Dreamy Sunrise Over Cinderella Castle


Before we traveled to Walt Disney World the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which is notoriously the busiest week of the year, a lot of people asked us whether we were crazy. Yes, of course we are, but that had nothing to do with our decision to visit during that week. The decision to bear those brutal crowds was made easy for us thanks to the extended operating hours and impressive New Year’s Eve fireworks shows. And although we’re not fans of large crowds (I’m betting not many of you have “large crowds” listed as a Facebook interest, though!), we can deal with them if necessary. We’ve done the attractions enough that not being able to experience all of our favorites wasn’t a big deal.

Our decision to visit during that infamous week was vindicated on the very first morning, when I arrived at the Magic Kingdom at 6:25 am for its 7 am opening. When I was allowed into the park, I was in awe at seeing the lights on Main Street against the pre-sunrise blue hour sky. A bit later, I was overjoyed as the sun peaked up over the horizon, and I dashed around like a madman trying to capture it. This sunrise, alone, justified bearing those crowds.

My frenetic shooting that morning is not at all evident in this photo. This sunrise photo was gorgeous straight out of the camera, but I decided the perfect processing fit for this tranquil and placid scene would be a soft glow to really give the photo an ethereal feel. A sunrise photo of Cinderella Castle would be pretty unique on its own, but I think this processing works here to give a dream-like quality to an already dreamy scene.

Technical details: shot with a Nikon D7000 with a Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. See our guide for more photography equipment recommendations

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Cinderella Castle Through The Forest Photo

Shortly after sunrise in the Magic Kingdom, as I was passing from Liberty Square to Fantasyland, I saw some rays of light striking the ground through this heavily-wooded area. I noticed a bit of clearing, so I leaned over the rail here and saw the top turrets of Cinderella Castle peaking out from behind the trees. I knew I had to stop and capture a few photos.

This is my second-favorite path in the park, right behind the wooden-plank path right along the Rivers of America in Frontierland, mostly because it seems so few guests traverse back here. The views of Cinderella Castle on this path normally aren’t very good, but I was really pleased with the view I found here. Not only was Castle and the early-morning sunrise visible through the trees, but the sunrise was actually reflecting perfectly off the water in the Castle moat! It may not be the most awe-inspiring photo of Cinderella Castle, but I like it because it offers a rare view of the Castle, and it truly appears as if it could be a castle found deep in Europe, surrounded by trees, rather than a castle deep in Walt Disney World, surrounded by attractions.

Technical details: single exposure; handheld Nikon D7000 and Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. See our Disney Photography Guide for more photography equipment recommendations.

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Disneyland’s Hub – “One More Disney Day” Sunrise Photo

Disneyland's Hub - Please Click the Photo to View Large

There was no better place to be than the hub on “One More Disney Day” at Disneyland. Seeing all of the excited faces as they came to get their photos next to Partners as the sun rose was an interesting experience, and there was definitely a palpable energy and excitement in this area as the sun came over the trees and lit up the pavement, Sleeping Beauty Castle, and Partners. Other photographers and guests were all around this area and everyone was having a great time. Given how many people were in this area over the course of the morning, I was actually shocked when this area briefly cleared of people. It was like the clouds had parted for just a few moments and when the last stray guest wandered out of this spot, all of the photographers standing around the outer edge began shooting away. From the desolate look of this photo, you may think the park was either deserted on this morning or I’m a real whiz with Photoshop. In actuality, I just got extremely lucky!

In other news, you may notice the “Pin It” button at the top of the page next to the Facebook “Like” button. I always encourage the sharing of my photos with proper attribution (that’s why I take them in the first place–to share the beauty of Walt Disney World and Disneyland with the world!), and Pinterest is just one of the many means of sharing my images that I fully support (I’m even on Pinterest). So please, if you’re on Pinterest, feel free to use that button and PIN AWAY! As always, I thank you for sharing my photos with your friends, and I am incredibly humbled that people would want to share them in the first place.

Technical details: single exposure; handheld Nikon D7000 and Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. See our Disney Photography Guide for more photography equipment recommendations

To see more photos from “One More Disney Day,” click here.

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Tranquil Sunrise Over Sleeping Beauty Castle Photo

I’m beginning to run out of superlatives to describe my “One More Disney Day” Disneyland sunrise experience, but I think it’s worth reiterating that it was an amazing morning. Although I spent most of my time running around like a madman trying to capture as many photos as possible of the fleeting sunlight, some of which I don’t even remember taking, other moments are deeply ingrained in my memory. This was one of those moments. As evidenced by the other photo I’ve posted from this general area on “One More Disney Day,” this is one of my favorite quiet spots in Disneyland. Given that it’s so close to the hub and Sleeping Beauty Castle, it’s remarkable to me that so few people venture over here. I really hope that doesn’t change once the Carnation Plaza Gardens makes way for the Princess Faire. This is another one of my favorite shots (I know, I know–it seems like they’re all favorites!) from that morning, mostly for the memory of these quiet few minutes I spent over here as the warmth of the sun began to fall on this area from over the trees.

Technical details: single exposure; handheld Nikon D7000 and Rokinon 8mm Fisheye Lens. See our Disney Photography Guide for more photography equipment recommendations

To see more photos from “One More Disney Day,” click here.

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Disneyland Partners Sunrise Photo

Sunrise at the end of “One More Disney Day” at Disneyland was beautiful. For a few minutes the sun lit up some low clouds to the south of the park, and although they were difficult to incorporate in photos, they made for a beautiful sight. Walt and Mickey sure had a great view of the park as the sun rose that morning!

Technical details: single exposure; handheld Nikon D7000 and Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 Lens. See our Disney Photography Guide for more photography equipment recommendations.

To see more photos from “One More Disney Day,” click here.

Like this Disney photo? Use the “Like” and “Share” buttons on this page to show it to your friends!