Looking Back on PhotoMagic 2013

By Adam Hansen on November 5th, 2013   |    Posted in:  News   |    20 Comments

It’s already over? After all that planning and counting down, it is hard to believe that PhotoMagic 2013 is now in the books. We had an incredible week at Walt Disney World and from the feedback we received, it seemed that everyone who joined us had a great time too. Today we wanted to take a moment to share our own thoughts on the week and invite you to share your memories in the comments below.

It was a great week and we can’t wait to do it all over again next year. Before we can start planning for PhotoMagic 2014 though, lets look back on PhotoMagic 2013!

Cory Disbrow


So, we’re sharing our thoughts on PhotoMagic today. This is something that I never thought we would ever do, or be able to pull off. When Adam and I first started the blog over three years ago, it was just a fun idea to share our photos in a way that was a little different than Flickr. I never thought we would end up having an event where there would be 32 tripods lined up at a dessert party at Epcot waiting to shoot Illuminations!

But aside from all of the amazing photos that were taken (or if you’re Adam, not taken) during the event, the thing that I will carry with me forever was seeing friendships, both old and new. Looking at the list of attendees the week before the event, Adam and I only knew or had met a handful of the people that were coming in person. Seeing so many people who were both passionate about Disney and photography in person was awesome. We also ate a ton of great food, which was pretty great as well!

I have to thank Adam, Alan, Ryan, and everyone else who helped contribute to the event. I also have to thank everyone who showed up, even if you were only there for a half a day, or for some strange reason you decided to hang out for the entire week. PhotoMagic was some of the most fun I’ve had at WDW, and I can’t wait until we do it again, hopefully on the west coast!

Ryan Pastorino


I can honestly say that PhotoMagic was the best time I have had at Walt Disney World in a long time. Photography at Disney parks is great. It’s what has brought us all together. But what I enjoyed most about PhotoMagic was getting to meet and spend time with so many new friends. I didn’t come home with as many photos as I would have liked, but I came home thinking, yeah I’d do that again!

I may not have used my camera as much on the trip, but I really enjoyed answering questions and helping a few of you get set up for various shoots. It’s important that we all learn from each other, and one of the best ways to learn is to spend time enjoying this hobby with others in the community. I have seen some amazing photos posted so far and I cannot wait to see more!

I’d like to say thank you to everyone who attended for making this such a great event. I’d also like to thank Adam, Alan, and Cory for the hard work putting this event together. For a first event, I think it went really well. I look forward to getting feedback from everyone and so that hopefully we can put together an even better event in the future!

Alan Rappaport


It’s hard to believe that the inaugural PhotoMagic has come and gone. Ryan, Cory, Adam and myself started planning this event so far in advance that it seemed like it would never get here. Now, two weeks post-PhotoMagic it feels like it all went by in a blur. Thanks to everyone who took the time to come out and pal around with a bunch of very peculiar photographers for a couple of days. Meeting everybody in person was the absolute highlight of PhotoMagic for me.

Like I said on the first day, I feel photography is all about sharing. We share our images with each other on-line, and in person we share our enthusiasm as well as our vast collective, photography knowledge. I believe that growing as a photographer requires both learning and teaching – and I was fortunate to be able to participate on both sides during PhotoMagic.

While PhotoMagic 2013 may have come to an end, I look forward to continuing these discussions with everyone via the blog, forums, Flickr, Twitter, what have you.

I’ll be the first to admit that not everything went as planned and there were a few areas where we humbly learned from our mistakes. I spoke with a lot of people during PhotoMagic to get their feedback on what they liked/disliked and what we can potentially improve upon next time. To further address this, a short survey will be going out to everyone to get more input on what you are all looking for in future meetups. There are even a few questions about “testing the waters” and gathering our group outside for the parks for a change.

Hopefully we will have that survey out soon. In the meantime, don’t forget about the contest we have going and be sure to share your images in the PhotoMagic Flickr Group. I’m hoping everyone had fun, shot some wonderful photos and maybe even learned a new trick or two.

While I may not have come away from PhotoMagic with a library of new images myself, I did come home with some fantastic memories, as well as plenty of new friendships. We absolutely must do this again – and believe me, we will.

Thanks again for making PhotoMagic great.

Adam Hansen


“It was a great week!”

That was the line I heard from many people that last morning during breakfast at Kona Cafe, and I have to agree with everyone who said it. We spent almost a year planning Photo Magic 2013 and before we knew it, the week was over and we were all hoping to start catching up on our sleep.

What was planned as a week of photography turned into much more than that. It started with a special moment at Epcot when a few of us got the chance to photograph the engagement of Jeff and Janea in front of Spaceship Earth. Then there was the impromptu cupcake meetup at Splitsville that night (first of many late night meetups for a group of slackers that week), while others got together for dinner at Trails End and photographed Wishes as a group. That was all before the event officially started and we were already having a great time!

I’m sure everyone has their own memories from the week that they will look back on, and we hope you will share them in the comments below. One moment in particular that I will always remember will be the night at the Magic Kingdom when a small group of us got off Big Thunder Mountain and realized that the park was open for ten more minutes, so we raced over and made it to Space Mountain just as they were getting ready to close the gate. Then we suddenly heard someone yelling “I’m Coming!”, and we saw Dan Gifford folding up his tripod as he raced to join us for one final ride that night. It may not have had anything to do with photography, but that night was one of the most fun nights I have experienced at the Magic Kingdom.

The highlight for many that week was the Illuminations Dessert Party at Epcot. It was an awesome sight to see all of those tripods lined up along the railing ready to photograph the fireworks. For some of us, it turned out to be one of the best ways to watch a World Series game while fireworks were going off and the game was streaming on an iPad! To be honest, a normal viewing of Illuminations will seem boring from now on.

With all the planning we did, we will be the first to acknowledge that everything didn’t go as planned. We tried to create a schedule for the week that would allow people to come and go as they wanted. While we did our best to stick to that schedule, we know that there were times that it was just not possible and we apologize if people had a hard time finding us in the park. That is something we have already discussed on how to improve the next time we have one of these events and hope to make things easier for those attending.

Who would have thought that a trip based around a photography event would be the trip that I barely took any photos, but it still ended up being one of the best trips I have ever taken to WDW!

So, who is ready for PhotoMagic 2014???

What was your favorite part of PhotoMagic 2013?

If you attended PhotoMagic 2013, let us know your thoughts and feel free to share any memories in the comments! It was a great week and we are looking forward to doing it all over again. While nothing is official, who would be interested in a Disneyland version next fall?


  1. Katie Marino   |   Nov 5, 2013

    Best trip I’ve had in a long time. Thanks, guys!

  2. Alan Rappaport   |   Nov 5, 2013

    Bet you never expected to wrestle an alligator on this trip! That’s going to be tough to top next time. Lookout Shamu!

    • Joanie Eddis-Koch   |   Nov 5, 2013

      Pictures of this Alligator wrestling? (Photoshopped or otherwise….)

      • Katie Marino   |   Nov 6, 2013

        Yes, there are photos of the gator wrestling. Maybe some day they will make an appearance. And Shamu has no idea what’s coming ;)

  3. Keith Kolmos   |   Nov 5, 2013

    It was truly a great event. Getting to finally meet so many people in person.

    Hats off to everyone who had a hand in putting everything together. I love seeing all of the photos people have been posting to flickr too.

    I agree with Adam, the Dessert Party was epic and I’m not sure that a normal viewing of Illuminations will ever be the same again.

    If there’s a PhotoMagic 2014 – a trip out to the West Coast or a trip right after Thanksgiving for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party seems in order.

  4. Keith Kolmos   |   Nov 5, 2013

    Oh, and thanks to all of the sponsors who supported the event. The prizes were a special treat. Can’t wait to try out my NAPP Membership

  5. Sandy Eichelberger   |   Nov 5, 2013

    Thank you to everyone for helping me learn more about taking great pictures. I still have a long way to go, but as a novice, I’m determined to try to move from simple snapshots to better quality shots.

    I owe my husband and children thanks for the gift of the trip.

    Everyone who organized it did a spectacular job and there were so many patient people who shared their expertise. It was magical!

  6. Dan Gifford   |   Nov 6, 2013

    First of all, a huge thanks to everyone who put on this event. My wife Gail and I had such an awesome time meeting all of you with some great conversations during the week!

    When I think back to PhotoMagic 2013, I think 3 things stick out in my mind.

    1) As Adam already mentioned, the slacker crew enjoyed “One more ride!” on Space Mt. at the end of an evening in MK. All I saw through the corner of my viewfinder was some crazy people sprinting for the gate laughing like crazy. When I realized who it was, I set a world record for tripod fold-up and went running after them. That last ride was so much fun, and so the slacking began…

    2) On that same night, some of us were shooting Wishes! from back in New Fantasyland. I’m not the greatest at shooting fireworks, but Gail and I tried some new compositions, and walked away with 1 or 2 keepers. Afterward, a bunch of us met up in Fantasyland to figure out what to do next, when Adam Burke shows up with a killer fireworks shot on his phone taken over by what we now refer to as Rapunzel Potty. Put us all to shame!

    3) Camping out at the start of Main St. to watch/shoot the Boo to You Parade! (A first for both Gail and I). It was a great opportunity to take in the special lighting and music on Main St, as well as talk with everyone around us for basically 2 hours while we waited for the parade to start. Definitely our favorite parade in Disney, and can’t wait to plan another Halloween trip in the future to see it again!

    These are just 3 of many really great memories from the trip, and once again my thanks goes out to everyone who made this a reality. PhotoMagic 2014? ONE MORE TIME!!!!

  7. Lance   |   Nov 6, 2013

    Looks like everyone had a blast. Dag nabit I should have taken some time off. Looking forward to 2014 and making the trip. Love the blog and the help that everyone dishes out. Keep up the good work!

  8. Angela Greer   |   Nov 6, 2013

    This was a great week. It was one of my favorite Disney trips I have had in a long time. I enjoyed making some new Disney friends and some new photography friends. I love going to Disney but there is something great about being there with people who enjoy it like you do. I still have a lot to learn to take pictures as great as some of the ones I have already seen but do feel that I learned a great deal. I really appreciate those who helped me with shots. Still going through my pictures and I definitely need to learn some editing tricks to improve what happened in the camera. I came away with some shots I wouldn’t have normally taken and some that are so much better than any I have taken before and I am excited to be able to say I took that picture. I am eagerly waiting in PhotoMagic 2014!!

  9. Matt Hopkins   |   Nov 6, 2013

    I had a great time at Epcot and getting a chance to meet everyone. I am really looking forward to PhotoMagic 2014, hopefully I will be able to attend more of the days. Until then I will continue to enjoy everyone’s photos on the flickr page :)

  10. Angelia Hashemi   |   Nov 6, 2013

    Loved meeting everyone at Photo Magic 2013. My biggest complaint is that I was also on vacation with my husband, and I did not spend as much time with the group as I would have liked. I don’t even think I got to meet or talk to Cory!

    I really appreciate the hard work that went into getting this event together. I also appreciate the help that everyone was willing to give us “newbies” with improving our photography skills. I did learn some new things, and I did come away with some better pictures than I have taken on previous trips.

    One thing that I thought was odd about this trip is that I did not take as many pictures as I usually do. Apparently, that wasn’t uncommon. I did learn something from it though. I would rather take my time and get a few great shots than have 1000 pictures of the same things that I have taken pictures of every time I go to WDW. So I guess I learned something besides a technical skill!

    Everyone was great and I was so glad that I got to meet so many Disney nuts like myself! Can’t wait for future events. Hopefully I can ditch my husband and just hang with the group next time!

  11. Nate   |   Nov 6, 2013

    What a fantastic event! Thanks to everyone for the hard work to make that happen. While we did not get to hang with the group as much as we would have liked it was really great to get to meet everyone. It was a pleasure to learn and share with others so passionate about Disney and photography. One memorable moment……I knew the desert party was going to be a sight to see as I was going throughout the security line to enter EPCOT and the security guard stated “Another tripod! Something must be going on in the park today”. That’s PhotoMagic.

    • Adam Hansen   |   Nov 7, 2013

      That is so awesome! I heard some cast members talking about all the tripods setup for HallowWishes during the Halloween party, they were wondering what was going on! :)

  12. Gary Burke   |   Nov 7, 2013

    This was one of my best ever trips to Disney World! It was great to meet, and spend time with, so many new people who all share my passion for Disney and photography. I’m so glad I was able to be a part of it!

  13. Brian Eichelberger   |   Nov 8, 2013

    I would just like to thank each and everyone one of you who I met on this trip. I also want to thank each and everyone of you that helped make this trip EXTRA special for my mother who attended with me. It was her retirement present from my father, siblings and I. It combined two things she loves, pictures and Disney! We learned ALOT and still have a long way to go. We just could not believe the amount of knowledge everyone was soooo willing to share. The amount of time and patience that each each and every person displayed was tremendous. Between the 2 of us we took over 4000 pictures. Most of which I wouldn’t even want to display. But, there are a few that we felt were winners to us. We cannot wait to see what will be announced for 2014. We are hoping for a Xmas trip to see all the Holiday decorations. So again, THANKS to everyone for making this trip a WONDERFUL experience for my mother and for myself.

  14. Steven (Mearn)   |   Nov 8, 2013

    It was great getting to finally meet and hang out with so man people I only knew as a username on Flickr or Twitter. It was also a great opportunity to learn a few things and get pointers from other photographers. I think I may have even helped someone out a time or two.

    One thing in particular that stands out for me is after leaving the Illuminations Dessert Party a group of us started to make our way around the World Showcase, figuring we’d have enough time to get some shots in Future World in. The park was open until 11 and it was only 9:30 or so, so there was obviously plenty of time. By the time we were about done in Morocco it was already 10:30! I don’t even remember what time it was that we finally got chased out of the park but that was a first for me at EPCOT.

  15. Tom Mullaney   |   Nov 9, 2013

    Back in January I had the chance to meet several of you who were in attendance for the Run Disney event. I had a very enjoyable evening shooting around EPCOT and closing the park and it was the first time I’d really gotten to explore the parks with fellow photographers. Someone (I think it was Cory) mentioned that they were planning a photography get-together in October and suggested that I should attend. I figured it would be something small, maybe 10 or so people and I assumed they would all know each other and I would be the odd man out. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to meet so many like-minded people on this trip. I am truly impressed with how open and welcoming everyone was and how quickly we all felt like old friends even though we’d only just met.

    The dessert party was an obvious highlight of the trip. I was looking forward to that event for months and it was tremendous. The Halloween party was also great fun. But the greatest part was the easy camaraderie with everyone.

    Many, many thanks to Alan, Adam, Ryan, and Cory for the long hours of planning that resulted in near flawless execution of this event — it exceeded every expectation I had for it. Many thanks as well to Disney photography veterans among us who freely shared their knowledge — in my case, Don has helped me on two trips this year to come away with better pictures than I would have gotten on my own. And finally, I’d like to thank the spouses / partners / significant others who supported us attending Photo Magic 2013.

  16. Crystal & Bryan @CanaDisney   |   Nov 10, 2013

    Great times with great friends. Hopefully next time we’ll remember to take some photos!

  17. Don H   |   Nov 20, 2013

    I would love to join this tour if it happened out west. I’ve just recently gotten into photography…mainly because I want to take better photos at Disneyland. That might be a crazy reason to get into photography, but somehow I think those of you that took this trip will understand. Anyways I try to go to Anaheim once a year with my family and I could easily go twice if Photo Magic is coming out west. I’ll stay tuned



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