How To Carry Your dSLR To Disneyland and Disney World

How to carry your dSLR to Disneyland and Disney World

Have you ever wondered what camera to take to Disneyland or what lenses you should carry?

It is the question I'm asked most frequently.

I can't imagine going into the park without my dSLR. How do I make it work though? Let me share my secrets with you.

Be A Minimalist

I can assume going into the park will be crowded. Lines to wait in, rides to  ride, passing through from one area to another, crowded stores  I'm going to bump into things and people. (Plus, I'm kind of a klutz.)

I carry my camera with the lens I will use while in the park.  That's it. No extras. No bag. No back up, just in case, lenses.

Wear Your Gear

To keep my hands free, I wear my camera slung across my body. I've used an old ratty neoprene strap for the last seven years. It's comfortable and sits exactly where I want it! My husband gave me a Black Rapid strap for Christmas so my next trip will be with a new strap. He said he couldn't stand to see my ugly strap anymore! I'm learning to love it, but must admit, I feel like I've lost my security blanket!

Select A Versatile Lens

Since I'm only carrying one lens I need a versatile lens. I know a few things about my Disney photos:

  • Rides and indoor lines have very low light
  • The park is big, but family tends to stay very close
  • I want to see wide angles and up close details
I want a lens that is fast (wide aperture), light, and has a shorter focal distance so the lens isn't bumping into things. While I could create some marvelous photos with a telephoto zoom lens I don't want the weight or the physical length of the lens to be in my way.

I make my choice between two lenses.

The 17-40mm f/4.0 lens'  short focal distance allows me to shoot fun photos of my son in close quarters. I can also hold it at arm's length for family photos.


The 50mm f/1.4 is light, small, and excellent in low light.

Once I make my choice I head out knowing the limitations of both. It's a fun challenge to work with what I've got. Your choices may be different. Whatever you choose think about your comfort and the versatility of the lens.

You can read more about how to pick a lens at The Daily Digi.

Protect The Glass

With my camera snug to my body my lens is the most vulnerable part of my camera. I'm going to make sure my UV filters are on both cameras for protection. (I remove the UV filters when shooting lights in low light situations because of the reflections they create.)

For the longer 17-40mm lens I also use the lens hood. It lengthens the lens a bit, but provides an inexpensive shield against bumps. It also helps avoid lens flare if I'm shooting in bright sun. (Nice to have an extra bonus!)

Never Remove It 

Once I'm in the park I NEVER remove my camera. The feeling on my hip has become a sign of security. As long as I feel it, I know I've got it with me. On rides, I swing it to my front, placing it between my legs with one hand firmly on it. It's secure and easy to lift up for photos.

So what about the restroom? Yep. I wear it. It only feels awkard the first 30 times you go in!

If I do need to remove it to remove a sweater or something silly, I hand it to my husband who has been carefully trained to place the strap around his neck.

Enjoy The Experience

As much as I love to document the day, I also try to take time to just soak it in. Just be there without seeing everything through my lens. I see my best photos without holding my camera up. Once I spot them, then I can lift it, shoot with intention and know that carrying the extra weight and worry has been worth it!

Have you carried your dSLR to Disney? What are your best secrets of success?

  • Sara S

    I too wear my camera the whole time for the reason you said. My poor daughter paid for it last trip though, she was newly potty trained and had to have help getting on and off the toilets and kept getting whacked in the head with the camera! Oops! I try to limit it to one lens but my exception is Animal Kingdom. The animals are often further away and I like ttying to get the expression on my family’s faces as they ride down Expedition Everest.

  • Londa Coy

    I have had a black rapid strap for several years and love it. I carry my iphone,extra battery, memory card, credit card and cash all in one strap… if only I could take a few ozs. off the weight of the camera.

  • Stephanie Bingham

    What about on the rides that there is water? Do you do anything to protect it in case?

    • I had to really think about that one! I’ve not gone on any water rides in a very long time! BUT the last month when I was at Disney with Steph I did get splashed A LOT on Pirates. We were all shocked. Your best bet is to keep it very close to your body or wrap it in bag or sweatshirt to protect it. I wouldn’t go on anything too crazy wet just in case.

  • Kat

    These are great tips. I am hoping to visit Disney for a one day trip this weekend and it’s my first with my DSLR. I have a 50 mm lens but what I am wondering is about images you really want to zoom in on. Shouldn’t you have a zoom option? I also wonder how on earth do you do firework shots in the park. I would typically shoot on bulb with a tripod.

    • Sounds fun Kat!

      Sometimes it is worth it to carry a zoom lens to the park, just depends on what you want to achieve. Tradeoffs! I have taken my 70-200mm lens to the park before, but it is just too heavy to carry comfortably with a child. I have left it in a Disney locker before, but it does make me nervous.

      Without your tripod, your best bet is to find a really firm surface to rest your camera. You can also use a faster shutter speed, but you won’t have the dramatic effect we all love in fireworks photos. Here’s a bit more info

  • Omer

    The article was very helpful, thatnks!
    Do you know about any rides which you can’t bring an SLR on?

    • I don’t know of any. There are some I’d be reluctant to use it on just because of the speed of the ride and safety of my camera.

    • Steph

      I take mine on all the rides I ride. But I hold on tight to it. I do get nervous on Tower of Terror…but that’s not necessarily because of the DSLR either…lol!

  • Marcos

    So I was reading the policies on the disneyland website and it says that “professional cameras” aren’t allowed in the park. Have you guys gotten past the security checks with your cameras fine?

    • I’ve never had an issue getting past security. I think the website is referring to commercial photographers. I think if you went in with a tripod and set up somewhere there might be issues!

    • Steph

      I agree with Katrina. I also think it’s referring to big video/movie cameras. I’ve never been questioned by security, even with multiple lenses.

  • Kayla Marie

    I’m going to Disney this April and I’m unsure if I should bring my camera or not. I’m a major klutz too so I would be freaking out over people bumping into me and going on rides. Dumb question but how did you do water rides? Did you not ride them or did you cover your camera? Thanks so much for posting this article. 🙂

  • Brienne

    I am wondering too, what about water rides?

    • DailyDigiSteph

      We’ve talked about this on the podcast quite a bit. Most recently in the latest mail episode.

      I ride water rides and put my camera in my bag. For really wet rides, Kim suggested using one of the really BIG ziploc bacs. I have done that before too, just throwing my purse and camera in the ziploc.

      • Brienne

        Thank you. I found this through a google search. I will have to find where to listen to the podcasts! Thanks again!

        • DailyDigiSteph

          There is a player in the sidebar, you also download from iTunes or Stitcher

  • stee

    I know this is an old topic but now that I’m planning a Disney trip I’m trying to prepare. How do you carry your money, iPhone, chapstick, advil, sunscreen when using the BlackRapid? I am thinking about carrying a wristlet but that won’t fit sunscreen!

    • DailyDigiSteph

      I use a hipster bag (vera bradley) to put everything in and carry that too.

      • stee

        thanks! I’ll have to check the Vera outlet soon. Love the show and all the great tips and ideas you share.

  • Rick Elwood

    Me and my wife, our two adult daughters and their spouse/partner are heading to Disneyland very soon! I am bringing my Canon 6D with 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens and the nifty 50 (50mm f/1.8). I use the Case Logic SLRC-202 camera bag which protects the camera and lens from getting banged up and has room in the side containers for an extra lens or what have you and comes with a nice shoulder strap.
    I like the idea of taking in the camera and BlackRapid only to the park. It is very comfortable to carry and a lot quicker to use when needed, not having to pull the camera out of the bag. (Maybe I could have my lovely wife put the lens I’m not using in her purse :))
    BlackRapid camera straps have accessories called “Joeys”. They attach securley to the strap and come in several different sizes.

  • Ken Eakins

    I use a backpack, I bring my 5D with a 70-200, a 17-40, and 24-105. Tends to cover the range, and the IS lenses allow me to use slower shutters for inside. I’m thinking of bringing my GH4 as well next time with a Sigma 18-35 on a Speedbooster. The Sigma is f1.8, and with the speedbooster it becomes f1, and slightly wider (about 24-50…perfect).

  • RC

    My favorite all-purpose lens is the Nikon 24-120mmF4. I use it more than any other lens. In addition to my DSLR, I’m going to bring my Sony AX100 4K Handycam. 2.5 gallon zip loc bag for water rides. iPhone in a Lifeproof case for wet conditions.