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!



It seems like one of the things on my Christmas list was virtually the same Christmas reflection photo of every Disney castle. Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant in Disneyland Paris, the fairest of them all, is up first…

I had already shot this scene a couple years ago in the Magic Kingdom and I don’t think I can top that shot, so I went for something different with my Cinderella Castle, the most grandiose of them all, up second…

Sleeping Beauty Castle, the most charming of them all, was last on my list.

This is one of my favorite photos of the year, and it has nothing to do with anything I did as a photographer. It’s a 23 second exposure, which shows in the blurred crowd–except for the lone couple embracing and kissing in the foreground. For you non-photographers, it’s exceedingly rare to have such a long exposure capture anyone (relatively) sharp, because people tend to move. While I was shooting this photo, I was actually cursing my luck that these people were just standing there, kissing. In hindsight, I consider it equal parts serendipity, Disney magic, and the spirit of Christmas.

I love all of the parks at Christmas, but I don’t think anything beats Disneyland’s Main Street. Sleeping Beauty Castle is often pejoratively described as “quaint” or “charming”, but I think this look has the perfect intimacy for Christmas. Plus, the I love the red and green colors used on the garland and Christmas tree, which is done better at Disneyland than any of the other parks, I think.

It had been raining in the Magic Kingdom for the better part of the evening in the Magic Kingdom on this particular night, and I was a bit excited when the rain started to clear right at park closing so I could grab some photos without having to worry about rain droplets on my lens. That clearing would end up being short lived…

…I was already one of the last guests in the park when I got to Main Street, and right as I walked onto Main Street, the light drizzle became a downpour, totally clearing every other guest out of the park. It was raining so hard I had to shoot handheld, hoping for the best with these shots. I was surprised that the closing Cast Members just let me linger and keep shooting, but they were probably a bit bemused that I would keep taking photos despite how hard it was raining (or maybe they had bets on how long it would take before I gave up and called it a night?).

I narrowly averted disaster with this photo, as I had my camera sitting in a puddle (a near-necessity for the best reflection photos) right as a little girl approached, jumping from puddle to puddle. As the frame finished, I quickly grabbed my camera off the ground about a second before she splashed the puddle. Can’t blame her–I would have been jumping in puddles if I were her age, too! (I’ve learned that, at my age, that sort of thing is frowned upon.)

It’s almost a crime to use a wide angle lens to dwarf Disneyland Paris’ Sleeping Beauty Castle in the frame, but I loved the look of the wet glisten on the pavers and the lines of the trolley tracks, so I just couldn’t resist here.

This is one of my favorites of the bunch. I choose a wide open aperture (the lower part of the frame is actually all out of focus) the have the reflections be softer, and also to freeze the few others in the park wandering around with umbrellas.

Cars Land is absolutely stunning when it rains, and I spent a ton of time taking photos here in the rain, but very few turned out. The night I was shooting, they were setting up for a special event, so Cast Members with carts of food, light-up wands, and other normally innocuous objects that seem designed to ruin photos when you’re focused on photography, were out in full force.

One last look at the park on the way out, heading under the Train Station…

 

If you can’t get enough of Christmas, please check out our Disney Christmas category of posts. You can also see our specific Christmas posts relating to each of the parks/resorts:

Want to learn more about photography to take great photos in the Disney theme parks and beyond? The best place to start is Tom’s Photography Guide, which covers a variety of topics from links to tutorials, tips, and tricks to recommendations for point & shoots, DSLRs, lenses, and more!

Your Thoughts…

Which park is your favorite at Christmas-time? Do you enjoy being in the parks when it’s raining? Have any favorite photos among the shots above? Have any additional questions about how I captured these shots? Please ask or share below, and I’ll offer my feedback!


20 Responses to “Scenes from Disney Parks: Reflections of Christmas”
  1. Beth November 14, 2016
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  7. Pam Gerdes December 24, 2014
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