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:

The Sun Also Rises

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.

Walt Disney's Original Magic Kingdom

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?!

Spaceship Earth Dwarfs the Moon

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.

Disneyland - Remember... Dreams Come True! Fireworks Spectacular (145 Second Exposure)

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!

Cinderella Castle: Through The Eyes Of A Child

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.

The World Is A Carousel Of Color, Wonderful, Wonderful Color

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!

Winter Expedition To Disney's Everest (Infrared Image)

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?!

'Round And 'Round On Disneyland's Mad Tea Party

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.

Forty Magical Years...of Fireworks!

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.

Exciting Disneyland Announcements!

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!

One Little Spark - Richard Sherman, Dreamfinder and Figment

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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