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Travel Tuesdays- How I got an empty Magic Kingdom for family photos!

Updated: Apr 23


Ahh! You guys it is finally Spring here in Indiana and I seriously could not be happier! If you know me, you know that I HATE cold weather. Like anything under around 55 degrees and I'm out! Nope. No thanks. So maybe this is the reason my family travels to Disney World so often? Or maybe it's just because it truly is the most magical place on earth ( I can HEAR my husband's eyes rolling from here but I'm right so whatever!)

Anyhow! Today on our Travel Tuesdays blog we are discussing the number one question I get asked about Disney World.

How did you get a completely empty Magic Kingdom for your family photos?!

While I am no expert, here's how I did it, AND I'm going to have a true Disney Expert give us her tips as well!

When we were planning this trip I knew I wanted one thing. These photos of our family without a million people in the background. I turned to my amazing travel agent and friend, Jen, and she was able to score us a restaurant reservation at Be Our Guest (my favorite place to have a sit down meal inside Magic Kingdom but that's a whole other blog post!) Our reservation was for 30 minutes BEFORE the park opened. When we arrived there was a huge line of fellow guests waiting to get in for their reservation and needless to say I was heartbroken. Wait- how am I going to get these shots when it looks like this??

(Oh my gosh I just realized how little Ben was in this photo! Ahhh!)

Okay, so back to the panic. Seriously, this mama was NOT happy hence I just went ahead and shot this photo. However, look at that photo again and tell me what you see. You see the back of people. Literally NOBODY is looking our direction. Why? Because they probably aren't photographers and they're all hurrying to those breakfast reservations. We slowed our pace and in less than 2 minutes I shot this.

You guys I was freaking out! This was my mama Disney magic dream coming to life! It was really happening! I had, what looked like the entire Magic Kingdom, to myself! There is literally only one other person in the very corner of this shot and she quickly left! I started shooting like mad and then one of the amazing Photopass Cast members came over and asked if I'd like him to do a few shots of our family with my camera. Um, yes please! He wasn't even phased when I handed him a camera with my Fisheye lens on it which if you have never shot with one can be VERY disorienting at first. I'll include the gear details at the end of this so that have that info in case you were wondering.

So basically we shot all of these photos in less than 5 minutes and made it to our breakfast reservation with plenty of time. We even got out of breakfast just before the park opened and were able to ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train 5 times in a row. (Not our best idea right after eating but no way were we passing that up!)

So, here's my biggest secret to getting these super hard to get reservations. Jen. That's it. I have planned trips with her and without her. None of the trips that I have ever planned on my own have ever gone as smoothly as they do with Jen at the helm. I literally email her my wish list of what I'd love for our trip and she does her crazy Disney Magic. If you've ever planned a Disney trip, you know they are STRESSFUL! There are a million things that if you don't know that you don't know you will miss out on. For example- I don't know what we are having for dinner in our house tonight, but when I'm headed to Disney, I know where we're having dinner at 180 days from now! Plus, I have never been able to successfully book one of these reservations for early morning inside the park without Jen's help.

Are there other ways to get into the park before it opens? Absolutely! You can buy a ticket for their Early Morning Magic events. They aren't every day, so you have to check the schedule. Also, I'm including a link to my favorite planning site, WDW Prep School, with their information on this event. Just click on the hyper link!

Okay, so that's my secret! I'm going to let Jen take over now and tell you her tips. Oh, and gear- I used my Nikon D700 and the Tamron Fisheye lens for all of these shots. I bought that lens just for this trip which is why I went with a Tamron instead of a Nikor lens. However, I have used it a ton since buying it for weddings and sessions and it's been worth the price! (Around $200 I think.) In a future post I will go into more detail on what gear I always take on our trips- promise!

Ask the pro:

Nowelle, thank you for allowing me to take over your Travel Tuesday by talking about one of my favorite destinations!

Planning a Disney destination vacation can be very overwhelming. There is so much to make sure you understand and so many deadlines you don't want to miss.

My biggest advice I give to first timers is to go into the vacation with the thought that you will be back and that you can't do it all in one trip. So many feel this is a once in a lifetime vacation so they need to make the most of it but that type of person will be exhausted or disappointed when they return. Enjoy all that you did see and the memories made during the vacation do not dwell on the stuff you missed.

The famous pictures Nowelle is talking about were taken prior to her pre-park opening breakfast. However, since her trip Disney has added so many other options for a way to see a park with less crowds. There are Early Morning events which allow you a little extra time in the morning to explore certain lands of a park plus have breakfast. The type of event varies by season and day. It is a separate ticketed event and you must have a park ticket for that day as well. Another fun option is to attend one of the After Hours held in the evening after the park closes to the public. This one is my favorite! Snacks are provided and this too is a separate ticketed event however a park ticket is not required and you can enter the park earlier than the event to make the most of your evening.

But, the best advice or tip I can give anyone is to use a travel agent. Why stress over planning a vacation? As long as you book your package with the agency most agents will provide planning services of some sort. When you book direct you never know who you will talk to on the other end....when you use a travel agent you talk to the same person each and every time. The cost is the same so why not take advantage of their knowledge! Whether you plan your next trip with me or another agent just make sure you find someone that has experience in the destination you are trying to book. Remember...online is for looking only!

Want to talk to Jen? (If you're planning a trip anywhere the answer is yes!) Here is how you can contact her:

Perfect Story Travel Just click that link, ask for Jen and sit back and enjoy your easiest vacation ever!

Did you love this blog? What other items would you like to see Jen and I team up on and share about? Make sure you comment on any of my social media platforms to let me know and I will get you all of the details!

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