Our holiday card is full of pictures from the year, including a whopping four photos from a recent trip to Disneyland and California Adventure. While two of the photos are obviously Disney, two are not because even without characters, the Disney parks’ holiday decorations provided beautiful backdrops for our holiday pictures.
Disneyland is all dressed up for the holidays through Jan. 6, which means it’s not too late to get into the spirit.
Here’s where to take your fabulous holiday photos while enjoying the Happiest Place on Earth:
1. Grab a character. Character shots are the best and undoubtedly the most recognizable as Disney. Hang out in Toontown and soon you’ll be spotting characters. One of our favorite Christmas cards was when my daughter was three years old and we got the perfect shot of Mickey leaning down to hug her. My daughter’s face was beaming as Mickey had her in a bear hug. There was nothing special about getting the photo – we waited in line out in front of Mickey’s Toontown house like everyone else, and I kept the shot close on my daughter and Mickey.
Seven years later…this picture with Mickey is not the one going on our card, but it shows how easy it was to find him. There was a line for Minnie Mouse, who was posing in the doorway of her home in Toontown, but Mickey was hidden away inside his home, and because people couldn’t see him, the wait was two minutes max.
For an outside picture, we considered getting in line to see Minnie, but then we spotted Goofy walking about and being…goofy. We took photos of the kids having fun with Goofy and one of those could have easily ended up in our card.
2. Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle. I’m the first one to chuckle at families who block the walkway into the castle, then get annoyed by the hundreds of people walking through their shot. It’s a main thoroughfare, people! I have one shot I love of my little daughter on my husband’s shoulders shot from the hub, angled at the castle when the park was busy. It shows how little my daughter was, plus by having her raised from the crowd, I cropped out a lot of traffic.
Yet it is possible to take a picture in front of the castle that is free of other people. The real beauty of Magic Mornings (early admission for those staying at the Disney Resort hotels) is a clear shot of the castle. Let everyone run-walk to the ride of their choice, but in the meantime, the castle is nearly traffic free. The castle is beautifully decorated for the holidays and is perfect for a gorgeous shot. I stood my kids in front, paused to let one person walk through, then shot away.
3. The blue steps in New Orleans Square. This backdrop calls for holiday photos, but the funny thing is that the stairs are quietly tucked away in a shop. There is no traffic to worry about and no pressure to hurry. Although a couple spotted me posing my kids and waited to take their own pictures next.
4. Christmas trees. Disneyland and California Adventure each have a humongous tree with incredible decorations. We took a photo in front of both (and there are Disney photographers on hand if you want someone else to take the picture), and we ended up preferring the California Adventure tree better. The tree bottom is a little lower at California Adventure, lending itself better to photos of short kids.
5. Cars Land entrance. Cars Land has the most creative decorations for the holidays, but the snow-car at the entrance is the best. Our one full family picture for the holiday card is at the Cars Land sign.
6. Santa. No Christmas season is complete without a picture with Santa, who awaits you at the Elias & Co. department store. We walked up, chatted with Santa, and took a photo. What normally takes great planning and execution at the local mall – not to mention about $22 for the minimum package – was done stress-free in minutes. Not having to drag the kids to see the mall Santa was a relief. Add to it that this was the best Santa I’ve ever seen, and the experience was priceless.