During our May trip, we scored free tickets to the After Hours event in the Magic Kingdom. Yes. Free. Not a remarkable achievement since I heard many guests got free tickets. But for us, that was huge. And not once, but twice while we were there.
I was some kind of fired up because I would get my chance to shoot the park at night, with hardly anyone else around.
We spent all day in the park and had a great time – capped off by meeting Mickey Mouse at the Town Square Theater and watching the Main Street Electrical Parade. Anyone else bummed that parade is leaving the Magic Kingdom?
Afterwards, I got to stay at the Magic Kingdom with our oldest, who wanted to stay with me. Everyone else was worn out. So we gave away our unused After Hours passes to some people sitting next to us for the Main Street Electrical Parade. We watched Wishes from the Hub, then visited the Tiki Room, Pirates (where I got some good dark ride photos!), Haunted Mansion (got an ok picture of the Hitchhiking Ghosts), Peter Pan, it’s a small world, Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel, met Anna & Elsa again, and Cinderella and Rapunzel. Afterwards we walked through the Castle and took photos of the murals, and I got some pretty good pictures of the Hub statues.
So how can this be a blog post about photography when I’m talking about the photos I didn’t take?
Something funny happened as we started to walk around. As much as I’ve always wanted to walk around an empty Magic Kingdom and get “dream empty park shots” like you see on the web, this stretch of time was about time with my daughter, except it was like she was once again the little girl we brought to Disney World so many years ago. I love how many kids, regardless of age, never outgrow “little kid” things at Disney World.
this is what it’s like sometimes to be a parent – the carousel ride never stops, but later seems like it just flew by
I just walked along with my daughter, marveling at the young woman she’s become, and wondered how time passed so quickly, because it seems that just last week she was so little. And I made sure to soak it all in, because I had to wonder how many more times like this I’d have with her. She’ll be all grown up soon, and I can’t bear to think about how much I’d miss times gone by.
Just like Cinderella, I knew this night couldn’t last forever, even though I wanted it to
If you know the song “Cinderella”, you know what I mean. But all parents know what I’m saying – it’s wonderful and exciting to see your kids grow, but it’s also sad. And even though days as a parent don’t seem to end, the years fly by. I don’t remember where I heard that, but just know I’m not smart enough to come up with that kind of metaphor.
I felt like I’d gone back in time, and I have to say that’s one of the things about a Disney trip – even though you may track the time because of park hours and wanting to squeeze out every second of vacation time, being there makes me feel like time has stopped moving, and in some cases even taken us back to a time to which we long to return.
I had my camera in my hands, but didn’t stop and shoot that much. I hope one day to get another chance to shoot a near empty Magic Kingdom. But then I might have her or the other kids with me. I’d do the same thing then too – I wouldn’t miss out on the memory in favor of capturing the photos.
I’ll never have the photo book I wanted, but I’d rather remember the trip for what it was – times so many fathers never get with their children
I can’t help but wonder what kind of shots I would’ve gotten, simply because I’m a better photographer than on our last trips. But I hope I’m a better father too.
I’d rather be a great father and have her remember that night at the Magic Kingdom for what it was – time away from the noise and clutter of everyday life at a place where unforgettable truly does happen. I can look at great photos taken by others.So maybe this wasn’t the hard hitting, do-as-much-as-you-can photography night it could have been, but it was the best end to a day at the parks I’ve ever known.
I did get some other good photos from that night – here they are:
Do you have photos you want to share, or good park/resort photography stories? Send them in!