Ah, the Disney vacation—a popular destination for families with small (and not-so-small) children. It's a mix of magic, fun, and chaos wrapped into each day.
We've been extremely fortunate to be able to make the trip more than once over the past few years. My kids love it, and while we don't go at an all-out pace, it can still be a hectic time. As a result of the chaotic crowds, my hands are usually too full from holding smaller hands to let me take out my camera and get some great pictures. Since I'm the primary photographer in the family, if I don't take out the camera, the pictures don't happen.
Enter Disney's Memory Maker—their new digital product that replaced the old PhotoPass. (This is NOT a sponsored post. I've bought the Photo Pass and Memory Maker and think it was a great choice each time and am sharing my opinion.) If you purchase the Memory Maker product, you have unlimited access to all of the Disney photographers for the duration of your stay. These photographers are in every park, at every character meal, every character meet-and-greet, and they are also stationed near all the iconic Disney landmarks.
In addition, any ride that takes an "attraction photo" (for example, at the moment when you're screaming on Tower of Terror as it plunges) is also included in the Memory Maker product. (The attraction photos usually cost $15-$20 apiece.) You can download the photos each day (a definite improvement over the old PhotoPass, which you could just download at the end of your trip), and they stay in your account for 45 days before they are deleted. Register before your trip and then at each photographer, you just scan your magic band (the bracelet that Disney is now using for park passes) to have the photos automatically uploaded to your account. You can take as many photos that you need at each photographer, so there's no problem at all if you need to arrange different combinations of people in each shot.
It's not cheap—$150 if you purchase it before your trip, $199 if you purchase it when you get there; however, if you're travelling with friends or family, if you register all of your travel companions as "friends and family" on your MyDisneyExperience.com account, they can all share it! On this trip, we ended up with more than 200 photos. Some are duplicates and we were really not aggressive in seeking out the Disney photographers. When I spoke to other vacationers while standing in line, many of them told me that they had more than 400 photos by the end of their trip. One extended family even had over 1,000 photographs in their account when I spoke to them, and their trip wasn't over yet!
For us, it was worth the investment to come away with great photographs that I could actually be a part of.
A little tip: if the photographer asks you to do something a little strange, go with the flow. You might end up with something special . . .
Heading to Disney? Make sure you check out Doing Disney: 5 Magic-Making Tips For The Whole Family.