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 purchase a Disney PhotoPass or spend the extra money for a Disney Memory Maker? What is the Capture Your Moment session? Will either package work on a cruise? How do you get your photos, and how long are they available for?
Answers to these questions and more below… be sure to read our tips and tricks before you purchase you photo package!
THE DISNEY MEMORY MAKER VS DISNEY PHOTOPASS
How many times have you missed precious memories trying to get a good photo? The Disney PhotoPass is like having your own personal photographer, so you can capture the memories, and live fully in the moment. Plus our family didn’t just capture memories, we MADE memories because of the Disney PhotoPass. So what could be better than a personal photographer? Well, before we can answer that, we need to explain what the PhotoPass is, and how it is different from the Disney Memory Maker.
WHAT IS THE PHOTOPASS AT DISNEY WORLD?
As you enter the Magic Kingdom, there are Disney employees with cameras stationed throughout the park. They offer to take that iconic picture in front of the castle with their beautiful camera. They’ll hand you a PhotoPass card with a web address and a 16 digit ID number.
These nice employees are Disney PhotoPass photographers, and the service is complimentary (although the photos are not). Simply visit the 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.
If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort, the photographer will scan your magic band and the photos will appear in your My Disney Experience. 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 them online 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; it’s available for an additional $99. Just remember, if you are buying annual passes for the entire family, you only need ONE PhotoPass. Be sure to check your add-ons before you finalize the purchase. 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!
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 Resorts.
Recently Disney added a PhotoPass Studio at Disney Springs. 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 required, and all your photos taken can easily link to your My Disney Experience account and are also included in an active Memory Maker package.
WHAT IS THE DISNEY MEMORY MAKER?
The Disney PhotoPass lets you view and then purchase individual pictures. The Disney Memory Maker allows you to collect an unlimited number of PhotoPass pictures taken throughout the park and download all those photos to your computer or a CD after your vacation. The PhotoPass Plus card also allows unlimited 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 don’t need to bring a camera to the park!
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. 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.
You can purchase a Memory Maker in advance for a discount (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. 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. 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 of a deal if you’ll want multiple photos.
HOW MUCH IS THE MEMORY MAKER AT DISNEY WORLD?
Admittedly, the Disney Memory Maker is expensive ($169 as of this writing – or $149 in advance), however, if you plan on visiting with as many characters as possible, 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).
WHY YOU NEED A DISNEY MEMORY MAKER WITH TEENS TOO
My teen and tween are past seeking out the characters (although they are happy to pose when they see them). They loved using the Disney PhotoPass for the attraction photos. It became a game. See what crazy poses we can do each time. As we waited, we strategized our moves, then died 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 Hollywood Blvd. to get a series of shots closer and closer to Sorcerer Mickey’s Hat. 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. 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, the Disney PhotoPass photographers can also do magic shots. What are magic shots? Magic Shots add Disney characters and fun surprises to your photo after it is taken. The Disney PhotPpass photographer had my boys and I pose on Hollywood Blvd. in 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.
Want to do something extra special? Use your 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 take place on or around Main Street, U.S.A. where you can enjoy stunning views of Cinderella Castle or inside Animal Kingdom for even more fun backdrops.
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.
HOW LONG IS A DISNEY PHOTOPASS GOOD FOR?
There is an expiration date on your photos, regardless of whether you are using the complimentary Disney PhotoPass photos or you have purchased a Disney Memory Maker. 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.
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 magic bands and your My Disney Experience Account. If you are wearing your magic bands on a ride like the Dwarf Mine Train, it will automatically link the attraction photo and 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 account. Go to your reservation and tickets. At the bottom of that page you’ll see “Your Memory Maker Photos.” Click on it and you’ll see a page that asks “Do You Have Disney PhotoPass Photos?” Click on Link Memory Maker and add the number from your Disney Memory Maker Account.
Don’t be fooled at the beginning. You have to enter your Memory Maker account number. Just because at the beginning it says “Your Memory Maker Photos” doesn’t mean you HAVE a Memory Maker account (I thought that at first and got really excited).
Note: MagicBands are required to link attraction videos to your Disney account (another reason to stay on property!) 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 again and do the first two steps above – Go to your reservation and tickets. At the bottom of that page you’ll see Memory Maker Account. Click on it and you’ll see a page that asks if you have Disney PhotoPass Photos. Click on the MagicBand and add the number from your Magic Band.
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 photos immediately. 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).
DOWNLOADING YOUR DISNEY MEMORY MAKER PHOTOS
There is an easy system to download your Disney PhotoPass photos, but it did take some time to figure out, so don’t wait until the last minute. You can also customize your photos with Disney boarders 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 Photo Pass 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.
*Thank you to Disney Memory Makers for the photos.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO WALT DISNEY WORLD
- 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)
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