Create a Disney Countdown Calendar in Photoshop

By Katie Marino on August 22nd, 2011   |    Posted in:  Beyond Photography   |    5 Comments

It’s getting closer to my next Walt Disney World trip and one of my favorite things to do before a trip is to build anticipation with a formal countdown.  I’ll admit it, I’m the type of geek who has a Mickey Countdown widget on my phone.  I also enjoy making a Disney Countdown Calendar to hang on my refrigerator as a daily visual reminder of the fun to come.  As you all know, I love photos and I love playing around in photoshop so it was only natural that I create a countdown to showcase some of my favorite pictures.  In photoshop, I made a photo calendar template and now, each time I want to create a new calendar, I simply modify the dates and change the photos.  Today, I will describe this process so that you, too, can join in on the fun of Disney vacation countdown.

Disney World Vacation Countdown Calendar

Using photoshop, I started with a blank document and added several components to create a calendar with photo boxes.  At the top of the calendar, there are four separate photo boxes; I use these to showcase photos of the four park icons.  The middle of the document has a calendar grid for four weeks of counting down.  There are two types of text boxes superimposed on this grid: one for the calendar days and another for the countdown of “Days Left”.  At the bottom of the page are ten additional photo boxes, of varying sizes, that I use to insert some of my favorite photos.

Rather than discuss every detail needed to reconstruct this calendar, the template is available for download on Disney Photography Blog and I will discuss how to customize it with your own dates and photos.

Disney World Vacation Countdown Calendar Template

Customizing the Countdown Calendar

1. Download and open the template.  It is an 8 x 12 inch document.  If you plan to print it in a different size, I advise changing the document size at this point, prior to adding any photos.  [Image < Image size...]

2. Change the dates on the calendar.  In the layers panel, go to and open the group labeled “Day Numbers”.  There you will see groups of layers for each date, organized by week.  Using the text tool, open those text boxes and change the numbers so that they correspond to the calendar dates in your countdown.  If you are not leaving on a Saturday, simply turn off the layer visibility on the days following your departure date, using the eye icon next to those layers.  (Yes, each date is in a separate layer and needs to be changed individually.  There probably is a more efficient way to do this but every time I tried to put multiple dates in the same text box, I ran into issues where the spacing was just a little bit off.  As I am slightly particular about those types of things, I gave up and made individual layers to satisfy my need for symmetry.  Also, you do not actually have to click on each text layer in the layers panel.  Using the text tool, if you click on the text in the document that you wish to change, that layer will open).

3. If you are not leaving on a Saturday, you will also need to adjust the “Days Left” layers.  Go to the “Days Left” group and use the text box tool to change the numbers to create the appropriate countdown.  Although it is a little work to change each layer, I advise changing the numbers rather than moving the appropriately numbered layers to the correct day; that way you won’t have to adjust the spacing and the layer names.  Again, if you are not leaving on a Saturday, toggle off the visibility of the layers of the days following your departure.

4. Change the title of the calendar.  The title text box is located in the “Top Pictures” group.  Use the text tool to rename it to the appropriate month or, better yet, a creative title of your chosing.

5. Now the fun part- adding pictures!  The top photo boxes are located in the group “Top Pictures” and the bottom photo boxes are located in the group “Bottom Pictures”.  The technique I use to add the pictures is the same as I previously described in the Photo Book article on this site.

a. Select a few pictures and open them in Photoshop.  Drag them as layers into your document.

b. Next, convert each photo into a smart object [Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object].  A smart object will preserve all the information in that file, regardless of how you change its size or distort it.  Without converting to a smart object, if I downsized the photo, I would lose some information.  Then, if I later decided I wanted the photo to be bigger, I would have a lower quality image due to the information I had previously lost.

c. Move the photo that you want to place to the layer above the box you want to place it in.  Create a clipping mask with the photo to the box layer below it [Layer > Create Clipping Mask].  The clipping mask (bottom layer) will reveal that portion of the layer above it that is in the same location as the nontransparent parts of the mask (the colored box).

 d. Resize the photo so that it fits well in the mask, revealing the part of the photo that you want to appear.

 e. Repeat for the other photos!

6. Once your calendar is created, flatten the image and save as a high quality JPEG.  Then, print it and hang it proudly on your refrigerator.

7. Now that you have a calendar, how will you use it to count the days?  You could use regular stickers, putting one over each day after it has passed.  However, I have another way: I make my own day markers, using other photos.  For this, I created another document, sized 4×6 inches.  I added 28 photo boxes, each 1.5 x 1.5 inches.  Then, I used the same technique described above and dropped 28 photos into these boxes.  When I order my countdown calendar, I also order this as a 4×6 print.  Then, I cut out the photos and each day, attach a mini photo (with tape) over the day to countdown.

Disney Countdown Calendar Stickers

Following these simple steps, it is easy to create a personalized Disney countdown calendar that will help your excitement build as your vacation draws near.  Finally, when the long awaited day arrives, make sure you remember to take a picture of your completed calendar!

Create a Disney Vacation Countdown Calendar

Download files to create your own calendarDownload all template files needed to create your own Disney countdown calendar (Photoshop Files)


  1. Katie   |   Aug 22, 2011

    That’s a fantastic idea–I’m making one for my December 2011 trip!

  2. Rick   |   Aug 22, 2011

    This is great and we are definitely doing this for our next trip in January. Thank you so much for including the files also. Now to find photos to use…

  3. Christian   |   Aug 22, 2011

    Such an amazing idea! Thanks for uploading the templates!

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