Walt Disney World rolled out the Festival of Fantasy parade back in 2014 to great fanfare. By now you can watch countless videos on YouTube or even catch a live broadcast of the parade on Periscope from frequent park guests like Mark Willard (and by the way, if you aren’t following Mark on Twitter or Instagram you really should), but there is nothing quite like experiencing the parade for yourself in person.
While I love the parade, Disney does not do photographers any favors with when they schedule the parade – 3:00pm. The sun is high and bright in the sky making lighting less than ideal. Shooting the characters high upon the floats can be very tricky with all of that sunlight to manage. Make sure you are shooting in RAW mode on your camera so you can adjust things in your favorite photo editing software.
In general I’m happy with the way this shot turned out. I did have to push things pretty far in Photoshop farther than I’m usually comfortable with, but I like the pose and expression I was able to capture so the shot works for me.
You are more likely to get a better shot of the dancers walking at street level or some of the lower to the ground floats if you are shooting along the Main Street corridor. The buildings can provide some shade – which again, is less than ideal but you can usually do better at eye level than shooting up. The performers in the parade….well they are PERFORMERS so if they notice you with your camera, they can mug to the camera and give you a nice look. You just have to be watching for it and get the image.
I was lucky enough to catch Anna and Elsa looking right into the camera here as the Frozen float unit moved past.
But even when they don’t notice the cameras, the cast members are having fun. Make sure you capture that fun in your shots. It seems like a simple thing to remember, but make sure you get the characters with their eyes open and a good expression on their face. I know there are a lot better photographers out there and one only needs to look at the volume of parade shots I took where I miss timed it and the cast members eyes are closed. If this were the film days I would not be a happy camper.
The other shot to get is the Maleficent dragon breathing fire. As you are watching the parade, use your ears and not just your eyes. The dragon will breath fire to the proper cue in the music and it will allow you to time your shot.
Keep in mind that if the wind is too high Disney safety will call off the fire portion of the parade. The Dragon’s mouth will still open at the proper cue in the music though. They should probably play The Price as Right sad trombone tune at that point when there isn’t going to be fire that day.
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All of these shots were taken with my Canon 60D. Some of them I was able to grab with the Canon 70-200 lens which really helps with getting in close to the performers faces. I don’t own that lens but I rented it (there’s a future post coming on renting gear for a Disney trip). As always, please consider following this Amazon link as it helps support the site.