So I finally decided to pull the trigger - and, relatively speaking, it was a little costly.
We had been planning our Walt Disney World trip for almost a year. The condo was booked nine months out. I snatched the coveted character dinner reservations at 180 days out. I got up at midnight every night for a week to book FastPasses at 30 days out. By April 22, we were totally prepped and ready to go.
During the planning phase, I glanced at the advanced MemoryMaker package, Disney's photo service that captures you and your loved ones with characters, on rides and at various locations in the park.
Notice, I said "I glanced."
At $149, the price seemed a little steep at the time, especially after paying five-day park admission for four adults (10-year-olds pay adult admission) and one child.
My cart went without the MemoryMaker package.
We went on the trip at the end of April. Every day we were in a Disney park - and that was five days - I found myself dragging my camera.
I had prepped the digital monster, stripping off the hand grip and selecting a lightweight lens that would fulfill all my travel needs. I left home anything I felt would be too heavy to carry.
During the days in the park, I didn't mind capturing our youngest child's moments with her favorite Disney characters or the iconic Disney castle. We'd even rented a double stroller so there was ample room to put the camera in our bag when it wasn't in use.
I couldn't imagine NOT taking it to any of the parks. I might miss a moment.
The trip was wonderful and I looked forward to culling the images I had taken during its duration.
Once we arrived home, however, I made a startling discovery - apparently our children had made the journey on this wonderful trip alone.
Photos of kids and scenery - 300+
Photos of dad - 1 (test shot)
Photos of mom - 0 (not even an elbow)
In our quest to beat the long ride lines, take in all the sights, and make our FastPass times, we completely neglected to get in a photo.
I suddenly flashed back to the friendly Disney cast members scanning our MagicBands after taking photos and the screens showing our ride photos.
I found myself scanning the Disney website in search of the elusive parents who accompanied our children on vacation.
I was shocked at what I saw.
In the Hevron Disney gallery were more than 280 photos - several with my husband and I in them. We are in ride photos and I'm even in some character photos.
I selectively chose which photos to purchase to prove our children do indeed have parents. At nearly $15 per photo download, I kicked myself for not buying the MemoryMaker photo package in advance. My after-the-fact shopping cart showed $119.60.
I could have gone ahead and purchased the post-trip group of downloads for $169, but several of the photos were character duplicates (our youngest visited the same characters repeatedly). I had already taken those photos myself.
What can I say, I bit the bullet and hit the "submit order" button for my eight ride photos, gritting my teeth the entire time.
Photos now downloaded and issue over, we've since discussed the Disney photo package. This definitely would have been the year the MemoryMaker prepurchase would have made sense for our family. I wouldn't have had to worry about lugging around the camera, our youngest wouldn't have been looking at two different cameras trying to figure out who was photographing her during character stops, and I wouldn't have had to repeatedly fight the ordering system (there were a few glitches getting the cart to work) trying to get these eight downloads ordered within 45 days after the trip.
We'll return to Disney in the next five years but things will be different next time. The kids will be older and they won't care about character meet-and-greets, character meals, or being photographed. They will just want to have fun.
The camera may stay at home next time.