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When you’ve gotten to the point that you’ve visited Walt Disney World ten or more times, you might start to look for new ways to tour the parks. Of course, you still want to tour as efficiently as possible and avoid the crowds, but you’re looking for new experiences or ways to keep the parks fresh to you. I think WDW veterans do this in a variety of ways: visiting during various seasons or festivals, trying new dining experiences, or even by taking a dip into the Seas. One way for me to do this has been through photography.
Prior to taking up photography, I had been on trips roughly once per year since my first trip in utero in 1984 (somewhat surprisingly, I remember very little about this trip). As the frequency of these trips began to increase, I looked for ways to enhance my experience by trying new things. I quickly found that Walt Disney World has so much to offer beyond the attractions, and I began to explore these other offerings. Unfortunately, some of these offerings are cost-prohibitive. Almost all of them are unduly time consuming (making an efficient touring plan doubly important). Photography was neither cost-prohibitive nor unduly time consuming, plus it gave me a new eye for the parks and allowed me to capture family moments on the trip, so it became the logical choice for me to expand my horizons at Walt Disney World.
Recently, a group of amateur Disney photographers assembled by WDWPhotography.com held a photography gathering at Walt Disney World, and one of the events, “Prime Lens Day,” really embodied this concept of touring the parks with a different “eye.” The idea behind this event was to take a fixed focal length lens (one that doesn’t “zoom”) and using only that lens all day to photograph the parks. The goal is that by using a lens that doesn’t zoom, you will “zoom with your feet” more, exploring your surroundings to find details in the parks that make for stunning photos. It may not sound like it makes a substantial difference in the way you see the parks, but believe me, after a few hours with only a prime lens on your camera, you will notice that you see details of the parks that you’ve never seen before. In fact, I would not be surprised if, as you look at the shots that accompany this post, you think to yourself, “I’ve never noticed that.”
The group began their day, braving the frigid temperatures, in EPCOT, making their way over to the World Showcase. Although I have no scientific evidence to support this theory, it’s my personal belief that World Showcase and Animal Kingdom are the absolute best locations to photograph details. After a few hours in World Showcase, they headed back towards Future World, boarding a monorail for the Magic Kingdom, where they concluded their Prime Day event. While a lot of participants initially expressed some fear over only using one lens for such a long period of time (the thought of it scares me!), everyone indicated that it was a fun challenge, and that they really learned a lot from the event–both about various details of the parks and about composing good images.
After seeing some of the results from the day (which illustrate this post), I am fully convinced this event would prove beneficial to anyone looking for a new touring experience in the parks. Much like the Keys to the Kingdom or Behind the Seeds tours, you will undoubtedly learn some new things about the parks, and hopefully see them in a new light. Unlike the Keys to the Kingdom tour, you won’t break the bank. (While it’s ideal to have at least the cheap 50mm lens, which costs less than $100, for this, it’s not required; if all you have is a point and shoot, dedicate yourself to not touching the zoom knob at all for the day.)
As part of the event, participants submitted their favorite shot for a chance to win prizes from TouringPlans.com. Our staff was torn over the entries (there definitely is no “Simon Cowell” on our staff) but ultimately chose Andreea Radu as the first place winner. Congratulations, Andreeau, and thanks to our friends over at WDWPhotography.com for allowing us to sponsor this event. If you’re at all interested in getting a new take on the parks through photography, I encourage you to head over to WDWPhotography.com for more information (their site re-launches with all new content and features on Monday).
Seeing things through the 50mm “eye” of the camera, even for only a couple hours, will lead you to see the parks in a new way. After after your time with the prime is up, you will find yourself noticing previously unseen details, as you’ve trained your real eye to look for these things. Much like the scene in Beauty and the Beast where the kitchen comes alive in preparation of dinner, the park will come alive with all of the hidden little “Disney Details” you previously overlooked. It will give you a new experience when touring the parks, and best of all, it won’t interfere with your touring plans!