Walt Disney World and price hikes go together like Tinkerbell and Peter Pan. You just can’t have one without the other. Though we’d all like it if a trip to Walt Disney World suddenly became less expensive overnight, with both prices and admission rising year over year, it seems that the market (at least currently) can bear the rising cost of a Disney vacation, which means costs will continue to go up.
However, Disney made the rare decision yesterday to actually drop the price of one of its service products: the Walt Disney World PhotoPass Memory Maker. Effective immediately, the standard Memory Maker package (which can be used by guests on the same day as it is ordered) is now priced at $169, down $30 from its previous $199 price point. The advance purchase Memory Maker package, (which has a 3 day delay before it can be activated and used), was also cut and is now priced at $149, down $20 from its original $169 price point. Guests who have purchased the advance Memory Maker package at the higher price are now being issued a Disney PhotoPass gift card to make up the difference.
Interestingly, this price drop is actually a return to the original Memory Maker pricing that was in place prior to December 2014. So what has changed in the past year that would make Disney voluntarily lower the price of this service? And could more price drops be coming in the future? Let’s take a few minutes to examine what might be motivating Disney to make this pricing change...
1. The PhotoPass product has lost its value
Before DSLRs became standard carry ons for guests around Walt Disney World, the PhotoPass photograph had some serious value. Professional photos of your family on vacation were a great souvenir, and the unlimited nature of the Memory Maker package helped guests feel like their family vacation was one big photo shoot, with guests stopping and posing all around the park to get the most out of their purchase.
However, a lot has changed over the years. Increasingly guests are now equipped with cameras that produce photos that are either equivalent to, or perhaps even better than, those that the PhotoPass photographers have. Not only does this mean that guests can take superior pictures of their vacation on their own, but they can also hand their camera to PhotoPass photographers at their favorite Walt Disney World spot to get the same or better quality photos for free without paying a cent (and with no downloads required).
Complicating matters even further is the fact that PhotoPass Memory Maker is now included with all annual passes sold after the most recent price hike, diminishing demand among a large chunk of park-goers. Though the price of the original Memory Maker was prohibitive for many annual passholders, the possibility of selling to this group is now completely gone, for as long as Disney decides to include Memory Maker as a part of annual passes.
With all these factors combined, it’s a wonder why anyone would pay almost $200 to download photos taken during a Walt Disney World vacation. The fact that there is any demand at all for this service is a little astonishing, and though Disney is likely trying to test the waters for any uptick in demand with a lower price point for Memory Maker, we'd wager there's actually something much different going on here...