Walt Disney World (FL)

Don’t Sweat It: Tips for Flattering Photos in WDW

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We all love going to Walt Disney World for special time with our loved ones, premium customer service, and classic Disney attractions. All of these experiences culminate in lifelong memories, and there is no better way to keep those memories alive than with a simple photo or video. And Disney makes it look so easy! We’ve all seen the commercials of the perfect family, Mom, Dad, and 2.5 kids joyfully skipping along Main Street with photo-shop perfected smiles and iconic Mickey balloon in tow. Disney even tries to help facilitate making this a reality for your family with PhotoPass photographers around every corner and plenty of little “Kodak” photo signs to let you know when you might stumble across the perfect photo opportunity.


But I imagine many of fellow Disney travelers end up with same anticlimactic photo-viewing experience that I have.  Somehow, meticulously coifed hair ends up in a sweaty ponytail, cherub-cheeked, smiling tots are actually red-faced and bleared-eyed, outfits you spent weeks planning, designing and coordinating are disheveled, sweat/water-spotted, and perhaps even stained from that early character breakfast. Even the PhotoPass pictures are lackluster. No matter how fancy camera technology gets, they capture the Castle and atmosphere almost magically, but somehow, it also captures your humidity-frizzed hair and that annoyed look from your teen who can’t believe you made him stop for another picture.

In effort to help us all have vacation pictures we want to display in our homes, offices and on social media, here are some tips that can help you and your family have that nearly perfect “Kodak moment”.

Rope Drop Ain’t Just for Attractions

Let’s face it, we usually all look a little fresher and happier in the morning, before the heat of the day saps the energy out of us. Any Touring Plan user will tell you how important Rope Drop is, but it’s not just for those who want to avoid long lines at the attractions. For great pictures with fewer people in the background and for pictures while you’re still “shower-fresh,” try to make Rope Drop. This usually also means shorter lines for PhotoPass photographers as everyone else rushes to their favorite attraction. To get in even earlier, make a dining reservation in a park before it opens. If you get there before your reservation, you may have some extra time before breakfast for some really great pictures before your hair feels that humidity frizz or little Sally drops strawberry jam on her shirt.

Things to Bring in Parks

Having a beauty emergency kit with you when you in the parks can be super helpful to primp on the fly for when that photo opp materializes.

Travel brush, compact, Tide To Go, tinted lip gloss and a moist washcloth (in ziplock) are essential for your Park Beauty Kit
Travel brush, compact, Tide To Go, tinted lip gloss and a moist washcloth (in ziplock) are essential for your Park Beauty Kit

Travel Size Hair Brush. These are available at any “big box” discount store, usually for only $1-$2, and being purse-sized makes it easy to pack or store in your backpack. It seems like a simple no-brainer, but it’s amazing how handy it is to whip out this little brush after your latest ride on Test Track  or Tower of Terror. It’s also a good idea to give your hair and your family’s a quick little brushing before the camera snaps to make sure everyone looks their salon best.

Tide To Go. I hardly go anywhere without this this pen-sized stain-fighting marvel. I keep one in my car, one in my purse, and one in my office (I tend to be a bit clumsy and uncoordinated, so I prepare for it!). These little miracle workers are great for getting out little stains on the go so everyone looks sparkling clean in their pictures.

Baby Wipes/Wash Clothes. Baby wipes or damp wash cloth in a ziplock are great items to have handy to wipe the sweat and grime off your face throughout the day. Not only do they help you feel refreshed and clean throughout a potentially sweaty Florida day, but they help minimize the flushed-face look in your pictures.

Blotting Papers. If you’re hoping to maintain the integrity of your morning make-up application, try blotting papers. Touch up anytime with the convenience of blotting papers. They are designed to remove shine, dirt, oil, and perspiration from the skin while unclogging pores for a clearer, matte complexion.

Compact Powder. It only takes a few rides on Splash Mountain or Kali River Rapids to cool you down and obliterate your make-up. It also only takes a half of a lap around World Showcase to sweat all of your make-up off. To help keep yourself looking a bit less “shiny” and more polished, be sure to wipe down your face and apply some quick powder. This can really help minimize the appearance of a red, shiny face.

Tinted Lip Gloss. This little difference maker is worth its weigh in gold (maybe even more). A quick gloss application before the camera flash and you’ll always look more polished. Just be cautious if you apply before giving Mickey a kiss, I’m sure Minnie won’t take too kindly to seeing your lip-prints on his nose.

Before You Leave the Room

There are some great ways to prepare for your pictures before you even leave your resort.

Oil-free Sunscreen/SPF Foundation. Make sure it absorbs quickly and matches your skin tone. Having the proper protection from the sun will help you stay photo-ready throughout your vacation.

Waterproof Mascara. Waterproof eyeliner, shadow, mascara, and under-eye concealer help prevent eye makeup from running or smearing in the heat. Want extra insurance? Use color on the top lids only and dust translucent powder along your lower lash line. This means you’ll need to be sure to bring a good make-up remover with you, but at least you can be confident that your make-up will survive Splash Mountain.

Early Breakfast dining reservation gets "2 thumbs up" for great pictures!
Early Breakfast dining reservation gets “2 thumbs up” for great pictures!

Anti-Frizz Hair Care Products. It seems like every hair care line has its own anti-frizz or frizz-control product. Which one is actually best, is subjective and honestly depends on your preference of product and texture of hair. I use Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Humidity Aerosol Hair Spray. I spray it directly to my hairbrush and then run it through my hair, so it coats each strand without creating the “helmet” effect. There are several different serums available as well, and Moroccan oil, which I’ve read great reviews on. The key is to try it before your vacation to see how it works with your hair.

Embrace the Wave. If you don’t want to fight the humidity, try using a sea salt or “beach” spray. This can help you style your hair and embrace the natural waves or curls that the Florida humidity can induce. It can help give volume to fine hair and texture, even if you want to pull it up into a messy bun.

Hair Styling Tools. Ionic hair dryers and straightening irons are also helpful tools to pack. Blowing out frizzy hair can feel like an exercise in futility unless you’re armed with the right tool. Using a compact ionic blow-dryer emits a negative charge that helps smooth the hair’s cuticle. Bonus: Once hair’s super dry, blast it with the cool shot to lock it all in. Combine these tools with the proper hair products, you’ll be set to face the day without having to resort to a pony tail.

Diverse Hairstyles. It may be too hot to have your hair down throughout your vacation, but you may also not want a week’s worth of pictures of you wearing a ponytail. Try some new hairstyles that can keep your hair off your neck and back, but also give you a fun look. Elsa’s braid is all the rage with Disneybounders, why not give it a try? A sock bun is also a quick, easy, and fashionable way to pull up your hair. Peruse YouTube for some great tutorials to help you master these styles before your next vacation.

Hats. It’s not just as a last resort for your untamed mane. Wearing a cute hat can be fashionable and functional. And it’s just hard to resist a cute set of Mouse ears!

You don't have to be restricted to hats and ponytails anymore!
You don’t have to be restricted to hats and ponytails anymore!

What are your tips for staying stylish in the parks? Share them in the comments below!


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Lisa Gilmore

My passion for Disney runs deep; I've got pixie dust in my veins. Everyone loves the famous Mickey Mouse, but Disney vacations host a wealth of sophisticated experiences, too. On my bucket list is to seek out and enjoy every last one of them!

5 thoughts on “Don’t Sweat It: Tips for Flattering Photos in WDW

  • Ah, but you have to actually TAKE flattering photos!! Skip the Flash whenever possible, Never EVER shoot from below/angling up, avoid direct sunshine when possible, if you can’t at least get an angle with not horrible shadows. Practice at home – take some pics and see what angles/etc. you like. Turn the camera! Landscape and Portrait style both wonderful. Wear flattering clothes. Don’t worry about matching your party.

  • The “Kodak” signs no longer say Kodak on them. Kodak dropped their sponsorship as it was going through bankruptcy.

    The signs and photo stores now say Nikon on them. Nikon has been the sponsor since November 2013.

  • We don’t do matching tshirts, but have found being in the same color schemes – makes a nice photo. We wore blues and greens for our Monsters University picture last year.

  • Super useful article. Haven’t had much success with nice looking Disney photos yet- mine are usually such a mess.


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