VIAGGI – FAMILY TRAVEL
To look at most people’s family albums, you would think that mothers never go on a vacation – or do anything else – with their kids. After all, they are always the ones taking the pictures, so it’s like they were never there. When the women of the family pass away, you’ll be longing for images to hang onto the memories, to keep their faces fresh in your mind. But you may never find them.
Well, Walt Disney World has fixed all this, at least whenever mothers travel there. You can purchase Memory Maker, which allows you to carry a card or a magic band on which you can save photos taken by Disney Photo Pass photographers, who are waiting at various points of interest within the park and sometimes the resorts.
What drew me to the Memory Maker was the price. See, I always liked getting photographers with professional cameras to take pictures of my family. Not long before we bought the Memory Maker the first time in 2015, I had paid for holiday photos of my son and his cousins.
We went to the local J.C. Penney for those, and I ended up spending nearly $200 on a CD with all the pictures on it. There were about 5 photos of my son alone, another 5 of my brother’s immediate family, and 20 photos that featured my niece and nephew and my son. The portraits were lovely, and a few of them made for a nice collage for my parents for Christmas. But it was only a few photos and my husband and I were not in them at all. In fairness, scheduling prevented our presence but having us there would have only driven up the price. And the gray or seasonal school-photo backgrounds were outdated and not all that appealing. When it was over, despite being happy to have the pictures, I felt overcharged, and the buyer’s remorse kicked in.
On the other hand, Memory Maker promised us the ability to take as many pictures as we’d like of the entire family or different factions of it throughout the entirety of our trip. The backgrounds would be the sites at Disney parks (unbeatable if you ask me). Some of the pics would undoubtedly be with Disney characters at the very moment that my son was meeting them for the first time (precious).
Since my parents, brother’s family, and sister would all be there, we’d have full family portraits that included all of us. And we would get all this for under $200, about the same as the price for the CD of about 30 photos from J.C. Penney. With Disney, we’d have a month to be able to download all the digital photos for ourselves. We could even include decorative borders provided by Disney if we wanted to. One of the coolest parts was the possibility of magic shots. This is when the Photo Pass photographer asked us to point to something or look in a different direction, and then we’d find a cartoon had been added to the picture. For instance, my son was asked to look cold and gaze to his left in front of Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella’s Castle and Olaf, not to mention snow, showed up in the picture when we were ready to download it. In another shot, we’re all in front of Spaceship Earth at Epcot’s entrance trying to pull down my husband who is holding a large bouquet of Mickey Mouse-shaped balloons.
Even if you don’t purchase Memory Maker, you still can have Photo Pass photographers take your picture. You can then look at the pictures online and decide if you want to purchase one at a time. That deal will bankrupt you. In the year before I bought the Memory Maker, I wanted a photo of my family from a character breakfast we had attended. The ability to download the one picture after our trip cost about $15 and that didn’t even include having it printed. I would have gone broke for the nearly 1,000 photos I downloaded the next year with Memory Maker or even the nearly 500 I downloaded after the February 2016 trip we just took.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind. Purchase the Memory Maker because it’s a great price. In fact, Disney lowered the price of advanced purchases back in December. I had bought mine for said February trip the day before the price drop was announced. Instead of crediting me for the $20, Disney made me buy something from the Photo Pass online store. The print outs are overpriced, so don’t buy into that. Instead, I print out the images through my local Walgreens or Shutterfly to get a better price. So, I still had $20 to spend, and I looked at the products. The calendars, mugs, magnets, etc. are all better priced and perhaps higher quality at other online outlets. I decided on a 5X7 wooden frame with Mickey in the corner.
But I had to shell out another $7 for shipping. I was annoyed. I would have preferred to have just received the $20 back on my credit card. Another important point is that you must buy the Memory Maker before your trip to get the best price and to maximize its value, so that you can start taking pictures as soon as you arrive.
Still, compared to everything else at Disney, which is becoming more astronomically priced as I write this, the Memory Maker is a great deal and a genius idea. By the way, if you can’t or don’t want to buy into it, you can still ask Photo Pass photographers around the parks to photograph you with your own camera or phone. They will always say, “Yes!” So, there are no more excuses. Mom, you better be in the next batch of vacation photos.
ITALIAN MAMMA’S NOTE: For full disclosure, you should know that a member of my immediate family is a Disney employee, and I have gotten into the Disney Parks for free as a result. I, however, have always paid for my resort stays and the Memory Maker. And I’m in no way influenced about what to write or my opinions on Disney travel.