Club 33

Club 33 is an exclusive Members Only Restaurant located inside Disneyland (New Orleans more specifically). I always wondered and hoped that one day i would find a way in and my chance finally arrived, thanks to a friend of a friend’s father in-law. We were lucky enough to score lunch dining reservations for a party of 12 for a Sunday afternoon in the park.


Adventures in California

Saturday we redeemed the second day of our Southern California ticket and visited Disney’s California Adventures. With the Rock Your Disney Side: 24-Hours happening the day/night/morning before i planned that a lot of the Disney fanatics wouldn’t be there Saturday.

Radiator Springs Racers Queue
Radiator Springs Racers Queue

We arrived at rope drop and made our way through Starbucks (who accepts the Starbucks gift cards) and picked up a Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers for a reasonable time of 11:50am. My mom insisted that we still take advantage of the short single rider line and go on the ride anyways.

Monsters Inc.
Monsters Inc.

Next it was time to have some fun with Alice where we took her to a Bugs Land and went on Flick’s Flyer which was like Dumbo but seriously gets everyone dizzy. Then we went on the Monsters Inc. ride which was her first dark ride and she was holding on pretty tight to Grandma but didn’t cry.

cali-adventures-11
Tigger

I was really wanted to try some things that i’ve never done before so we went to The Disney Animation Building and learned how to draw Tigger, and do Turtle Talk with Crush. The rest of the day was spent roaming around the park, eating lunch at Taste Pilots’ Grill, and we finished up the day watching the Pixar Parade. It was a fun day, and it was nice to get out of there before nightfall.


Mother’s Day at Disneyland

disneyland-castle

Sunday we celebrated mother’s day for Joy and my mom at Disneyland. We’ve been thinking about going to Disneyland since they announced the Southern California ticket again, but never found a really good reason to go until today. We woke up as early as we could and got there around 9am and I only had one goal for myself and that was to get onto the newly refurbished Thunder Mountain.

They given the ride a nice full cleaning, and added some really cool special effects to the ride.

dumbo-rideAfter we took turns going Thunder Mountain it was time to take Alice on Dumbo for her first flight on an elephant. She wasn’t exactly paying attention to what was going on and just wanted to play with the seat belt.

magic-moment-churro

We headed back to Thunder Mountain for our fast pass and while we waited for my parents to finish the ride, Joy went to get some churros and lemonades, and came back with at Magic Moment free churro. Made our day for sure.

corn-dog

Alice had her usual pitstop at the baby center, so we stopped for a tasty corn dog.

dole-whip

Next up was a show at the Enchanted Tiki Room and a nice cool Dole Whip as the temperature of the day started to rise.

mickey-spatula

While waiting for our next fast pass at Indian Jones  and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye i bought my mom a new mickey hand spatula which she thought was perfect for spanking Alice.

indiana-jones-down

We got on Indiana Jones quite quickly but as we were getting ready to enter the doors to Mara the car next to us broke down and we were stuck in our car waiting for a few minutes for the cast members to sort things out.

story-book-ride

Alice’s last ride of the day was a ride on the boats of Storybook Land. She liked staring at our captain as she explained all the buildings and topiary. After that ride we decided to call it a day as the crowds were getting bigger, and it was time to get Alice home for her shower and bed time.


Pre-Mother’s Day Brunch @ PCH Grill

To avoid dealing with Mother’s Day Brunch madness i booked a brunch at the PCH Grill at Paradise Pier at Disneyland. I invited Jonathan’s family along as well since they weren’t doing anything yet either. I’m a sucker for breakfast buffets and this was our first Character Dining experience which i thought it would be entertaining for the kids as well.brunch-0

Thankfully you can make Disney Dining RSVP online now instead of having to call in, which was necessary for a party of 11. There was even a long line just to check in. Some people looked very stressed of missing their RSVP time but the cast members seem to handle anything thrown at them (like adding two more to your party at check-in).

brunch-1

The craziness begins when you your table is ready and a host will walk you in where you’re greeted by Mickey Mouse himself. That way you can get a few pictures in before sitting down to start your meal.

mickey-waffles

As for the food i enjoyed my fair share of fresh Mickey waffles along with all the bacon and sausage i wanted. Considering that these Mickey waffles are around $6-7 a la cart in the park, i killed it by eating at least 8 of them. Along with a waffles there were pancakes, french toast, an omelet bar, bagels and lox, chilaquiles, cereal, and fruit.

brunch-4

stitch

All throughout your dining time various characters will stop by each table to say hello and snap some more pictures. We saw Minnie Mouse, Daisy, Pluto, and even Stitch!

mickey-bored

Adults are $35, Kids are $15. The restaurant is located at the Paradise Pier Hotel which is the furthest from the park, but you can get validated for 5 hours at the parking lot located at the hotel. The decor matches the age of the hotel, but if your head is always scanning for characters and your kid you’ll barely notice the low ceilings or decor on the wall. You’ll need to make sure that you have lots of time planned for a meal because the process takes a long time between getting seated, getting your food, seeing and interacting with characters and then going back for more food.


Disneyland Eve

Disneyland trips will never be the same, but it will be so much more fun now that I get to experience it all over again through the eyes of Alice.  Of course our annual trip with Nina to Disneyland was the highlight of our winter vacation and it couldn’t have gone any better. The weather was in the mid 70s and again the crowds were very bearable for the time of year.

santa-clausWe started off our morning by heading to California Adventures to see if Santa Claus was back again for some pictures. We were some of the first people there when he showed up, so we got to take our time getting a few extra shots with the kids. Alice had no idea what was going on, and didn’t even wake up for her picture. Kaylee on the other hand didn’t want any part of the white bearded man.

jingle-cruiseOnce that was done we headed over to Disneyland for the real fun to begin. I was really excited to see the holiday themed Jingle Cruise which was a new addition to the normal holiday stuff. There wasn’t much of a difference to the ride other than some decorations, and the jokes were pretty much the same. It also happened to be Alice’s first ride in the park!

space-mtn

With the help of my parents and some good planning we actually got to go on all of the big rides, as well as plenty of small rides with the kids. It helps that we didn’t need to do anything specifically and could just go with the flow.

churrosWe got to feast on all our favorites in the park like churros, fried chicken, and the Monte Cristo (but too bad its just not as good as before).

familyAlice spent most of her time inside her carrier, but got out a few times to feed, and to ride its a Small World. At two months it was a little early to take her, but i can’t wait until next year when she’ll be over a year old, and much more appreciative of everything going on.


Top 10 Things to Bring with you to Disneyland

No day at Disneyland is the same as the any other, and all you can do is plan well, be ready to adapt, and make sure you enjoy yourself. I don’t have kids of my own yet, but i’ve been there plenty of times with kids that range from toddlers to pre-teens and each need their own supplies. These are beyond things you probably already know what to bring.

10. Extra Clothes

adventureland

The mornings may be nice, the afternoons may be hot, and the evenings may become freezing so having jackets and sweats may be helpful to keep your family warm if the winds pick up or weather takes a turn for the worse.

If you plan on going on any water rides, especially Grizzly River Run you’re going to get wet, and i’ve seen some kids breakdown once they’ve become soaking wet, so entire wardrobe change may be necessary.

You have some options when it comes to storage as Disneyland now has all day use lockers which you can open and close all day without having to put more money into the machines. If not you can always just put them in your car and come back if need be.

9. Sundries

flight-glasses

Pretend like your trip to Disneyland is like going to the beach so pack anything you wouldn’t want to pay double the cost to buy on the fly. There’s nothing worse than getting a headache during your day in the park, or coming home with a face and back burnt from being in the sun for 10 hours of the day.

  • sun block
  • sunglasses
  • chap stick
  • tylenol
  • bandaids
  • wetnaps

8. Pre-purchased Souvenirs

main-st.plutoSave some time and money and pre-purchase your autograph books, and glow in the dark necklaces that you can get at the dollar store instead of shelling out extra cash for disposable things. If you want to start pin collected start off by checking eBay for people tying to get rid of their extras.

7. Phone Apps

mouse-waitMouseWait is a handy app available for both the iPhone and Android phones which will be invaluable if you’re trying to get on as many rides as possible. Its a social based tool which will give you the most up to the minute wait times for rides and the availability of FASTPASS around the park.

FourSquare allows you “check in” at venues throughout the day. The most important check in is the one at the parking lot so you’ll remember what floor and what column you’re parked on. There’s nothing worse then ending your day and having no idea where you parked at. It can also keep track of your day so you can remember how your day progressed.

6. Phone Chargers

If you’re anything like me, your phone will be dead before lunch if you don’t bring a charger with you for all your phones. Between taking pictures, using MouseWait, and checking football scores you’re going to be constantly on your phone. It also doesn’t help that for reason that may include too many people within a certain cell phone tower, or just being in a bad reception area your phone is constantly looking for a signal to connect to which of course drains the battery even faster.

Disneyland have new Phone Charging Lockers available for rent. Disney is pretty good at hiding open power sockets but MouseWait also has a handy guide to where you can find available outlets.

5. A Plan

disneyland-city-hallA little research can go a long way when planning a trip to Disneyland and DCA. Its better to know ahead of times about which rides you need to go on, and what rides will be closed.

You can make an advanced dining reservation up to 60 days before your visit at select restaurants by calling (714) 781-DINE or (714) 781-3463.

Plan for afternoon breaks whether to take a nap, or just time to reset yourself in an air conditioned lobby of the Grand Californian.

Watching a outdoor show? Bring blankets to sit on and mark your space. As a kid my mom would camp out in front of the Fantasmic show saving our spot while my sister and i would continue running around the park. When we would get back we would have plenty of space to lay down and wait for the show as well.

Have a meeting spot if you ever get separated from your group. My family’s spot was at the Lost Parent Sign in front of City Hall.

4. Snacks and a Water Bottle

DCA-ghirardelli

While i personally think that dining in the park is part of the experience, snacking on churros, ice cream and popcorn  all day aren’t particularly necessary. Sometimes you just need something to munch on in line that wont get messy, or make you full before dinner. I really recommend a trail mix of nuts and dehydrated fruits that wont melt, or get sticky while you eat. Its also very important to keep hydrated throughout the day, and bringing a water bottle you can constantly refill is a lot better than having to buy it in the park.

3. Shoes

tomorrowland

You’ll be tempted to wear sandals into the park, but unless you can do hikes in them then leave them at home. Make sure you bring comfortable running/walking shoes that you don’t need to break in, or mind getting dirty. You’re body will thank you after 12 hours of walking on the hot asphalt, and countless times of being stepped on, or being run over by a stroller.

2. Kids Info Cards

kidsKids can get separated really easy in crowds or wander off before you realize it so if you may want to pin an info card of your mobile phone number so a kid can reach out to any cast member to help get them back to you. Cast Members are really diligent of connecting lost kids to their parents so if you’re worried about them not being able to get back to a meeting point then you should have a way for them to reach out to you.

1. Right Attitude/Patience

DCA-entrance

Disneyland may bill its self as the Happiest Place on Earth, it could also be name the Busiest Place on Earth, most Stressful Place on Earth, or Hottest Place on Earth and if you’re in charge of the day then it’ll all be put on your shoulders.  Disneyland is suppose to be fun, so just know there are things you have to deal with and everything should be fine. Knowing these things will help you enjoy your day in the park:

  • It gets crowded, so make sure you can deal with stupid people.
  • You wait in lines all day, so make sure your kids know that sometimes you have to wait for an hour.
  • Its expensive, as long as you know you’re going to be spending money it wont surprise you on how much things costs when you’re there.
  • Give yourself enough time, because the more you rush throughout the day the more you’ll end up missing

Disneyland 5k – Race Day

I signed up for the Disneyland 5k back in the winter time and knew it was a long ways away but kept up all summer going for 2 and 3 mile runs even during the weekdays. I couldn’t seem to get past running a 9:30 mile, and really tried to get it closer to a nine minute mile to beat my personal record (PR). Going into race day i was faced with a dilemma of racing by myself or walking with Joy since she’s pregnant, and my sister still sore from her minor surgery the week before. I planned on walking part of the race with them and running the last two miles.

disneyland-5k-start

Race morning I woke up at 3:30am to get ready and drive to Cerritos to pick up my sister, and get to Disneyland by 5:00am for our lineup. While waiting for our corral to be released i was still figuring out what to do, but once we were off, i said screw it and decided to walk the course too. I didn’t want to be left out of all the pictures i knew were going to be taken, but it was really hard not to just start jogging with so many other people really running. The other thing that made me feel better was that we weren’t given a timing chip so everything was basically off the record since it was just a “fun run.”

disneyland-5k-course

The course layout was entirely inside the ground of Disneyland, California Adventures, and Downtown Disney, and the first time we ran through, Joy was going as fast as possible, but this year we took our time and even back tracked a few times to get another picture. The course started off by going down Disney way that led to the back of DCA and we entered right next to Cars Land.

Disneyland-5k-cars-land

We stopped along with a bunch of other people to snap a shot in front of Radiator Springs Racers.

Disneyland-world-of-color

Then a stop in front of the the World of Color fountains. Where we almost didn’t get this shot because we had a cast member try 4 times and didn’t even take one picture. Thankfully we checked and got another runner to take an actual picture.

disneyland-5k-main-entrance

Disneyland-5k-chipndale

Then it was off to Disneyland where we circled the castle through Fantasyland, and Frontierland where we found Chip and Dale. Finally the home stretch had us run through Critter Country and out the back to head back towards Downtown Disney.

Disneyland-5k-final

I had plenty of energy so i did a lot of slow motion running next to Joy, and some running forward and circling back to Joy to get my kicks in, but when we finally crossed the finish line my overall time for the 3.1 miles was slower than what it took me to run my 10k (6.2 miles) back in February with a time of 1:04:11.

Disneyland-5k-medals

Here we are with our Alice and Wonderland medals.


Disneyland Halfathon Weekend

Disneyland-halfathon-2007

Six years ago when i first met Joy, i somehow convinced her to run a half marathon with me even though neither one of us had run more than a 5k before. It was early on in our dating timeline and i had some reservation about asking a girl i basically had just met to a date seven months into the future, but something inside told me just go for it. Looking back I think training together for the half-marathon was something that we really bonded over time with and got us to where we are now.

This year knowing that we were trying to get pregnant we only signed up to do the 5k instead of the halfathon, and it worked out well since of course Joy did get knocked up and wouldn’t have been able to do it. My sister joined us as well as she missed out on our half marathon for reasons i forget now.

Disneyland-5k-2013-pickup

Disneyland-5k-2013-shirts

Friday we went to the Health & Fitness Expo to pick up our bibs and t-shirts. I was disappointed that the 5k only got a hanes t-shirt, while all the other ones got an annual tech shirt, because this weekend ended up being so humid even in the morning. The cool thing about this year’s race was that it was Alice and Wonderland themed so it seemed so appropriate since we’re naming our daughter Alice as well.

I was hoping to pick up a new hat but unfortunately i’m not a fan of most running caps because they’re always so flimsy and thats all they had. After we picked up everything we headed out to Downtown Disney to have dinner with the cousins who drove up to meet up with us.


Top 10 Rides of Disneyland

This list is my top 10 Rides of Disneyland for older kids and adults. These rides are a mix of old world Disney imagineering, and the funnest rides in the park that you shouldn’t miss. This also means that these rides will be the more popular rides which will mean for longer wait times.

The biggest tip i can give for any ride is if you are faced with an option of a fork in the queue and is to choose the path to the right. The reason for this is that most rides allow people in wheelchairs to cut the lines of the left queue, and the time it takes to load and unload them is very time consuming.

10. Disneyland Railroad

Disneyland-RailroadThe Disneyland railroads is one of the last true steam powered trains in the country and its the first thing to greet you when you enter the park. Everything about it just brings you back in time and really makes you use all your senses if you don’t even realize it. The sounds are unmistakable with the toot of the steam engine, or the chugging of the wheels. The smell of the steam engine fill the air, and the open cabin ride lets you feel the wind in your face as you circle the park.

Its a great slow ride that makes stops in Main St. USA, New Orleans Square, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland. Along the way you get narration about things your are passing by, and between Tomorrowland and Main St. USA you take a trip through time and get to see a T-rex battle a Stegosaurus in a lava field.

  • nostalgia level: 8
  • excitement level: 3
  • restrictions: none
  • wait time: 10-20 minutes
  • Fast Pass: no

Main St. Station is the easiest location to get on, while fantasyland is the hardest to.

9. Splash Mountain

splash-mountain

Warning you may get wet. Splash Mountain was the last mountain ride to be opened in 1998 which takes you on a log plume ride through the adventures of Brer Rabbit. The only remaining water based ride in the park, its has multiple drops which ends with a 53ft drop into the briar patch.

Splash Mountain shouldn’t be taken lightly and makes me nervous the entire time because i just dread a random moment when the waves may splash up against the log and get you wet. The drops come at random spots where you will least expect it which makes the ride very exciting.

  • nostalgia level: 6
  • excitement level: 10
  • restrictions: 3′ 4″ (1.02 m)
  • wait time: 20-60 minutes
  • fast pass: yes

Keep your feet as close to the sides as you can, because there is nothing worse then walking around in wet shoes

8. Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage

Finding-Nemo-Submarine-Voyage

The Finding Nemo submarine is a redo of the original Submarine Voyage which was one of my favorite rides even though you could see the wires spinning fish in circles and was closed in 1998 (which i got on one of the final rides the day it closed after work).  If you’re claustrophobic or feel uncomfortable being an enclosed dark space i would probably avoid this ride. Also there’s a scary scene towards the end of the ride that has lots of flashing lights with explosions sounds that will frighten young children.

The ride has you in a little yellow submarine that probably fits 30 people and starts off by taking you into the open waters to see some deep sea divers and various fish swimming around. Then as the boat passes the waterfall in dives into deeper water where the real fun begins and they turn on special sonar hydrophones so you can understand what Nemo and friends are saying.  With a clever use of underwater video screens you go through another adventure of Marlin and Dory searching for Nemo and Squirt.

  • nostalgia level: 5
  • excitement level: 6
  • restrictions: none
  • wait time: 20-40 minutes
  • fast pass: no

While waiting in line you may be able to catch a show of Jedi Training Academy held at Tomorrowland Terrace Stage

7. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

Star-Tours--The-Adventures-Continue

What kid doesn’t like Star Wars and getting to relive great moments of all the movies is a great idea. Star Tours is a 3D space flight simulator that has 54 different possible combination ride experiences that may take you from the snowy fields of Hoth, Pod Racing on Tatooine or fighting off Boba Fett in deep space.

The entire Star Tours experience is well done from the queue all the way through the exit of the attraction. The queue has you going through a space terminal which a flight board, a StarSpeeder 1000 that C3PO and R2D2 are working on, to a couple of wisecracking robots who should be scanning luggage but would rather communicate with you. The ride is super exciting and unpredictable to the experience that you’ll have and finally as you exit the ride you get to leave to The Throne Room End Title which still gives me the chills that leads you straight into the Star Wars gift shop.

  • nostalgia level: 3
  • excitement level: 10
  • restrictions: 3′ 4″ (1.02 m)
  • wait time: 20-60 minutes
  • fast pass: yes

If you’re prone to motion sickness, ask to sit in the back row of the ride which should help out a little.

6. Peter Pan’s Flight

peter-pans-flight

I like Peter Pan’s Flight because its such a different experience compared to all the other people mover rides in Fantasyland. Once you get pass the never ending queue you board your own little flying pirate ship and get sent off into the night. You get to relive the story of Peter Pan, in the dark and most of the ride’s visuals takes place below your ship, which is a cool effect.

  • nostalgia level: 10
  • excitement level: 4
  • restrictions: none
  • wait time: 30-60 minutes
  • fast pass: no

The ride is a little creaky but i think it adds to experience, and the black lights in the ride is always fun even as an adult.

5. Space Mountain

Space-Mountain

Space Mountain is probably one of the most unique roller coasters even in its old age. Its a ride that is completely indoor and in the dark. If not for the projection of stars against the dome of the ride you would barely be able to tell which way you were going and which way you’re about to go. I used to be scared of this ride at times as a child and makes excuses not to go on it. Its funny because i was never consistent about my attitude either.

  • nostalgia level: 8
  • excitement level: 10
  • restrictions: 3′ 4″ (1.02 m)
  • wait time: 20-90 minutes
  • fast pass: yes

Be prepared for a picture at the end of the ride right when you make one of the few right turns on the ride, which can be purchased upon exit

4. Thunder Mountain

thunder-mtn

As a kid Thunder Mountain was my favorite roller coaster. I love the theming of the attraction and the ever changing tempo of the ride. Its not a non stop thrill ride, but has moments of calm right before chugging down the track as a run away train. Its a very smooth ride without all the rough bumps and turns like the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and has better scenery than Space Mountain.

  • nostalgia level: 8
  • excitement level: 10
  • restrictions: 3′ 4″ (1.02 m)
  • wait time: 15-40 minutes
  • fast pass: yes

Of all the Fast Pass rides this is the one that i don’t mind waiting in the standard queue

3. Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates-of-the-Caribbean

The Pirates of the Caribbean is one of those rides that really get you with all your senses because there’s so much going on from small waterfall drops, battle scenes, burning buildings and drunk sailors. I’m surprised that this ride didn’t scare me more growing up with the eerie darkness, and lots of skeletons at the beginning of the ride.

Throughout the years the ride has gone through some rennovations but hasn’t strayed far from the original design. I’m still disappointed that they updated the ride become more politically correct when they made the Pirates go from chasing women, to chasing waitress with food. Even as a child i understood the concept of what they were really doing, but times have changed. The second update was when they started to include characters from the movie franchise, and thankfully it doesn’t detract too much, and leaves much to the original design of the ride.

  • nostalgia level: 7
  • excitement level: 8
  • restrictions: none
  • wait time: 10-40 minutes
  • fast pass: no

Sitting in the front of the boat will most likely get you wet

2. Haunted Mansion

haunted-mansion The Haunted Mansion has a way to bring out the fun in people and it really shows even from the cast members working it. Everyone needs a little scare in their lives and the Doom buggy ride does just enough not to make a kid cry. I sure wasn’t the bravest kid growing up, but i still never really got scared of the Haunted Mansion except when the house shows you “the other way out.”

  • nostalgia level: 10
  • excitement level: 7
  • restrictions: none
  • wait time: 30-60 minutes
  • fast pass: no

Between Halloween and Christmas the ride becomes  Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion

1. Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye

Indiana-Jones-Adventure--Temple-of-the-Forbidden-Eye

Indiana Jones debut in 1995, right in the middle of my high school life so i vividly remember the first time I went on the ride. This is the one queue where I didn’t mind standing in for a long period of time because it had so much interaction throughout, and it was mostly indoors so it was a great place to escape from the heat.

The queue is part of the fun of the ride experience as it immerses you into the world of Indiana Jones. If you look on the walls of the queue there are hieroglyphic which could be translated with a Marabic decoder card which was be given to each guest upon entering. You’ll probably miss it now a days because the FastPass allows you to skip through most of the queue where you would’ve spent your time figuring out what the words on the wall said. Continuing through the queue there’s a spike room where if you pull on the bamboo stick that looks out of place it makes the room sound like its about to come down on you. Upon entering the great room you’ll see a mining expedition happening and if you pull on the rope you’ll get responses from the trapped explorer.

The ride itself was a revelation to your typical roller coaster as instead of being in a chain of linked pods, you’re strapped into a 16 seat jeep which can dip in any direction, and speed up or slow down at any time. This allows the ride experience to change on a moments notice, and the ride being a pretty dim light can really enhance the experience without actually having to travel at high speeds like a typical roller coaster.

  • nostalgia level: 4
  • excitement level: 10
  • restrictions: 3′ 4″ (1.02 m)
  • wait time: 20-90 minutes
  • fast pass: yes

Top 10 Tips for Taking Photos at Disneyland

One of the best and longest lasting souvenirs you’ll take home with you from Disneyland will be the photos you take or buy. There are many places and characters to take photos but you don’t want to spend all day just taking pictures so these tips are to help make the most out of the photos you do bring home.

10. Leave your DSLR at home

mater-zoo

You might love your DSLR with that super expensive lens that can shoot photos in the dark but unless it’ll be your 20th time going to the park, leave the arm canon at home. Stick to your compact camera that you can carry in your pocket, and these are the reasons why:

  • $1000 worth of equipement vs. 60,000 people
  • You’re going to have to take it on the rides with you
  • Not everyone knows how to use a DSLR, and at some point you’ll need to hand it off to somebody else to shoot a photo
  • Do you really have a free hand once considering you’ll be holding onto your kid’s hands, pushing a stroller, snacking on popcorn, or dealing with your wallet
  • Selfies, you know you’ll want to take one
  • It’ll take you a year to go through editing, and sorting through 15mb files

9. Leave it to the Professionals

family-disney-time

You know whats better than not bringing a DSLR, is not bringing a camera at all. Disney offers a service called the Disney PhotoPlus+ Pass which will provide you a digital copy, of all, i mean ALL the photos you’ll need while one vacation at Disneyland and California Adventures. For $99.95 (or $69.95 if you purchase 14 days prior) you can get all your photos taken by a professional with a DSLR camera, get all your ride photos, and have the ability to add Disney characters to your photos for a single price.

Check out TouringPlans.com & allears.net for a more in depth review of the photo pass service.

Be creative, and don’t be afraid to do something silly, and when in doubt ask the Cast Member for advice, they’ve seen them all.

8. Stick with your iPhone

iphone-picture

I’ve taken about 80% of all my pictures at the park with just my iPhone but any Smart Phone for that matter will work too. You wont be the only one either, with the recent report that Disneyland is the most tagged location for instagram users in the US. Most phone camera are starting to rival typical point and shoot megapixel levels its like carrying two of the same device. The best things are the apps that you can you can use to shoot and edit on the fly while sharing it with the world without having to plug it into a computer. These are the essential apps for preloading when going to the park:

  • Camera Awesome – a fuller function picture taking app
  • Snapseed – photo editing app to adjust lighting, cropping and other stuff
  • Frametastic –  photo collage app to combine multiple photos into a single framed image
  • Instagram – photo filters and social sharing app

7. Think twice before you flash the camera

buzz-lightyearRarely does a photo taken with flash at night ever comes out good. Also remember you’re not the only family at the park and getting flashed in the eye when its dark isn’t very courteous. When Cast Members tell you that flash photography is not allowed, its not that they don’t want you to take pictures of the rides, but its very disturbing and distracting to other riders, especially at the Haunted Mansion, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. Flash has a limited distance that it can reach, and unless you have a External Flash, you can really only capture about 5 feet in front of you.

Most cameras have a Firework setting

6. Switch to Video

Sometimes still photos can’t tell the whole story, and you need to switch your camera to video mode to capture everything. I wouldn’t suggest shooting a lot of video because it will take up a lot of memory, editing video is must more time consuming than photos, and you’ll look back at videos a lot less often then flipping through pictures. My basic tips on shooting video to follow are:

  • Know when to switch modes – what you’re looking for when shooting videos is  everything you can’t capture with photos; a build up to a reaction, sounds, lights and movement.
  • Shoot in short bursts (15-30 seconds) rather than one long shot – no one wants to wait to get to the good part
  • Don’t shoot while moving – no one needs a personal Blair Witch Project.
  • Don’t zoom – it takes time for the camera to refocus

5. Know when to put the camera away

indiana-jones-batsThere are a few times where you should resist the urge to pull out your camera and leave it tucked in your pocked. “But i’ll miss a memory”  you say, but what you don’t realize is that enjoying the park in that 3 inch screen instead of with your full vision of your eyes. Disneyland does a very good job of the details, and there are lots of little hidden treasures scattered throughout the park that need your full attention to see.

The second reason is that if you go with a group of people taking pictures, people don’t know what camera to look at and no one will have a good picture if everyone is looking at a different camera. They’re digital cameras people, we can share them in an instant!

My favorite application is the shared photo stream on iPhones. This feature allows you to create an album that will share photos to other iPhone users in an instant. No more having to email or text pictures, they’ll get all of them automatically.

Learn how to set one photo stream share from the Cult of Mac.

4. Pass the Camera Around

dug

As the photographer you can get pretty caught up capturing every moment of your family’s trip, and that typically means that you’re not in any of the photos. Pas the camera around to the members in your group, because they’ll capture things that you may not notice or pay attention to. Let you kids get pictures from the ground up, and let them get a few pictures pictures of you while they’re at it. Make use of Cast Members walking around the park any time you need a group photo taken.

If you’re getting a group shot taken, preface it by asking them to take a few photos in landcape and portait style

3. Learn the basics to photography

radiator-springs-racers

Two non-physical things to bring with you is your smile, and your skills. First teach your kids how to smile and how to pose in pictures. Not every pictures needs to be everyone standing straight and smiling, so add some funny faces, or poses into your picture. Check out these 10 Rules for Family Photography at Walt Disney World.

The second thing is your camera skills. Being in focus is probably the most important but its not the only thing. It’ll help make your photos more interesting if you learn the basics principals of photography.  You don’t want every photo to look the same, so here are few rules you should get to know:

  • Lighting – the best natural light is early in the morning and the worst is high noon
  • Rule of thirds – don’t put your subject directly in the middle of your shot
  • Balancing elements – make sure you don’t over load one side of your picture with everything
  • Leading lines – where are the elements in the photo drawing your eye to
  • Framing – use external elements to put your subject as the focal point

2. “Be Prepared” – Scar

pooh

The worse thing you can do get to the park, get all setup and realize that you can’t take a picture! Most likely you haven’t used your camera in a while and your memory card may be full or battery meters says its full but if you wait a minute will drop to zero. The night before make sure that you’ve emptied your memory card, charged your battery, and made sure its working correctly. Also don’t forget to bring your phone charger, along with your camera charger because if you’re like me now you’ll be using your phone all day and by mid afternoon it will be dead.

Disneyland is pretty good about hiding their outlets so use this guide to find available  power outlets.

1. A picture with Mickey and Friends

mickey-mouse

Ask any Cast member and they’ll tell you that you can always find Mickey Mouse at his house in Toontown. Sometimes the line gets pretty long but you’ll definitely get picture with the head mouse. The rest of the gang are scattered throughout the park:

  • Goofy, Pluto, Minny and Donald also live in Toontown
  • The Princesses have their own Fantasy Faire where you can line up to take meet and take pictures with all the princesses in Fantasyland
  • Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore hang out in Critter Country
  • On Main St. USA you can bump into the likes of Chip & Dale, and Cruella de Vil, and other classic characters.
  • Storm Troopers like to hang out in Tomorrowland

Other famous photo locations are all over the park, so make sure you plan ahead to which ones you want pictures with.

  • Floral Mickey, a lovely spot just as you enter Disneyland park (when you still look fresh).
  • In front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
  • Along the river at New Orleans Square at Disneyland park.
  • On the bridge at Disney California Adventure park with Mickey’s Fun Wheel as the backdrop.

My favorite place to get a picture with Mickey is actually much later into the night, you can find him wandering Main St. typically without many people hounding him, and he’ll actually have time to interact with you.