Magic Kingdom Photography – A Holiday Guide :
When someone says Disney World or Magic Kingdom you might think about Mickey Mouse (or maybe Elsa), Cinderella’s Castle, princes dresses and exciting rides. It also happens to be an outstanding place to take photographs. In fact, there are very few places where you can take children and your camera equipment and have so much fun with both.
General Magic Kingdom Tips
If visiting during peak times and you can afford to stay at one of the many Disney World resorts then doing so is a must for all kinds of reasons. First among them is Magic Hours. Magic Hours is fantastic. Really. On each day of the week, one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot Center and Hollywood Studios) opens one hour early or remains open for up to two hours after close. Magic Hours is available for guests staying at Disney Resort hotels, Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel and Shades of Green® Resort.
During Magic Hours registered guests of the above mentioned hotels have access to park attractions without the rest of the public. You can get more done in these hours than the rest of the day combined. If you really want to make it work then save your fast passes for after the Park opens to the public. Once you have hit most of the rides in the first two hours you can pretty much relax and enjoy yourself for the rest of the day or try another park if you have a park hopper pass.
You can also rent a locker. Many people don’t know that Disney World has lockers available for rent. This is great for holiday photographers (and families with kids) and since you were first in during Magic Hour you get the choice locker right. Disney World allows smaller tripods that will fit inside a standard size backpack. Your tripod will come in handy when you photograph the park at sunset or the excellent fireworks show. Who wants to carry a tripod around? A camera, well okay. But a tripod on the log ride? Throw it in the locker and enjoy your day. You can see what kind of tripod I use on My Gear page.
Disney Photo Pass
Take full advantage of the Disney Photo Pass. You don’t have to take all the pictures right? The Disney Photo Pass comes with per picture or flat rate for all the photographs taken in the park. At both Disneyland and Disney World, I paid the flat rate to download all the photographs, so you get the most value for your dollar if you take full advantage of the Photo Pass and get your photo taken wherever you see the Disneyland Photo Pass staff. Way better than a selfie too! Yah, I’m old school.
How to Photograph the Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom Wide Angle
Disney World is a varied terrain with all kinds of opportunities to shoot on a grand scale. I like to find elevated positions to photograph the immensity and diversity of the Disney World. For example, the ramps up various attractions can provide a great views across the park. Look for these locations. You can even shoot from the high point of slower moving kid rides (if you have kids to smuggle you on!).
Take Magic Kingdom Panoramas
Taking photographs with the intention of merging them into a panorama is a great way to get unique holiday photographs. I find that merging panoramics in Adobe Lightroom works really well, even if the scene is full of people. Check out the image below. There is no problem with how this image merged together even though the people would have moved somewhat as I took both photographs.
Another great thing about panoramas is that they can really fit well into a two page spread if you are the kind of person that gets books printed from online sources like Blurb.
Take Magic Kingdom Detail Shots
Disney is a company that sweats the details. The plus side of that commitment to detail is that it can be a treat for a photographer to shoot detail shoots, both to round out that photo book or just to practice composition. Regardless, you will find ample opportunity to shoot the detail and round out the narrative of your holiday.
Depending on what I am looking to capture, I look for areas with some shade or soft light or really brightly lit scenes. You may want to capture both types of images depending on how you plan to use them. Personally, I use these detail images to add context to the photo books that I create for all of our family trips. Its always nice to have a few images to go along with the pictures of my daughter pouting because I won’t buy here that new Elsa dress!
Go to the Magic Kingdom in the Dark
You always need to take some low light photographs right? Sunset, night or inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It’s all good. Grab that tripod you had in your locker or look for a place to rest your camera. The evening to sunset shots will really set your Disneyland vacation photographs apart from the standard tourist vacay shot. While it is possible to get some good shots holding your camera in your hands, a tripod really comes in handy. When shooting Disney’s firework displays its an absolute must.
Create a Magic Kingdom Story
Don’t forget to tell a story. Photograph your family on the plane, at the hotel and entering and exiting the Disneyland park. Use your wide, panorama, detail and evening shots to fill in the narrative of your holiday. You will find this approach really pays dividends when it comes time for the photobook or slideshow.
There are just so many places, things and people to photograph in Disneyland. Where else can you have such a fantastic holiday with your family and develop your photographic skills? Really… that’s not a rhetorical question! Thanks for reading and make sure you come follow me on my holiday photography adventures!