Should you bring a camera to Disney World? Maybe - with 11 reasons why and tips to make the most of it.
I recently spent an entire week at Disney World with my family. It was my first time there - ever. I tried to prepare myself for the trip, asking advice, reading blog posts and imagining what I'd like to do while I followed my kids from ride to ride through those long, hot June days. Taking photos on vacation is something I look forward to and really enjoy. Since I'm the kind of mom who likes peace and quiet and easily gets motion sickness, I thought that having my camera with me (and I mean my DSLR camera) would be a great way for me to enjoy the parks. I'm also like just about every other mom in America in that I love having photos of everything my kids do. It's like if I don't have a photo then I'm not sure it really happened. Reflecting back on our week there, I was sometimes happy that I had my camera, but mostly I wish I had left it in the hotel room. Taking photos at Disney World is hard - really hard. If you want the quick answer about whether to bring your camera to Disney World, then scroll all the way to the bottom. If you have a few minutes to read along, then here are my 11 reasons why you might maybe want to bring it (or not).
The Photo Pass - You can get all of those iconic shots (and actually be in the photo!) if you use the photo pass. I wish I had used it more. I often forgot about using it. To me, the photographers throughout the parks were not very noticeable. When you're focused on keeping an eye on your kids you don't notice the nice cast members with their cameras. So if you get the pass, remember that you have it, keep an eye out for the photographers and use it!
The Rides Inside are Dark - Unless you love a photography challenge, have a great camera, a really fast lens and some really solid shooting techniques under your belt don't bother trying to take photos during the rides. I qualify for all of those requirements and I got this one shot that turned out at Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. That's it.
Your Camera Gets Heavy - You'll be carrying that camera for quite a while and it somehow gains weight with every passing hour. If you do bring a camera just use the one lens you have on it. Don't bring any other lenses into the parks. Trust me.
People are Everywhere - Oh my goodness, there were so many people. There's almost no avoiding them in your photos. So, embrace them as a part of the scenery and include them in an intentional way in your photos or blur them out in the background by using a wide open aperture. Or angle your camera upwards to crop them out of the shot.
You're Always Going - I made the most of this by taking a lot of photos from behind.
Or You're Always Waiting - I passed the time taking photos of us waiting or standing in lines.
Someone Might be Skeptical - If you're traveling with other people, chances are someone will be participating with reluctance at some point. If so, tell that story with your photos! Disney isn't just magic - it's funny too.
Character Meals - I didn't notice any of the photo pass people during our dinner in Cinderella's Castle or at lunch with Winnie the Pooh and Friends. I was really thankful that I had my camera with me then. However, unless you have a lens with a fast aperture of f2.8 or wider to help with the low light inside, I'd suggest just bringing your phone camera.
Fireworks! - If you are willing to bring a tripod that fits in your backpack and shoot in manual mode then yes, you should absolutely bring your camera with you wherever you are watching the fireworks. I doubt I'll ever have that many chances to photograph fireworks again.
The Florida Sun is Hot - I was often just too hot to bother with pulling my camera out of the back pack. All of the photos you don't see here are because I didn't take them because I was just too hot.
You'd Rather Have a Spray Fan - You'll probably be better served carrying a spray fan around your neck. I was skeptical, but boy, did it feel nice!
Here's my quick answer: If you have a good, fast wide angle lens (with an aperture of f 2.8 or faster) then yes, bring the camera on your trip, but just use it for the character meals and fireworks (if you also have a tripod). Leave it at the hotel and use your phone camera for everything else.