This week I bring you a unique twist on our photo series as we visit Magic Kingdom at night on May 15, 2010… ParkSpotting
I generally visit theme parks during the day, as it is much easier to take pictures and video then. Plus, either due to the parades, fireworks shows, or overall lower visibility levels, it often seems more crowded at night. But this past Saturday I ventured into Magic Kingdom to
meet up with Skipper Ben to record some TTA Talk and I took some nighttime photos along the way.
Upon entering the park, I was immediately greeted by a huge crowd waiting for the first SpectroMagic parade performance of the night. (Sorry for the blurry photo. It was taken on the move, which is never good for nighttime shooting.)
Masking tape arrows on the ground created a path for guests to follow through the crowd.
Guests were directed to bypass the packed Main Street USA and head backstage, through a parking lot, and into Tomorrowland. This shot was taken looking back toward the Train Station. I did not take any photos backstage as there's not much to look at - just a bunch of parked cars and ordinary buildings.
Nighttime photography in the parks can be challenging. You can use a flash and wash out the shot, ruining many of the beautiful colors, or you can set your camera on something sturdy and allow more time for light to enter the lens. That something sturdy can be a tripod, like this guy was using at the entrance of Tomorrowland. But a tripod isn't always needed...
Utilizing existing flat surfaces can allow you to take great nighttime shots and sometimes get unexpected bonuses, like the rainbow patterns reflected in this Tomorrowland railing. None of the photos in this week's ParkSpotting are retouched, so you're seeing exactly what my point-and-shoot camera was able to capture.
Just to the left of the Tomorrowland entrance, I found a nice flat surface to snap this unusual shot of Cinderella Castle emerging over rocky terrain.
I used a nearby flat surface to stabilize my camera for this nighttime Tomorrowland photo.
Setting my camera on a higher ISO setting and balancing it on my knee while seated enabled me to capture this Astro Orbiter-in-motion shot. The green streaky lines circling the tower at the top are the ride's rocket vehicles.
But you may not always have a nearby level surface to place your camera on for night shots. Here I used the tilted top of a cart.
In taking longer exposure photos, it's definitely needed to keep your camera completely still while the shutter is open. This Space Mountain photo ended up slightly blurry, so I must have slightly nudged the camera while taking the picture.
Trash cans make excellent flat surfaces to shoot off of and are easily found within any theme park.
Turning away from the topic of nighttime theme park photography, I spotted plenty of Toy Story 3 merchandise available in Tomorrowland near Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.
Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear plushes area available here too.
In our last ParkSpotting from Disney's Hollywood Studios, I noted that Disney Vacation Club information stands feature comfortable padding on the ground to subtly entice guests to stick around.
This stand not only featured the comfy ground, but also a rather powerful fan cooling off the attending cast member and any guests passing by.
The fan gives you a steady cool breeze on a hot day (or night). I'll gladly "find out more" about Disney's Vacation Club in exchange for a little comfort.
Venturing out of Tomorrowland, the Mad Tea Party's nighttime lights are just asking to be photographed.
Here's a fun showcase of motion photography that anyone with almost any digital camera can easily duplicate. I placed my camera on a ledge at the edge of the Mad Tea Party just before it started spinning.
Once in motion, I snapped this shot with an ISO 50 setting. The Mad Tea Party tent and centerpiece stay crisp and clear while the spinning tea cups show plenty of motion blur.
Then I took the same shot with an ISO 400 setting, which held the shutter open longer resulting in more motion blur. The tea cups were spinning at roughly the same speed here as in the photo above, but they appear to be moving faster.
Walking a little further into Fantasyland, I took this photo of the Winnie the Pooh tree in its new location as seen at night. The leaf colors really pop. This photo was taken handheld, not resting on anything, but since the Winnie the Pooh sign was brightly lit, it turned out quite clear.
Finally, I thought it was interesting how many lights are on the large Fantasyland construction wall on the left. It's nearly pitch black on the other side of the wall, so without all these lights, someone could conceivably run right into the wall at night, not realizing it's even there!
At the end of our previous ParkSpotting adventure, I insinuated that the next one would be from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Well, I didn’t make it there as planned so I brought you these nighttime Magic Kingdom shots instead. But I do have plans to visit Animal Kingdom very soon, so check back for fun shots from there.