After we booked our Walt Disney World trip, I told my husband the only thing I wanted for the holidays were amazing Disney World photos that I could hang up in our house for years to come.
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While I’m a huge fan of Disney’s PhotoPass services (we loved using them at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa earlier this year and we always get the pass at Disneyland) I knew I wanted something more customized.After scrolling through my Instagram feed, I kept seeing gorgeous photos of families having fun at Walt Disney World.
They all had one thing in common: they were taken by a professional photographer.
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My husband knows I’m a big believer in getting good family vacation photos.
I’m known for making photo books after most of our trips, posting pictures on my social media, and of course including them in my blog posts.
But, I don’t want to spend our entire trip trying to get that perfect shot. It’s not fair to the rest of my family who wants to actually enjoy our vacation!
And I know there are Disney PhotoPass photographers set up around the Parks, which is such a huge help!
But, you have to wait in line for them and you’ll probably get lots of strangers in the backgrounds of your photos..
When you hire a photographer, you get a customized photo shoot in the most picturesque areas (instead of just the PhotoPass spots.).
You don’t have to wait in line, you won’t get random people in your shot, and you won’t have to edit the photo later.
I also like our family to look semi-coordinated in our family pictures. Doing a photo shoot allows us to just wear our “photo clothes” during the shoot and then we can wear our comfortable clothes/shoes the rest of our trip.
While I LOVE the concept of the Disney PhotoPass system, where all members in your party can get in a group photo, I’m often wearing a backpack, pushing a stroller, or wearing a windbreaker that clashes with my clothes.
Taking an hour out of our vacation dedicated to good quality Disney World photos makes me happy! I like looking back on them and remembering how much fun we had instead of how tired I look.
While I’d like to think that I’ll remember how amazing our Disney World trip was, truthfully, I have “Mom Brain” pretty bad and it might feel like a complete blur in a year or two.
These Disney World photos help me remember that magical feeling!
9 Disney World Photos That Will Make You Want to Bring your Kids ASAP
1. Holding Balloons on Main Street
Did you know that you can take Walt Disney World photos holding those giant balloon bouquets you see on Main Street?
Cast members still need to hold onto them, but they will let kids and adults get in on the fun!
We’ve seen parents lay on the ground and shoot photos up at their kids with all the balloons behind them.
Or, you can ask if the cast member will hold the balloons down behind you for an extra colorful backdrop.
I absolutely love this cast member’s expression as he watches my son pose for the photo!
2. Just the Parents at Cinderella’s Castle
It’s so easy to focus just on getting photos of the kids while doing a Disney World photo shoot, which is why our photographer suggested my husband and I get a few shots on our own.
I’m so happy we did this!
Photos like this are a good reminder that Disney World vacations are for the parents, too!
Plus, I really wanted to show off my new Disney dress that I got right before this trip!
3. High-Fiving Mickey Mouse
This photo is all about the power of illusion! It was really one of our photographers wearing a black shirt and a Mickey glove!
When she brought it out, I thought she was just trying to distract my toddler (who was not feeling this photo shoot at first.)
But, as soon as I realized it was a Disney photo prop, I geeked out!
Isn’t that such a smart idea? I mean, you just wouldn’t get this shot in a normal Mickey Mouse meet and greet!
4. Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Walt Disney World is unique because there are two separate spindles.
While the rides are the same, the backgrounds are not.
Our photographer was able to get us into the line for the spindle that features Cinderella’s Castle in the background.
While we were waiting, our kids marveled at seeing Dumbo fly through the air. It’s one of their favorite rides and they just couldn’t wait to get on it!
5. Iconic Disney World Ride Photos
At Disneyland, there’s a designated photo spot for people to take pictures of people riding Dumbo the Flying Elephant.
At Walt Disney World, the best place to take photos of families riding Dumbo is to ALSO ride Dumbo!
Using a well-tested method, our photographer team lined it up so that they could get shots of our whole family riding this classic Disney ride.
6. Dumbo Photo Op Spot
Just outside the ride, there’s a stationary Dumbo set up specifically for people to take photos inside.
We used this to take photos of our kids separately, together, and even some shots with Grandma, who was along on our Walt Disney World vacation!
While we sat inside, families could easily take photos in front of it, too.
7. Tasty Photo Props
Our kids LOVE all the yummy Disney treats and we knew we needed to incorporate it into our photo shoot somehow.
So, we used it as bribery to keep our kids focused on taking our Disney World photos.
We let them peruse the gift shop and pick out the Mickey treat that caught their eye. It was no surprise that our oldest picked a colorful rainbow Rice Krispies Treat and our toddler picked the M&Ms version.
8. Close Ups of Kids
This photo caught my eye immediately when I scrolled through the Disney pictures from this Walt Disney World photoshoot.
I love how focused our toddler is eating his Mickey treat and the bright colors of the M&Ms make the whole photo look cheerful!
When I think about our Disney vacations, the food plays such a big role for our family!
9. Embroidered Mickey Ears
So, I actually have a funny story about why our toddler isn’t in this shot.
After seeing so many kids walking around in customized Mickey Mouse ears, I got a little obsessed and was determined to get some made for both my boys specifically to wear in this photo shoot.
We picked them up just a couple of hours before our Disney World photo session, and I carefully packed them away to keep them nice.
Well, our toddler wasn’t as obsessed with the Mickey ears as I was and he refused to wear them.
So, my husband thought it would be funny if HE wore them instead. Our toddler wasn’t amused and there was a tiny scuffle which resulted in the embroidered Mickey ears being knocked into the water outside Cinderella’s Castle!
Thankfully, we still had our receipt and the cast members at The Chapeau were kind enough to replace his Mickey ears free of charge.
Should You Still Get the Memory Maker?
If you’re wondering if you really need the Disney Memory Maker if you are hiring a photographer, the answer is really up to you and your preferences.
We did and I’m glad about it.
No matter where you do your Walt Disney World photo shoot, you probably aren’t getting any photos with characters, which is a huge part of a Disney World trip.
So if you want photos with Disney characters, you either need to take them yourself or get the Memory Maker.
Our kids are 2 years old and 5 years old and it took us awhile to get their autograph books and pens ready to go at meet and greets. And then we still had to get our cameras or phones out.
By that time, we missed out on some of their initial reactions to meeting the characters, which are always the best shots!
With the Memory Maker, I still needed to download the PhotoPass photos and edit them in Lightroom a bit. But, we got quite a few shots of character meet and greets that were extra adorable.
And if your kids are doing the Jedi Academy at Hollywood Studios, you’ll definitely want to get those photos!
10 Top Tips for the Best Disney World Photos
1) DRESS FOR YOUR LOCATION
I’m a very thematic person, so when I realized my favorite Disney World photos took place in Fantasyland, I decided our clothes should include those bright pastel colors.
I also saw some photos of little boys wearing cute suspenders and bow ties and that sealed the deal!
But, if you are at Animal Kingdom, if might be fun to wear animal print or safari hats!
And if you are taking photos around your hotel, the possibilities are endless!
2) MORNING LIGHT VS GOLDEN HOUR
In the photography world, it’s usually best to shoot first thing in the morning or right before sunset.
If you have an Early Magic Hour or can get into the Parks early (and your photographer is willing to meet that early) that is a nice option.
We chose golden hour (which was at 4pm in December) because we love the way the light looks in our photos.
Plus, it meant we didn’t have to wake up extra early ready to take photos!
3) PACKING CUBES
My secret to traveling with kids is packing cubes! We use these ones and they make life so much easier!
But, it’s also my secret for doing photos with little boys (and a husband) who tend to spill food on themselves throughout the day.
I pack all our photo clothes into a packing cube (folding them the KonMari way) to keep them nice and clean.
And I always include extra pants for my kids!
If you want to include a ride photo (like Dumbo the Flying Elephant or the Prince Charming Regal Carousel) make sure to get FastPasses during your photo shoot.
With Disney crowds, it’s the only way to ensure you’ll be able to get on the ride during your photo shoot.
For instance, Dumbo the Flying Elephant had an 80 minute wait time during our photo shoot. I’m so glad our photographers encouraged us to grab FastPasses ahead of time!
5) AVOID MATCHING SHIRTS
I’m just as obsessed with the custom Cricut Disney World matching shirts as the rest of you!
But, while they are fun to wear in the Parks, they are really difficult to read in photos.
So, then you have a group of people all wearing shirts with writing that you can’t quite make out.
Instead, try to find solid colors or subtle prints.
6) BRING ON THE DISNEY PROPS
Props are always a fun idea! And at Walt Disney World, there are so many to choose from!
My favorites include brightly colored Disney treats (or those Mickey ice cream bars), balloons, Minnie Ears, those original Mickey hats, Disney character plushies, oversized Mickey gloves, and the list goes on and on!
7) DON’T OVERTHINK IT
My best advice is to relax and don’t always look at the camera! Some of the best shots are candid ones, so try to be in the moment!
And if you just can’t help yourself, fake it til you make it!
My boys will giggle at any mention of “tooting,” “stinky socks,” or “P-O-O-P!” So, sometimes I will sprinkle those words into whatever we are doing and it’s a sure-fire way to get them to crack up and relax!
8) MIX IT UP
Don’t have every shot be of the whole family.
Get some of just the kids, some of just the adults, some with Mom and one kid and Dad with another, etc. And get photos of kids individually.
Recently, a mom told me she and her husband always get a photo with each of their kids individually so they can look back and feel special.
I love this idea and I’m going to start doing that!
9) IT’S OKAY IF YOUR KIDS ARE CRANKY
If your kids refuse to smile or really don’t want to pose for photos, have them face away from the camera.
By having their backs to the photographer, they will appear serene in the photos!
Hey, it’s all about the illusion, right?
10) MARK SPECIAL OCCASIONS
Doing Disney World photos with a professional photographer is a great way to announce a pregnancy, do a maternity photo shoot, celebrate a birthday, get your Christmas card photo, or simply capture life with little ones.
For us, this was a great way to commemorate our first trip to Walt Disney World!
I discovered Sees the Day Photography through one of the Disney vacation planning groups I’m in on Facebook.
I’ve been obsessed with their adorable Disney World photos for months and love following them on Instagram!
They met us at the Walt Disney World Railroad and within minutes, we were chatting away! They put our whole family at ease and gave us lots of pointers along the way to make the most of our Disney World photo shoot.
And because their business is focused on Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, they expertly navigated us to the best Magic Kingdom photo spots!
If you’d like to book a Disney World photography session with them, visit Sees the Day Photography online.