Disneyland Paris is a great place for the amateur photographer. There seems to be an endless variety of photographic opportunities: huge parade floats, beautifully themed buildings, dancers and performers, landscaped gardens, spectacular illuminations, fireworks and, of course, the Disney characters themselves. The park is often open late into the evening providing photographers a great opportunity to make the most of the golden hour and the magical time after dark when the buildings are illuminated.
Here are a few of my tips for any photographer wanting to make the most of their time in Disneyland Paris.
Prepare your backpack
As usual with photography, it’s important to strike the right balance between carrying all the equipment you are likely to need, and not being so over-encumbered it ruins your day. Of course you will need your camera, favourite standard lens, lens cloth, spare batteries and memory cards. But, depending on what you are planning to photograph, you might also want to take a few extras such as a telephoto zoom lens (for the parades), and a small tripod and remote shutter release (for night shots).
A few things to bare in mind: most rides will allow you on with a standard-sized bag, but an oversized bag will usually not be permitted. Some rides won’t allow you on with a bag at all. If you are staying in one of the hotels near Disneyland Paris then you might decide to head back to collect or drop off some of your equipment during the day, but don’t underestimate how long this could take.
Prepare for your day
Find out the times of the parades and shows before the acrual day. Come up with a rough schedule for your day. A programme is available on the Disneyland Paris website. Obviously your schedule will depend on what you really want to see and do, and how many days you will be spending in the resort. Don’t try to squeeze in too much, especially if you are only visiting for one day.
Allow extra time for character meet-and-greets
If you wish to meet some of the Disney characters then be prepared for a few extra queues. During my visit, the queue to meet Mickey Mouse was about an hour. I was also told I could only use a cameraphone to photograph my meet-up with Mickey and, should I want something more professional, I would need to pay for one of the Disney team to take a photo with their own camera. I didn’t bother.
Keep your camera and equipment safe
Bare in mind it is possible your camera could be knocked or bashed when you are stood in a large crowd, so hold your camera tight and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Also remember that crime can happen anywhere, even here!
Put your camera away on the rides (mostly)
Most indoor rides do not permit photography, but even if they did, the low levels of light and constant motion would make it very difficult to capture any decent images. Put your camera away (securely) and enjoy the attraction as it was intended: with your own eyes! Some of the slower outdoor rides do allow photography. If you are unsure, look for signs near the entrances to the ridges and along the queues, or ask a member of staff.
Remember that even some slower rides can have sudden movement and unexpected water splashes that could end up wetting you or your equipment!
Take your place early for the parades and shows
If you want the best spots for the parades then it is best to arrive before they start. This will give you opportunity to survey the best positions and talk to staff members to see exactly which directions the parades will be going in. Some of the staff are also quite useful at suggesting great photo spots. Remember that some of the parades are repeated through the day, so if you miss one find out if there is another a bit later.
Be aware that during my visit people started taking their position for the illuminations show about 80 minutes before it was due to start (see below)
Tripods, selfie sticks, and the illuminations show
I believe selfie sticks are not permitted in the parks (and certainly aren’t allowed during the illuminations show).
When I asked about using tripods during the illuminations show I was advised that as long at the tripod was short (i.e. no taller than my waist), the legs were not open too wide, and that nobody was stood in front of me then it would be permissible. Considering the thousands of people that were likely to descend upon central plaza in order to watch the show, these rules seemed quite fair. In order to abide by them and still get a decent shot it was necessary for me to take up a position right at the front of the central plaza (I had to be there about 80 minutes early). Obviously, this does eat into your day, and only you can decide if it is worth it!
A few things to bare in mind:
- The illuminations show can be amended (i.e. no fireworks) or even cancelled, with very little notice, if the weather is bad.
- If you might need the toilet, drink, or anything else then make sure you go before taking up your position for show.
Tip: look up advice on the internet about taking firework photographs prior to your visit. This will allow you to make the most of the opportunity.
Make the most of your day
It is easy to get carried away taking photos at Disneyland Paris, but try to put your camera away some of the time and enjoy the park with your own eyes. I hope you have a wonderful visit!