My Top Ten Disney Parks Photos of 2021

Happy New Year! We’ll start off 2022 by getting into Wandering in Disney’s most self-proclaiming annual post. Pride goeth before a fall? Well, falling isn’t too bad when you’re only a few feet above the ground! That’s probably enough self-deprecation for at least a few paragraphs. We started this tradition a few years ago and enjoy looking back over my travels from the year.

This year was a bit different than any other in the blog existence in that we’re local to Disneyland Resort now. Outside of blockout dates or other travel, I’m generally at Disneyland a couple of times per week. Sometimes that means thousands of photos and other times it means a largely photo free night. It’s an adjustment to make as I used to take photos of nearly everything I did in order to recount it in trip report later. Now, I try to think of quality over quantity. I’m not sure I’ve made that mental adjustment quite yet but I hope being local lends itself to some more unique ideas over 2022.

All of these photos were taken in Disneyland Resort or during our two 2021 trips to Walt Disney World. Hopefully 2022 brings a return of international travel but we’ll wait and see on that front.

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!

Eeyore waving DL
Meerkat Gorilla falls trail AK

These two photos are incredibly cute. It’s hard to make Eeyore look anything but adorable. Likewise, if a Meerkat smiles at you then you’re going to take a picture of it! Eeyore was hanging out near the Disneyland castle, in his usual spot for 2021. I especially like the guy holding a banana in that photo. The Meerkat was on Gorilla Falls Trail in Animal Kingdom and you should go visit him because he might smile at you too! Sometimes all a good photo takes is an adorable subject.

Carthay Circle Ball reflection Christmas Tree DCA

As you’ll find out later, I have a thing for a blurred Carthay Circle. This photo is up close on a few of California Adventure’s Christmas Tree ornaments. I like the colorful composition and the gold that stretches throughout the photo. I tried a few different focal subjects but settled on the gold ball with the rest being blurred because of my aperture being stopped down to f/1.6.

Haunted Mansion Holiday pumpkin man DL

There’s so many fun things to do with Haunted Mansion Holiday and I’m looking forward to doing even more with it. Getting into the queue with a tripod at night is difficult because they either have people in there or the gates are closed, which they should be. That means opting for handheld and having to pick a subject. I went with the jack-o-lantern here but I’m curious what it would look like if I went a different direction.

Lightning over Matterhorn DL

Honestly, this is probably in my top 10 but there’s a different lightning photo in there so I went for more variety. When you catch lightning seemingly striking the Matterhorn then it’s going to make for a cool photo. There are other things that bother me here but that’s life.

Brer Fox & Rabbit Splash Mountain MK

I’ve started trying to take more Splash Mountain photos before the attraction is eventually changed. I’m hoping to get more over the next year but here’s the best of the bunch so far. I might have to invest in more ponchos for the camera though!

Disneyland castle close Christmas

The last of the honorable mentions is a castle photo, although hopefully a little more unique than others. Disneyland’s castle (and any Disney Park castle) looks great decked out in Christmas lights. This photo looks especially icy with the blues up close.

On to the top 10, I’ll go in descending order, starting with number 10 and working our way down to 1.

Casey's Piano Player 50th smiling MK

Number 10 is a sentimental favorite. On Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary we staked out a spot next to Casey’s Corner and watched the original ragtime piano player perform a set. He was charming and as good of a player as ever. This photo sums up that day for me, with the Cast Member smiling broadly while the guests look on in admiration and wonder.

Kermit topiary night Epcot flower & garden

There’s going to be a bunch of nighttime photos in this top 10. I guess that’s not unusual for me, as I take far more photos at night. This Kermit topiary with Epcot’s World Showcase was taken during Flower & Garden Festival. Epcot does a wonderful job of lighting these topiaries and the park was very empty on this certain night. Does my infinite love of The Muppets have anything to do with him making the list? Maybe, but I will say that there are no Country Bears so I’ve shown some restraint.

SWGE RotR Lt Bek captain DL

I took this photo quite a few times in 2021, capturing Lt. Bek in the pre-show of Rise of the Resistance. While it’s low lighting, this isn’t as hard of a photo to take as some dark rides. I think this enters the top 10 more because of the work on this particular animatronic. No matter how close you get to the lieutenant, his detailing looks eceptional.

Flo's neon night DCA

Flo’s is fun to photograph no matter what equipment you use. On this particular night I was using my bean bag instead of a tripod and that added some interesting color bouncing off the ground into the frame. I have nits to pick with the photo but I’m happy with the color and it’s hard to make that place look anything but stunning!

Photo Supply moon DL

I took this photo a few days before it was announced that Disneyland’s Photo Supply store would be changing to the new Plaza Point Christmas Shop. On this particular night, I was lucky with a nearly full moon that would shine through in a number of Main Street photos. It’s hard to beat a deep blue and gold color scheme, thankfully the sky obliged. With the building lights and moon so bright, I was able to take this one handheld at a relatively low ISO.

DCA Carthay Circle night blurred

Cracking the top 5 is another ground shot from California Adventure. I opted for a low aperture to keep Carthay Circle blurry. I do think it would be a pretty photo with it all clear though and I’ll have to try that at some point soon. I was going for something different on this one though and hope that the emphasis on the brick street and railroad drive home the early Hollywood feel of Buena Vista Street.

BTMR sign Halloween Tree DL

This is a combination of two of my favorite things to photograph, signs and lights. The Halloween Tree in Disneyland, located in Frontierland is a favorite decoration of mine and getting it into a photo was fun. The contrast of the orange and yellow against the brown wood is different for me as I’m usually drawn to blues. This was another handheld, low aperture nighttime photo as I guess I had a thing for that this year!

SWGE alley DHS
SWGE market center lamps night DL

I’m cheating here on the number three spot because I like both of these Galaxy Edge photos quite a bit. The top one is a little more unique, as so much focus in the land is put on the Falcon and the market. I liked the purple against the building’s tan, dusty feel. I think there’s a nice depth of field to it too.

The bottom one is a photo I’ve taken many times before but it made the list because of the cloud movement and the dark blue sky. Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate just how great lanterns are. Thanks to the ancestors who came up with this wonderful idea!

BTMR sunset train MK

My final two photos are a product of mother nature doing its thing and me and my camera being the benefactor. Florida is no stranger to beautiful sunsets and the pink in the sky blends beautifully with Big Thunder’s rocks. I may have held the line up for a little bit, waiting for the train to come through and I would have liked to be able to set up a tripod to give it a broader focus.

Lightning over Rivers of America DL

Getting to watch lightning all throughout Disneyland was one of my favorite memories of 2021. It never really rained on me, as I raced from different areas to the next. The subject was new to me as I haven’t done any photography in lightning. Making it up on the fly and after a while it just came down to patience and hoping that lightning would literally strike. The reflection in the river is really beautiful and the different tones in the sky make for a slightly different color on the riverboat and Tom Sawyer Island.

Happy New Year! Here’s to many more photos and Disney Trips for all of us!

What was your favorite photo from this group? Let us know in the comments below! Planning a trip to a Disney Park? Check out our guides to help you along the way! 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!

7 replies »

  1. Happy New Year! Woah, those two lightning shots are really cool! Also, I love the meerkat photo and such perfect timing you took the photo when it was smiling at you. I didn’t even know there were meerkats at Animal Kingdom, so I’ll be on the lookout for them when I go to Walt Disney World in March for the Disney College Program (I pray it doesn’t get canceled)!

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