Ranking the 13 Walt Disney World Ride Photos
With the recent introduction of a photo op on Haunted Mansion, Walt Disney World has upped its total of attractions with on-ride pictures and videos to 13. Technically, the number is 14 when we include Enchanted Tales with Belle, but we’re talking about ride photos. Which ones are the best and what factors play into this determination? Read on…
13) Space Mountain
Imagineers don’t place the ride cameras in plain sight. That would ruin the suspense. Instead, they make a game of camera locations. You won’t even realize that you’re looking at one until the flash goes off. By then, it’s too late for you to pose! One of the true signs of Disney theme park veterans is whether they know the camera locations.
At Space Mountain, the image occurs early in the ride. I won’t spoil when, but I must say that I think it leads to dull pictures. I generally look like I’m either bored out of my brains or holding on for dear life.
The quality of a DINOSAUR on-ride picture seems to depend on Disney’s mood. Sometimes, they add a lovely backdrop that identifies the attraction and has either a slogan or some sort of declaration of the mission goals. At other times, you’ll see a group of people looking in various directions in the dark.
The quality of the picture depends on the other guests on the ride cart, which seats 12. When they look terrified or do goofy stuff, the pictures are terrific. When they seem ambivalent, it ruins the ride photo.
11) Pirates of the Caribbean
This ride gets some style points for its presentation. Your picture is cropped with a stock image of a skull and crossbones along with a reminder that “Dead men tell no tales.” The lovely touch is a super-imposed steering wheel right behind the passengers that suggests that your raft is on the deck of a much larger pirate ship.
Everyone seems to know where this image happens, which can lead to some fun pictures. Like DINOSAUR, it’s certainly entertaining, but Disney has better ride pictures.
10) Test Track
Something that I like about this ride photo is that it reminds me of that old clown gag. You know that joke where about 25 clowns all jump into the same car? Well, Test Track places you in a blue convertible. It looks like a hot rod, but Disney sticks six people into the same vehicle.
You’re supposed to have that many people in a mini-van, not a Mustang, right? Since few people know where the camera is, the reactions are real, which helps the overall effect. It’s still kind of weird-looking, though.
9) Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
All of the action on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster takes place in the first few seconds. The ride accelerates to its top speed so quickly that your body will feel like it’s been flung against an invisible brick wall. As your hair shoots backward in the face of extreme wind, the hidden camera is there to immortalize the moment of your discomfort and joy.
You’ll have the same look on your face that you did after your first kiss. It’s imperfect and awkward and very human. The fact that it’s so rough around the edges is what I like about it.
8) Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
I hate to tell you this, but I feel that honesty is important in our relationship. When you play videogames, you are not fun to be around. You are irritable and say phrases that would cause your mother to wash your mouth out with soap if she heard them.
And the beauty of the Buzz Lightyear ride is that you have that same face when the ride photo gets taken. You’re so obsessed with aiming at your target that you have no interest in posing or smiling or anything like that. You. Must. Stop. Zurg. So, the on-ride photograph doubles as proof that you’re a grumpy gamer. Don’t feel bad. We all are.
7) Slinky Dog Dash
What if you stuck a picture of you on a roller coaster in a notebook of children’s doodles? That’s the core concept of Slinky Dog Dash’s ride photo. It captures one of the open-air moments from the roller coaster and then incorporates the type of illustrations that a kid like Andy from Toy Story would draw. It’s charming the first time, but this ride photo doesn’t have a lot of repeat value. Everything from this point forward does.
6) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
This twisting coaster is what I call a “hands up” ride. You will throw your hands up in the air and wave them like…well, you know. You can’t help it. The action is almost subconscious as you get lost in the moment. The design of the Mine Train coaster cart is so immersive that you get swept away by happiness.
The eye in the sky catches this euphoria for posterity’s sake. It leads to two kinds of pictures. People are either holding their breath to contain their excitement, or they’re laughing like they just heard the funniest joke ever.
5) Expedition Everest
This ride is like a metaphor for life. First, you go forward, but then you go backward. Finally, you start going forward again right up until a robotic Yeti takes a swipe at you. That’s when the metaphor collapses unless your life is very different from mine.
The ride photo for Expedition Everest happens toward the end of the ride, just before you accept that you’re almost out of danger. This one is fairly easy to anticipate, especially on your second ride. So, it has a lot of memorable poses, even by people who don’t visit Walt Disney World often.
4) Frozen Ever After
And virtually EVERYONE knows when the Frozen Ever After flash photography occurs. It’s kind of hard to miss since the blinding flash mirrors the giant splash at the end of the ride. You’ll feel the excitement of zero-gravity weightless as you dive down the snowclad mountain into the waters below. The picture encapsulates this sensation forever. And people know to pose for it, too.
3) Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
This ride is devious in its design, and that carries over to its ride photo as well. You’ll get the tell-tale flash of a camera when you first reach the top floor of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. It’s a trick, though. The picture won’t happen until you’re riding a haunted elevator up and down during the terror part of Tower of Terror. Your face will look RIDICULOUS. It’s great!
2) Haunted Mansion
Disney’s latest on-ride photo op comes with the best branding. For half a century now, guests have familiarized themselves with the 999 Happy Haunts who dwell within this mansion. Now, they’ll follow you home, and I’m not talking about the Hitchhiking Ghosts.
Some of your favorite characters from Haunted Mansion join you during the ride, even though you don’t know it. You’ll only discover their presence later when you see frenemies like the Hatbox Ghost in your ride photo. It’s precisely the sort of sly supernatural gag that you’d expect at Haunted Mansion, a pitch-perfect bit of theming.
1) Splash Mountain
All of the ride photos and videos at Disney are fantastic. However, only one ride photo is so iconic that it’s universally recognized as the one that defines the medium. While Splash Mountain’s notoriety involves some *ahem* R-rated poses, it’s since evolved into a series of sometimes convoluted poses.
People will bring televisions on Splash Mountain for the express purpose of taking the perfect picture. They’re apparently not aware of how well electronic devices interact with water, but that’s beside the point. Splash Mountain is simply the most fun that you can have posing for an on-ride video. Just look at some of these! It’s the purest form of Disney entertainment.