Tag Archives: Disney World

Disney Memory Maker Review

For an additional $150 we had the option to add Disney Memory Maker photo package to our trip. Tim said no. I said yes. I bought the package. The idea is fantastic, and in theory it is a great deal. You get a digital copy of all the ride photos and every time you see a Memory Maker Photographer you can get your photo taken, scan your Magic Band and then you get those photos too.

Here is what Disney says about Memory Maker.

I was in love with this because without handing over my nice camera to complete strangers who are on vacation with their family, and kindly asking them to take a photo, I would get to have photos taken by a pro and the whole family could be in them. That seemed worth the $150 to me.

When we got to Animal Kingdom we hit up all the Memory Maker photographers we could find. Sometimes the wait was a few minutes because there were a few other families in front of us but it was worth it.  All five of us were in a photo together! After the boys and I went on the Expedition Everest roller coaster I was thrilled that I got to keep the photo of me smiling and the boys screaming in fear. At Animal Kingdom there seemed to be Memory Maker Photographers everywhere you would want one.

Day two was at Epcot. Here the photographers were harder to find, and the lines were LONG. An average of three or four families were waiting at a time and there was no order, rhyme or reason to the lines so it was very easy to have families cut in front of you in line (HUGE Disney faux pas). The ride we wanted to get a photo from was having camera problems so we couldn’t get a photo.

Day Three was the first day in Magic Kingdom. I was pumped at the thought of getting a good family pic in front of Cinderella’s Castle on Main Street. There wasn’t a Photographer outside the entrance where the big floral Mickey was and I was bummed about that, but there were photographers every 30 ft on mainstreet. This allowed you to get lots of photos with different perspectives of the castle. Scratch that. It allowed you to get the same photo 6 times with the castle a different size behind you. None the less, I was convinced that there was bound to be at least one good photo of the family out of all of them. The Cinderella Castle was the only place we saw a memory maker that day. There are so many great photo ops. The carousel, in the Tikki area by the Jungle ride, near any of the classic rides. A different angle of the castle even.

Day Four was at Magic Kingdom again and we tried all the mainstreet / castle photos again. We were able to find another MM Photographer by the Gaston Fountain. And we got photos from the Buzz Lightyear ride.

Both Tim and I were bummed about all the missed opportunities and lack of MM photographers at Magic Kingdom

We went back to Epcot on Day Five. There were a few more MM Photographers, but they were all positioned in front of some angle of the globe. The only MM Photographer we saw in the “All Around the World” was with Elsa and Anna. We didn’t wait in line 4.5 hours to meet them so the only photo we have of them is one I took through an open door at the gift shop.

Overall I am not impressed. I am least impressed and most upset with the quality of the photos. Many are crooked. Most are poorly lit. The cropping of the photos was strange in a way where a lot of the time the landmark was not visible. The second problem is that there were not enough Photographers positioned throughout the park. They missed way too many opportunities. It would be worth the cost if there were more photographers and those photographers were trained on how to use their camera.

 

I think the biggest kicker of all is that there were families in line to get their photos taken and they would just hand over their own cameras and the MM Photographer would snap photos with their camera. If I would have known this I could have set up my camera to the right settings and then stood in line and asked them to take the photo. It would have saved me $150 and I would have had a better chance at a quality photo.

In the end I am glad we bought the package for our first trip. I would have regretted not buying it and I would have imagined the 100s of wonderful photos I missed out on. When (not if) we go back, and unless there are some serious changes to the program, I will not buy the package again.

That said, I do love that we have family photos from the vacation, and this is my favorite.

Our vacation was entirely planned by Easy Days Getaways. Jess did an incredible job and we had a trip of the life time. I can not recommend her enough!

**All photo are unedited and have only been resized in order to fit this blog post. To see more of our Memory Maker photos go here! 

Disney World Day Five: Epcot

Going into this trip all I kept saying to Tim is “All I want is for a couple good photos of the kids looking at the camera a smiling in front of something Disney.” It took an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the kids are more willing to pose for photos if I ask them to do something silly or to pose like what is behind them. In the end those are the photos that are more fun to take and more fun to look back on. Note to self- stop being such a downer and lighten up. It started with Gaston the day before but this day at Epcot was all about being silly in front of the camera. I had changed my goal. Photos of the kids smiling at the camera to photos of the kids having fun.      Michael didn’t want to look at the camera because it was sunny so instead of having him squint at the camera he made a monster face. Closed eyes work with a scary face- espcially when you are laughing while making said scary face.   Just like the Tom Sawyer Island, this Monsters University playground was a fantastic way for the kids to take a break from the rest of the theme park. Look at the details of the park. So stinking cute!    Tim got to eat his first ever Cronut (Croissant Doughnut) so you know, his trip was a complete success. A few strips of crispy bacon and Tim would have thought he was in heaven. Starred Photos16   The kids had icecream as a morning snack because well… it was vacation and you have to pick your battles.  Plus it was so hot that day! Elise couldn’t eat her icecream fast enough. She was not impressed when Dad “helped” her out.   After the playground and a sugary snack break we headed around the world. Canada.   Great Britain. His cheeks are puffed out because he is pretending to be transported like he is in Tardis.    Pretending to be Hook. Pretending to be eaten by Tic Toc Croc. Starred Photos17   France.  Clogworth and Lumiere     I told him, “It is a sundial and that the shadows on the sundial is how they used to tell time before clocks!” Boom. Science and History lesson by Mom. Tim walked up to us and told him it was an inaccurate way to measure time and it only worked sort of the time and only during part of the year. Tim explained why it only worked part of the year. Michael liked Tim’s answer better. Patrick and I walked away during Tim’s teaching moment and looked at the flowers.    Moroco.       Japan.     The stage where my High School Choir performed my senior year. The kids were not impressed.   Views of the Epcot ball (Is there a name for that?) Starred Photos18   Germany.   Africa. He was having a blast. This is what he calls his “Rock Star Drummer” face. I wanted to buy one of each of those musical instruments. Tim said no.   I begged Tim to hold up Elise and pose for a photo. Tim said no.     China.   Norway.    We completed our around the world with a taco and quesdilla lunch in Mexico. We backtracked ever so slightly to go on the Norwegian boat ride and it scared the shit out of Elise. She may be named after her Great Great Great Grandma that came over on the Boat from Norway but the does not mean that she likes giant trolls.

We started this entire day with me racing to get in line so the kids could meet and greet Elsa and Anna. I stood in line for a half hour before the person charge of the line told me that my current position in line was a 4.5 hour wait to see Elsa and Anna. I left the line and met back up with Tim and the kids who had went on Spaceship Earth for their 3rd and final time. It ends up that we were able to peek at Elsa and Anna through a door in the gift shop after riding the Norwegian Boat ride.

We left Epcot and took the monorail over to the Polynesian resort for dinner at ‘Ohana. This was the dinner that still makes me giggle even thinking about it. Tim and I both do not like eating chicken off the bone. I have never made chicken wings. We have never ordered chicken wings. This restaurant served family style and one of the meats they brought over were chicken wings. Michael turned into a straight up carnivore. I have never seen him eat any sort of meat like he did those chicken wings. There was a pile of bones on his that would have rivalled any grown man’s plate. He just kept saying, YUM! THIS CHICKEN IS AWESOME! Even the server was giggling at him. Good food and good times.

After dinner we headed back to the resort for our last night of our vacation. We soaked up as much of the resort as we could by doing some more animal watching.

 

This is one of my favorite photos from the resort. It is a favorite because if you look close you can see a mom and her child watching the giraffes through a window.

 

 

 

 

More photos here. 

Disney World Day Four: Magic Kingdom

While at Disney we stayed at Kidani Village. The resort was incredible. Absolutely beautiful. We were in a “one bedroom villa” that had a full kitchen and right off the kitchen was a sitting area with a couch and chair. Both couch and chair folded out into beds and that is where the kids slept. Tim and I had a bedroom and bathroom off of the living room. The suite was a splurge but in the end, because we have three kids, Disney requires us to be in a room for at least five. There isn’t an option to all share a double queen room and have a rollaway cot delivered. So really our choices were getting a suite or paying for two adjoining hotel rooms. Maybe when the kids are older we will opt for two rooms but for now, I feel better knowing that there is only one entrance to our suite. Both the sitting area/kid sleep zone and the bedroom had doors to a balcony. From the balcony we watched the safari animals. Not sure there is a better way to start the day.

On the morning pictured all the animals were of the deer family. I am not sure of the logistics of it all, but we saw many kinds of animals out the window. The zoo or wildlife reserve, or whatever they call it, is open range. The animals can wander wherever they want but I think they “herd” them by putting out the different feeds in different areas everyday. We would see warthogs one day and antelope the next. All from our balcony when we lathered the kids in sunscreen.

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This is the lobby of Kidani. That window… it was beautiful and there were always zebra and giraffes right outside.

We just missed the shuttle bus to Magic Kingdom and it was a 20 minute wait for the next one. I seized that time to take a few portraits of the kids.

 

We got to Magic Kingdom and our itinerary was short and sweet. Today was our half day at the park. We would spend the afternoon back at the resort swimming because four days of theme parks in a row can take a toll on you. We needed a break.

We did the classic Carrousel of Progress and while we were in it the ride got stuck and we stayed in one area twice. If you have ever been on the ride you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t, it wasn’t a big deal.  We just got to watch a scene play out in front of us 2.5 times while waiting for our theatre seats to spin. Again, Elise loved the dog. I am pretty sure it was the same animatronic dog as from the Pirates of Caribbean ride.

We also did the Buzz Lightyear ride which Tim and the boys loved. They got to shoot laser guns at Zurg in black light lit neon rooms. Pretty sure it was a favorite of the boys.

We carbed up the kids before heading to the other side of the park for my most anticipated part of the day. The Little Mermaid ride.

We rode the carousel and I took my favorite photo of Elise of the entire trip. 

Here is another of Elise.

We didn’t have lunch reservations. You can get reservations to eat at the Beast and Belle’s castle but we opted to save our sit down nice meal as a date night for Tim and I. Instead we ate mac n cheese and apple slices on the ground next to a garbage can. It was the best mac n cheese I have ever ate.

We stopped at the Gaston fountain and I just have to say, Patrick I love you.

Then we went on the Little Mermaid ride. I spent the better parts of my summer as a kid leaping out of the water singing and pretending to be Ariel. I was so excited to go on this ride.

After that ride we took a few more photos before heading back to the resort for some much-needed swimming and non-park time.

Before swimming and waiting to get sun screened.

After swimming we took the kids to a daycare that the resort has, and Tim and I got a date night. The kids got to eat burgers and watch Frozen and Tim and I got to look at the animals, enjoy the beauty of the resort and eat some delicious Indian food.

 

 

Disney World Day Two: Epcot

Epcot was the park that Jess had told me is her favorite and that Tim would love the most. I trusted her so I talked up Epcot as much as I could, not knowing anything more than where the stage was that I sang at in High School Choir, and that somewhere in Norway Elsa and Anna were greeting people. Have I mentioned that I did no planning for this trip? I was buried in home renovation details and I left it all up to Jess.

We all had a good night sleep the night before, Tim said that he would let me rent a stroller, my backpack was filled with everything we would need and Epcot had spaceship rides. We were all pumped.

Our plans were to make it to our fast pass rides on time and to make it to our lunch reservation on time in Norway so we could meet some Disney Princesses and eat some Norwegian food. As far as plans go, it was flexible to say the least.

The wait time on the classic Space Ship earth was only 10 minutes when we entered the park so we hit that ride first. I didn’t know what to expect, all I knew was that all five of us could ride the ride.

The ride was hit. I don’t know what it is about it. It should be cheesy and bordering on boring but it isn’t. The boys were fascinated. Tim was thrilled and Elise loved the characters with her face on it. The ride ended in outer space and after you exited the ride there were video games to play. Before our vacation was over we rode the ride two more times.

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It happened to be the flower and garden show the week we were there.

The boys did a simulator launch spaceship ride while Elise and I hit the shops for a bit. She chose Minnie Ears as her souvenir (The boys chose something the day before at Animal Kingdom).

We headed over to Norway for lunch at Akershus. The food was the best of all of the food we had over the entire vacation. The salad bar had some awesome food choices including Gjetost! Tim had the traditional meatball and mashed potatoes and loved it, but mentioned more than once that Grandma Moo’s meatballs are better. I had salmon. The kids all had cheese pizza. Yeah… cheese pizza. Whatever. I learned that on vacation fuel is more important than getting all their veggies. A case of the Hangries (Hungry + Angry) is way worse than missing a few vitamins and minerals for a few days.

The princesses came around and greeted all the tables and posed for photos. Elise wouldn’t leave my side but at least she would allow me to stand near the princesses with her. She is a shy kid. She is my only kid that won’t tell their whole life story to a complete stranger. Tim loves it about her.

The food was good, the princesses were beautiful (Patrick had NO problem cozying up to them for photos) but the highlight of lunch as Akershus was that our server’s name was Elise.

Elise was tickled and had no problem standing up on a chair and posing with “The big Elise!”

We spent the afternoon hitting all the rest of the attractions in the areas of Seas with Nemo & Friends and On Land. Soaring is the most terrifying ride I have ever been on. I have learned that I am not good with simulator rides where my feet dangle. Soaring was a favorite of everyone but me. I will never ride that ride again. I get the willies just thinking about it.

It was a long day and it was a fun day, and besides visiting Norway for lunch we didn’t even begin to explore the Around the World part of Epcot. Jess was right, Epcot is awesome. We didn’t backtrack as much at Epcot as we did at Animal Kingdom but there was still a lot of room for improvement. I hunkered down again that night and studied the map for Magic Kingdom and made a detailed schedule with options for the in between Fast Pass times. I think I studied the map of Magic Kingdom longer than I studied my senior year of high school for finals. That sounds like a lot but really it was only about an hour or so…. What can I say. I was a bad student unless I was inspired and Magic Kingdom inspired me!

More photos here. Spoiler – we go back to Epcot on day four and hit Spaceship Earth again and walk around the world.