*DIS Contributors review meals, resort stays, and entertainment that they have paid for during their own vacations. They only utilize discounts and offers if they are available to the general public, such as annual passholder discounts, Tables in Wonderland, or DVC membership discounts. They receive no additional compensation for dining experiences or events, so that they may give their honest opinions about price and value.
It’s no surprise to anyone who has been following Disney news since the pandemic began and parks reopened that going to Disney is more expensive now that ever. In fact, when we went in November 2021 our trip was well over a thousand dollars more than our previous trip, with similar itineraries and hotel level accommodations. In fact, for our 2021 trip we stayed at a value resort (Art of Animation) as opposed to a moderate level for the first time to try to hedge these increases, but we still came out close to a thousand dollars more! With the addition of Genie + and Individual Lightning Lanes for four people over 5 days, and without the dining plan, we definitely raked in a high tab. We were lucky too- we got in one month before the end of Magical Express, so that was even one less additional expense for which we were responsible.
Fast-forward to 2022 and we have a short trip planned for the fall. We are heading down to WDW this fall for 3 nights, 2 park days. This is significantly shorter than our usual visits, but we found ourselves with an opportunity for a long weekend at a time of year we can never go, so we wanted to capitalize. With that said, the overall trip is obviously less expensive due to it being half the length of our usual trips, but there’s one splurge I just can’t justify skipping. That splurge is Disney’s Memory Maker.
As someone who lives in New Jersey, our trips to Disney are typically once a year, or every year and a half. When we are home and dreaming of our return to see Mickey, all we have are our memories… and our photos. In the past, it was easy to justify the price because we always did a minimum of five park days, so I felt the $169 if purchased at least 3 days in advance (or $199 if purchased after that) was worth it when you divided it by the day. However, for this upcoming trip, with only 2 park days, it felt really exorbitant to spend $169 for two days.
In the end, we decided it’s a service we just aren’t willing to skip. We routinely end up with professional quality photos that include all four of us (a rarity!), fun magic shots and ride photos, and truly the memories that last a lifetime for us. My kids know that when they see a cast member with that khaki vest, they better go scan their MagicBand and put on their best smiles. I always joke that I pay for the trip, so they repay me by “playing nice” and taking their photos.
While this will come out to $85 a day (which still makes me twitch as I type it out), I know that these photos are something we look back on and enjoy throughout the years. It is a corner I could easily cut, but I’d rather make cuts in other ways and not compromise our memories. So, take my money, Disney… I’m buying Memory Maker again… even if it’s just for two days.