Disney Featured Photography Travel

The Complete Guide to Taking Your “Nice” Camera to Disney

Exactly what to do with and how to handle your nice camera while you're at Disney World. Exactly what you need to know before you go!

. Calling all Camera Loving Mamas (and Papas) who are trying to decide if you should take your big cameras to Disney Parks…

To get right down to it, the answer is…YES. If you are someone who wants to have the ability to truly capture your family in a magical creative way, YES, you should take your big camera to Disney World. HOWEVER….there are a few exceptions.

Read this post first to know where and when you should have your camera with you. Because let’s face it, the thought of lugging it around all day, every day through 4 massive parks is daunting. But this article with help you narrow down the perfect days to have and what must-have shots you need to get.

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Now that we’ve determined that you’re taking it, I want to teach you how easy it really is to safely and easily tote it around, you won’t think twice about bringing it along after you read this post.

Here is your complete guide to bringing your big camera to any Disney Park:

1| Take Minimal Gear

When it comes to getting those perfect magical Disney shots like these:

You really don’t need a crap load of gear. And you certainly do not want to be packing around a ton of gear! I have taken every single Disney photo you see on my blog using a Nikon D80 (This model has been replaced by the D90) and one lens, the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens. (This link is for Nikon cameras. If you own a Canon, this is the same lens but is compatible with Canon.)

This lens has been a great all-around workhorse to get those dreamy blurring backgrounds and also to master any low-light situation. (If you need help on mastering your camera I recommend this workshop, hands-down. It has helped thousands of people finally understand how to get beautiful photos from their DSLR cameras.)


A couple other lenses I recommend (Just chose one of these. You don’t need them all.) is the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 or even the beloved Nikon 50mm f/1.8 (Canon 50mm f/1.8) lens if you shoot with a full-frame camera. All of these lenses are versatile, sharp, and can give you a beautiful professional look.

My favorite lenses are all prime but if you’re a zoom lens sort of person my recommendation is one good versatile zoom lens like the Sigma 17-50mm for Nikon (Sigma 17-50mm for Canon).

Make it easy on yourself and leave the tripod, external flash, and other lenses at home.

2| Don’t Leave Your Camera in the Stroller

Your camera needs to go with you on all the rides and attractions. Do not leave it under your stroller…even if it’s hidden. There are cast member stroller attendants (yes, they really have them!) but I still wouldn’t leave it. You never know who might grab it and take it before anyone can see.

To save your energy as much as possible, while you’re walking around put your camera under your stroller or slung around the handles. Even if I have my camera in a backpack, I still put it under the stroller to save my back (or my husband’s back!) as much as possible.

In the photo above you can see we were using an umbrella stroller at the time. It’s nice, lightweight and compact-able. We were still able to sling the camera back over the handles of the stroller.

However, to really make the best use of a stroller throughout the parks (for your child AND for packing around all your stuff) get a larger stroller with a storage component underneath. It is totally worth the hassle of folding and unfolding it to get on and off buses, trams, etc.

Here’s the bigger one we replaced the umbrella stroller with (Jeep brand and lasted us 2 years of major use and beyond):

3| Take Your Camera On the Rides with You

I have been on every single ride with a bag and it’s honestly not a big deal. For the big rides that whip you around, there are pouches in front of you to put your things in. And for the calmer rides, you can just hold it in your lap or put in down by your feet. Lots of people carry bags on the rides.

There are no lockers in Disney World (Except for one, see #5). And you are not allowed to leave your bag on the ride loading area to pick it up after the ride is over…so that means…take your bag with you!

4| Invest in a Great Bag

The best way to protect your camera while at Disney is to use a good bag or backpack. You want something that is durable, compact and provides enough padding to protect your gear. If you already have a good small camera bag that easily fits inside a backpack, just use that.

For years I have used this camera bag. I slide it under the stroller while we’re walking around and sling it over my shoulder when it’s time to go on the ride.

Here are some other durable camera bags that are awesome and Disney mom-approved:

Lowepro Passport Sling

Beaspire Camera Backpack

If you’re someone who likes to keep your camera out and ready another option is a Camera Coat. It’s a protective bag that fits just over your camera so you can have it out and not worry about it getting bumped around.

5| Protect Your Camera on Water Rides

There are only 2 rides where you will need to protect your camera against water damage (maybe 3, but I’ll get to that later), Splash Mountain, and Kali River Rapids. (However, if you follow my advice here you probably won’t even be taking your camera with you to the Animal Kingdom…just sayin’.)

Splash Mountain
Splash mountain is kind of minimal when it comes to getting wet. However, for that off chance that you do get soaked, take these precautions with your camera:

First, sit in the last or second to last row of the log flume. (Is that what it’s called?!) The front and second seat tend to get the wettest.

Insider’s Tip: The cast member will direct you to the row you will be sitting in so if s/he directs you to the front, just ask if you can sit in the back. They are always more than happy to accommodate you.

If you want to really be sure your camera doesn’t get wet, use something to cover up your bag like a jacket or a rain poncho. Or better yet, put your camera in a gallon zip-lock bag while you’re waiting in line. It may seem overkill but if you’re a worrier, you can know your camera will be absolutely safe and dry.

Insider’s Tip: If you don’t want to risk taking your camera on Splash Mountain at all, you could leave your camera with an adult and the small kiddos and let them play at the fun little playground that is right between Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. Our kids LOVE it.

Kali River Rapids
If you bring your camera to the Animal Kingdom…you DO NOT want to take it on the Kali River Rapids ride. The probability of it getting totally drenched in very likely.

But not to fear! Luckily Disney is pretty awesome and has provided free 2-hour lockers for you to use. They are located right near the entrance of the ride. (Put anything else in there that you don’t want totally drenched while you’re at it.)

Pirates of the Caribbean
Another (very slight) possibility your camera could get wet is on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. In the beginning, there’s a small water slide where water could potentially come up on the sides. Just be sure your camera is in toward the middle of the row.

That’s it! Now you’re a pro at taking your big camera with you to Disney World. Do you have any more questions? Comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out.

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This is the perfect guide for you to reference back to when you are out and about with your camera. Print it out to a 5×7 to easily fit in your camera bag. It lists 6 quick and easy steps to begin shooting along with pictures referencing Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed.

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