Disney Parks hold some of the most photographed items in the world. There are castles, mountains, parades and fireworks to photograph. There is a reason that these items are so popular to photograph, they are beautiful. While I think taking photos of the popular areas is still fun and important, I do have a few other favorite areas that are much less crowded.
I’m still new to theme park photography and don’t have many tips as far as actually taking photos. I’m still learning my way, but I do get excited when finding an area that I haven’t seen hundreds of photos from before. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few of my favorite areas to photograph in the parks. Some of these options are more popular than others but I tried to stay away from any big icon (castles, Spaceship Earth, Tree of Life, etc.) or area (Cars Land).
Harambe (Animal Kingdom)
I know what long-time readers are thinking, “Oh, I see now that this is just another chance for Andrew to tell us how much he loves Animal Kingdom.” Well, you aren’t far from the truth. Harambe is one of the most immersive areas in any theme park I’ve been to. Combine that with the lush greens that are throughout all of Animal Kingdom and you have a beautiful area.
Entering Harambe, guests pass the Discovery River with some wonderful photo options shooting along the river. (Either toward Everest or toward the Harambe Theater and soon to be Pandora.) Once in the area, there are wonderful details to capture as well as interesting architecture. There’s also live entertainment. If you can capture the recently opened Harambe Market at a non-busy time (good luck!) then that offers some interesting photos, as well. Of course, Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of the most picturesque settings in all of Walt Disney World and that is also technically in Harambe. All in all, there are many different landscapes, details and areas to photograph in Harambe and that variety is a large part of the appeal.
Grizzly River Run (California Adventure)
Getting your camera out on Grizzly River Run is probably a bad idea. If you do, you’ll probably have to buy a new camera once off the attraction. Instead, wait until you’re off the ride and into the early evening with the cooler (temperature) colors and head back to Grizzly River Run. There are a few paths through the area with some nice detail. The water plus the fog affects offer some nice photos of the attraction while the paths offer some unique photos to take. There is also a lot of green in this area of the park, which is a plus in my opinion.
We stumbled upon this area last trip and enjoyed watching people on Grizzly River Run as they zipped down the falls. I think this area is really enhanced by the changes they have made to the rethemed Grizzly Peak. The whole area feels more like a National Park and sets guests up for this wonderful trail. I had a great time photographing the truck and other details near the end of the path. Also, I love where the path ends offering a chance to shoot back into the trees and capture the attraction at a different angle.
Rivers of America (Disneyland & Magic Kingdom)
This is another area that I’ve raved about since this blog began. As you’ve seen in my first two choices, I’m drawn to water and think that it’s beautiful to photograph. I like the energy that it adds to a photo. On Rivers of America there are a number of areas to photograph. I always enjoy the birds that choose to make the river their resting place. Tom Sawyer Island is a fascinating place to take photos of from across or on the river. There are also the lesser seen areas like the Native Americans in Disneyland.
The best way to get these photos is on the River Boats. I know the Mark Twain in Disneyland is docked for a year but that should lead to even more unique and interesting areas to photograph. These boat rides offer a calm setting to take photos. I love the view back into the parks while on the Mark Twain or the Liberty. There are often unique photos of Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and just the area in general be it Liberty Square or New Orleans Square. This is one of the most obvious on my list but I think the River Boats are under-appreciated.
Bay Lake, Seven Seas Lagoon, Crescent Lake (Walt Disney World)
What a surprise, more water! These areas throughout Walt Disney World offer unique views of Parks and resorts. There is also free transportation to get you to and from these areas. The ferry that ships guests across Seven Seas Lagoon from the TTC toward Magic Kingdom will offer a stunning view into what guests are about to set foot in. The view of the castle as you make your way across the lake will get anyone excited and is a fun photo to take of an often-photographed icon. Looking to your left, the Grand Floridian looks very elegant in all of its Victorian beauty. The Contemporary on the right is also a different type of building to shoot. Bonus points if you can take the photo while the monorail is coming in or out of the hotel.
Crescent Lake and Bay Lake offer different views of the resorts and not as much of the parks. Crescent Lake brings you right up to the Boardwalk, which has a lot of charm and enough to keep the eye busy in a wide-angle photo. Bay Lake is more of a normal lake with lush areas surrounding it, as well as some resorts.
Japan’s Gardens (Epcot)
These gardens in World Showcase were the subject of one of our very first posts on this blog. I’ll let that do most of the talking. This area is green, has wildlife, pops of color, and a chance to either shoot up a small hill or down into the vast lagoon that World Showcase engulfs. Needless to say, there are many beautiful options here.
Over time, and as my photography skills hopefully grow, I hope to add more to this list. Chances are that I’ll just end up back at the beautiful castles but I’ll do my best to do otherwise! What are some of your favorite unique areas to photograph in the Disney Parks? Let us know in the comments. Thank you for reading!