Photographing Your Disneyland Trip

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Article courtesy of by Denise Gormish

Ah, vacation! Time to relax. While we may be relaxing, vacations are also full of photographic opportunities. A Disneyland vacation is no different. From the scenery, the activities and the people, Disneyland is full of photographic opportunities. It can seem overwhelming, though. Here are some tips to taking memorable photographs when visiting Disneyland:

  • Chose a camera or two.Often the first decision involves what camera to use. SLR (Single Lens Reflex) cameras are better at taking different lighting situations as well as zooming in on the subject, but they are heavy and bulky. Small digital or instant cameras are definitely easier for travel but cannot duplicate all the abilities of the SLR. You will certainly have to weigh the pluses and minuses. If you are able, bring both! If you are spending multiple days at Disneyland or heading back to the hotel during the day, use that opportunity to switch cameras. Plan when you want the SLR and when you want the compact camera. If you are staying at the park all day, consider having someone else carry the larger camera for a while.
  • Make a list.With a wealth of photographic opportunities, start your trip with a list of photographs you would like to take. Work through your list as you work through the park. Of course, don't limit yourself to your list, but use it as a way to keep track of all the "must" photographs.
  • Photograph characters, with or without your subject. The top photographs on most lists are photographs with Disney characters. Character photographs can be candid or staged. Take advantage of the staged opportunities and use your own camera. Take your time, get level with the subjects and get close.
  • Photograph rides or attractions, with or without your subject. To take a photograph with your subject on the ride, you may have to go on the ride ahead of your subject. Then when you exit the ride, position yourself at the ride's exit or another location along the ride. Alternatively, take a photograph of the ride from outside or inside the ride. I took a photograph of Big Thunder Railroad on the exit platform immediately after exiting the ride.



  • Take photographs while on the ride or attraction. With a high shutter speed and ISO setting, capture the details inside the ride. The following photography was taken while riding the Big Thunder Railroad. It captures details of the ride, which might have been forgotten otherwise.


  • Take an uncluttered group photograph.Every visit should include a group photograph. Look around the park and consider several backdrop options. Chose something uncluttered, where you won't have people walking behind you or a distracting background. To get everyone in the shot, let an employee take the photograph or use a tripod. Consider a trashcan or other object for a tripod.
  • Get the details.Disneyland rides and attractions are full of little details. Capture those details on film. In this photograph, I captured the details of one of the Disney figures in Tarzan's Treehouse.
  • Include the photographer. Photographers are great at taking shots of others but not themselves. Occasionally hand the camera over and let others take the photographs.
  • Keep an eye open for candid, unexpected photographs. Even in the dullest moments keep a camera available. You may be surprised by what your eye sees and want to take a photograph in an instant. The look of wonder on my daughter's face was captured while riding a slow-moving boat ride. By keeping the camera handy, I was able to capture that expression.


  • Capture the action by panning. Don't put the camera away just because the subject is moving. Use the technique of panning to capture the subject in your photograph. To pan, move your camera along with the subject. Your subject will remain focused while the background blurs. In this photograph, my daughter was running with excitement after exiting a ride. By panning her, I maintained her excited look while giving the feel of action with the blurred background.


  • Get in close to your subject. Many times background details can add context to your photographs, but sometime you may want a closer view of your subject. A close-up shot can give you more of the details of the person or object.
  • Look for unique subjects and angles.Try to crouch down and aim upwards, or stand on something and aim downwards for a unique shot. In my photograph, I shot up at my daughter at Tom Sawyer's Island. By aiming up, I could achieve the feeling of how high she had been climbing.
  • Capture a ride or attraction at different times of the day.Some attractions, especially those that light up at night, may look better or different throughout the day. Take photographs of those differences.
  • Position yourself well for parades and shows. If possible, arrive early and get an unobstructed view. Most indoor shows will allow photography as long as there is no flash used during the show. To get good parade photographs, I sit in the front row with a long view of the parade.


  • For evening or indoor photographs, do not use a flash. Not only is a flash often unhelpful because it cannot reach the subject, it also blinds and disturbs those sitting around you. If your camera is able, disable the flash. To get the best shots without a flash, use high-speed film, a high ISO setting and/or fast shutter speeds.

  • Enjoy your Disneyland vacation. While it may seem counter to getting lots of great photographs, remember to sometimes just put the camera away. Grab a postcard of some of the rides and attractions and just relax.

For your next trip, make a list, grab your camera and take those marvelous photographs of Disneyland. Those photographs will provide wonderful memories when you return home and fantastic scrapbooking opportunities.\


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