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 too. This provides photographers a great opportunity to make the most of the golden hour when all the lights go on.
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 needed, and not being so over-encumbered the day is ruined. 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 could decide to head back to your room. This will allow you to collect or drop off some of your equipment, but don’t underestimate how long this could take.
Prepare for your day
Find out the times of the parades and shows before the actual 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
Visitors wanting to meet Disney characters should prepare themselves for extra time queuing. During my visit, the queue to meet Mickey Mouse was about an hour. I could only use a cameraphone to photograph my meet-up with Mickey. Should I want something better, I would need to pay for one of the Disney team to take a photo with their own camera.
Keep your camera and equipment safe
Bare in mind, when you are stood in a large crowd somebody could knock or bash your camera. Hold your camera tight and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Also remember that crime can happen anywhere, even at Disney!
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 and 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. Some parades are repeated throughout the day so, if you miss one, find out if there is another later.
During my visit people started taking their position for the illuminations show about 80 minutes before the start (see below).
Tripods, selfie sticks, and the illuminations show
I believe Disneyland Paris does not permit visitors to use selfie sticks in the parks (and certainly not during the illuminations show).
I asked a staff member about using tripods during the illuminations show. They advised me to keep my tripod below waist height and ensure nobody was stood in front of me. Considering the thousands of people that descend upon central plaza for the show, these rules seemed reasonable. In order to abide by them I took up a position right at the front of the central plaza. I therefore had to be there about 80 minutes early. This did mean I had less time for doing other things, but I thought it was worth it.
A few things to bare in mind:
- The illuminations show can be amended or even cancelled, with very little notice, if the weather is bad.
- If you might need the toilet or a drink etc. then make sure you go before taking up your position.
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
With so many great photo opportunities at Disneyland Paris, it becomes easy to get carried away with taking photos. However, I would recommend that everyone puts their camera away from time to time. It’s a wonderful place to visit with family and friends and is worth experiencing with your own eyes. I hope you have a wonderful visit!