Starts With A Wish Travel Agent Maria Thompson is also the owner of Maria Mckenzie Photography. Below are her 5 Walt Disney World photography tips from a professional photographer.
Everyone wants a great shot of Cinderella’s Castle; after all, it is the iconic symbol in the Magic Kingdom. But how can you get those shots? Especially the ones where no one is in the park and you are standing on Main Street USA with the fresh smell of popcorn. The first thing you need to do is make sure you schedule a breakfast in the Magic Kingdom for as early as possible either at Cinderella’s Royal Table, or at the Crystal Palace or even Be Our Guest. By doing this you can ensure you are in the park before they open the gates to the rest of the guests. On your way to breakfast take a few moments to take in the gorgeous view and grab a couple of shots of Main Street USA, Cinderella’s Castle, and maybe even a photograph of you and your family.
Photographing the Festival of Fantasy Parade and Dream Along with Mickey are two of my favorite things to photograph while in Disney and it is a must. My husband may get a little irritated with me that we line up an hour early for the Festival of Fantasy Parade but when I see the shots I have taken it is so worth it. Whether you are just going to watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade or if you plan on photographing it you need to make sure you get to your spot early. Guests begin to line up anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour early. I have learned the earlier the better. Grab yourself a snack and pop down on the curb Main Street USA or around the Castle hub and enjoy the nice day and wait for the music to start. I have found the best shots can be taken from the spot near where the bridge is that takes you into Fantasy Land just to the right of the castle. I also always find a spot where there is a trash can so that other guests are not standing in front of you and blocking your view. A nice zoom lens is a must especially if you really want to grab the character’s attention. They always see my 70-200mm and look right at me which allows for some really nice shots.
To get awesome photos of the Dream Along with Mickey show you have a little bit more freedom. If you can, try to grab one of the earlier morning shows or later evening shows when the lighting isn’t as harsh. Also don’t be afraid to get right up near the castle stage to get those close up shots and again a zoom lens is always nice to have I use my 70-200mm. Another little tip would be to anticipate where your subject is going to be going to next. It helps make it a little easier to catch them when they are moving and dancing.
You are on vacation taking your own photos constantly; but wouldn’t it be nice to let someone else do all the work for an hour or two? Maybe you are celebrating an anniversary, plan to propose at the most magical place on earth, or you are just in town for an annual family vacation. Just think how amazing it would be to have such gorgeous pieces of art hanging up in your home so that you always have a little piece of Disney with you. I have been on both sides of the camera and I must say when we went down for our first trip, I just knew I had to have professional photos taken while we were in Disney. It was such a big trip and one I wanted to remember forever. So, I hired someone local to Orlando and we spent a morning having photos done around various Disney Resorts and Downtown Disney (now called Disney Springs). Disney has so many wonderful locations to have photos taken at, but here are some of my favorites. I love Disney’s Boardwalk Resort for photos. It is a fun atmosphere with so many great little spots, plus it’s a quick jump over to the Yacht Club for a completely different photo setting. Talk about a two for one location. If you are looking to bring a little bit of Disney and southern charm to your photos, then the Port Orleans Riverside Resort is perfect. The old mansions and the river with the bridges are just my favorite. Plus, by hiring a professional they will be able to guide you to all the perfect spots and know the best time of day to take those photographs depending on the location.
There is so much to see and do in Disney and its easy to get caught up in the magic of it all. Remember to take some time to take in the little details. While taking it in don’t be afraid to get close and pull those cameras out. This will allow you to remember all of those details that you may have other wise forgot about. For example, maybe you are sitting on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and are waiting to get off the ride and you are stopped right next to Snow White and the Dwarfs Cottage. Be ready and snap that shot of the wicked old witch knocking at the door. Or maybe you stop to spend some time relaxing in the grass near the castle and notice the cute little statues all around. What if in Epcot and walking through the World Showcase and you are missing that one piece of art to hang in your home? Just think about all the different worlds that are in there, each with unique personality and culture. A shot that everyone always gets is the Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom; but get a little closer and you will notice multiple characters on the base of the tree. If you are just taking these photos from a distance, then there is no way you would see or capture this little detail.
There are a couple of different things you can do to ensure you get great character shots at your character meals. Try requesting to sit near a window so that you have some natural light coming in and make sure your kiddos are facing the window along with the character. Always do test shots before the characters arrive, so that you know what your settings need to be. Finally let your characters take the lead, they know exactly what to do to get your children to interact with them. The most important tip I can give you here is to always be ready, always have your camera out or around your neck because you never know when or what is just around the corner. There have been many times I have been walking through Fantasy Land or over by the Teacups and happen to see a character that I normally wouldn’t see go walking by.
You can visit Maria’s photography website here. What are your favorite photos to take in Walt Disney World? Do you have a favorite show? Favorite character? Let us know in your comments below!