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Taking Holiday Photos at Disneyland
Before your trip, decide how you plan to take pictures in the park. Celebrating Christmas at Disneyland is amazing but taking home those photo memories makes it even better. These are a few things to consider:
Camera – Bring your own camera from home and take photos of decorations, family and more. Consider a DSLR with a fully charged battery. I most often use a 50mm lens (fixed focus) for great background bokeh (blur) on close up shots.
Cell Phone – Many cell phones (like the Google Pixel) are known for taking phenomenal images. Additionally a cell phone is easy to carry in the parks and simple to charge when battery is low. I recently purchased the Anker 2000 and it charged my phone for several days without needing to be recharged.
PhotoPass – If it’s group photos you’re after, Disney PhotoPass photographers are stationed all over the parks. Photos taken after dark by PhotoPass photographers are very well lit by a bright flash. Keep reading for additional tips to know when getting your picture taken by a PhotoPass photographer.
Telling a Story Through Your Holiday Photos at Disneyland
If you’re planning on sharing your photos online or in a printed memory album, consider taking photos that help tell the story of your trip. This doesn’t just include photographing your family always smiling at the camera. Think about those in-between moments waiting in line. Or while enjoying a snack together. And don’t forget the signs and decor that remind you of what you experienced on the trip.
Consider a few of these worthy shots:
- Lag behind while your family walks ahead. Take photos as they stroll down Main Street U.S.A. together.
- Look at shadows and capture your family wearing their Mouse Ears as the shadows fall on the sidewalk.
- See things from a new perspective. Get down low and shoot up.
- Back up and get a photo of the entire scene. Then move in for your close-up and capture all the tiny details.
- Take images of your park ticket held up against a ride backdrop.
- Look down and capture your family’s shoes as everyone circles around in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.
- Watch for the reflection and glow of lights onto the faces of your children at night by “it’s a small world – Holiday”.
Disney Christmas Trees
The Disneyland Christmas tree towers over Main Street U.S.A. and is decorated with over-sized ornaments that look like Victorian-era toys. Take a full shot of it and then move closer to capture individual ornaments on the tree.
A photo with the family is a must and there are many PhotoPass photographers standing here to snap a shot. This line moves quickly since they pose families around the entire circumference of the tree. We were able to use this photo for our Christmas card this year!
Disney California Adventure Tree
The 50-foot tall Christmas tree on Buena Vista Street is decorated with vintage-style ornaments to reflect the 1920s. I personally like posing here with younger children. They are able to stand up on the surrounding ledge to pose cheek-to-cheek with a parent. Multiple PhotoPass photographers are available here and the lines are usually shorter than at Disneyland’s tree.
Disneyland Resort Hotel Trees
Each of the resort hotels have trees and themed decor. There’s a beach theme at Paradise Pier Hotel. Trees have a retro-look at the Disneyland Hotel lobby. And the Grand Californian Christmas tree is nothing but spectacular!
Cars Land Trees
There are several unique holiday trees in the Cars Land area. All of them are great for photo ops!
The Holiday Treats
Eat all the treats! But first…take a photo of them. Capture the moment just before you bite into that soft gingerbread cookie or take a sip from your holiday eggnog. Unwrap your treat and take a snap of it in front of a favorite attraction (much better than a photo of it laying on the plate).
Hand the treat over to your child and photograph them nibbling, even cuter! Don’t want to indulge? Snap a photo of the sweet treats in the case or shop windows.
Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle
Draped in icicles and snow, the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle is dressed up for winter. Take a few photos of Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle alone and also with your family posed in front. Check out this awesome tip: Pose your family along the pathway on either the right or left hand side. Foot traffic is better than directly in front of the Castle. And on the sides, the only people you’ll see in the background will be small (walking across the drawbridge).
Favorite Disney Characters
Even the characters get into the seasonal spirit with costumes that reflect the holidays. I recommend arriving at rope drop to catch the “Fab 5” in the hub of Main Street U.S.A. and catch photos with them all.
At Disney California Adventure park, characters have seasonal accents on their vintage costumes, like Goofy’s candy cane tie or Daisy Duck’s wintery cardigan.
Check the Disneyland app during your visit for exact times and locations to find favorite Disney characters.
I adore the care and thoughtfulness of the landscaping and flowers that are updated with the seasons. Christmas at Disneyland brings amazing arrangements like these bright poinsettias on Main Street U.S.A.
Themed Land Decor
Christmas in New Orleans? A wacky holiday in Toontown? A bright splash of Latin American festivities? Even Cars Land revs up the holiday decor! Take a wide angle shot of the decorations and then capture close ups to see the thoughtful detail that goes into keeping the theme of each area.
Seasonal Ride Overlays
Haunted Mansion Holiday, it’s a small world – Holiday have seasonal overlays that disappear shortly after the new year. The details in each attraction are fantastic so don’t miss photographing everything both inside and out.
Christmas Fantasy Parade
This classic parade is chockful of sweet holiday memories you’ll want to capture. Dancing reindeer, gingerbread cookies and of course, Santa and Mickey as well. We stood in the it’s a small world – holiday area and it was an ideal backdrop for taking pictures of this colorful parade.
Hotel Lobby Decor
Take a walk over to the hotels of the Disneyland resort and be rewarded with decor galore! We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel several years ago and walked inside each of the towers to check out the themed trees inside the lobbies.
A stop inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is both a visual and aromatic treat; a larger-than-life replica of the hotel in gingerbread is set up here and it smells delicious! Take a shot of the towering Christmas tree in the lobby and the rustic garlands hung throughout. Ride up the elevator to the second floor and capture an overhead view of the lobby in full holiday dress.
Santa Claus at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Naturally our favorite elf is greeting guests at the Happiest Place and there are several spots to find him. In Disney California Adventure park, you’ll be treated to a visit at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.
There is a “Nice List” book set up on a table where my son wrote in the names of our entire family. What a precious memory I was able to capture as my son carefully noted each of us in Santa’s special book! Lines for Santa are often very long – be sure to read this post on the Holidays at Disneyland on Busy Days for all the crowded day tips.
The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is entirely made over for Santa’s Holiday Visit. The usual play areas have a seasonal spin. There’s also a location where kids can decorate sugar cookies (additional fee).
Other Places to Find Santa
Santa Claus has a smaller and more intimate meeting location inside the Disneyland park. He can be found in Critter Country, near the Winnie the Pooh attraction.
Santa will also be visiting at the hotels of the Disneyland resort hotels at special times over the winter season. You’ll want to check with the hotel front desk for days and times.
Save Those Memories
Don’t let those beautiful holiday pictures sit unseen in your camera or computer; get them printed out so everyone can see. I love Shutterfly for the versatility of their products as well as their great prices. I’ve been purchasing from Shutterfly for a very long time and am happy to have them as an affiliate partner. They are always having great sales and offer coupons as well.
Consider adding your Disneyland holiday photos to a calendar, ornament or a seasonal canvas that you display along with your decorations each winter. I’ve already ordered my Shutterfly Christmas cards, featuring our family photo in front of the Disneyland Christmas tree!
If you want to capture crisp and clean images but the budget isn’t ready for the investment of a new camera, consider renting your gear pre-vacation from my affiliate BorrowLenses. You can rent just a lens, camera or the entire kit to take with you on vacation. I borrowed a lens before my trip to Europe several years ago and was thrilled with the images I captured on a lens I wouldn’t have been able to purchase outright.
Purchase discount Disneyland tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.
Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Christmas Must Dos at Disney Loop:
- 1st Stop – Adventureland Pam | Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
- 2nd Stop – What’s the Point? | Amazing Gingerbread Structures at Walt Disney World
- 3rd Stop – Disney Mamas | Christmas at Disney ~ Epcot’s Candlelight Processional and Holidays Around the World
- 4th Stop – Mousekatools Mom | Holiday Tour of Disneyland Resort Hotels
- 5th Stop – Saving Up for Disney | Special Holiday Photos to Take at Disneyland Resort