Top 11 Disney Photos of 2011
2011 was an amazing year for us from the perspective of Disney trips. We took 4 trips to Walt Disney World and 2 trips to Disneyland this year, which was our most ever by a landslide. If you’ve read any of our trip reports, you know I’m fairly verbose, so in lieu of writing about our highlights of 2011 trip-taking, I’ll share my favorite Disney experiences through photos. I call it my “11 for ’11.” (Hey, It was difficult-enough to narrow this down to a top 11, so don’t call me lame for not making it an even 10!)
11 for ’11:
With this early morning sunrise photo, we begin at the end, so to speak. This photo was taken on the second to last day of 2011, but is one of my favorite photos of the year. I’ve always dreamed of exploring Walt Disney World around sunrise, and we finally had the chance to do that on this particular day and on New Year’s Eve. Riding around on Dumbo as the warm rays of sun peaked out over the horizon is an experience I won’t soon forget.
From a photography perspective, our first-ever trip to Disneyland in 2010 wasn’t all that successful. I barely used my Nikon D90 because I didn’t have its battery charger and aside from a few fireworks shots, I didn’t achieve anything impressive. Seeking to vindicate my past failure, I came out camera a-firin’ on the first night of our May 2011 Disneyland trip, collecting dozens of nice shots in only a few hours. This is easily my favorite from that evening of shooting. Beautiful flowers, Partners, and Sleeping Beauty Castle all set against a rare SoCal deep blue sky. What’s not to love?!
Given how much I photograph Spaceship Earth, no list of top photos would be complete without at least one Spaceship Earth entry on the list. This photo is one of my favorite shots of the geodesic sphere. It’s a simple photo, yet it captures the imposing nature of the mesmerizing park icon. The moon is icing on the cake for me.
We saw Disneyland’s “Remember… Dreams Come True!” for the first time in 2011, and what an amazing sight it was. Easily the best Magic Kingdom fireworks show I’ve ever seen, the integration of classic attractions into the show gave me goose bumps. This is one show we both could watch again and again. Hopefully we’ll be able to do just that in 2012!
Much like Spaceship Earth, no list is complete without a photo of Cinderella Castle. Although I photograph the most photographed icon in the world surprisingly infrequently (all things considered), my photos of Cinderella Castle are frequently those that best take me back to being there and make me nostalgic.
We might as well have seen Disney California Adventure’s World of Color for the first time ever in 2011, as well. We didn’t, but after seeing it only once, from the “cheap seats,” in 2010, we weren’t overly impressed. Then, we were fortunate-enough to see it from the front row in early 2011. Now, it’s one of our favorite shows at Disneyland Resort, and watching it from the front row is an absolute must!
My biggest photographic forays in 2011 was into the world of infrared photography. Although my infrared photography has been fairly divisive with my fellow photographers (even Sarah dislikes it!), it’s been incredible fun, and my most popular (objectively) photo from 2011 was an infrared shot. I’ve used it fairly sparingly, but I think it can make some scenes look really cool. Plus, how often does it snow in Florida and Southern California?!
This is a sentimental favorite. Not just because it features my beautiful wife in a great photo, but because it was the photo Pop Photo Magazine originally wanted to purchase from me to use in its October 2011 article on amusement parks (something which Disneyland is not, but oh well!). Ultimately they could not use this photo because it had already been published elsewhere, but it was an awesome feeling receiving an email from the magazine that I’ve been reading, and learning from, since I started this photographic journey a few years ago.
We had waited since 2007 for October 1st, 2011. After missing EPCOT Center’s 25th anniversary that year, we knew we had to be a part of the festivities for Walt Disney World’s 40th anniversary in 2011. I ultimately settled on this photo of the Wishes! finale that evening as best embodying the day’s celebrations, as the fireworks were the culminating event in a wonderful day spent with old and new friends, and celebrating Forty Magical Years of Walt Disney World.
2011 saw us take our first trip to Disneyland at Christmas, and what an experience it was! Disneyland was already quickly moving to the top of my “list” for favorite Disney theme parks, and this trip solidified its place. On this particular day, it poured. For some reason, all of the Southern California locals cleared out of the park—and I began rejoicing. The thoroughly soaked clothing and shoes were a small price to pay for some wonderfully photogenic reflections!
Number 11 of the “11 for ’11” is here not because this is a particularly great photo—although I am still amazed I managed to get any shots off while this all happened—but because of the great memory this captured. Hearing Richard Sherman, Dreamfinder, and Figment all sing “One Little Spark” at the D23 Destination D event was the highlight of my “Disney Year.” I can’t articulate my feelings regarding this experience any better than I already have in the caption to that photo, so click it to read the Flickr caption if you’re so inclined.
What do you think of my 11 for ’11? Do you like these photos, or are there others you would have picked? Share your thoughts (and your favorite Disney photos you took in 2011) in the comments!
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How busy was it on and around October 1st? I was talking about going with a friend in the year 2021 for the 50th anniversary, and I’d like to get a feel of how busy the anniversary was. Looks packed in that amazing photo!
Simply wish to say your article is as astounding.
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Thank you one million and please keep up the gratifying work.
These are spectacular Disneyland and Disney World photos Tom. It is clear you thought out each photo carefully and took the time to perfect them all.
I am completely in awe of your photography of Disney – Love it Love it Love it!!!
I was curious about how much photo editing you do with your photos?
Ohhhh my….discovered your blog today and I am a fan!!!! Love love love your pictures as I am a scrapbooker who goes to Disney frequently. Keep up the good work!!!!
I just came across your blog, thanks to Kennythepirate. Your pictures are beautiful.
You should come be my families personal photographer for our WDW trip. Kidding.
You have a great eye for detail.
Great work. Does Disney allow tripods in the park? Inspiring photography.
Some truly fantastic pics there. Love the long exposure shots. Can’t help but smile whenever I see photos of Disneyland or Walt Disney World.
Thanks to your photographic prowess, my interest in photography has been rekindled (after a 10 year hiatus) and I have purchased a Canon 7D, the Sigma 30, the fisheye, as well as Understanding Exposure. My wife kindly refers to you and your wife as “that photograpy couple that’s always at Disney” as I’m browsing through your site. She doesn’t complain about the purchases, however. She enjoys looking through the almost 2000 pics I took at Disney this past November.
Thanks for your efforts on this site and I look forward to seeing more of your work.
Hi Tom – I recently came across your blog and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your trip reports. Your photos are absolutely amazing! I (like your friend Cody) have young triplets so our family trip to Disney was not the photographic experience that I had hoped it would be. We will be returning this year and I may just decide to store my tripod in the stroller basket.
Oh, and btw – I love the infrared. That is true art.
Amazing! I usually don’t much like infrared photography but your Everest photo has to be the greatest infrared photograph of all time. It’s incredible!
…oh, and I’m using your Magic Kingdom Sunset photo as my desktop background, I hope you don’t mind!
Here’s to another year of world-class photography and trip reports!
Don’t mind at all. It should be a great year for both, which reminds me, I have 2.5 trip reports I still need to finish! Better get back to the grindstone…
Really awesome photos. How do you manage to get such great shots with NOBODY in the picture. It is like you had your own pass to a deserted theme park. Very impressed.
Mostly patience and dedication!
Impressive shots there and what a great way to recap the year! You’re both very lucky to have journeyed to the parks so much in 2011! Seeing as there are no wide angle shots of palm trees, I can only imagine how tough it was for you to narrow it down to this.
Ha! I don’t think a wide angle palm tree shot would break my top 100 for this year! I can’t remember the last time I had a good shot of those…
Fantastic pictures!! The Dreamfinder moment was truly magic, we were there too. I can’t wait to see what pictures you post in 2012!! 🙂
Yes, yes it was. I’m curious as to what the D23 Epcot 30th event will entail!
I have been following your Disney adventures for a while now but have never reached out to say “hi”. I love your trip reports and I really love all of the pictures you post. The sunrise photo above is just magical! As I read your blog and follow you on twitter/instagram/fb (stalker much?), I try not to be jealous of your frequent trips 🙂 Keep up all the great work Tom and Sarah!
Hello to you, too! We spent years being jealous of all the trips others were making, but we finally got jobs that would allow us more latitude in traveling when we want and have since made a commitment to living more frugally at home so we can splurge on our travels!
Awesome choices Tom! I just knew before I got to the end, I would see Figment:) Happy New Year! Can’t wait to see what awesome photos 2012 will bring:)