The best thing about races at Disney for me are the opportunities to see the characters and have photos made with them along the course. We took a boatload of photos at the 2013 Princess Half Marathon, so I thought I would offer this up while fresh on my mind. For those taking on the task of getting some photos with characters, here some tips – keep in mind I am by no means a photographer, I just enjoy making videos of my photos.
1. The Race Photographers
RunDisney contracts out the official race photos to a company – currently Marathonfoto – they are NOT tied into the Disney Parks Photopass people. You can get a photo made with characters through them, however, not all of the characters will have an official photographer with them. Make sure your Bib # is showing in the photographs – THIS is how you find yourself in the pictures. At our last Princess Half, while Provincial Belle’s basket was awesome addition to her costume, it hid Amy’s race bib so many of her photos did not show. The Official Race Photographers will also have cameras at various routes along the race. At the Princess they took photos in the Parking Lot before walking to the Corrals, Along Main Street, In Epcot, In Front of the Castle – this is the best shot cuz you really look like you are alone, and an official finisher photo at the end – they take them crossing the finish line AND one after you get your medal. After the race, you can go online and order photos individually OR you can order them all. At the Expo, they have a deal where you can save on the full package if you pre-order your photos…. or it has been my experience with Marathonfoto for other races, if you wait a bit to order your photos, they often offer some kind of deal where you can save some $$. In the past, RunDisney has provided at the expo, a list of characters and what mile they would be at…this was not the case with 2013 Princess, so going into the race, we had no idea what characters would be there. If you see the list at the expo, you can plan your must have photos, however, it does NOT tell you if an official photographer will be there or not.
|2011 Castle Shot from Brightroom Photography, look I am all alone!|
2. Take Your Own Camera
If you have a smartphone or small camera, these are great to use. I have a very small Canon Elph that I strap on to my wrist and just keep it out. I tend to take lots of pictures, some of them random and like to have it available if I see something quick – like a funny costume or good sign on the road.
|You can see my camera in left hand on the ready|
Keep in mind that you need to make sure whatever device you use, you need your batteries charged and ready to go. I don’t use my smart phone for this reason, I do intervals and use my phone app to cue me and like to keep my phone for that since I am slow. I also would not want to drop my Phone and well if I drop the camera, I would be bummed, but cheaper than getting a new phone! Think about what you are going to do with your camera between photos…..are you willing to hold it, do you need a pocket to put it in that it will fit, do you need a belt of some kind like a SpiBelt or IFitness belt – both GREAT for holding stuff while running. Before you leave your room for the race, test your camera to make sure its working and charged. Two years ago I charged up my battery and FORGOT to put it in my phone, so I got to the race with a camera that didn’t work. Rookie! The character handlers will gladly use your camera to take a photo of you with the character, so if you don’t want to purchase the Marathonfotos, you don’t have to. The Castle photographer will NOT take a photo with your camera, so find a friendly race participant and ask them, most will be glad, esp if they are just standing in line.
3. Tell Me About the Character Lines
If you are in Corral A, the lines are very short. As more and more corrals start up, more and more people want photos made and the lines can get long. At the Princess Half 2013, the longest lines were for Belle, The Vilians, Captain Jack Sparrow, Cindy and Prince C/Aurora and Prince Philip and the Heroes/Vilians. Some lines especially towards the end when people are just ready to finish can be short – like 2-5 people. The character handlers do a great job of moving people through the lines quickly. Because we are technically in a race to keep things moving, no autographs are allowed only pictures. For the longer lines you can add up to 5 minutes just waiting to get your picture made….so if you are in danger of being swept or worried about it, you can skip the line and get a random photo of the character with some unknown princesses…. We had a 33 minute mile around the Magic Kingdom at the Princess Half which can be attributed to waiting in lines for photos and taking a potty break.
4. Line Etiquette
Go to the back of the line – please no cutting. Its a race, so be prepared to move quickly. Have your camera ready to hand to the Character handler or photographer. If you are running with friends, have some group photos made to keep the line shorter. I mean you can get all your photos of just you, but if you are with friends, its nice to have the memory of who you ran this particular race with. They want everyone to move through quickly, so know what you are doing – single of you and character or with all your friends and get in and out of photo spot quickly. Oh and if someone asks you to take a pic of them, do it. Don’t be shy if you want to ask someone in line to take your photo. Most people are so friendly at Disney races, and love helping each other out. Oh and people ARE running a race, so step off the road in the tight places so that those who do not want to stop are not blocked by a line for character photos.
5. Be Spontaneous
If you have your own camera, take some fun shots! Look for funny costumes, and signs. I tend to shoot lots or random photos hoping some come out. Sometimes some of my favorite photos are the random ones – like this year’s shot of the Splash Mountain Logs in dry doc during refurb, you never know WHAT is behind the walls now do you. Its not often we go backstage at Magic Kingdom so snap away!
|With this photo, I was just trying to get Mickey and Minnie topiaries and got the bonus drag Rapunzel as a nice surprise – I am bummed I didn’t get a photo of the Jazz-men we saw – and we saw a few, you know guys dressed as Jasmine.|
I am as spontaneous as the next person, probably more so. I will say, think about your character poses – I mean be flexible esp since you might not know WHO the characters will be beforehand, but have some cute ideas in mind. Hey look in a mirror and find some nice poses, so you aren’t thinking you look horrible in your photos. I think this year I was a tad TOO much in Anastasia character….I needed to smile more! Remember to suck in that gut too….. I am so critical of myself, its makes a HUGE difference. Oh and talk to the characters – keep it brief. Their replies in character can be hilarious and make you smile, so its a natural smile. I asked Capt Jack if he had an Rum….he did not. When in doubt, ask the character for some cool poses…which most will give you something to work with like this one from Mrs Incredible. I like looking at other peoples blogs to get ideas for fun photos too!
Keep in mind, with the 2013 Princess, we stopped at ALOT of characters, and actually stepped out of line at 2 big ones….our finish time 3:59…. you have to be OK, with having a slow time and not beating very many racers…Hey I beat 337!
If you like to blog about your races and share photos, feel free to leave comment so I can know where to look! I love race photos….can you tell? Now I need to do another Disney race!
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Awesome tips and tricks! Love your character-palooza race style! I did the Princess and just posted the first part of my race weekend recap, with many more photos to come from race day: