Walt Disney World sells Memory Maker and Capture Your Moment, both of which are PhotoPass photography packages. This guide & review helps you determine whether they’re worth the money, quality you can expect from photos, and also the differences between WDW and Disneyland. (Updated February 1, 2024.)
Like so much that Walt Disney World offers, all of this is incredibly confusing. What’s the difference between PhotoPass and Memory Maker? What about Memory Maker and Capture Your Moment? Or even Memory Maker advance purchase vs. during/post vacation vs. one day?! It’s a lot to digest, rivaling the convoluted Genie+ and Lightning Lane system in use for line-skipping at Walt Disney World.
At Walt Disney World, the easiest way to distinguish Memory Maker and PhotoPass is by thinking of Memory Maker as the package you purchase that gives you access to your photos, and PhotoPass is the service that Disney offers with Cast Members taking your photo around the park. PhotoPass is a free service available to everyone, including but not limited to those who buy Memory Maker.
Memory Maker includes a digital download of all photos taken by PhotoPass photographers, plus on-ride and character dining photos taken at select locations at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. So in a nutshell, Memory Maker is the digital download product. Things get confused a little bit because there are other PhotoPass-branded products (including single-photo downloads for $15, coffee cups, etc.) available for purchase.
Then there’s Capture Your Moment, which is more niche, and is basically a private photo shoot. This is also a service and not a product, meaning that you pay for the photographer’s time, but have to acquire the product separately. The main thing to remember is this: PhotoPass=service, Capture Your Moment=service, Memory Maker=product.
There’s (very understandably!) a lot of confusion about Memory Maker and PhotoPass, so hopefully that helps clear up some of that!
Memory Maker at Disney World
Let’s start with the products. For the duration of your vacation, Memory Maker costs $185 at Walt Disney World when purchased in advance, or $210 if bought during your trip. Another option is Memory Maker One Day, which is exactly as the name suggests–all of your photos & videos from a single day of your vacation (of your choosing) for $75.
In the past, Annual Passholders received free digital downloads of all PhotoPass photos, but that is no longer the case. Currently, APs can either buy the Memory Maker products (which makes zero sense given price points) or purchase the PhotoPass add-on to the Annual Pass at a cost of $99 per year. The upside of this approach is that you can have one person in your party purchase the add-on to collect photos from everyone family (at least, those who visit together).
Memory Maker and the Annual Passholder PhotoPass add-on packages also now includes on-ride photos and select character dining. Strong emphasis on ‘select’ in character dining experiences, as it’s fairly rare to see PhotoPass photographers in restaurants as of 2024, with the exception of spots that have a character you meet at the entrance. (Examples that come to mind include Chef Mickey’s, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Minnie’s Seasonal Dine. There might be a few others, and you might get lucky with photographers roaming restaurants, but don’t count on it!)
Attraction photos are taken while in the parks at more than a dozen of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions including the following:
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Haunted Mansion
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Space Mountain
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (opening in 2024)
- TRON Lightcycle Run
- Frozen Ever After
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
- Test Track
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (currently closed)
- Slinky Dog Dash
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Expedition Everest
Pre-ordered vacation packages online can be upgraded to Memory Maker upon arrival at Walt Disney World, but we recommend pre-ordering due to the difficulty we’ve heard some people have encountered in doing this. Memory Maker is integrated into your MagicBands, but you can also use your ticket media. So long as you’re all together in My Disney Experience, every photo scanned into any of your MagicBands will appear in the party account. f
Capture Your Moment at Walt Disney World
Capture Your Moment is a relatively new PhotoPass service that lets you book time with a Disney PhotoPass photographer for a personalized photo session during regular park hours at Magic Kingdom in 20 minute increments.
As of 2024, Capture Your Moment photo session locations are now available in all four parks, with two options in Disney’s Hollywood Studios (one exclusive to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge). At the start of your session, the PhotoPass photographer will share available photo shoot locations and discuss photo options before escorting you to your location.
Each Capture Your Moment session is $99. Gratuity is not included or required. If you book two Capture Your Moment sessions back-to-back for $99 each, you can spend up to 40 minutes with your photographer capturing photos in at least two different photo locations. Call 407-939-7758 to book a Capture Your Moment session. This is only bookable over the phone–not on a walk-up basis.
Prints and digital downloads are not included with the price of a Capture Your Moment session. In order to receive your photos from the photo shoot, you’ll need one of the Memory Maker packages, or an Annual Pass add-on that’s eligible for free PhotoPass downloads.
There is definitely guest demand for such a “private photo shoot” service, but it’s worth pointing out that essentially the same thing can be accomplished for free by visiting multiple locations. The critical distinction between a real portraiture session and this is that you are still reliant upon regular PhotoPass photographers, rather than a true professional with an eye for photography.
PhotoPass at Disneyland
At Disneyland, PhotoPass is still the service, but currently the product is called PhotoPass+ One Week for $78. There are also other products that can be purchased under the PhotoPass brand, but the main product that offers inclusive digital downloads is PhotoPass+ One Week, and as the name suggests, it’s offered for downloads of a full week (7 days) worth of photos for your entire family. Magic Shots and Animated Magic Shots captured during those days are also included.
You won’t find a ton of information about PhotoPass+ on Disneyland’s official website, and the reason for that is because the company has more or less backed away from pushing the package. This is because it’s been indirectly replaced by the Genie+ service, which offers Lightning Lane line-skipping and unlimited Disney PhotoPass digital photo downloads from your day, including on-ride and character photos. You’ll also unlock Disney PhotoPass Lenses, giving you access to augmented reality effects that bring Disney stories and characters to life.
Genie+ starts at $30 per person per day, and the main feature is the aforementioned line-skipping. If you’re only visiting for a few days and would’ve purchased PhotoPass+ One Week anyway, buying Genie+ is a no-brainer at Disneyland. You’ll accomplish a ton more, and get photos included.
In fact, in almost all use cases, Genie+ is the better option than PhotoPass+ One Week. Unless you do not want that benefit and have a large party and are visiting Disneyland for over 3 days, you’re probably better off just sticking with Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. At the very least, you can use it strategically–buying Genie+ for 2 days and focusing on photos and line-skipping then. (This is what we recommend. The vast majority of guests visiting Disneyland for longer durations do not need Genie+ more than 2 days.)
On-ride photos are as follows. At Disneyland:
- Space Mountain
- Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (opening in 2024)
At Disney California Adventure:
- Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!
- Radiator Springs Racers
Whether these PhotoPass services are worth the cost depends on a number of factors, namely, how many photos you’ll take with it and what you think of PhotoPass in the first place. Given that, we’ll continue with our review of the PhotoPass service and conclude with a review of the Memory Maker product.
Review of PhotoPass Service
For some guests, no review is necessary. Memory Maker might be included in your Walt Disney World vacation package, or you might have it with an Annual Pass. We have never purchased regular PhotoPass as part of a vacation package because the value for us simply is not there. The calculus is different now that we have Annual Passes; $99 for a full year (given how much we visit) is worth it to us. We use it a decent amount for the convenience, but still wouldn’t pay for it on a per-trip basis in most cases.
Disney touts PhotoPass as a great way to get professional photos with the whole family in the shot. Based upon this pitch, it’s pretty clear that there are two components to PhotoPass/Memory Maker: product (the photos available for digital download) and service (having someone else to take the photos for you so the whole family can get into the shot). Some people don’t realize this, but only the product costs money.
The service is free, as all PhotoPass photographers will capture photos for you for free with your camera or phone. Same goes for character attendants, which is a key thing to note since many meet & greets don’t have PhotoPass photographers at all–just character attendants. So those won’t be included in your Memory Maker package regardless.
Due to ongoing staffing shortages, we’d estimate that a little over half of character meet & greets at Walt Disney World have PhotoPass photographers as of 2024. At Disneyland, that percentage is lower; notably, the popular Mickey & Friends meets in Town Square at Disneyland and Buena Vista Street at DCA usually do not have PhotoPass photographers.
Reviewed with this in mind, I think PhotoPass is a nice service, but the products under its brand aren’t all that great. The “professional” PhotoPass photographers are not skilled professional photographers. Most of the professional photographers employed in PhotoPass positions are only professionals in the sense that it is their job to take photos. They are paid to do it, therefore they are professional.
They have no specialized expertise or experience in photography–they were just given some quick on the job training in using the PhotoPass equipment. Consequently, many PhotoPass Cast Members have trouble using cameras that are handed off to them (except iPhones–they all are fluent in iPhoneography).
That’s just the start of the problems. With PhotoPass, sometimes you’ll get photos that are out-of-focus, poorly composed, or not properly exposed. This isn’t a problem some of the time, but can be an issue. If you’re only getting photos during the day, it’s usually not a problem–your keeper rate should be close to 75%.
At night, that number drops. Many PhotoPass photographers don’t have tripods at night, which is a red flag for low-quality photos with underexposed backgrounds, bright flashes, and high noise levels. If you don’t have an “eye” for photography, you may not notice this. If you do, you’ll instantly see the problems.
Honestly, many of these PhotoPass Cast Members are better at using your iPhone than they are with their own cameras. This is especially true with the younger College Program participants. Intuitively, this should make sense. Many of them were just handed a DSLR for the first time ever a few weeks ago–but they’ve been using camera phones pretty much all their lives.
It also helps that phone camera technology continues to improve. If you have a newer device and have a younger phone-savvy Cast Member take your photo, I’d estimate it’s about 50/50 whether the DSLR or iPhone photo will turn out better. In which case, why bother paying extra for Memory Maker?!
I don’t want this to sound like I’m piling on PhotoPass Cast Members. I’m not. As Cast Members, they’re usually delightful to us just like most Cast Members are. As photographers, I don’t feel that many of them are up to snuff. I realize I’m painting with broad strokes here.
Some PhotoPass photographers are excellent. So, if you’re a good PhotoPass photographer, please don’t take offense. However, most aren’t any better at photography than the average tourist in the parks. So don’t purchase Memory Maker or PhotoPass+ One Week because you think it’s a great way to get professional-quality photos from the parks. It’s not.
All of that said, as a service, PhotoPass is wonderful. This is because all of the photographers will take photos of you with your camera for free. We use this free service all the time, and while the photos don’t always turn out well, it’s nice to have Cast Members conveniently located in front of icons to take photos of us.
Given the fact that PhotoPass will take photos of you with your own camera, I have always had a really hard time recommending Memory Maker or PhotoPass+ One Week to anyone on a tight budget. Granted, there are benefits if your camera isn’t very nice and there’s also something to be said for convenience.
However, I think most guests would be better suited by purchasing a nice point & shoot camera or upgrading their phone, having PhotoPass photographers use that to take their photos, also using it to take their own photos, and then purchasing photobooks through reputable online services with all of their vacation photos. Doing that, you’d come out ahead monetarily after only a couple of trips.
Plus, you’d have a wonderful camera at the end of the day, which is an excellent pocket-sized camera that’s easy to carry around Walt Disney World and Disneyland that is capable of almost as good of photos as the PhotoPass cameras. Plus, by purchasing a nice little point and shoot like that, you are able to take your own nice photos in other circumstances!
Review of Memory Maker Product
Memory Maker offers several benefits. By virtue of the camera used being a semi-professional DSLR, there’s a good chance the photos they take will be nicer than photos you take with your own camera; but you could easily achieve comparable results if you had a DSLR.
At both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, there are some “special” photos called Magic Shots that only PhotoPass photographers can take, such as guests holding Simba or Tinkerbell, or Stitch coming out of the pavement.
If you’re going to Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon water parks at Walt Disney World, Memory Maker also has more value because these photographers are positioned in a lot of fun locations where you probably couldn’t get your own photos (like in the wave pools and at the end of attractions like Crush N Gusher). These photos can be a lot of fun, and definitely make PhotoPass a much better value.
Beyond that, the product becomes a better value if you have a larger party or (at Walt Disney World) are taking a longer trip. If you’re going on a two week long family reunion and 10 of you will be using PhotoPass photographers to capture thousands of photos from the special trip, the per photo cost of Memory Maker is so low that it’s more likely to be worth it for you. By contrast, if you’re only getting 10 or so photos per trip with PhotoPass, you’re paying $10+ per photo, which is more difficult to justify.
Memory Maker might be easier to justify for special trips from which you want as many memories as possible. If it’s your “Disneymoon” or a your son or daughter’s first trip to Walt Disney World, some of the photos taken by PhotoPass might be priceless. Obviously everyone’s circumstances are different in this regard, so weigh your circumstances accordingly when determining whether you should purchase Memory Maker.
Perhaps the single biggest benefit is the on-ride photos. We love making funny faces for these on-ride photos, and although we have never purchased an on-ride photo when you could buy them a la carte, we love them. So for us, this was where the real value of Memory Maker can be found.
During the course of one 5-day trip to Walt Disney World, we got 17 on-ride photos. On a longer trip, we could’ve gotten even more. Plus, we did get other photos, and the convenience of not having to hand off my camera to the PhotoPass photographers was a nice luxury (but not something for which I’d pay much of a premium).
It should go without saying, but you cannot use your own camera or phone for on-ride photos or videos. There aren’t PhotoPass Cast Members stationed inside Space Mountain who you can pass off your phone to for a quick snap as the roller coaster races around. Crazy, right?! So the main option for on-ride photos is buying Memory Maker.
Admittedly, we’re also suckers for the Magic Shots and always make a point to get the new or seasonal ones for Halloween, Christmas, or special celebrations. Not only that, but there are now fun photos and video that offer bird’s eye or innovative 360-degree shots. These are also shots you could not capture with your own camera. None of them are essential, but they’re icing on the cake.
There’s also video on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which is one of several innovative and fresh things Walt Disney World is doing with PhotoPass. It’s pretty neat and fun to show family and friends or share via social media. I think this is the way of the future, and Disney will likely try to incorporate on-ride video like this into as many future attractions as possible.
For us, on-ride photos are really the most fun–and what we want from our visits. Although Memory Maker is the main way of acquiring all of these over the course of a Walt Disney World vacation, it’s not the only option.
As mentioned above, Genie+ at Disneyland includes all PhotoPass photos. At Walt Disney World, Genie+ now includes on-ride photos taken during the days that you purchase the line-skipping service. While this can end up costing more than Memory Maker over the course of a trip, Genie+ also provides the even more valuable Lightning Lane benefit.
If I were determining how to allocate my vacation budget, I’d put the money towards Genie+ for 2-3 days of the trip. Make a point of grabbing as many on-ride photos as possible on those days, and just hand my phone or camera off to PhotoPass photographers for the rest of the trip. That’s the balanced approach that allows for photos and line-skipping. Win-win.
Overall, I have a difficult time recommending Memory Maker at Walt Disney World to everyone for every trip. If you’ve never purchased on-ride photos but like the idea of them, consider trying it for a longer trip, and go nuts getting as many of those photos as you can, plus other photos. After that trip, you might just stick to using PhotoPass as a service to get photos taken with your own camera.
I think it mostly makes sense for long or special occasion trips. If you are taking a week or longer vacation with a lot of family members, it might be worth getting Memory Maker so that you can get character dining photos and, more importantly, on-ride photos. If you get an on-ride photo from most of the attractions (or multiple photos), the per photo cost of Memory Maker is pretty insignificant.
Thus, the longer your trip and the more people in your traveling party, the better of a value Memory Maker is. In most cases, I think there are far better ways to spend finite vacation dollars than on Memory Maker, but everyone values aspects of their Disney vacations differently, and it might be a great value to you depending upon your circumstances!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Do you agree or disagree? Like PhotoPass or hate it? Have you tried Memory Maker or PhotoPass+ One Week? Are you considering trying one of them? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!