Walt Disney World 2015, Part IV: Magic Kingdom

This is the fourth of five installments of posts featuring photos I took at Walt Disney World this year.  I previously shared my photos of Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and EPCOT.  This post will feature photos of Magic Kingdom (and brace yourselves, because I took a lot!).  In the next installment I'll round it up with photos of Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

The only way to properly do Magic Kingdom is to get up in the middle of night, be there at park opening, go back to the hotel to take a nap around midday, and return in the evening.  You're there when the light is best and the crowds are the lightest, and you escape the worst part of the day.  It's a win-win.

The other reason you want to get there at park opening is to see the welcome show.  This is hands down my favorite thing about Disney World.  It trumps all rides and fireworks.  I know I'm weird though.  Still, it's something to see at least once.  This time around, as you can see, I taped the show with a GoPro while simultaneously photographing it.

First, the mayor of Main Street USA (or sometimes just a citizen) comes out and greets everyone, then the Main Street dancers come out and sing and dance to a medley of songs.

In case you couldn't tell, I changed lenses four or five times throughout the show.  It's hard to decide which angle is best, so why not get them all?

Before you know it, the train arrives at the Main Street Station with Mickey and a gaggle of characters along with the family of the day.

On this particular day, Anna and Elsa were on board.
Welcome to the Happiest Place on Earth!

Next, everyone counts down to the opening of the park and they shoot off a few fireworks and throw some confetti!  They used to shoot the confetti into the audience so you could pick some up and take it home as a souvenir, but now it just goes over the rail and it's attached to the popper they are holding.

Once in the park, you can photograph to your heart's content with few to no people disrupting your photos.  You can also walk on just about any ride for the next hour to hour and a half.

The castle forecourt without a crowd of people?

I just love the way Fantasyland looks in the morning.  Either it had been raining or they had just hosed down the ground.  I'm thinking the latter.

Peter Pan's Flight has a new standby queuing area that you can't see if you have a FastPass.  That's why this is a good ride to do first thing in the morning.  I just love the recreations of the kids' bedrooms!

The VillageThe Village is one of my favorite areas of New Fantasyland.  It even has horse hoof prints in the ground toad a little bit of authenticity.

Getting to relax and grab a bite to eat (there was no time for breakfast that morning) in Gaston's Tavern with nobody in it was pretty exciting.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Zooms PastI managed to grab a sunrise shot of the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train passing by.

Casey Jr.'s Splash and Soak Station is so cutely themed, but it really does splash and soak, so not the best place to bring a camera.

You gotta love the queuing area for Dumbo!  Lots of things for the kids to do while they wait to get on the ride.  Of course at this hour of the day, there's no need to bother!

Want to ride on the Haunted Mansion?  No problem, just step right up into your doom buggy!

The ultimate selfie.  I've got my game face on.

Next stop was Splash Mountain.  I love being able to stop for a moment and photograph the empty queuing area.  Look at those details!  Unfortunately, the ride broke down just as we were about to get on.  No problem, since we were issued FastPasses and came back at dusk, which is a better time to ride anyway.

I just love the Liberty Tree outside the restaurant that bears its name.

Cindy's Castle StarburstI couldn't resist this shot of Cinderella's Castle.  I used my 16-35 lens for most of these photos, and the sun flare here was just perfect.

I rode Astro Orbitors for the first time in about fifteen years.  I love the view of Tomorrowland you get from up here!  By the way, who are they kidding when they say two to three people can fit in one rocket?

I got to experience the all new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  I liked the ride, but I didn't get as many good photos as I would have liked.  I like how it's part thrill ride, part dark ride.

Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant was a treat.  The food at lunchtime is very affordable (although not as tasty as the dinnertime food), and you still get to enjoy the elegant atmosphere of the Beast's castle!

There are three dining areas in Be Our Guest Restaurant:  the ballroom (pictured way above), the West Wing (pictured just above), and the Rose Gallery (pictured below).  I think the Rose Gallery has some nice artwork on the walls, but it has nowhere near the ambiance of the other two dining areas.

I just love this area.  I'd love to try breakfast at Be Our Guest next time!

There was no shortage of photo opportunities at the Festival of Fantasy Parade.  Look at Belle and her Beast making their way down Main Street!

When it's 85 degrees out, I'm thinking standing on a float is a much better gig than having to dance your way through the parade!

Fauna in the Festival of Fantasy Parade
You wouldn't know it though, because Disney cast members always have a smile on their face!  Flora gave a little pose for the camera.

Rapunzel and Flynn smiled by on their floats.

Ideally, I would have liked to have framed my shots right in the center of Main Street, but I'm pretty sure security would have escorted me right out of the park.

This Lost Boy looked very familiar.  Maybe I saw him in another parade?

Think being sassy!

Merida being brave...and one of her brothers peeking out of the giant bag pipes.

These scary looking guys preceded Maleficent as a fire-breathing dragon.

I just love all the colors.

If you zoom in on this photo all the way, you can actually see my reflection in Minnie's eye.

Mickey & Minnie:  Festival of Fantasy ParadeRight after I took the above photo, it was back to the hotel for lunch, a long nap, and dinner before making it back for evening festivities.

We arrived back at the park just as the Dapper Dans were finish up a set.  Sadly, I don't think I've ever actually seen them perform.

There are lots of changes to the landscaping at the edge of Main Street USA.

Into Adventureland on the way to Frontierland to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

A Quiet Corner of Adventureland

A nice sunset view from the ride.  This was the first time I rode Big Thunder Mountain at dusk.

Cinderella's Castle in the Blue

There's that beautiful castle bathed in lovely blue light.

I photographed Wishes fireworks from the bridge to Tomorrowland.   It's a good spot because you can see all the bursts, plus it's impossible for someone to get in front of you (try as they might, and they do).

Pink & Green Wishes
Using a 3 stop neutral density filter allowed me to get longer bursts than I have in the past.

Wishes from Tomorrowland Bridge
After riding a few rides in Tomorrowland, I stopped for a break/photo.

Around this time of night, I stop about every three feet and set up for a photo.

Zanzibar Trading Company
I took the above photo while setting my tripod on a bench as I sat next to it.  I was pretty tired by this point, but never too tired to take just one more photo.

If you haven't noticed yet, I love Dumbo-styled rides.  Magic Carpets of Aladdin is fun to ride at night, with views of Adventureland from above.

Pirates of the Caribbean was the last ride of the evening.  I think I got some good shots but I'm not a fan of the "auction" being depicted in this part of the ride.  I'm surprised Disney still has this here.

The Tiki Room with red lights at night.  I  snapped this handheld because I (okay, my family) was in a hurry.  Obviously a tripod would have been preferable, but the 6D really pulls through in situations like this.

Main Street at Night

One last shot on Main Street before it was time to say good-bye.  See ya real soon!


  1. Love your photos, especially the selfie on the Haunted Mansion! Were you shooting without looking through the eyepiece? My shots of this ghosts are always sort of bad!

    1. Thanks! I was using live view but then looked up when I snapped the photo.

  2. My favorite post of the series so far! I love your chosen perspective on a lot of the shots. I could see myself choosing similar vantage points. Great minds! :-)


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