Scenes from Disney Parks: Reflections of Christmas


Merry Christmas Eve! Hopefully you’re done with the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, present wrapping, making cookies, and are snuggled up at home by the fire watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. My plan for a quiet Christmas Eve calls for a traditional viewing of that (plus A Muppet Family Christmas, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, Christmas Vacation, Elf, and It’s a Wonderful Life, for all of you keeping score at home…), but first I wanted to share a quick post with you. Last Christmas Eve, I shared a post about Country Bear Christmas, something with a lot of personal meaning to me. I thought I’d continue the tradition this year with something else I love: rain.

I’ve spent a decent part of the last month or so in the pouring rain, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Really. When it starts raining in the Disney Parks, other guests start heading towards the exits, leaving those who are willing to “brave” the precipitation the parks at their prettiest (save for perhaps when the parks are snow-covered, which I have yet to see) and least crowded. This is especially true at Christmas-time, when the reflections of the lights form long streaks of light on the ground.

If you only focus on the soggy feet or soaked shirt, it probably doesn’t seem worth it to stick around once the rain starts falling. However, if instead of heading for the exits, you take a moment to pause and soak up not just the rain drops but the serene scenes of the park, you’ll notice there’s beauty all around you. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound like a ton of fun to get soaked in a Disney theme park, but trust me: it’s worth it for the beauty…or for the shorter lines, in the event that you don’t care about the “extra” beauty and would rather just enjoy the beauty when it’s nice out!

You can click on each photo to view it larger (and with high resolution) in my gallery and to see the camera settings I used. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D750 DSLR and Nikon D810 DSLR.

Hope you enjoy the photos. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families! (more…)

Scenes from Disney Parks: Christmas in the Kingdom

Here’s another collection of Disney photos, this time featuring Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom at Christmas, including Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party photos. I said this set of photos was coming back in the last “Scenes from Disney Parks” in early November, but I guess I forgot. Christmas is always a “last minute” time of year for me, so I’ll be sharing a few sets of last minute Christmas photos between now and Christmas.

Christmas is my favorite time for photography in Walt Disney World. From the vibrant decorations to the starbursts on the Christmas lights to wonderful bokeh, the decorations offer new avenues for creative photos. All the lights and different things going on can make for challenging photography (see my Christmas Photography Tips post if you need some pointers), but it’s a fun challenge, and there are a lot of different ways to approach photographing the Christmas offerings in Walt Disney World.

Besides the obvious Christmas theme of these photos, I’ve tried to focus these photos on how perspective dramatically impacts a photos. Whether it’s a change in location, angle, or even lenses, I think a big part of what separates an ordinary photo from a good one is the conscious choice of a better (or just different) perspective by the photographer. Standing in the middle of Main Street and taking a normal ‘field of view’ shot is the obvious choice–it’s what virtually everyone does and how the park was constructed to be viewed (almost as a frame from a movie). With so many photos taken of Walt Disney World, it’s tough to take a photo that’s totally “fresh”, but thinking about perspective is a good first step to unique shots.

For the photos here, after each photo I’ll share some thoughts on perspective or whatever else, and technical details like which lens I used for the photo. All photos in this post were captured with my Nikon D750 DSLR and Nikon D600 DSLR. You can click on each photo to view it larger in my gallery and to see EXIF data on it. Hopefully other photographers find this useful.

If you’re a casual reader not interested in photo jargon, hopefully you still enjoy this new set of photos from Walt Disney World! (more…)

Ultimate 2014 Disneyland Christmas Guide

Disneyland Resort’s Christmas season runs November 13, 2014 through January 6, 2015 with tons of holiday entertainment, decorations, and attractions. Is there anything better than experiencing Disneyland and Disney California Adventure during the holiday season? Perhaps only experiencing Walt Disney World, which, with its four parks and myriad of resort hotels, has a bit of an unfair advantage over the more compact Disneyland Resort. Pound for pound, though, Disneyland Resort arguably has the better Christmas offerings, especially in 2014 now that Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land and Buena Vista Street fully embrace Christmas.

This “Ultimate Guide” will give you tips about visiting Disneyland at Christmas, including Jingle Cruise, World of Color – Winter Dreams, Haunted Mansion Holiday, ‘it’s a small world’ holiday, the Believe… In Holiday Magic fireworks, A Christmas Fantasy parade, Candlelight Processional, The Holiday Time at Disneyland Tour, Disney California Adventure’s decorations and offerings, and everything else Disneyland has to offer at Christmas! Along the way we’ll offer some of our tips and tricks for best-experiencing the Disneyland Resort at Christmas-time, and we hope this thorough guide will prove helpful for everyone from first-time guests to yearly visitors.

This isn’t merely the Disney-marketing copy you’ll find on every other site offering the same generic information about Christmas at Disneyland with “helpful” tips such as making such to check out Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle. Of course you will check it out…any idiot who strolls into the park is sure to check it out by virtue of strolling into he park. Instead, we’ll try to offer things that are less intuitive or well known. Unfortunately, we haven’t visited Disneyland Resort at Christmas since Cars Land or Buena Vista Street opened, so we don’t have photos of its decorations, but we’re heading back for Christmas this year, so we’ll update the guide once we have photos of everything new!

Unlike a Christmas overlay to Captain EO (fortunately, there isn’t one!), this guide will be sure to make your holidays at Disneyland better!

When To Visit



If you’ve read our When to Visit Disneyland or Disneyland Trip Planning Guide posts, you may know that the holidays at Disneyland are a veritable “Tale of Two Seasons” when it comes to crowds. There are times when crowds are relatively low, and times when the parks are so slammed that you’ll think it’s spring break all over again! (more…)

Christmas at Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo DisneySea’s “Christmas Wishes” event is the park’s November and December during which time the ports get into the holiday spirit. Whereas Tokyo Disneyland does a lot along the lines of Walt Disney World and Disneyland for Christmas, everything DisneySea does is unique, anFor DisneySea’s Christmas festivities, there are stage shows, attraction overlays, special merchandise, and seasonal food menus.

This post takes a look at “Christmas Wishes” at Tokyo DisneySea (here’s the official page in Japanese) based upon our time in the park last year at Christmas, with photos plus my thoughts. We have a separate post covering Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland. Little has changed from last year, but keep in mind that things can change in the future, so there’s more a trip report than a strict planning post for those of you visiting Tokyo DisneySea in 2015, 2016, or beyond.

Because Christmas at Tokyo Disney Resort is so different than in Walt Disney World and Disneyland (and most readers are presumably regulars of the US Parks), a little background is in order. I already covered most of this in the Tokyo Disneyland Christmas post, so I’ll be brief. As is the case with Tokyo Disneyland, Christmas Wishes special entertainment is included in regular park admission. This is a great value given that park tickets for regular attractions and Christmas entertainment cost under $60, making a full day cheaper than the hard ticket Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World alone.

Also mentioned in the Tokyo Disneyland post is how Christmas is more of a date holiday in Japan. This is even more noticeable at Tokyo DisneySea. Since it first opened, Tokyo DisneySea has been marketed in Japan as the more mature foil to Tokyo Disneyland, aimed at adults and the aging population. This is evident in some of the beautiful marketing the park uses in Japan. A bit of this adult edge has been lost with the rise of characters in the park, but it’s still the EPCOT Center of Tokyo Disney Resort. Can you really imagine a better romantic date night than an early dinner at Magellan’s, followed by a dusk ride on the Venetian Gondolas, catching the last show of the Broadway stage show, Big Band Beat, and a romantic nighttime stroll from the Arabian Coast to the Aquasphere? I get goosebumps just thinking of it. I’ll bet there’s a lot of risky business going on in those rooms in the MiraCosta after couples share an experience like this. I mean, how could there not be?! ;)



If you’re going as a couple, this romantic itinerary absolutely should be on your agenda (it will be crazy-busy during the Christmas season, especially weekends, so make sure to follow our 1-Day Tokyo DisneySea Itinerary for at least the morning if you want to keep your sanity), but for now let’s take a look at things on the actual entertainment slate at Tokyo DisneySea during the Christmas season… (more…)

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Tips

viva-navidad-puppet

Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is a celebration of Latino holiday cultural traditions in Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure from November 13, 2014 – January 6, 2015. It is a really high energy celebration with a wide array of appeal for just about anyone, taking place in the Paradise Garden corner of the park (it’s near beloved Disney institution Corn Dog Castle for those unfamiliar with DCA). This post takes a look at the various things going on during ¡Viva Navidad!, and provides some tips…to the extent that they are actually necessary. It’s a pretty straightforward and easy-to-experience event.

The Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party is the main draw of ¡Viva Navidad!, and it’s like a party that rolled straight out of circa-1982 EPCOT Center. With its marrying of authentic culture with Disney fun, it has shades of vintage EPCOT Center, and reminds me how well that park used to integrate entertainment, education, and culture. (more…)