Budget For This Extra On Your Walt Disney World Vacation

When I am old, my treasures will be photos, and this will be a crown jewel.

We recently hired Melissa Ann Photography to meet up with us for an hour at Magic Kingdom and what she captured was more than I could hope for. 

I am always the magic manufacturer when we do Disney, and I mostly don’t mind, but combine that with being the family’s primary documentarian, and there’s rarely proof I exist, let alone proof that I made that magic happen in our vacation photos.

So I know, I KNOW WDW is already a pricey experience, but maybe consider this if you have a trip planned.

Why Hire A Professional Photographer For Your WDW Vacation?

1. These trips are, for many people, rare, long planned for and, just like other big and expensive moments of your life, you will love having high-quality images to look back on.

2. Park photographers at Photopass spots do an ok job most of the time, and you get access to those photos when you purchase Memory Maker or they will happily take them with your phone or camera, but they are not going to be able to follow you onto or between rides and capture the small moments when the magic really happens.

3. This is a guaranteed way to be sure everyone in your party gets in the picture, beyond the posed and staged shots.

4. Your photographer will also know all the coolest places to capture moments that will stand out and not get lost in a sea of other people.

How Does It Work?

We coordinated our plans with Melissa beforehand. She’s an Annual Passholder and was able to get fast passes on a few rides the same time as us. We met her in the park, she followed us back to the rides and then walked around with us to a couple other spots. In all, it took about an hour and then we were free to enjoy the rest of our day.

We tried to be considerate of people around us and didn’t make a big deal about the photo shoot.  We waited in line and got on rides just like everybody else and Melissa would do her best to get a good vantage point, so there are some factors that will be out of your control. You need to be ok with that and trust that your photographer can capture the magic even if you don’t get the perfect seats on the ride or your favorite color Dumbo. We really tried to keep the whole session low-key and not get in the way of someone else’s magic that day.

How Much Does It Cost?

Rates will obviously vary based on who you hire. Melissa Ann Photography starts at $375 for an hour, including your final digital files. For us, an hour was plenty. If you have a bigger family or group, though, you might want to consider a longer shoot.

Budgeting Ideas- Some Ways You Might Be Able To Allocate Money For A Photoshoot: 

  1. Start with your food. If you’re doing the dining plan, I strongly encourage you to really crunch the numbers and see if it’s worth it. We’ve done it three different ways now: free dining plan, paid for the dining plan, no dining plan. Obviously, the free dining plan wins every time (a promo they offer 1-2x a year when you stay at a WDW resort.) But if you are paying for the dining plan, there’s a strong possibility you’re not actually going to come out ahead financially. You could easily make up for the cost of a photoshoot by paying out of pocket for meals, bringing in your own snacks, and not eating at a table service  restaurant for a few days. Not as hard as it may sound. Lots of quick service restaurants have great food, and many meals are easily shareable.
  2. Downgrade from Park Hopper tickets. In my experience, park hopping is a time suck and a huge stress when dealing with littles anyway. If your itinerary allows, consider paying less for tickets that only let you in one park a day. 
  3. Prioritize photos over other souvenirs. It’s very easy to get sucked into buying stuff at WDW, and even if they aren’t huge purchases, they add up fast. If your kids will want a WDW souvenir, consider buying Disney merch on Amazon or from Walmart or Target before you go, and then sneak it in your luggage and gift it to them there. 

We are basically living at Walt Disney World right now and have been for nearly a month- popping in and out of Fort Wilderness, Disney’s official on-site RV park, and other Orlando area RV parks. Don’t hate me, please!

This is such a rare and wonderful thing, and we are fully taking advantage of it. Partly because when else in our children’s lifetimes will we be able to do this with them? Homeschool part of the day, and then run up and catch the fireworks or snag a fast pass for a favorite ride- we are so super lucky, and I know that.

Also, a big reason for the extended stay is so I can get all the research I need done here for my next eBook (title still pending) all about how to take photos of your family at Walt Disney World. After the jaw-dropping success of my first eBook Picture Play- CLICK THROUGH to read reviews and buy-over 1100 copies sold in less than 3 months and still going strong, I was so inspired to keep creating content that will help regular people take and edit gorgeous photos of their families and of themselves with whatever camera they know and use the most. 

Be sure you’re signed up for my newsletter so you can find out when the next Disney-focused eBook presale starts! 

But even while I’m here working on a book to teach you how to take pictures at Walt Disney World yourself, I still think it’s worth it for you to consider budgeting to hire a professional photographer for your trip to WDW just so you can feel confident that YOU will be represented in some of those magical moments.

Yes, I know WDW is already an expensive endeavor, and a professional photographer is an additional expense that not everyone can add onto an already pricey vacation. But, with a little bit of planning and budgeting, it’s possible it could work out for you!

This post is not sponsored. We hired Melissa Ann Photography and loved the experience so much I had to share.


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