If you’re a Disney lover at all (and I’m guessing you are because you’re reading this post!), getting the perfect Disney Castle shot is high on your priority list. I totally get it. I do. It’s iconic, sentimental and the perfect Disney World Souvenir.
Our family had the unique privilege of living right next door to Walt Disney World. So close in fact, that we would watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from our home every single night. It was a dream. We visited the parks like they were our own personal playgrounds.
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Just like you, we have our own sweet, personal, and inspiring stories of what Disney means to us.
The experiences we had there are some of our life’s most cherished memories and adventures. So as we were wrapping up our two years of living there, it was my personal quest to capture the PERFECT picture of our 3 kiddos, Maddie, Lyndon, and Lily in front of Cinderella’s castle.
Because let’s face it…I couldn’t rely on the Disney Photographers to take the kind of picture that I really wanted. They’re all so hit and miss.
Having that cherished picture would represent the magic, wonder, and expectation that Disney gave us. It’s hard to put into words how being a part of Disney can change you, but I wanted that castle picture to do that for me. I wanted it to represent all that Disney meant to our family.
I could see in my mind’s eye what I wanted it to look like and the feelings it would portray but to actually accomplish that was another story. No matter how hard the task, I wanted to try.
And I did it. I got the exact shot I wanted:
It didn’t just happen though! In my determination to succeed I discovered there are 4 main ingredients to capturing the perfect Disney Castle shot. I can’t wait to share them with you in hopes you too will get the shot you are dreaming of.
Here they are: 4 Highly Effective Solutions for Getting the Perfect Disney Castle Shot:
1| Get to the Park Early
My first piece of advice is to be at the Magic Kingdom early. Get there right when the park opens, or better yet, if you’re staying on Disney property get there early during the morning magic hours. There will still be people around, but it will but a whole lot less if you’re there as early as possible.
Pro Tip: If this is your first time to Disney World you need to be clued in on the transportation issue to the Magic Kingdom. Unlike other theme parks (or even other parks at Disney World) you do not park your car and walk to the front gates of the Magic Kingdom.
Walt Disney wanted everyone to have a magical experience as they approached the Magic Kingdom so he designed it so that everyone walks to the front gate from either getting off a Ferry Boat, the Monorail, or a Disney Bus.
That means you can’t park your car and walk to the front gate. You park your car in a lot that is about a mile away from the front gate and then take either a boat or monorail to the gate. It’s all free, you don’t pay anything to ride Disney transportation. (If you’re riding a bus from a Disney Resort, you will go straight to the gate. You don’t have to ride the Ferry or Monorail.)
I tell you this so that you know to schedule plenty of time to get there. I recommend giving yourself at least an extra 30-40 minutes to get from your car to the front gate of the Magic Kingdom. It will vary depending on how busy it is the day you go, but 30-40 minutes is a good average.
As soon as you get in the park, get your castle shot done first thing. There’s a couple of reasons I suggest doing it first thing…One is that everyone will be fresh. You’ll look your freshest (no sweat stains, red faces, and dole whip mustaches) and also act your “freshest”. Meaning not everyone will be exhausted and grumpy after a full day in the park.
Another reason to do it in the morning is it will be the coolest temperature. And cooler temps mean happier and more cooperative family members. amiright?
Pro Tip: A bonus of being there early (when the park is open for everyone, not for Magic Hours) is catching the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show. This is a sweet (and magical) show that happens right before the park opens at the main gate. Singing, dancing, fireworks…you know the whole Disney Sha-bang! It’s a great way to start your Disney day.
And last but certainly not one to overlook…one other way to beat the Magic Kingdom crowd is to make an early morning breakfast reservation before the park opens. Believe it or not when you have a breakfast reservation you can to enter the park early! This is a great way to get your perfect castle shot with hardly anyone there.
2| Dress it Up a Bit
Are you thinking…dress up at Disney World? No. way.
Hold on, hold on…
I understand not wanting to make your kids wear their Sunday best to Disney World but planning to wear a little bit nicer attire will go a long way in your photo. It will set it apart from being just a picture from your family vacation to a professional photo you’re excited about framing and putting over the mantle.
My clothing suggestion is a lightweight cotton button-up shirt + cargo sorts for boys and a breezy sundress (with shorts underneath!) for girls. That way they can still be comfortable for the rest of the day. (Or you can totally change into other clothes when you’re finished.)
The other thing to think about is shoes… My first and foremost recommendation for walking around Disney World is (and will always be) sneakers. There’s just too much walking to be cute a stylish! Haha! However, for your Disney Castle picture I suggest either a) capturing the photo in a way that you won’t see their feet or b) bringing something to wear other than sneakers. It’s an eyesore when everything else looks perfect and together…and then there are sneakers.
My suggestion is to throw in some easy-to-carry flip flops. You can wear them for the photos and then put your sneakers back on when you’re finished.
Pro Tip: I also suggest bringing a pair of flip flops if you plan to play in the splash pad in Story Book Circus and/or if there’s a chance of rain. I like to have a pair of flip-flops to wear during or after the rain. (Walking around in wet sneakers all day long is a recipe for disaster.)
In the Disney Castle Pics Made Easy: The Complete Guide you will receive specific “What to Wear” guides along with easy to follow natural posing solutions your family won’t grumble at!
If you’re thinking that wearing a certain outfit is just too much of a pain…the alternative – or in addition to – this would be to wear Mickey ears. Because this is such a timeless tradition it just screams nostalgia and fun. (This is one of my regrets in my thousands of Disney pictures…Our family didn’t own or wear Mickey ears. Our youngest did do the My First Haircut where she got her own pair of ears but she didn’t like keeping them on. So incidentally, we didn’t get any fun shots with Mickey ears. So that will be my first purchase when we go back. You better believe I’m going to have a million pictures with our Mickey ears!)
Here’s a shot I got of our oldest several years ago. They’re not necessarily dressed up but I coordinated their outfits and did something kind of fun and whimsical.
3| Get as Close to the Castle as Possible
My next piece of advice to get that truly magical shot with minimal to NO strangers is to go all the way up to the front of the castle. You very likely will find there aren’t many people around that area. If there are, it’s usually people just like you who are waiting to take a crowd-free shot.
Here’s where I’m talking about:
It’s customary to look around, see who is trying to get a picture, then wait patiently for them to finish. There are no actual lines per se, but people are good to recognize who’s there first and who is next.
That’s how I was able to get my most favorite shot of my kids with the castle. Here are the kids waiting for their turn:
You can definitely try getting it further away but you’re much more likely to get lots of strangers in your picture and/or depending on the time of year and time of day the sun might be too bright and wash out the castle in the background. That’s what kept happening in these shots:
Too far away = Too many people:
Castle blown out:
4| Be Chill
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I’m not the only mom who can get a little too excited and rigid about getting the “perfect” shot. We want to capture the most magical picture ever at the happiest place on earth and we have it all planned out in our heads…and then…our kids will not cooperate.
Needless to say, the whole “capturing the perfect castle shot” situation is potentially one great big huge stress ball. If you go into this thinking everything HAS to be perfect or else, it really is a recipe for disaster.
The key here is to relax. When you are relaxed your kids will be relaxed. If you are wound up tighter than a teacup, you will not be able to get the kind of shots you’re hoping for. I’ve seen it and BEEN THERE a hundred times. My mood/vibe totally rubs off on my kids…good or bad.
What I like to do is take a few deep breaths and remind myself that THIS WILL WORK. A little bit of positive self-talk can go a long way. If you’re constantly telling yourself this is a disaster, no one is listening, you should just give up….it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Trust me.
However, if you’re constantly telling yourself, I can do this, this is going to turn out to be wonderful, I’ve got this…you will totally succeed.
Pro Tip: Give your family a pep talk. Just as much as you need a good pep talk so do your kids (or anyone else who will be in the picture). Talk to them about how you want to them act, what you want to them to do, where you want them to stand. Give them solid, precise advice so that they know exactly what is expected of them.
If you fear you may be battling a grumpy family, not to fear! In the complete guide, I hold your hand as I walk you through the details of how to handle a grumpy family. In fact, I give you my tried and true technique and tool that can smooth over any tense moment.
And perhaps most important…make it fun! Joke around with them, sing a silly song to make them smile, encourage them, make them laugh. Whatever you can do that will cause them to be their natural selves, do it.
So say something like,
“Okay, you guys, this picture is super important to me but I also want this to be FUN. So here are a couple of things I need you to do…As soon as it’s our turn to take the picture, hold hands, smile and look at me. Think about all the fun things we’re going to do today, like Space Mountain and the Mine Train!”
Remind them this will only take a few minutes and then they can head straight for the teacups. (Or whatever will get them excited.)
And just to put this out there…I’m totally not against bribery. The reward of a nice sugary treat or special experience never hurt anyone and can certainly cause children (and even husbands!) to be uncharacteristically cooperative. My kids can be amazing little charmers for a good reward.
In fact, I wouldn’t keep this is trick up your sleeve “just in case”, I would use it from the very beginning to get them on your side from square one. You’re already at Disney World, it’s not going to ruin them to promise one more cotton candy or funnel cake!
Bribes = Good
Threats = Bad
My recommendation is to steer clear of threats. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve totally used them in the past but I’m here to tell you they don’t work nearly as well as promising a reward for good behavior.
When I’ve said things like, “You guys better smile…or you won’t get to x,y,z.” Yes, they smile, but it’s never a genuine smile. It’s a fake smile and it always comes through in the photo. And let’s face it, the last thing you want to do is follow through on a threat while you’re on vacation.
So let’s keep this positive! Have fun, promise a cool reward, and enjoy yourself. Don’t forget…you’re at the happiest place on earth!
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Do you want a downloadable pdf of this cheat sheet?! I’ve got ya covered! Click here to download it now.
I’m super excited for you to get YOUR special castle shot! Keep me posted and let’s see what you capture! As always, let me know if I can help you navigate your upcoming vacation. You’re in for a treat.
I can’t leave without letting you know there’s more!
These 4 solutions in this cheat sheet are totally solid and will help you get an awesome castle shot. But if you are thinking…I would love a little be more hand holding…I’ve got you covered!
Castle Pics Made Easy: The Complete Guide walks you through even more details and specifics to capturing your precious shot.
Who is this guide for?
Someone at any photography level wanting to capture their perfect castle shot.
Do I need a DSLR (fancy) camera to use this guide?
Nope! You can use whatever camera you have. I’ll give you specific instructions for each kind of camera…phone camera, point-and-shoot, and DSLR.
In this guide you will learn:
- The exact camera and lens I used to get my castle shot. (You’ll be surprised at how inexpensive it is!)
- What camera settings to use to get that professional look. (Even if you’re using your phone camera.)
- Specifics of what to wear including how to build coordinating outfits.
- How to handle any weather condition you might encounter.
- The perfect time of day to get your shot plus what to do if the sun is right in your eyes.
- My secrets to how to make it look like you’re the only one in the park. (Even if it’s super crowded!)
- Specific tips and tricks for overcoming grumpy family members.
- Simple solutions to easy natural posing including posing examples for the entire family.
- Exactly what went down the day I captured my Disney castle shot as I walk you through each shot.
- Simple yet crazy effective editing techniques to make your picture totally pop.
This in-depth course will make capturing your perfect Disney castle shot a reality in the simplest + easiest to understand way. You can’t miss!
Click here to check it out!
I’m so excited for you to get your perfect castle shot! Send me a picture of what you’ve created!
Welcome to Being Katie Brave! I’m so happy to have you here. If you’re looking to take better pictures (stress-free!), get the inside scoop on all things Disney World, or be inspired to live YOUR best life (even if especially if it scares you to death) …you’re in the right place. I ’ve written 3 photography books, our family lived at Disney World for 2 years, and wear my heart on my sleeve…all of which would never have come to pass if I didn’t push past my fears and step in the darkness. Join me as I share my adventure of life, one post at a time.