Photographing Walt Disney World: How to Bring the Magic a Little Closer to Home

One of our Mouze Kateerz writers, Amanda Major (www.cheapskateprincess.com), is one of the best Disney photographers that I’ve seen. She captures Disney Magic with every picture. She is one of the largest picture contributors to Mouze Kateerz. Here is an article that she wrote several months ago that I thought was worth rerunning for more readers to enjoy. ~ Frances

By Amanda M.

Every photo has a story.

One reason I am so enamored with Walt Disney World is the wide range of photographic opportunities I find when I vacation there. Photography can be both a tremendously rewarding experience and a maker of memories, but on the other side, it can be a journey into frustration and disappointment. Images don’t always turn out in print like you see them through your eyes.  Sometimes, I look at my photos and think, “Ugh!! It didn’t look like that!”  What to do…

Picture this…As photography has moved away from print film to digital, we now have the opportunity to clean up and fix a lot of images that would look better with a little nip and tuck. One of my most useful photo editing tools, Picasa in my case,  is the crop button. Simple. Handy. Crop.

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL,  dropped a photo off on our wall at Mouze Kateerz on Facebook, and it was so beautiful, I had to see if there was an original.  Apparently Randy didn’t need to crop his photo a for a closer view- he just zoomed up on his subject. In keeping with my theme of every photo has a story,  there was indeed a great Disney tale attached with his photo…romance, relaxation, and vivid colors.  Here’s Randy’s photographical memory:

disney photography, The Disney Moms, Tree of Life photo, Animal Kingdom photosThis past May, my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with our first trip back to WDW since our honeymoon … without the kids. We decided during the planning for the trip that we would set no schedule, eat when we wanted to…not just when we could spare a moment between attractions. We took the time to look for the details that we so often rushed past in search of a character signing or fast pass.

Every trip for us to WDW includes a morning at Animal Kingdom. First destination… The Tree of Life to see A Bug’s Life. As we worked our way towards the tree, we stopped to take this pic with the tree in the background.

The vivid color of the simple pink flower struck me so I decided to take a close up. “

Animal Kingdom, It's a Bugs life, Disney Photography, The Disney Moms, Animal Kingdom safari
“This close up has become one of my favorites from this trip. It is a good reminder to me to slow down and look for the detail, it is all part of the Magic!

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL

The personal thing about photography is that sometimes a photo will have no meaning or emotional attachment to anyone other than the photographer. The picture belongs to you; the special meaning is all your own. But this doesn’t diminish the beauty you can find in photographs, even if you really have no idea where the photo was taken.

Bonnet Creet Resort, Windham Bonnet Creek Resort, Hollywood Studios, Bonnet Creek photosHere is a photo I took in 2011 at Windham Bonnet Creek Resort on the other side of the highway from Disney‘s Hollywood Studios.Our first stay here was fabulous, and included hot dogs for Christmas Eve dinner (a new annual tradition) and a swim in the heated lazy river on Christmas Day.

I took several shots of a sunset as the clouds were rolling in on Dec. 26th, the day before we returned home. Most people will not recognize this as Bonnet Creek.

There are no Disney characters in the shot, no iconic Disney architecture or logos, so you won’t recognize the location, but you are drawn in all the same.

photography, Picasa photo editing, Picasa photography, Disney Picasa, photo cropping, Disney photography, The beautiful thing about this photo is that I didn’t do a thing to change the color. I just cut out the distracting clouds and focused on the closer beauty of an Orlando sunset. I then fought off depression by telling myself in that every sunset does notlook like this when you are three miles from the Magic Kingdom. I remain unconvinced; I somehow suspect actually they do.

So if you can’t zoom, then crop. A little nip here, and a little tuck there can take a good photo and bring it a little closer to home, both to your eye, and to your heart.

Thanks for coming along for a photographical ride, and we’ll see you around the Disney parks with a camera!

Amanda

Love Disney World photography? For a virtual Disney vacation in pictures, join Mouze Kateerz on Facebook and Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.  If you have some fabulous Disney photographs you’d like to share, send an email of your favorite Disney location to mouzekateerz@chipandco.com.

See ya soon!

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Disney’s Port Orleans Resort- Riverside: Three Reasons Ya’ll Will Love the “Louisiana Bayou!”

Port Orleans Riverside prices, Port Orleans French Quarter prices, Port Orleans Riverside reservations, Riverside photosSome vacationers really want to stay “on-property” when they make their trek to Orlando. If the Disney Deluxe Resorts are out of your price range, but you’re looking for something a little more special than the Value Resorts, then you’ve landed squarely with the Moderate Resorts. The Moderate Resorts include the Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort, Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, and the two sections of Port Orleans, Riverside and French Quarter. Here are four reasons Disney’s Port Orleans – Riverside might be the best choice for you.

1) Location- Journey to the Deep South

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside was inspired by rural Louisiana.  Located next to the beautiful Sassagoula River, Riverside will make you feel as if you’ve gone back in time to a golden age in the Louisiana Bayou, reminiscent of steamboat travel, formal southern garden parties, and mint julips. The guest rooms at Riverside are divided into two distinctly themed sections, or a la Louisiana, “parishes”: the stately white-columned Magnolia Bend “mansions” and the quaint backwoods “cottages” of Alligator Bayou.

The Colonel’s Cotton Mill building houses the resort’s Main Lobby, which resembles a steamship ticket station with soaring columns and high ceiling. Inside the Mill, there’s southern-themed shopping, dining and entertainment. You can pick up necessities at Fulton’s General Store, grab something to eat in the Riverside Mill food court, or sit down for a meal of Cajun specialties at Boatright’s Dining Hall.

If you feel like exploring a little bit, Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter is just a short walk down the pathway alongside the Sassagoula River. With beautiful Disney landscaping, you’ll think you’ve left the rural countryside and arrived in the big city of New Orleans.

Mouze Kateerz fan Kathy of travel blog Traveling With Teddy stayed at Riverside recently and offered her thoughts on the accommodations. “This picturesque waterfront resort is a wonderfully quiet change from some of the other busier Disney resort hotels. It really feels like you’ve stepped back in time, or at least away from the hectic life you left behind.”

2) Beautiful Restaurants and Children’s Activities

At the Riverside Mill Food Court, with a price range of $14.99 and under, you’ll be entertained by a 32-foot waterwheel that powers a cotton press. Meal selections for the whole family include standards like pizza, fish, and roast beef. You’ll find a more upscale dining experience at Boatwright’s Dining Hall, themed as a restored boat workshop, with meals ranging from $15 to $35.99. For adults looking for a lounge, the River Roost offers beer and specialty drinks under $14.99. On certain nights, there will be live entertainment.

Riverside Disney photos, Disney port orleans riverside room photos

Back to Kathy for the low-down on dining at Riverside. “There are a couple of restaurants and shops on property and plenty of things to do if you want to take a break from the theme parks. The Riverside Mill Food Court serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Depending on what building your room is in, it can be a bit of a walk to Riverside Mill Food Court, but it is a nice quiet walk through the property. We had breakfast there every morning where I enjoyed a Mickey Mouse waffle! For a sit down dinner, there’s Boatwright’s, which serves steaks, prime rib and seafood.  Fulton’s General Store carries Disney merchandise, snacks, beverages and sundries.

What sort of food do they have at BoatWright’s Dining hall? Here’s a sample of some dinner menu items with prices:

  • Creole Jambalaya  $17.99
  • Andouille-crusted Catfish  $15.99
  • VooDoo Chicken  $17.99
  • Grilled Pork Chop  $21.99
  • Pasta with Shrimp $19.99
  • Pasta with Chicken $18.99
  • Blackened Fish Fillet $20.99
  • Slow-roasted Prime Rib $27.99

Here’s some dessert items with prices:

  • New Orleans Bread Pudding  $5.49
  • Chocolate cake  $5.99
  • Bananas Foster Angel Food Cake  $7.49
  • Butterscotch Creame Brulee  $5.99

For kid’s activities, they can play a few video games at the Medicine Show Arcade or go for a swim in one of the pools. Kathy offered these tips, “For recreation, you can swim in one of the many pools around the property, rent bicycles or boats, take a guided fishing excursion, or board a horse-drawn carriage for a romantic ride through the resort.”

One bit of relaxing entertainment you might not think about is a boat ride. Kathy explains, “There is also a riverboat that can take you to the Downtown Disney Marketplace and West End. This tranquil, scenic ride is quite lovely and relaxing, and it stops at both Riverside and The French Quarter. If you get a chance to take the boat back at night, you might see rows of herons lined up on the banks of the river. They wait for the riverboats to churn up the water and bring fish to the surface. It’s a pretty interesting sight to see all these white birds waiting to catch their dinner!”

3) The All New Royal Guest Rooms!

Disney just remodeled, or “re-imagined” as Disney so aptly describes it, a total of 512 guest rooms with a royalty theme for your prince or princess. You’ll feel like you are staying in the middle of your favorite Disney stories, with rooms decorated with your favorite Disney characters like “Aladdin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Princess and the Frog.” These rooms feature custom drapes and linens and ornately decorated beds trimmed with crystals and gold accents. But the most magical of touches is the headboard, glittering with fiber optic lights, so you’ll enjoy your own personal “fireworks” display.

Port Orleans Riverside pool, Port Orleans Riverside photos

What you need to know about room pricing.

Here’s a guide to room pricing, using 2012 prices during value season. Obviously prices will be higher during holiday and summer vacations.

  • Riverside Standard View, 2 standard size beds, Maximum Occupancy 5,  $159
  • Preferred Room, 2 standard sized beds, Maximum Occupancy 4, $184
  • Riverside Water View, 2 standard sized Beds, Maximum Occupancy 5 $184
  • Riverside River view, 2 double sized beds, Maximum Occupancy 4, $189
  • Riverside King Bedroom, 1 King sized Bed, Maximum Occupancy 2, $189
  • Garden View, 2 double beds, Maximum Occupancy 4, $169

Most of the rooms come with the following options, depending on your location:

  • Table and chairs
  • Vanity area with 2 sinks
  • Ceiling fan Privacy curtain between the vanity and room
  • Bathroom
  • All rooms are non-smoking
  • In-room wall safe
  • Voice mail
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi access
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Mini refrigerator
  • Coffee maker
  • Pack ‘n Play playard is available upon request
  • Wheelchair-accessible rooms are available

To book your room, you can book online or call (407) WDW-MAGIC or (407) 939-6244. You can check out the WDW Riverside web page with this link.

Potential Drawbacks to Riverside

Kathy points out, “Port Orleans is on Disney property but not directly connected by boat or monorail to any of the theme parks. However, bus service is easily available to take you to all theme parks and water parks. There is also a riverboat that can take you to the Downtown Disney Marketplace and West End.”

This property is more expensive than your Value Resorts and definitely more expensive than staying at some of the off-property hotels. It all depends on what type budget you have for accommodations. If you can swing it, Kathy offers her thoughts on the property. “There’s no question that the next time we plan a Disney World getaway, we’ll book a stay at Port Orleans. For the money, it’s the best deal going.”

A special thanks to Kathy for her review of the Riverside resort and her photographs of the property.

Kathy is a freelance video producer in Orlando. When she’s not working on TV shows, commercials or corporate projects, she’s writing for her blogs, Traveling With Teddy and  I Love British TV. She’s been a Walt Disney World season passholder for many years and loves to visit the parks. Her favorite is EPCOT.

Be sure you stop by Traveling With Teddy. Kathy has some fabulous reviews of resorts and restaurants all over the south, and tell her Mouze Kateerz sent ya!

So there’s four reasons ya’ll would love to stay at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort- Riverside. Thanks for coming along for a Photographical ride, and we hope to see you on a boat ride to Downtown Disney.

Amanda

Love Disney World photography? For a virtual Disney vacation in pictures, visit Mouze Kateerz on Facebook and Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.  If you have some fabulous Disney photographs you’d like to share, send an email of your favorite Disney location to mouzekateerz@chipandco.com.

See ya soon!

Photographing Walt Disney World: How to Bring the Magic a Little Closer to Home

Space mountain, space mountain sign, Space mountain photo, Tomorrowland, Picasa photo editing, disney photography

Every photo has a story.

One reason I am so enamored with Walt Disney World is the wide range of photographic opportunities I find when I vacation there. Photography can be both a tremendously rewarding experience and a maker of memories, but on the other side, it can be a journey into frustration and disappointment. Images don’t always turn out in print like you see them through your eyes.  Sometimes, I look at my photos and think, “Ugh!! It didn’t look like that!”  What to do…

Picture this…As photography has moved away from print film to digital, we now have the opportunity to clean up and fix a lot of images that would look better with a little nip and tuck. One of my most useful photo editing tools, Picasa in my case,  is the crop button. Simple. Handy. Crop.

One of our newest Mouze Kateerz Staff Members is Hiromi Okuyama. Hiromi is the “Canadian Diva” of Tips from the Disney Diva and the wife-portion of a team called “Hiromer,” where the husband takes photos with his latest Nikon Camera at Disney World, and she writes about their experiences. Now I personally think this arrangement is fascinating, because my husband doesn’t take any photos at all, and heaven knows what my photos would look like if he photo-edited them! But with “Hiromer,” the photograpohic results are stunning.  When I went looking for examples of cropped photos, Hiromi provided two shots of one of my ideal summer vacation haunts, Downtown Disney. Hiromi described their photos:

Downtown Disney, Downtown Disney sign, Downtown Disney shopping, world of Disney, Goofy Candy Co. This is one of our personal favorite photos taken of the Downtown Disney Marketplace.

You may not notice the crop at first: however, if you compare the two, you will see that in the smaller photo, the Downtown Disney sign, as well as the tree, is a bit off-center.

In the larger photo, we cropped a bit of the sky and the foreground as well as shaving a bit off the side, so that the Downtown Disney Marketplace sign and the beautiful tree takes center stage.

It’s magical how a little cropping can change a whole outlook on a subject and feature it better.”

photo downtown Disney, Downtown Disney entrance, Disney World Disney Vacation, The Disney Moms

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL,  dropped a photo off on our wall at Mouze Kateerz on Facebook, and it was so beautiful, I had to see if there was an original.  Apparently Randy didn’t need to crop his photo a for a closer view- he just zoomed up on his subject. In keeping with my theme of every photo has a story,  there was indeed a great Disney tale attached with his photo…romance, relaxation, and vivid colors.  Here’s Randy’s photographical memory:

disney photography, The Disney Moms, Tree of Life photo, Animal Kingdom photosThis past May, my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with our first trip back to WDW since our honeymoon … without the kids. We decided during the planning for the trip that we would set no schedule, eat when we wanted to…not just when we could spare a moment between attractions. We took the time to look for the details that we so often rushed past in search of a character signing or fast pass.

Every trip for us to WDW includes a morning at Animal Kingdom. First destination… The Tree of Life to see A Bug’s Life. As we worked our way towards the tree, we stopped to take this pic with the tree in the background.

The vivid color of the simple pink flower struck me so I decided to take a close up. “

Animal Kingdom, It's a Bugs life, Disney Photography, The Disney Moms, Animal Kingdom safari
“This close up has become one of my favorites from this trip. It is a good reminder to me to slow down and look for the detail, it is all part of the Magic!

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL

The personal thing about photography is that sometimes a photo will have no meaning or emotional attachment to anyone other than the photographer. The picture belongs to you; the special meaning is all your own. But this doesn’t diminish the beauty you can find in photographs, even if you really have no idea where the photo was taken.

Bonnet Creet Resort, Windham Bonnet Creek Resort, Hollywood Studios, Bonnet Creek photosHere is a photo I took in 2011 at Windham Bonnet Creek Resort on the other side of the highway from Disney‘s Hollywood Studios.Our first stay here was fabulous, and included hot dogs for Christmas Eve dinner (a new annual tradition) and a swim in the heated lazy river on Christmas Day.

I took several shots of a sunset as the clouds were rolling in on Dec. 26th, the day before we returned home. Most people will not recognize this as Bonnet Creek.

There are no Disney characters in the shot, no iconic Disney architecture or logos, so you won’t recognize the location, but you are drawn in all the same.

photography, Picasa photo editing, Picasa photography, Disney Picasa, photo cropping, Disney photography, The beautiful thing about this photo is that I didn’t do a thing to change the color. I just cut out the distracting clouds and focused on the closer beauty of an Orlando sunset. I then fought off depression by telling myself in that every sunset does not look like this when you are three miles from the Magic Kingdom. I remain unconvinced; I somehow suspect actually they do.

So if you can’t zoom, then crop. A little nip here, and a little tuck there can take a good photo and bring it a little closer to home, both to your eye, and to your heart.

Thanks for coming along for a photographical ride, and we’ll see you around the Disney parks with a camera!

Amanda

Love Disney World photography? For a virtual Disney vacation in pictures, join Mouze Kateerz on Facebook and Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.  If you have some fabulous Disney photographs you’d like to share, send an email of your favorite Disney location to mouzekateerz@chipandco.com.

See ya soon!

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