7 Tips for Great Holiday Photos at Disneyland, Walt Disney World and More

7 Tips for Great Holiday Photos at Disneyland, Walt Disney World and More blog header

If you’re like me, you love getting holiday cards in the mail … seeing milestones, how kids have grown, and the personalities of your loved ones shining through. But picking a great holiday card photo can sometimes be a challenge! This Halfway to the Holidays, our planDisney panelists are sharing seven Disney Parks tips to help you prep for holiday card season:

1. Find a Festive Disney Backdrop

There is no lack of festive backdrops at the parks and resorts during holiday time. “The holiday decorations at the Disney Resort hotels are gorgeous! The larger-than-life Christmas trees found in many resort hotel lobbies make a great backdrop for your holiday card photos,” reminds Samantha. But don’t forget about the life-sized gingerbread houses or iconic decorations in the parks, like Main Street, U.S.A., Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, or “it’s a small world” Holiday at Disneyland park.

A classic shot with Santa is also a great option. Check out Disney Springs for Santa photo opportunities at Walt Disney World or Tishra recommends Redwood Creek Challenge Trail at Disney California Adventure park. “For a classic photo with Old Saint Nick himself, we like to visit the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail which hosts a lovely display of Santa’s workshop, complete with the List he checks, twice!”

Aboard Disney Cruise Line, the Very Merrytime sailings offer a sleigh full of holiday photo opportunities onboard and at Disney Castaway Cay, says Tracie. “The island transforms into a winter wonderland minus the chilly weather. With a festive tree, sand snowmen, and snow that doesn’t melt, it’s the perfect place to snap a family photo.”

2. Try Candid Shots Instead

Sometimes the real personalities of your children can come out when you least expect them. The best moments and memories are the ones that aren’t posed or planned. “My best advice, especially with little ones, is to capture spontaneous photos rather than posing for a picture. That’s where the magic happens!” advises Shannon.

Some great candid moments happen during character experiences or a first time on an attraction, but another great way to share fun candids is when a Disney milestone is reached: finally tall enough to ride Space Mountain, celebrating a first Disney Cruise, or even eating your first DOLE Whip. Try adding in an “I’m Celebrating” button to make the moment extra special.

3. Make it an Event

Many of the planDisney Panelists make getting their holiday card photo a special event, so they have great memories to go along with their photos. “My family loves to kick off the holiday season with a visit to Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. We start our evening in the lobby of the hotel to take in the sights and smells and listen to live entertainment. The beautifully decorated tree in the lobby makes for a wonderfully festive backdrop for a family photo. After a photo, we head to the all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet at Storytellers Cafe. After our meal, we end the night with some holiday shopping in Downtown Disney,” shares Adrianna.

Over at Walt Disney World, the panelists recommend the festive Hollywood & Vine Minnie’s Seasonal Dine character meal as a good option or head over to the Christmas Tree Stroll at Disney Springs. Matt suggests, “Pick a few of the trees to take a picture in front of. Maybe pick ones centered around your favorite movies or rides. When you get home, select a few you love, and you’ll have a uniquely themed Holiday card!”

4. Make it a Disney Family Tradition

Panelists also suggest selecting one spot to take your holiday photo year after year. It is fun to see your family grow and change with the same setting behind you. “We have started an annual tradition where we wear matching pajamas and Santa hats and gather under the lobby Christmas tree at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa for a family photo,” shares Tishra.

“Over the years we’ve taken so many random selfies in the same spot, either on our own or with our kiddos! Don’t be afraid to let some Disney snacks sneak into your photos,” suggests Amanda. Or try this heartwarming tradition from Mandy, “My very favorite holiday photos are taken capturing my daughter mailing a letter to Santa on Main Street. Pure magic!”

5. Just Add a Sweater (or a hat)

Any fun Disney background can make the perfect holiday card, especially those iconic castle photos. Try moving to the side of the castle for a unique perspective with fewer people. If you want to make it feel more festive try dressing in holiday colors, donning crazy sweaters, or wearing a festive hat. Melanie suggests “Grab photos with Santa hats at the Mt. Rushmore Disney Character Buoys at Disney Castaway Cay or Olaf’s Summertime Freeze at Disney Castaway Cay.”

The sunsets at Aulani are stunningly beautiful and the perfect backdrop for holiday photos. Disney Vacation Club Members might like Lauren’s idea, “As Disney Vacation Club Members, my family has our annual holiday card photos taken at one of our Home Resorts every year.”

6. Let YOUR Personality Shine Through

Pick a background for your holiday card that showcases your family’s personality, favorite films and fandoms. How about at night with glowing lightsabers in front of the Millenium Falcon at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or crossing the finish line together at the end of a runDisney race?

“We are pretty unconventional, so we like taking our family photos in some pretty unique locations. How cool would it be to receive a Haunted Mansion-themed Holiday card?” shares Ana. planDisney Panelist Adrianna sends Halloween cards each year dressed in costume during Oogie Boogie Bash at Disney California Adventure park.

“If you’re more of a New Year card family, our favorite spot is the ‘See ya later, mon!’ sign as you return to your Disney Cruise ship after a day on the beach at Castaway Cay. It’s a super cute spot to say goodbye to the old year and looks great on a holiday card,” says Amanda. Or a, ‘May the Force Be with You in the New Year’ caption can make those Galaxy’s Edge photos work for a New Year’s holiday card too, if you’re running behind!” suggests Elizabeth.

7. Utilize Disney PhotoPass Experts

“Find a Disney PhotoPass photographer and you will find a fabulous family photograph! I especially love to ask for Magic Shots,” shares Nimmy. There are also often unique Magic Shot offerings at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Walt Disney World to add some festive fun to your holiday cards.

Another good option from Jennifer, “Capture Your Moment sessions at Walt Disney World are an affordable way to get your own holiday card photo shoot, especially when paired with a Memory Maker purchase that includes unlimited downloads of all Disney PhotoPass images from your vacation.”

No matter where you choose to take your magical holiday card photos, planDisney is wishing you a Happy Halfway to the Holidays! If you are looking for more tips on planning your next Disney vacation, stop by @planDisneypanel on Instagram, @planDisney on Twitter, or planDisney.com. We look forward to answering your planning questions.

Panelists receive compensation for their participation on planDisney.