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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Is There A Best Order to Visit Disney World Parks?

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

Is There A Best Order to Visit Disney World Parks?

After sharing a few itineraries of ours over the last few days, that very question popped into mind. At first, I didn't think much of it, but as I spent a few minutes thinking about the concept a few distinct ideas came to mind. My first and most prominent thought was that there could be no "perfect order" to tour the parks but then I caught myself. While there may not be a set order, there's a few things that can affect the way you should likely plan your Disney park days throughout your length of stay. 

Obviously, no two guests will be doing the same thing everyday and very few guests will be arriving at Walt Disney World on the same day or at the same time. For the entire premise of this question that poses a fairly significant problem. How could there be an ideal order to tour the parks if no two trips are exactly the same? Ultimately, that realization led me to a few different thoughts which I'll share in a bit more detail below. 

  • Length of Stay Will Make Difference 
  • When You Arrive Will Make A Difference 
  • Where You Stay Will Make A Difference 
  • Your Travel Party Will Make a Difference 
  • Park Hopping Will lake A Difference
  • Extra Magic Hours WiIl Make A Difference  
Honestly, the easy answer to this question is a simple "no."  However, it's not quiet that simple. So many of these little things that will "make a difference" posted above can play a vital role in the best case scenario of your Disney trip. Sure, there's no perfect way to plan a trip and while we do have a few different "go-to" itineraries (below this section) for our Disney trips of various lengths, nothing will beat looking at each of these categories and figuring out what works best for you! 

Disney World 4 Day Itinerary - Making the Most of a Short Disney Trip
Our Typical Disney World 7 Day Itinerary 
Our Ideal 1-Day Walt Disney World Itinerary for 2018 

That's the key to the whole thing. There may be a best order to visit Disney World parks for your given situation, but no two situations or travel plans will be identical. Dive into the details and you may be shocked at what you come up with for your trip! 


Length of Stay Will Make A Difference 


Chances are, every Disney trip you go on is going to be slightly different than the last in a few different ways. The experiences are going to be different, cast member interactions are never the same, and so many little details from your resort to your number of ticketed days will add up to a shocking difference from vacation to vacation. Your length of stay will mandate how you should best plan your days and order in which you visit the Disney World Parks. For example, you might go to Disney for four days and choose to spend your time trying to complete as many attractions as possible. To do so you'll probably have to spend long hours in the parks and avoid the crowds to the very best of your ability. By contrast, you might go to Disney for a 10 day journey (which makes for a truly incredible length of stay), but in doing so if an attraction is crowded or you don't feel like waiting you can simply come back another day and try it again. In either situation you can have an incredible trip, it's just a little different outlook in the big picture. 

With longer stays, pegging down when you head to the parks isn't all that important because you have multiple opportunities to revisit parks and favorite attractions time and time again. The crowds will be the same as a shorter stay but your sense of urgency wont necessarily require you to plan your days quite as aggressively.        


When You Arrive Will Make A Difference


The beginning of a stay and the end of a stay tend to be the most difficult aspects of a Disney trip to plan. If you choose to fly to Orlando, chances are your flight wont arrive early enough in the day to make it to the parks for the opening timeframe. As a result of the later arrival you'll have to stage your fastpass+ selections late in the day in order to best utlize that particular option. Personally, I see a partial day as a great way to catch a favorite nighttime spectacular like Happily Ever After or Illuminations while also starting off your trip right with a few guaranteed attractions preselected in advance as your fastpass selections. 

If you arrive late at night, you may not even make it to the parks on your first night. A good compromise would be to schedule a meal at Disney Springs or a resort hotel to take full advantage of the Disney magic while making the most of your time. 

Personally, my recommendation is that if you are arriving for a partial day, head to your favorite park or what you're looking forward to most first thing. If you're waiting for your first full day before you go to a park, head to your favorite park first but avoid Magic Kingdom on Mondays. From my experience, Magic Kingdom always tends to be a bit more crowded on Mondays as a result of guests heading there for their very first day of a week long vacation. Sunday and Tuesday tend to be much better options in regard to crowds. It's not a massive difference but may be worth it to you to hold off on that Magic Kingdom day to save yourself a bit of time standing in line. Another great strategy is to use our tips on How to Ride 6 or More Attractions in 90 Minutes or Less: With Only 1 Fastpass+! 



Where You Stay Will Make A Difference 


To be completely honest this particular category tip sounds a little crazy. To an extent, it's overplanning at it's finest. However, if you're staying at Bay Lake Tower or any of the Magic Kingdom Monorail resort loop resorts chances are you'll be much more likely to spend time in Magic Kingdom. In a similar way, if you stay at The Boardwalk resort or any of the Crescent Lake properties you'll likely spend more time at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. That wont necessarily effect the order in which you visit the parks, but it will have a pretty strong connection with what parks you visit the most during your stay in the vast majority of cases.       


Your Travel Party Will Make a Difference 


When many families travel to Disney, there's a few different types of situations. Typically you have parents with kids, all adults trips, teenager/college age trips, and potentially extended family trips. In nearly every case, each guest in the party will have at least a few things they want to do and see more than anything else. To accomplish it all, the best thing you can do is have everyone in the group create a top 3 choices list. If all goes well, a few things will overlap on a few of their lists and in the end you can make those things a priority and schedule your order of visiting the parks accordingly to assure that you can get everything you would like to get done accomplished. 

In a similar way, if you travel with young children, you may prioritize your days differently than you would if you traveled solely with adults. Kids tend to prefer Magic Kingdom and surprisingly Animal Kingdom. As an adult, I tend to prefer Epcot and so do quite a few other adult Disney fans. When it comes right down to it it is all a matter of perspective.       


Park Hopping Will Make A Difference


As many of you may know, I tend to be a big proponent of the park hopper option when buying tickets. In my opinion it opens you up to so many more dining and planning options that it more than outweighs the additional cost of the ticket. If you are purchasing a park hopper, I don't see there being a best order to visit the parks in any way. If one park is overly crowded and you're not too worried about your length of stay, you can simply head to another park. The park hopper also offers guests the opportunity to revisit a park for a few hours rather than having to spend an entire day in a park to go back and experience those one or two attractions that you were really looking forward to but happened to miss on your first day in that particular park.       


Extra Magic Hours WiIl Make A Difference 


When you're planning park days, this is the single most important thing I look into and recommend other guests look into before they pick their park days. Extra Magic Hours are select hours designated to give Disney's onsite resort guests access to the parks 1-2 hours before the park opens to the general public for the day. An extra hour seems like a short amount of time but if you get there when the park opens for the extended hours, you can accomplish a vast array of attractions before the largest crowds of the day roll in. Typically early morning extra magic hours will be more productive timeframes compared to late night extra magic hours. Either way, if you can plan your order of visiting the parks around these extra hours you may add as much as 10 hours to your "park hours" over the course of a 5+ day vacation. 

Final Thoughts   


As you've likely deducted at this point in the post, there really is no best order to visit the Disney World parks. Your Disney vacation is going to be different than your friends Disney vacation and that's part of the joy of a Disney vacation as a whole. There's no one "best" way to do Disney and everyone is going to have a different goal in mind going into their stay. The most important thing to take away from this whole discussion is that you have to do some research and find out what you want to do more than anything else. You can't see and do it all in one trip. Truth be told you can't do it all in one lifetime, but that's the magic of Disney. There's always something new to explore and enjoy that you've never done before! 


Your Thoughts


As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

How Do I Create These Posts? 


Every once in a while I get questions about my gear. This is what I use and highly recommend at the moment in the realm of content creation. This list is varied and tends to change from time to time, but this is my current set up of gear used to create these posts. If you have any questions or need some tips in the site building process, feel free to message me on Facebook!

ComputerMacbook Pro  
If you get one of these you'll inevitably need dongles (The USB-C Struggle): 
Main DSLR CameraNikon D3400 (kit lens currently)
Tripod for Night PhotographyPrimaPhoto Traveler 
Photo Editing SoftwareLightroom 6 Stand Alone Version (Not Creative Cloud) 
Secondary Camera: iPhone 7 (Older Photos on the Site) 


Ready to Plan?


Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.

            



Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Garden Grill - One of the Best Breakfasts on Disney Property

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

The Garden Grill - One of the Best Breakfasts on Disney Property


Breakfast offerings at Walt Disney World tend to be a subject of concern to most guests traveling to the parks. If you're on the Disney dining plan, it's tough to convince yourself to make a dining reservation for a breakfast offering. However, at the same time, Disney Character breakfasts tend to be some of the most memorable portions of any Disney World vacation. The Garden Grill is one of our top picks for Disney breakfast offerings! Today, we're taking a closer look at why I consider this location a hidden gem of Disney World. 

I know many of you may be thinking, "Garden Grill? That's been around for years!" If you're one of those people, you're completely correct! However, it wasn't until 2015 that the dining establishment became a bit more welcoming of guests by offering up breakfast as a meal time dining reservation. To be quite honest, many returning guests still have no idea that the location is open for breakfast and far fewer consider it a "must-do" character meal during their time in Epcot. In my opinion that should change, but on the flip side, if no one knows about it it'll be that much easier for me to grab a reservation! (lol).

Garden Grill Breakfast

What's On the Garden Grill Breakfast Menu?    

To be quite honest with you, table service breakfast locations at Walt Disney World tend to generally offer the same things with a bit of variation by means of select items at locations such as Tusker House or even Boma. Of course, this is a bit of a generalization, because many dining locations such as Crystal Place or even Chef Mickey offer a vast variety of items on a seemingly all encompassing buffet. There's one thing that those other locations don't have that this one does, it's in Epcot! If you're looking for something that's typical breakfast fair but with a subtle yet enjoyable twist Garden Grill should be on your Disney dining reservation list. The menu is simple, but nonetheless highly enjoyable! Here's a closer look at what it involves:
  • Chip's Sticky Bun bake 
  • Fluffy Scrambled Eggs 
  • Bacon And Sausage Links 
  • Fresh Fruit 
  • Hash Brown Potato Barrels
  • Mickey Shaped Waffles With Chocolate Hazelnut Drizzle 
All of the food is truly excellent and in endless quantity as a family style dining location. The offerings are great for kids, but at the same time something adults can enjoy as well, which I see as a huge perk of scheduling a table service breakfast in the parks.  

What Characters Come to Your Table? 

Garden Grill is far easier to get a reservation for than Akershus in the Norway Pavilion (typically - your results may vary), and still features characters that kids and adults alike will enjoy. It's not the same princes character arrangement, but instead debuts Mickey, Pluto, and Chip and Dale. Character interaction is a huge bonus here. As a result of being a fairly small dining location, by comparison to many of the buffet offerings, the characters tend to spend more time interacting with guests and taking all the time you need (to a reasonable amount) or want to spend with each and every character.        

What Does It Cost? 

There's no hiding the fact that this isn't necessarily a cheap dining offering, but you are at Walt Disney World and that price increase tends to come with the territory. As true as that may be, if you consider this meal could potentially replace both breakfast and lunch, the cost of $32 per person is somewhat reasonable in the grand scheme of things. Especially when you consider it's $2 less per person than Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom. Dining at Disney isn't cheap, but if you plan on eating on property, chance are you'll be paying more than you typically would for meals. So, in my opinion, paying a few dollars extra for something that could cover two meals is more than worth it in the big picture from a cost perspective. It may not be the ideal solution for everyone but certainly something I would consider. If you want help planning your meals or times, we always recommend Destinations to Travel (clickable link) to help you plan every aspect of your vacation (or as much of it as you'd like for them to free of charge).  


Garden Grill Breakfast

The Cast Members Set It Apart!

If you've read many of our articles here on the site, you're likely aware of how much weight I put in the value of quality cast members in creating a memorable Walt Disney World experience. A great cast member can make or break a meal, or create an experience that you will truly remember forever. The cast members at Garden Grill are second to none based on my experience. They're polite, attentive, and make a genuine attempt to get to know and interact with guests on a semi-personal level. By the end of the meal you feel like you've created a new friend, and often times they go above and beyond to make sure that there's at least one moment that sets your meal apart from a meal anywhere else.  


Location, Location, Location! 

Given that Garden Grill is located in the Land Pavilion of Epcot, it's one of the most convenient in-park table service breakfast locations in that particular park. In my opinion it's a win-win opportunity if you can secure a reservation about 2 hours after the park opens. That way, if you get to Epcot when the park opens, you can head straight to Test Track or Soarin, fastpass whichever one you choose, and successfully experience a few more of the less popular attractions like Living with the Land, The Seas With Nemo, Journey Into Imagination with Figment, or even the Pixar Short Film Festival before heading to your dining reservation. It's the perfect combination of getting a ton of attractions done while making the most of your time before the crowds start to file in for the day. 

Additionally, when you eat a few hours into the day, you can use your breakfast reservation as a brunch so that you may not need to catch a lunch as well later in the day. In some cases, eliminating that extra meal can more than make up for the cost of the table service breakfast. When you set up your day in that fashion you can snack your way around the countries of the World Showcase in the afternoon or possibly plan a second table service or quick service meal for dinner later that night. As always, your situation may very and what works for you may vary. For us, breakfast at Garden Grill is a great addition to Our Tried and True "Epcot in a Day" Touring Plan.

A Unique Atmosphere

Believe it or not, as you dine at Garden Grill, the restaurant itself is designed in a way that it slowly rotates. It's not quick moving by any stretch of the imagination, but at the same time a clever feature designed to give guests a closer look at the many external features of the locations atmosphere. As the seating area slowly spins, it gives guests the opportunity to view sections of the Living with the Land attraction below. It's not the most picturesque view, but at the same time an incredibly unique environment that many guests don't enitrely expect upon arriving for their reservation. Kids love it, adults find it interesting, and it's one more thing that sets Disney apart from all the rest.      

Flower and Garden Festival

Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

Ready to Plan?

Need help planning your vacation? Let our friends over at Destinations to Travel (FREE - no obligation quote request form below) help you out at no additional cost to you! Their services are free and a great way for you to help out the site at no extra cost to you! Here's a closer look at why I recommend an Authorized Disney Travel Planner!

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.







Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Few Thoughts - Why The Disney Parks Online Community is So Great

Guide4WDW.com
by: guide4wdw - Collin

Every once in a while I like to come on here and simply share "A Few Thoughts." Well, tonight I started thinking for some reason or another about this online Disney community. No matter if your preferred platform is Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Podcasts, or anything else you can think of, chances are Disney is a part of that community in one way or another. To be quite honest, there's nothing quite like it and truly no comparison with anything else. 

The Disney community is a unique breed of people. For the most part, you can run into these people online, strike up a conversation in the comments, and before you know it you're internet friends and direct message each other from time to time as if you live two doors down from them. It's a mind blowing concept, but perhaps one of the greatest aspects of the Disney experience that the Disney organization has very little of a hands on role in at all. It's a community created by Disney fans for Disney fans and the results speak for themselves. 


As you all know, I write here on the site, and I share what I can about the parks, but what you don't always see are the incredible people I've met along the way. We're not the biggest Disney site, and honestly a long way away from being a major player (or even a minor player) in the Disney realm, but I've met more people and created more friendships through this endeavor than anything I've ever been apart of. Truth be told, (contrary to popular belief) I make very little money off of this site and honestly every once in a while I have to stop and realize that that's not what I started this for in the first place. It's not the focus and it likely never will be. Sure, I'd love to turn this passion into an occupation or have this lead into a dream position, but I also have to realize that there's so much more to be taken away from this than just monetary gain.

I get to meet and help other Disney fans or first time guests and play even a small role in bettering that persons Disney experience. To me, thats what it's all about and that's what keeps me coming back time and time again to write articles and share what I can. 

I mentioned friendships, and to be quite honest people don't tend to believe you when you say that you have friends online that share the common yet simple enjoyment of the Disney parks. It seems so strange, but once you introduce someone to the community, their eyes are opened to the joy it can bring to your life. I know that sounds corny or seemingly childish, but when you have the chance to interact and be apart of a group of friends each day it brings so much into your life that you never really expect going into it. I never thought I'd have friends across the country from all walks of life and those that are 60+ years older than me along with those 10 years younger than me to interact with everyday, but it's something that brings a simple joy to any bad or any unfortunate circumstance life throws at me/you. 

I never thought that I'd be able to pick up my phone and send a Facebook message to someone I'd never met before in person and have a conversation about the Disney parks. I never thought it would happen, but at the same time it's something I get to and you can do every single day by simply getting involved with a Disney community. I know that sounds like a shameless plug to join our Facebook group or like our page or follow us on social media, but it doesn't have to be my social platforms that get you started. I honestly love being a small part of Lou Mongello's WDWRadio Box People each Wednesday night, I happily support Luis of Disney_Nuts on Instagram, and those two just scratch the surface of groups you can join for absolutely no cost. They didn't pay me to say those things, but if you want to meet a great group of Disney fans and friends they're an excellent place to start. They have both helped me out in small ways and large ways in a literal sense along the way and that's something I never expected or likely ever deserved to receive. 


Sure, I contribute to the discussion, but you get so much in return from the new friends that you create that it will truly blow your mind at times. The people are willing to help and many take pride in supporting their Disney family and interacting with that family any time, day or night. They're there when you need support, they're there when you just want to talk, but at the same time getting the chance to interact with that community each day gives you something to look forward to. That in itself is worth more than anything I could ever share in writing or in words. 

If you're one of those people, or want to be, thanks so much for being here and taking the time to read this post. It's not one that will likely drive a lot of views, but rather one that hopefully takes me back to my roots and brings life to why I wanted to do this in the first place. It's not about the growth but rather about the people I meet along the way. That's worth more than I could ever truly appreciate.  

When I started this site, I knew nothing about what I was doing, but slowly yet surely YOU made this a reality. That means more to me than you may ever really know. This may never become a "job" in the literal sense, but at the same time it's been fun to watch it grow and hopefully this is only the beginning! Thanks for being here.                               



New Discounts are Out! - Save Up to 25% on Rooms at Select Disney Resort Hotels This Summer

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

New Discounts are Out! - Save Up to 25% on Rooms at Select Disney Resort Hotels This Summer

As Summer draws closer, a new Disney discount for the summer months has officially been unveiled for bookings most night June 11 through August 1st of 2018. The offer comes in a bit better than I anticipated and can save guests up to 25% on resort accommodation when you book before May 22nd or 20% when you book before August 1st. 



Here's a closer look at the breakdown of costs and discounts associated with the new discount rates on a resort by resort basis. This summer will be a huge time for Walt Disney World with a massive amount of new things and special events coming to the parks. Highlighting the special events is the grand debut of Toy Story Land to guests on June 30th. As a result, on property resort rooms will likely fill up quite quickly around those dates, but summer has always been and likely always will be a peak booking season for the company. 

What Kind of Disney World Summer Discounts Are Out For 2018? 


As always, these special rates can be booked by your travel agent, through Disney directly, or through our recommended travel agency Destinations to Travel (clickable link to free quote form). Of course, we recommend booking in whatever way works best for you and your given situation. So without further ado, here's a breakdown of the discounts:  

 Select Disney Deluxe Villas:Book now through 5/22/18Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18
Disney’s BoardWalk Villas25%20%
Disney’s Old Key West Resort
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
Disney’s Beach Club Villas15% 10% 
Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Copper Creek Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows – Studios only

 Select Disney Deluxe Resorts Book now through 5/22/18Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge25%20%
Disney’s BoardWalk Inn
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
Disney’s Beach Club Resort15% 10% 
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

 Select Disney Moderate Resorts Book now through 5/22/18Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort20%15%
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter10% 10% 
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort20% 20% 

 Select Disney Moderate Resorts Book now through 5/22/18Book 5/23/18 to 8/1/18
Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort20%15%
Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
Disney's All-Star Sports Resort
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites only
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
As always, only a select amount of rooms are available for this offer and those select rooms will be sold quickly. If you're looking to book at these rates, be aware that the costs could change or rooms could sell out as your selected dates draw closer.

Last but not least, if you're traveling with children ages 3 to 9, and purchase a 3 night, 3 day Magic Your Way Package with a resort hotel, tickets, and the Disney dining plan, your children will get the children's dining plan free of charge most nights May 28th through August 30th (booked by August 1st). This is a separate offer than the above percentage discounts and cannot be coming with any other offer according to Disney.     

(Source: Rates and Discounts - Disney

Your Thoughts

As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

As always, when you book with our affiliates (mentioned above) it helps us out in return, and we truly appreciate it!

Ready to Plan?

Last but certainly not least, if you're starting the planning process, a great place to start are with some of our top planning articles! Looking for dining? Check out Disney World Dining Tips For 2018. Want to start with some more tips? 44 Excellent Disney World Tips for 2018 or Disney World Planning Guide and Tips For 2018 are a great place to begin! Looking to save money on tickets? Check out our friends over at The Official Ticket Center for great deals that even made it into our 2018 Discount Disney World Ticket selections and another great way to help us create more content through your contributions at no additional cost to you! You'll probably even save money along the way.




Monday, March 19, 2018

Disney Photos! - A Few Tips to Capturing the Disney World Experience

Guide4WDW.com

by: guide4wdw - Collin

Walt Disney World is perhaps one of the most picturesque places I've ever traveled to. For many guests that seems like a very odd statement and in many ways it is. When you arrive at a theme park, you expect to be entertained, but not quite in the way that Disney does it. Walt Disney World is shockingly picturesque in a way that portrays an excellent attention to detail and leaves guests wanting and hoping for that ultimate Walt Disney World photo. There's certainly no science to capturing a great picture. From using your iPhone, to capturing photos with any tier DSLR, everyone can capture some great vacation photos that exceed expectations. Honestly, I'm very new in the realm of photography, but there's a few ways to get an edge on your vacation photos that will set them apart from what you may have expected to capture and surprise yourself in a magnificent way. To be quite honest, I had no idea what I was doing 6 or so months ago when I picked up a Nikon DSLR and decided to up my photo quality on our next Disney trip. (Photos in this article are best viewed on desktop/laptop devices).

(Click for full size image.)

For lack of a better term, I was a lost ball in high weeds. However, there's something amazing about this Disney community and the role of Disney fans helping other Disney enthusiasts. All it took was a quick Google search and a glance through a few websites to uncover a wealth of Disney photography information. Notice how I said "Disney Photography information" because that makes a huge difference. Disney is a unique breed of photography that is vast and very situational. Of course, I'm quite the amateur in this realm, but even I was able to capture a few unique shots during our four day trip. Truth be told, I learned more from the Disney community and those willing individuals experienced in the field than I would have ever learned on my own in many years of trial and error. 

Personally, the avenue that helped me more than anything else starting out was learning from Luis (Disney_Nuts on Instagram) through his new photography videos on Youtube. If you're a Disney fan, be sure to subscribe to his channel and follow his pages. His content is truly incredible and his photo tips are second to none in the realm of Disney.


Here's a quick link to all of his social platforms! This isn't a paid endorsement of any kind, but his content speaks for itself: Social Media Links (Clickable) 



I had the privilege of running into him in the parks this week and I have to say he is an incredibly genuine guy with an honest passion for what he does. He took a few minutes out of his night to give me a few tips and there's nothing quite like learning from the best.

However, as we move on to today's topic, there's a few things about Disney photography that you don't necessarily expect going in. Again, I'm by no means an expert but these are simply a few things that caught me off guard. 

1. For Best Results Consider a Tripod
I know this is a tip that many guests will have no desire to follow through with and I didn't expect to either. The kicker to the whole tripod situation is that in order to get great photos at night a tripod is almost a necessity if you want to be truly "free" in your location selection. If you're on a budget, Trashcan tops and short polls are a great tripod stand-in option to keep the camera as still as possible for moments on end in order to let the camera capture light for sometimes up to 30+ seconds. For me, it was easier to catch a tripod on a Black Friday sale than to search for spots to rest the camera. 

On the contrary, if you're taking phots during the day you'll rarely need a tripod because your shutter speed will be much faster (here's where it gets a bit confusing and number 6 on our list really comes into play). When it comes right down to it, it's all about what you want to capture. For many, an iPhone will be an excellent starting place for family photos and in that case I'd skip the tripod and just enjoy the simplicity of the device because they truly do take excellent photos. If you want to get a little bit more involved with your photos and a bit more creative I'd recommend an entry level DSLR like the Nikon D3400 or mid range Canon options. The Sony a6000 is a great option as well in a smaller/lighter package, but personally I chose the Nikon for the lens options available (also true for the Canon). Whatever you choose to go with, getting creative will make the biggest difference in the end!           

2. A Kit Lense Will Definitely Get You Started
Every single photo I took on this trip and that I will share in the coming months here on the site and on our Instagram account were taken with a stock kit lens that came with the Nikon camera. If you're on a budget, like me, it will definitely get you started. You'd be surprised what you can get out of the standard lens getting started and you may surprise yourself along the way. It's a great way to learn and while it wont be tack sharp out of the camera, most social sites will downgrade image quality a bit anyway so in the end it's not the end of the world. As you get better, and as I plan to myself, you can upgrade to something a bit nicer to truly get the most out of your camera. Again, I'm by no means an expert, this is just what I've found and learned along the way from those much more experienced than me.



3. Do What Looks Good To You
It's easy to get caught up in "replicating" your favorite Disney photo or creating that perfect screensaver for your computer, or iPhone, but try to create something you've never seen before. Find a way to capture that memory of your dream vacation or a moment that truly takes your breath away to share or store away to take you back to that moment in the future. You may be surprised at how many people might share that same affinity for a similar location or a moment in time they also enjoyed over the years. 

Create what you want to save and share. Take a photo of what looks good to you and has a certain level of importance to you. If it's a family moment, capture that memory. If it's a beautiful scene, try to capture the setting. More than anything, take the time to first enjoy the moment as it happens and to be aware of what's going on beyond the lens. It's a delicate balance, or at least it was for me and to be quite honest one I didn't get completely perfect and doubt I ever will.        

4. Consider an Editing Program
At the end of the day, you're not going to get everything quite right in every photo. That's where an editing program comes in and the vast advantage of shooting in the RAW format available on most DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. While intimidating at first, a program like Adobe Lightroom or even Snapseed (a simpler option available for android and IOS recommended in Luis' videos) can vastly improve your photos. Lightroom is a bit pricey, but a great application in it's desktop iteration. For the photos in this post I used a combination of both programs. There's no best way to edit, but do what looks good to you and enjoy the process and you'll be pleased with the results.   


5. Watch Some Youtube Videos or Get a Book 
Everyone learns a little differently. Personally, I'm incredibly visual. I love to see things done so that I know what to expect and see what the results should potentially look like. Circling back to Youtube, that's why I highly recommend Luis' videos. Not only does he share why you should use certain modes for certain applications, but goes one step further and shows you a step by step process of how to apply the tips in Walt Disney World. For some of the best examples, I recommend starting with the videos below. 






Another option for those of you who may learn better by reading is a book called Understanding Exposure (honestly this is an affiliate link, but also a book I used to learn). I bought it per the recommendation of the Disney Tourist Blog and I have to say it's an excellently written book. 

No matter what your preference may be, learning before you arrive at the parks is a huge part of capturing a few great photos, but something to consider is that it should all be for the fun of doing it. You're going to take some terrible photos from time to time. Some of the photos I've deleted over the last few days were truly atrocious, but it's all part of the process. Delete the bad photos and move on to the next spot or try to capture that same photo another time. On our trip I took around 1600 photos in 3 and a half days. Obviously that's a bit overkill (I just wanted have plenty to share here on the site), but of those 1600 I probably had around 300-500 good "keeper" photos to dive in and edit. Don't get discouraged early on, it will come to you faster than you may expect. If I can get a few decent images out of camera, I know you can too, especially with the right help and a little dedication and inspiration.

Your Thoughts
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you're there, and we'll keep the conversation going in the future. We're not the largest Disney community, but we're one that's there and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!

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