Top 10 Lists

My Top Ten Disney Parks Photos of 2020

We’ve made it once again to this site’s most braggy post of the year! While we try to keep things helpful on Wandering in Disney, it’s also fun to take a look back on travels from the last year and see the photos I came up with. I might as well turn that into a blog post because photos are generally fun to look at. I started this tradition a few years ago and to look at those years, which had more Disney days and nights for obvious reasons click here!

So, a pretty normal year? Ha! Jokes! What started out as a year that we planned to visit Disneyland nearly every month turned into a year where Disneyland was closed nearly every month. We also had plans to spend an extended amount of time in Japan. Like everyone else’s plans, that was thrown off. What we ended up with in 2020 was two Disneyland trips and a September Disney World trip. That this was considered somewhat disappointing shows just how lucky we are to travel so much. I miss traveling dearly and look forward to it hopefully coming back in the near future.

Before we go any further, I don’t want this post to feel too haughty. I don’t consider myself to be all that good of a photographer. It’s a fun hobby and I’ve certainly improved from this site’s early days but if you’re looking for the best Disney Park’s photos then there are plenty of other sites to find better offerings. I’m honored that anyone looks at these and appreciate your time. Let’s get to a few honorable mentions!

Duck up close MK
Hippo Jungle Cruise splash MK

A couple of animal photos to start. These are narrowly off the list because I’m not sure they’re actually that interesting. I spent an inordinate amount of time taking photos of Disneyland and Magic Kingdom ducks this year (the one above is Magic Kingdom girl). It’s a new tradition that I plan to make last the rest of my life. The hippo photo comes courtesy of the Jungle Cruise and is my favorite shot I’ve ever gotten of the attraction. With the wrecked plane in the background and water spraying off the hippo, the photo feels a little more action-y than most static Jungle Cruise photos. Moving on!

Mickey Sparks Fantasmic DL

I work hard to get photos of Mickey in Fantasmic! because it is my favorite parks show out there and I love Sorcerer Mickey. Above is the best I’ve ever done but he’s just a smidge out of focus so it doesn’t quite make the list.

Teacups colorful night DL

The last of the honorable mentions is at Disneyland’s Mad Tea Party. It doesn’t make the list because I’m not sure it’s a hard photo to take but it is vibrant. Staying out late for Disneyland Fantasyland photos is one of my favorite things in the world.

Let’s get on to the actual list. I’ll start at 10 and move down to my favorite photo of the year. All of these are my opinion with a little help from my closest friends. There’s no rating system or anything, it’s mainly just what I like best.

Poly Bungalows night

There are some photos on the list because I took a very long time trying to get the shot just right and then finally got a decent one. That’s what happened here. This is at the Polynesian on one of our first nights of our WDW trip. I remember the night fondly with lots of swimming and relaxing, then hanging out in the room and on the beach. The lights are a little noisy on the right but the cloud reflection on the water is nice and it sneaks on to the top ten because of that.

Mark Twain RoA DL

I think this one makes it out of sentimental value. This was one of the first photos I edited after getting my new camera body (Nikon D7500) and I really like the shot. The Mark Twain holds a special place in my heart and the photo captures how I felt when taking it. It’s a light, airy shot that simply makes me happy. The clouds giving way to blue sky at the top and the steam coming off the riverboat gives a little more life to the picture. Framing it inside the green trees worked out too.

Lizard AK

This is on one of Animal Kingdom’s walking trails, Gorilla Falls if I’m not mistaken. I was editing the other day and was shocked at how well this turned out since this little (okay, not so little) lizard was behind a glass enclosure. The skin texture and color turned out beautifully. The low aperture and blurred background worked to my benefit on this one.

Splash Mountain hut MK

I generally prefer to take nighttime photos but sometimes the daylight can really bring out the color. This photo benefits from that. The blue sky matching the window shutters brings the photo together. I was also happy with the framing of the photo, not something I can say about all of the photos on this list.

SWGE Millenium Falcon green lightsabers DL

The next two photos are a case of right place, right time. This is a pretty generic photo of the Millennium Falcon, albeit sharp and with good color. At the time, I was trying to wait out the lightsaber duelers on the bottom left but started taking some long exposure shots anyway. It turned into a pop of color that may be a little gimmicky but encompasses the energy of Galaxy’s Edge.

Matterhorn balloons DL

Again, more luck was involved here than skill. I ran up to the balloons when I saw they were close to the Matterhorn and it turned out to be a beautiful scene albeit maybe not the most original. From there, I got lucky with the clouds above as they’re white and whimsical. If you’ve walked around the parks enough times there’s no doubt that you’ve tried one of these balloon photos. Sometimes even the sky cooperates with them!

Chipmunks wet castle MK

These top four take a bit of a jump for me over the rest on the list. After a very rainy afternoon in Magic Kingdom, the clouds cleared and made way for a picturesque early evening. I went around taking photos of the the little statues in the hub. This one of the chipmunks turned out really well as they look like they hopped out of the shower to enjoy a nice day. The castle is vibrant, making for a lovely and blurred backdrop.

Elsa snowing Frozen float Magic Happens DL

I might like the previous picture a little more as far as just looking at it but this one took more effort so I gave it the nod. Magic Happens premiered at Disneyland and the second showing was usually just after dusk. The Frozen float came with the fake snow and it looks pretty glorious here, floating above Elsa’s outstretched hand. The float did a surprisingly good job of lighting the scene but getting the shutter speed and aperture right to reflect the mood and be sharp was tricky.

Castle puddle Mk

Another photo I worked extremely hard for. This was that same rainy day in Magic Kingdom and there were puddles everywhere. Guests lingered for a long time and some snuck into the shot. I could have framed this a tiny bit better, getting the full trash can. It seems a little funny to admit that the trash was an essential part of the photo to me but I thought it told the story of the year. All of those blemishes aside, it earns second place on the list because of that water reflection and the story it does tell.

BTMR Night DL Clouds

The top prize goes to this Big Thunder Mountain shot. I was really happy with the clouds and the colors in the composition. Everything turned out really sharp. One small change I would like to make is having the Big Thunder peak be a little less highlighted. Otherwise, this is one of my favorite photos I’ve taken and brings back a ton of amazing feelings of standing in Frontierland, soaking in the California sky on a cool January night.

All in all, I think I made the most of my limited parks time this year but I’m itching to get out and improve on these photos. I hope you enjoyed this batch and I’m looking forward to bringing you more! Happy New Year – may this one be better than the last.

What was your favorite photo from this set? Let us know in the comments below! Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney. If you enjoy what you’re reading please subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email and like our social media pages. You can do both of those things on the right side of this page. Have a great day!

4 replies »

  1. Your photos are really good and I didn’t even know the Mickey photo was blurry until you pointed it out lol! So many favorites: the hippo from the Jungle Cruise, the duck, Chip and Dale, Mickey from Fantasmic, Splash Mountain, the Millennium Falcon, the teacups, the balloons with the Matterhorn, the rainy shot by Cinderella’s castle, and the shot of Big Thunder Mountain. They’re all amazing PERIOD!!! I miss Disneyland!!!

    Liked by 2 people

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