Tips for Using a Smartphone Camera at Disney World

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By Kyle Schurman for About Cameras

When preparing to attend Disney World, veteran visitors to the set of Orlando theme parks will tell you that carrying large bags, including camera bags, through the park can be a significant hassle.

Fitting large camera bags on the rides can be difficult. But the more challenging aspect to lugging a large camera bag through the parks is all of the walking and standing in line you’ll have to do during the day.

And if you visit the park during a hot day, you may wear down far before you kids do, which can make for a miserable last couple of hours of your day at Disney World.

So rather than carrying a DSLR camera and the related equipment through Disney World, you may be tempted to stick with your smartphone camera to shoot the photos you want to use. After all, a smartphone camera will fit in a pocket or small purse comfortably, and nearly everyone visiting the theme parks will already be carrying a smartphone.

Use these four tips listed here -- one representing each of the four Disney World theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios) -- for figuring out the best way to use your smartphone camera at Disney World!

  1. Photo and video opportunities. Unless you’re seeing a sign at a particular attraction that states photography and video is prohibited, you are allowed to make recordings. While walking between rides, you can use your smartphone camera as well.
  1. Great for sharing character photos. Throughout Disney World’s theme parks, you’ll have a chance to shoot photos with the various characters. Perhaps you loved the Winnie the Pooh stories as a child, and now that you’re a parent, you want to share that love of the Hundred Acre Wood with your kids. Having a chance to meet with Pooh at Disney World is great, but having your smartphone camera available so you can shoot a selfie photo with Pooh and the entire family will make the experience even more memorable. And if it’s your family’s first trip to Disney World, grandparents, other family members, and friends will love to see these photos as soon as you shoot them, knowing that you’re having a great time on your trip. Wi-Fi connectivity is available throughout the parks.
  1. Downsides to smartphone camera only. If you choose to rely on a smartphone camera as your only means of making a recording during your Disney World trip, you will notice some significant disadvantages. Not having an optical zoom lens available may frustrate you from time to time, as you might not be able to move close enough to shoot the kind of photo you want with your smartphone camera. You also won’t be able to create photos with the type of quality that will allow you to make large prints. Fortunately, Disney World has numerous professional photographers scattered throughout the parks who will shoot photos of your family that you can purchase later and that will be suitable for making large prints.
  2. Leave selfie stick at home. Not surprisingly, you’ll see a large number of people shooting selfies with their smartphone cameras throughout Disney World. However, because you’ll typically travel to the theme parks with a group of people, it can be challenging to fit everyone in the frame of your selfie. Not to mention, you’re probably also trying to fit a well-known theme park symbol in the background of the selfie, like Cinderella’s castle, all while trying to dodge large crowds of other park visitors. This would seem to make the selfie stick a very popular tool to have at Disney World, because you can gain a better angle on the selfie. A selfie stick is a type of monopod that also may allow for one-handed remote control of the smartphone camera. However, after a recent rash of park visitors using selfie sticks on the rides themselves, all Disney theme parks have banned any use of selfie sticks anywhere on the park grounds. You'll have to use your arms to shoot your Disney theme park selfies.

    This ban on selfie sticks is relatively new, so don't be surprised if park employees are especially vigilant in watching for and confiscating them.