Magical Blogorail: Disney Photography Tips

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing tips to get great photos on your Disney vacation.

We all like to get our pictures taken with Disney characters! But with the long lines and the short time available for posing, it can be hard to get anything other than the standard stand-and-smile shot like the one above.

So today I’m here to help you one and all break out of the same-old same-old with tips on how to get great character photos:

T I P    o n e    T I P

Photograph Characters on Their Own

This is perhaps one of the hardest things to achieve due to the popularity of the characters, especially with the youngsters, who tend to rush up almost before the last guest has cleared the posing area. But with patience and good timing, a great shot can be had!

The one above was taken just before the meet-and-greet officially opened, so Aladdin and Jasmine were waiting off to the side, away from the crowds.


The picture of Mary Poppins was achieved through the miracle of cropping. A little guest was rushing over to the Practically Perfect Nanny when I saw my opportunity. With just two feet remaining between this shot and the inevitable hug-filled greeting, I had room to isolate my subject in post-editing!

Donald was easier, as he was on the way down the ramp from the Aztec Temple in the Mexico Pavilion. He saw me lining up the shot and struck this pose. Thanks Donald!

T I P    t w o    T I P

Photograph Characters Interacting

Photo Credit: The Mousekatools Mom

We all know Olaf loves hugs, so this shot really plays to his strength. With everyone in on the premise, we have a great , and heartwarming, moment captured forever!


Most face characters will take the time to speak and interact with each guest, especially if the guest is a cute little child! Both Alice and Mary Poppins took the time to engage these little girls. One with a conversation, and the other by putting the little one to work! Can you imagine how thrilling it would be to hold Mary Poppins’ umbrella?

These kinds of shots capture a moment in time that will never be repeated by your child, and not exactly by another child. This makes each shot priceless!

T I P    t h r e e    T I P

Photograph Characters in Close-ups

If you just have to have the obligatory stand-and-smile shot, make it more interesting by cropping out the extra stuff that does not add to the finished product. Legs, for example, aren’t that interesting and so can be amputated in post-editing.

Another tip for making this kind of shot better is to, if possible, choose a neutral background. Nothing can wreck a great shot like an unintentional photo bomb from some other park guest who is unaware they are in the frame. Hence the weird facial expressions or nose-picking moments that are all too common among the background extras when taking a character shot!

T I P    f o u r    T I P

Photograph Characters Being Funny

Photo Credit: Home is Where the Mouse Is

Welcome to Alice in Funland as she introduces this guest to a new way of getting an autograph! As you can imagine, this was fun for the subject, and is much more interesting for those who will look at the picture later.

Photo Credit: My Pixie Dust Diary

This is a nice shot because it shows a bit of the personality behind the character. Chip is being silly as he helps his littlest poser obtain the same height as her brother. Mischievous. And priceless!

T I P    f i v e    T I P

Photograph You Being Funny with Characters

Photo Credit: Love Our Crazy Life

Doing something funny with a character is a great way to get a unique shot. Of course, if you want to try the pose above, you might want to bring your own apple. I’m just saying.

Don’t be afraid to really ham it up! Most costumed and face characters love it when they get a ‘live one’ to break up the shift.

T I P     b o n u s     T I P

Utilize PhotoPass Add-ons

If you’re OK with spending some extra money to get the professional shots from the PhotoPass Photographers, be sure to check out all of the great add-ons and fun extras available to you.

For example, you can add borders:

You can add Disney characters, and pretend they are posing with you, or photo bombing you:

And don’t forget the ride photos. Because a ride is a character too!

And last but not least, be sure to ask your PhotoPass Photographer if they can add any special elements to your picture in post-production. Like this:

Photo Credit: My Pixie Dust Diary

I hope these tips have given you some ideas for your next photographic adventure at Disney!

For more Disney photography tips, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Disney Photography Tips Loop:

Magical Blogorail: Flower and Garden Festival

A Look Beyond the Flowers and Seminars

And beyond the awesome topiaries too!

Welcome to the next stop on Magical Blogorail Red. Today we are discussing the Flower and Garden Festival held each year in Epcot at Walt Disney World.

My wife and I have only attended this event once, back in 2010. Karen had always wanted to see the flower displays and topiaries but I was unsure if the extra trip was necessary, being as Epcot always had such beautiful floral displays anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much more beautiful the park was, and had to agree that it was indeed worth visiting during the festival. But I’m not here to highlight the flowers, topiaries, seminars, or exclusive merchandise. I always like to see what’s off the beaten path! And when we wandered off that path, here is what we found:

Butterfly Tent

Each year, just beside and slightly behind the Canada Pavilion, Disney sets up a butterfly tent where you can enjoy interacting with many different species, including the Floral Gigantes pictured above!

Disney also likes to use these special events, such as the FGF, to promote the latest movie or franchise offering. This particular year, the festival featured the new Fairy series based on Tinker Bell’s early life and adventures:

Welcome to the Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden

This garden area featured many little fairy houses and sitting and play areas. There had been a contest to design a fairy house, and the winner had her entry featured for all to see at the festival. There was also a small area to promote The Princess and the Frog movie, but it wasn’t very impressive:

Simple flat cut-outs of some of the characters

The theme of the 2010 Flower and Garden Festival was Celebrate the Great Outdoors, and I thought I’d finish my post with an aerial view, taken from the Monorail, of the topiaries just inside the main entrance. These change every year to reflect that year’s theme:

So if you’re intending to visit the 2015 Flower and Garden Festival, be sure to veer off the beaten path and see what else you can discover!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is DISTherapy.

Here is the map of our Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop – Disney Mamas – What’s New at the 2015 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

2nd Stop – Home is Where the Mouse Is –  How to Make the Most of Your Day at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

3rd Stop – Rolling with the Magic – Topiary Displays at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

4th Stop – Cool Nouns by Lee Beatens (you are here)

Final Stop – DISTherapy – Best Eats & Drinks

#DisneyTrivia: Welcome to Disney, Mr. Davis!

Marc Davis

Hello everyone, and welcome to Tiggerific Tuesday #DisneyTrivia segment, the weekly trivia segment that I host along with my good friends Jodi from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, Jen from Disney Babies Blog, and Heidi from Heidi’s Head!  Even though today is not Tuesday, it’s Monday evening, we like to get a good start on our trivia for the week, so I hope you’ll forgive the faux paux!

Today is a very important day if you are a Disney History buff like I am!  Today, as you can see from the image, is the 78th anniversary of the hiring of Marc Davis!  Mr. Davis, as you may recall from my Disney Legends post about him, is one of Walt’s Nine Old Men, and was noted for such incredible attractions as Pirates of the Caribbean, among others!  I think it is safe to say that today was a very big day, not only in the life of Marc Davis, but also in the life of all of us that love to visit Disney parks around the world!  Here is the official text, as seen on This Day in Disney History:

December 2, 1935: Marc Davis begins working as an apprentice animator at the Walt Disney Studios. He is immediately thrown into 2 weeks of intense drawing classes – taught by the studio’s resident instructor Donald Graham. Davis will go on to become one of Walt’s “Nine Old Men” and create such memorable Disney characters as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Tinker Bell and Cruella de Vil! He will later become one of Walt’s original Imagineers and ultimately a Disney Legend.

Thank you for taking a trip down Disney history Lane with me, please go check out what Heidi, Jen, and Jodi have for us as well, and please add your own trivia posts into our list!

[inlinkz_linkup id=336634 mode=1 pageSize=300]

Tanya’s Top 10 Tips for Character Greetings


Character Greetings

Ask any child what they want to do at Walt Disney World and you will likely find that eventually they will say,”Meet Mickey Mouse!” Character greetings can become intimidating to even the seasoned Disney traveler. There are a few things you can do to make the character greeting experience smooth, fun and successful for your child.

Tip #1 Prepare Your Child–  Any mom will tell you that they long for that precious picture of their child looking up longingly at Mickey Mouse or Rapunzel.  After all, many of our children have big ideas of what will happen when they meet their favorite character for the first time too.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go the way that we expect it.  Meeting Disney characters for the first time can be likened to meeting Santa Claus at the mall.  It just isn’t always pretty!  My suggestion is to prepare your child.  Many of the characters are BIG.  Bigger than you might even expect.  Woody for instance has a HUGE head, Sully from Monster’s Inc. is enormous, and Mr. Incredible (although he has a great smile) can be very intimidating.  Prepare your child for the sheer size of the characters.  Talk to them and let them know that they won’t be their size.  They will be the size of an adult or even larger.  You should also prepare your child that the characters will not talk to them.  We told our children that Mickey and the other characters would “interact” and nod, but wouldn’t talk to them.  “Face Characters” such as the princesses, however, will talk and interact with your child.  Our first visit with one of our twin daughters proved difficult when greeting characters.  We have an entire set of photos from that trip without her in them!  I would encourage you if you have a reluctant child to watch the characters from afar to begin with.  Don’t get into the line yet.  Find characters that are out in the open and allow your child to wave, interact and see them prior to lining up for the greeting.  This time to warm up helped our daughter immensely.

Tip #2 Prepare for Autographs– Disney takes the chance to market any and everything while you are visiting, and greeting characters is no exception. You will find that the quest for Disney character autographs sucks in most children….even the reluctant middle schooler and an occasional adult!  Disney, of course, has cashed in on this quest and sells (while affordable) autograph books for signatures. A quick search on Pinterest, Google or Etsy will yield a myriad of adorable options for gathering character signatures. Our family has used a spiral bound notecard book with success. When we return we remove the notecards and slide them into a photo album opposite the picture of the child with the character. On our last trip I had personalized pillow cases made for my children and at our Character Dining Experience we had the characters sign the pillowcases with fabric markers! They love sleeping on their Autograph pillows!  All this to say, prepare yourself that eventually your child will see that the characters give autographs and will want to gather their own.  It is best to prepare for this prior to your first greeting and have your autograph book ready to go.

Tip #3 Take in a Character Dining Experience–  Any parent and child will eventually find standing in line in 100+ degrees awaiting the return of a character tiresome. Consider knocking out your child’s favorite group or most desired group of characters in one breakfast, lunch or dinner excursion. Of course the castle experience seeing the princess is the most sought after dining experience, but I can highly recommend Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus in EPCOT’s Norway for a cheaper and more easily booked princess dining.  Consider getting the Mickey and Friends characters at a Character Dining Experience as well.  If your child is into Winnie the Pooh the Dining Experience at The Crystal Palace in The Magic Kingdom is lovely.  You just can’t go wrong with a Character Dining Option!!

Tip #4 Be Prepared–  Nothing is more irritating than being in line behind the family that fumbles around for their camera, autograph books, Photopass card, or video camera.  To make character greeting the most efficient experience for everyone (cast, guests, and children) please be prepared when your turn comes up.  My rule of thumb is to allow my children to handle their own autograph books while my husband or I handle cameras and Photopass cards.  The bottom line is have everything out prior to your turn so that the folks behind you can also have a positive experience.


Bouncing With Tigger

Tip#5  Have Your Child Interact With the Characters–  This one is a biggie for our family.  It just makes your experience that much more fun if you interact with the characters!  We have the best pictures of our kids Bouncing with Tigger, getting Pixie Dust from Tinker Bell and talking to Mickey with hands on hips.  We encourage our children to always have a question ready for a face character.  I’m telling you, you can’t throw these characters off!!  They are ready with an answer every time and they love it when children interact with them!!  Our son had a wonderful time telling Alice to have a “Very Merry Unbirthday” and asking her where the Mad Hatter was.  Our daughter asked Tinker Bell for Pixie Dust and she had a lovely reaction and answer.  Our other daughter talked to Ariel about a “Dinglehopper” at our character breakfast.  I won’t spoil the fun you can have, but I encourage you to interact with the characters….especially the “face” characters which are ones that can talk to you.  Encourage your child to have something ready to discuss when you get to the front of the line!!  It will add to your experience ten-fold!

Tip #6 Take in the Parades–  One of the BEST ways to see characters is at parades!  In fact, if you have a reluctant child when it comes to meeting the characters, parades are the best fit for you.  Parades offer you a wonderful experience to watch, interact and snap photos of the characters from a safe distance.  If your child just wants to “spot” the characters, then the parade is the way to do it.  You will see so many characters in a very short time when watching the Disney parades and you can get some wonderful pictures of your children during parade time because they are resting, relaxing and enjoying themselves.  Get a cold drink, and some cotton candy and consider taking in a parade to see characters!

Tip #7 Where There are Character Handlers There are Characters–  When you arrive for your first Disney Character greeting take note of what the “Character Handler” is wearing.  This is the helper that is with the character, the cast member who closes and opens the line, and the one who will take a picture of your family if you request.  Note what they are wearing.  If you see a Character Handler just milling around a random spot be sure and ask them what character is about to come out and jump in line!!  I’m telling you, it works.  We have been the first in line for characters so many times because we’ve spotted a handler just waiting for the character to arrive.  This also works for a Photopass photographer as so many are at the character meet and greets.  If they seem out-of-place, they are only out-of-place for a moment.  Pretty soon a character will pop out of nowhere for your child’s enjoyment!!

Tip #8 Wait and Be Patient–  If you miss a character, ask the handler when they will be back out.  Disney now has these character greetings down to a science.  If you miss a character by mere moments be willing to hang around for a few minutes.  It may mean that Pooh is just going to grab some honey and will be back in 2 minutes–wink wink–so stick around!!

Tip #9 Use Your Park Map–  Some of the best places to hunt characters are where you least expect it.  We find that EPCOT in The World Showcase is a wonderful place to spot characters.  Check your park maps for the Character Greeting image and times.  This will help you find the characters you are looking for in a more efficient way.


Getting Pixie Dust from Tinker Bell

Tip #10 Enjoy Watching Your Child–  I love standing back and watching my children greet characters.  In fact, my favorite pictures are the candid ones before any of the characters pose for a picture.  Those times when you get the FIRST reaction (tears or smiles) of your child seeing his or her favorite character LIVE for the first time are priceless.  Stand back and take it all in!  You’ll be glad you did!

Here’s to Family Fun,


44 Days til Disneyland – Pixie Hollow!

Image ©Disney Parks

Image ©Disney Parks

Pixie Hollow is a section of Fantasyland in Disneyland Park that is dedicated to Tinker Bell and her Fairy Friends!  This special meet and greet combines great Fairies with special Disney Magic to shrink you down to Pixie size!  As you walk the paths in search of the magical Fairies, you’ll learn how snowflakes get their shape, what makes bees buzz, and even what makes stars twinkle!

This meet and greet is perfect for younger Guests, but if you have a special place in your heart for the Fairies of Pixie Hollow, you’ll want to stop by here as well!  Enjoy!