Disney is the kind of place you should never go without your trusty camera by your side. There are some spots that should be captured on film for all time, and here is a guide to tell where you will find the best photo opportunities. EPCOT, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Animal Kingdom are all quirky and scenic in their own way, but Disney, with its many different personalities, is a must-see.
There are lots of places throughout the park to get some unforgettable shots. The most obvious is the beautiful Cinderella Castle; don't leave Disney without tons of pictures of this famous landmark. Modeled after the European castles of fairy-tale proportions, Cinderella Castle is beautiful inside *and* out. I once visited the inner chambers to shop and discovered wonderful vibrant murals painted over the walls. Breakfast at the Castle would make some great photos too.
Downtown Disney is comprised of quaint, Victorian-style homes and stores that are very realistic. For more quaint buildings, check out the Tom Sawyer buildings you will see if you choose to take the paddle-wheel cruise. I highly recommend taking the cruise; not only is it a vacationer's paradise with the scenery, the calm atmosphere, and the gentle rocking motion, but you can also put your camera to use by photographing the beautiful boat itself. If you like anything old-fashioned or are just a fan of boats in general, this is definitely the attraction for you.
Don't forget to take lots of pictures of kids in their Mickey Ears! You can even have your child's (or your!) name stitched onto the back of the hat. Don't laugh; when I rode back on the monorail, I saw two big boys around the age of sixteen, what you would think of as a "tough" age, wearing Mickey Ears with their names on the back! Disney is a magical place where *everyone* forgets their actual age. If your children want to ride on the Carousel with their mouse ears firmly in place, keep your camera handy. I did this and even now I smile at the pictures.
Watch out for the German medieval architecture you'll see as you walk toward It's A Small World. There is also a castle facade, complete with lots of colorful banners. It would be a shame to ride the halls of It's A Small World and not get all the bright costumes and cute characters on film. I myself wish I would have taken more pictures on the ride. Many countries' costumes are represented on animatronic dolls that sing and move as you go along. Yes, the song will stick in your head for eternity, but it's well worth it. This is a ride anyone can enjoy.
Haunted Mansion is another great attraction; it's not overly scary, but there are things that pop out at the last minute, startling even people who were bracing themselves for it. Your ride begins in a sort of carriage, on which you ride through a creepy old house with some former residents still haunting the rooms. You will see ghosts waltzing on an old dance floor among other special effects; if you can take a photo at the exact moment that something pops up, good luck, but pictures may not come out very well in the dark. Your best photos will probably come outside the building, where you can snap shots of the old stone mansion to your heart's content.
Adventureland is a bright and cheery place to unwind and enjoy the pleasures of the "jungle." If you're lucky, you'll catch a man dressed as an African explorer and he will hopefully honor your request to take a picture taken with him. Some of the best pictures you can get at Disney are with costumed guides, but always make sure to ask permission. Most will be perfectly happy to oblige. If you're lucky enough to visit Adventureland in the spring months (I went in March) you may also see beautifully bright-colored trees and bushes contrasting with elegant palms.
If you choose to leave Disney on the monorail you can catch some great photos along the way. One of the most beautiful things you will see is the huge, stately complex of the Grand Floridian. Always be on the lookout for that perfect shot; Disney is full of little nooks and crannies that will keep the photographer busily snapping away until he or she is reminded that it's time to go back to the car.
By Lacie R. Schaeffer