If you're traveling to Walt Disney World, odds are you've nailed the organization game. You drove yourself crazy getting a reservation at Be Our Guest six months before leaving town, wove an intricate web of FastPass+ booking reservations, and yes, admit it: you've configured a spreadsheet schedule for the entire week.
It only makes sense, then, that you'd put a little pre-planning into your photographic vacation game, and aim to take incredible Instagrams beyond your usual selfies with Snow White and midnight shots of Cinderella's Castle. From a snap-happy ride you never expected to a secret private photo shoot (for free!), here's how to get the best-ever photos at Walt Disney World, no filters necessary.
Heading back for a mid-day break? Instead of taking Disney Resort Transportation to your hotel, swing by Art of Animation instead, which is essentially a gigantic Instagram playground. The Big Blue Pool is surrounded by jumbo-sized favorites from Finding Nemo, The Lion King section is packed with beloved characters, and The Little Mermaid area completely brings the movie to life, which will easily earn you plenty of double-taps. The highlight of the pit-stop is the resort's Cars section, which fully recreates Radiator Springs and all of its famed automobiles and sights, right down to a swimming pool inside of the Cozy Cone Motel.
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover gets slack for being a snooze, but what it lacks in excitement it makes up for in doubling as a moving, Instagrammable tour. Hop on board and utilize your iPhone's burst mode to capture all the kinetic energy flying in and out of Tomorrowland, as well as some unexpectedly clear shots of Cinderella Castle. At Blizzard Beach, The Chairlift offers incredible views over Mount Gushmore, and the entrance platform for the Magic Kingdom's Walt Disney World Railroad will let you snap a straight shot over Main Street. Rides like Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad have great perspectives, too, but taking a picture could mean saying goodbye to your phone. Instead, opt for a mid-ride photo while ascending to the top of Expedition Everest, which offers vast views and a gradual dip, giving you just enough time to stash your cell. Ask to sit in the front row, too, and you'll get a clear shot of those famed twisted tracks, not to mention an avalanche of likes.
The Eiffel Tower in France or Japan's massive pagoda may seem like photographic home-runs, but the best shots of EPCOT are actually in its details. The intricate tilework and murals throughout Morocco's pavilion were painstakingly pieced together by the king's personal artisans, making it all too easy to snap a picture while stacking up those tiny hearts. It's a home-run for Insta-novices too--simply step inside the oft-ignored Moroccan Style museum and perfect your jaw-dropping ceiling shots in peace. Every building, store, and restaurant throughout the World Showcase has immaculate details, too, including China's hand-painted ceilings, the United Kingdom's centuries-old architecture, or Disney's take on the famed Butchart Gardens in Canada, which are fully replanted each season.
Everyone's seen a photo of Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life, but your followers probably aren't privy to the true mega-madness that is a smiling yellow Cementosaurus inside the park's Dinoland U.S.A. Disney Imagineers are massively skilled at blowing things up to out-of-this-world proportions, whether it's a bug-sized trek through the grass in Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure or the 50-foot waterfall built into a Lost City-style pyramid at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, all of which make crazy-good Instagram posts. The bigger-is-better theory applies the best at All Star Movies, Sports and Music resorts, where jumbo footballs, enormous cowboy boots and a gigantic remake of Andy's bedroom from Toy Story will make you feel toy-sized in comparison to a towering Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
Believe it or not, it's possible to take dreamy pictures in front of Cinderella Castle without having to Photoshop out fellow visitors. A well-kept secret is that some restaurants, like Crystal Palace and Cinderella's Royal Table, will serve breakfast a full hour before the park's famed rope drop, allowing only diners into the park. Disney PhotoPass photographers are on hand, too, meaning your french toast and Mickey waffles could essentially come with a private photo shoot. Set yourself up for success by holding reservations on two different days, and check the calendar as your trip approaches--Extra Magic Hours, which can start as early as 8am, are the only thing that could spoil your shot.
When you're running from ride to ride or joining the mad dash to grab seats for Fantasmic! in time, it's all too easy to miss the little things. Disney Parks are obsessive with their focus on details, right down to minute colors, signs, and artwork that most visitors will completely gaze over. Animal Kingdom's Harambe Village is one of such places, where the graffiti and fliers are full of insider-y nods to all things Disney, like lacquered ads for actual shows inside the park and bootleg Mickey artwork on multiple distressed walls. The Guest Relations office in Hollywood Studios is tucked inside an Antiques and Curios storefront, housing enough golden shots to fill your feed for weeks, and the small details in the benches of Adventureland alone will give you plenty of snaps that your followers will love. No matter where you are on Disney property, immense thought was put into everything from the ceiling to the carpet, so look a little closer and you're bound to discover something special.
--By Carlye Wisel