The last thing I’m doing is lugging a DSLR camera around Disney World.
Not only does it not fit in my fanny pack (yep, we’re back to those), it would get absolutely trashed by Splash Mountain, sticky food, or getting banged around on Expedition Everest. Plus, my iPhone takes great photos and Disney employs hundres of photographers for special shots (more on that later).
If you’re looking for IG worthy photos, or like me, just want to get something decent to put on the Christmas card this year, this list is for you!
They might not be where you’d expect…
First, let me give you my top tip for multiple kids. We all know getting everyone smiling in the same photo (especially in hot Florida weather when they’re overstimulated) can be a daunting task. Consider this- divide and conquer. Think, school photos. Have one adult or older kid watch whoever’s turn it’s not and then snap an individual photo of each kid in one of these locations. Put all 3 on a Christmas card and they all have the same background and a feature photo! You can even add a posed Memory Maker photo of the whole family to tie it together! (See more on the pros and cons of Disney’s PhotoPass/Memory Maker here).
Location #1: The Bus Stop
I know- it doesn’t sound picturesque. But if you know Disney, you know they do theming well, meaning most bus stops at the hotels and pretty well landscaped and detailed. Plus, odds are, you’ll have some time to kill there. Check out this snapshot I got, in the rain, at the bus stop at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Try getting a different perspective and seeing the area from a kid’s height. One of my biggest tips is to shoot up from down low. (For more simple and free iPhoe photography tips, check out this article. If you need help on the selfies, this YouTube video may be for you!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quKKztay4kI
Location #2: In Line for Rides
Again- you’re there, you have time, you’re trying to keep everyone together and occupied with another round of Head’s Up. And again, Disney’s Lines are usually more of an experience than just a roped off corral. Think, Tower of Terror, Nemo and Friends, Ariel. If you have littles, let them lean and sit on things naturally. Watch them look around. The first photo was a snap of C resting and looking for hidden Mickeys. The second is her being a nut in line. Don’t feel like every photo has to be posed and cheesing straight on to the camera. What I like to call “crafted candids” end up being some of my favorite shots.
Location #3: Random Walls in Disney
There is no shortage of colorful walls at Disney. There’s literally a famous purple wall entering Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom that it’s hard to get a photo alone in front of! Pro Tip: Instead of taking the photo head on at the wall, pose your child with their back at the wall and then stand to the side of them and have them only turn their head toward you. Profile photos where they look straight ahead can come out stunning as well!
Location #4 With your snacks
There’s no hiding the fact that we love our Disney snacks! Not only are they delicious, they are often worthy of a photo themselves! Why not combine the best of both worlds and pose with your -bigger than your head- pretzel?? You can’t forget the commerative “first Mickey bar photo” and don’t even get me started on all the amazing food in Epcot, especially during the Food and Wine Festival- the food practically becomes art at that point.
Location #5 The Nemo Wall
The Nemo Wall in Epcot is a frequet Memory Maker spot but they are not always there. Lighting is great most times of the day and you can often squeeze into a spot for a photo. Just be sure to wait in line if families are waiting for the PhotoPass photographer to take their photo. It’s just hard to take a bad photo there! Pro Tip: put your phone into portrait mode and focus on your human. The fish in the background are big enough and recognizable enough that even blurred, you know what it is!
Location #6 Souvinier Shops
We usually go with a “one purchase per trip” rule. One souvineir for the duration of the trip and you pick when and where. That doesn’t necessarily stop the “but can I get this, too?” For the rest of the trip. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well “No, but I’ll take a picture of you with it” worked- at least so far. I have never experienced a Disney cast member taking issue with us taking photos with merchandise and so much of the stuff is so cute that it makes for a great photo op.
Location #7: Watching your kids watch Disney unfold
Catching a profile shot of my daughter laughing at a joke or waving at a character is one of my favorite things. It’s what Disney is all about for me. I used to be an adult at Disney with no kids and I wondered if she’d drag me down- really. Then watching her see everything I loved became my new favorite thing about Disney! Animal Kingdom is great for this because so many of the shows and experiences are outside with good lighting. While that giant fish tank (same goes for animals on the safari) is visually stunning in person, when I get home and scroll through my photos, they don’t do them justice. But if I have my kid watching that fish tank in the photo, it becomes that much more special to me.
Location #8: Bathroom Breaks
Yeah, that sounds weird. I do not recommend photos in the Disney bathrooms! However, once again, Disney designs these things like they know people are going to be hanging around those areas. Some areas outside the bathrooms have very interesting backdrops or props. And standing around is also when kids can get creative and find something to occupy them while family members take a break. Above, C found a snail outside of Rockin Rollercoaster and was ecstatic to share him with us. Completely not Disney related, but still a cute photo. The dinosaur you see above is near the bathroom in Dinoland USA.
Location #9: In bed at the hotel
After a long day at Disney and likely a wide range of emotions, seeing your kiddo sleeping peacefully under a fluffy comforter and crisp white sheets can shed such an angelic light on them and remind you why you brought them to Florida for this magical experience in the first place. At least, that’s how it works for me!
It might just be me, but I think a sleeping child is adorable. The memories of screaming and sweating and whining fade away and tucked into those plush comforters and crisp, white sheets, the crash after a long day at Disney is magical.
Location #10: Anywhere a Disney PhotoPass photographer is stationed
If you ask me, I will say getting the Memory Maker is worth it every time. Why? Because it gets the moms in the photos as more than a blur or a too close selfie head. You can find Disney PhotoPass photographers at many prime locations and also sometimes just walking around waiting to take photos. They’re pretty easy to spot with cargo vests, floppy hats and cameras. You get a good quality photo with no bags, no strollers, great settings and all the family members. I have very few photos of my mom and realized that I was in very few as well because I enjoyed being the photographer. But I want to be in the memories and the prints of the memories. So I love photos pass. Now I don’t pay for it- or I should say, it’s included in our annual pass pricing, but if you’re spending thousands on a Disney trip, I think less than $200 for all the photos (including on rides) is well worth it. Here’s a very small sample of the photos we have gotten from Memory Maker.
Think outside the box…
The least obvious of places can become magical backdrops for unique photos if you shift your thinking and maintain expectations. And, as I always advise, if it comes down to it- choose the experience over the photo. If something magical is happening or you’re enjoying a moment, don’t feel like it’s mandatory to capture it on the camera and miss out while digging around the backpack for the phone. So tell me in the comments, do you have a secret favorite spot for Disney photos that I didn’t mention?
Keepin’ it Real with the (Blooper) Reel: