When Mike and I went to Walt Disney World in the spring, our main purpose was to take photos for the website and social media accounts. Not only did I have to learn how to use my brand-new DSLR, but I also had to figure out how to carry it around the Disney parks for several hours at a time in the extreme heat of Florida.

Despite a few hiccups — I didn’t know the benefit of a lens hood until it was too late, for example 😳 — we managed to come back to New York with 1,000 pictures and a camera still in one piece. Plus, we’re now armed with several tips on bringing DSLR cameras to Disney parks.

Here’s what I learned about carrying a DSLR at Disney World, including how to take your camera into the parks and on rides.

P.S. Familiarize yourself with these Disney photography rules before you go. 

Shop Around for Gear

There are a few Disney World-specific considerations to think about when you’re traveling with a DSLR:

  • The heat and how comfortable the camera will be to wear 🥵
  • Taking an expensive and delicate DSLR on certain rides
  • Keeping the camera clean and functional so you can continue shooting

Unless you’re used to shooting in similar settings, you’ll need to invest in Disney-friendly photography accessories to make the experience agreeable.

While I already had some camera bags and accessories from my college days as a photography student, I bought these items to take to Disney World:

Travel-Friendly Photo Cleaning Kit

Cleaning kit for having your DSLR at Disney.

This photo cleaning kit is inexpensive and easy to pack. During the Disney World trip, I mainly used the lens and LCD cleaner along with my own microfiber cloth.

⭐ Bring both of those items into the park with you! You’ll need them quite a bit.

Battery Two-Pack and Charger

Battery pack for having your DSLR at Disney.

Since I hadn’t used my DSLR too much before the trip, I wasn’t sure how its battery would hold up on long, hot Disney park days. I bought this battery-two pack and charger as a backup. I ended up rarely needing a second battery since all three of mine held up great, but it was nice to have the security of extra batteries.

Some of the reviews said that these off-brand batteries died quickly and/or swelled up, but I didn’t experience either issue.

Sling Camera Strap from BlackRapid

Sling camera strap for a DSLR.

My biggest concern about having a DSLR at Disney World was comfort. The camera straps I had weren’t designed for all-day wear, so I knew I had to buy a high-quality one to take on the trip.

I read every camera strap review I could get my hands on, and some I read two or three times. Cost was my last concern — if I could find a strap that wouldn’t leave me itchy, uncomfortable or weighed down all day, I’d pay pretty much anything for it.

The Classic Retro Camera Strap from BlackRapid stood out because reviews talked about how light and comfortable it was. It’s designed to sling across you in a cross-body style, and it’s made to be worn on either the right or left shoulder. Knowing I could switch it throughout the day to balance out the weight was what sealed the deal.

Attachment point on the sling camera strap.


It also has a one-point attachment for the camera that allows the camera to point (mostly) downward instead of having the lens sticking straight out in front of you. That was a major benefit in a busy Disney park and when walking in tight spaces through eateries and shops.

Hard Camera Case

Hard camera case for your DSLR at Disney.

When trying to figure out how to carry a DSLR at Disney, my biggest sticking point was the type of case to bring. I had a few camera bags for easy carrying on a normal day, but at Disney (and on the airplane), I needed the camera to be extra-protected from bumps and knocks.

I considered a camera backpack, but they were pricey and bulky. I didn’t want to add to what we’d have to wear through the park, considering one of us would already be carrying a regular backpack.

I also didn’t have a bunch of lenses and gear that would make a camera backpack worthwhile, and it wouldn’t provide the intense padding I needed against rough rides.

Interior of the hard camera case.

I ended up going with this hard storage case from Amazon, and it was the best solution I can imagine. Here’s why:

  • I felt confident that the camera was safe when it was packed away.
  • It wasn’t difficult to store it in our park backpack.
  • It comes with its own removable strap, and it also has a handle.
  • The zipper didn’t get stuck at all.

This case ended up being sturdy enough to add the protection we needed and light and slim enough to take with us each day without being a nuisance.

Speed Up the Security Check in Disney World

For the most part, Disney World security checks are a breeze. The security guards are usually nice and they make quick work of looking through your bags and getting you past the metal detector.

Here’s what you can expect at Walt Disney World security checks

But to speed up the process even more, wear your DSLR and have the storage case out and opened up for security. If you keep it in your backpack or carry it separately but have it zippered, you’ll be asked to take it out and open it up.

Doing this ahead of time makes the whole check go a lot faster.

Put Away Your DSLR at Disney Before a Rough Ride

Exterior of Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

Keeping the DSLR safe trumped the need to get photos or videos on a rough or risky ride, like Cosmic Rewind, Expedition Everest, Space Mountain or Tower of Terror. If there was a chance that I would bang or drop the camera, it went into the hard case. (And here’s how to bring your bag on rides in Disney World.)

✔️ If I had a Lightning Lane or the line was short, I packed up the camera before scanning in or getting on line. To take pictures of the queue, I used my iPhone, which I wore around my neck on a lanyard like this one.

✔️ If I knew I’d be on the line for a while, I’d wait to pack up the camera until I was closer to the front.

You may be interested in this article: What if I Need To Leave Ride Lines at Disney World?

Take Designated Time Away From the DSLR at Disney

We were at Disney World specifically to get footage of the parks, but I still managed to take a few breaks from the DSLR. At least two of our days there, I hit a point where I was simply done carrying it around. 💁‍♀️ I’d put it in the hard case, pack it away in the backpack, and use my iPhone for any shots and videos I needed.

You may also need mini-breaks from your DSLR at Disney World. Take them! When it gets insanely hot, your neck starts to itch from the camera strap, or you just want 15 minutes without worrying that you’ll ding the lens, put it away.

We also decided that the evening of our last park day would be photography-free. We didn’t even bring the camera with us (three cheers for heading back to the hotel room midday to refresh), and we had a no iPhone rule, too. It was heavenly.

Is Genie Plus Worth It? Here’s Everything We Did at the Magic Kingdom Without Lightning Lanes

Final Thoughts About Having a DSRL at Disney

Figuring out how to take your camera into the parks and on rides definitely had a learning curve, and having a DSLR at Disney isn’t the easiest way to travel. But if you have a need to take photos in the parks, either professionally or personally, know that with careful planning, it is possible.

Do you have any great tips for having a DSLR at Disney? Tell me in the comments!

Featured image: Oli Dale | Unsplash