MAKER
There are some downsides to the Disney PhotoPass. For instance, you are at the mercy of the person behind the camera for your shot. I generally like to take the photos, because I know more what I want to get from the photo. However, I can’t emphasis enough how great it is to get out from behind the camera and just enjoy being together.
I’ve also had a reader say they purchased the Disney PhotoPass during a busy time of year. The lines were so long for the PhotoPass photographers that they only ended up getting one photo – that was a very expensive photo!
However, our experience was positive. As I mentioned before, not only did the Disney PhotoPass capture our memories, we created memories because of the pass. Leave it to Disney to think of everything.
Finally, your annual PhotoPass or Memory Maker package is NOT good on a trip aboard Disney Cruise Lines. DCL photos are taken and managed by a different vendor than the parks. The prices and packages are similar, but different. Just keep that in mind as you book your cruise, especially if you’re an annual passholder.
WHAT ATTRACTIONS HAVE RIDE-ON PHOTO OPS?
Currently, 13 attractions throughout all four Disney Parks capture on-ride photos and videos. This includes:
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin in Magic Kingdom
- DINOSAUR in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain in Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Frozen Ever After* in EPCOT
- Pirates of the Caribbean* in Magic Kingdom
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train* in Magic Kingdom
- Slinky Dog Dash* in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Space Mountain in Magic Kingdom
- Splash Mountain in Magic Kingdom
- Test Track in EPCOT
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT
NOTE: MagicBands are required to gain access to your on-ride photos at Frozen Ever After, Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Slinky Dog Dash. There are no photo kiosks to scan your park ticket at these attractions.
DO DISNEY PHOTOPASS LENSES COME WITH MEMORY MAKER OR MEMORY MAKER ONE-DAY?
One of the newest additions to the Disney PhotoPass feature is Disney PhotoPass Lenses. However, you must purchase Disney Genie+ (which costs $15 per person, per day as of this writing) to access the lenses. They are not included in the purchase of Memory Maker or Memory Maker One-Day.
If you’re not familiar with the PhotoPass Lenses, they are AR lenses that alter your photo to feature some of your favorite Disney characters and Disney Parks icons (much like Instagram or Snapchat lenses). For example, one will turn you into the Genie from Aladdin and another puts the iconic 25th anniversary birthday cake decorations on Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom.
NOTE: Some PhotoPass Lenses can only be unlocked at certain locations in the parks and others can be used anywhere – even at home! Just remember that PhotoPass Lenses are only accessible in the My Disney Experience app 45 days after you purchase Disney Genie+.
WHERE ARE THE DISNEY PHOTOPASS MAGIC SHOT LOCATIONS?
As of this writing, the Tiny World Magic Shots can be captured near Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, at the Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and in front of Spaceship Earth near the fountain just beyond the main entrance at EPCOT. The way that these photos are taken is pretty unique so it’s hard to miss!
If a Super Zoom Magic Shot is what you’re after, you can pose for them in each Disney Park. In Magic Kingdom, the photo op is located near Cinderella Castle to the right of the hub. You can also find special PhotoPass locations in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, at the Everest Riverside Theater in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and next to Spaceship Earth at EPCOT.
There are also more than 70 special effects that can be added to nearly any Disney PhotoPass photo throughout the parks, so be sure to ask your photographer what magic they can make before you pose. That’s how you can get characters like Tink or Stitch added to your photo – the photographer will let you know how to pose!
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO WALT DISNEY WORLD
- YOUR FLORIDA VACATION
- WDW RESORTS: Comparing our Favorite WDW Resorts (+Tips from a Disney Insider)
- DISNEY NEWBIES: Disney World Planning For Beginners In 9 Easy Steps
- DISNEY CRUISE TIPS: Disney Cruise Tips For Anxious First-Timers Aboard The Stunning ‘Dream’
- MAGICBAND SECRETS: 17 Disney Magic Band Secrets You’ll Appreciate Knowing Before Your Trip (Updated for 2022)
- FL FAMILY RESORTS: 19 Best Resorts In Florida: Family Options That Should Not Be Missed
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