I love to challenge myself as a photographer because it is way to push myself outside of my comfort zone and makes me sharpen my skills with the camera. Shooting on the Disney ‘Dark Rides’ offers a wonderful challenge for me, and one of the most challenging of these ‘Dark Rides’ is Peter Pan’s Flight. This ride is based on Disney’s 1953 film Peter Pan and the ride opened with the Magic Kingdom (MK) on October 3, 1971. Yes, it is an original MK ride and still is one of the most rode rides in the MK. The wait times for this ride can exceed 1 1/2 hours unless you FastPass this ride, and I would recommend it. So when the gates first open I make a dash up and around Cinderellas Castle to get to the back side of Fantasyland so I can get a FastPass for me and my son.
As you board the ride you climb aboard a suspended pirate ship and ‘float through’ the ride. As you make the first turn to the left if you look up past the sails of the ship you will see Peter’s shadow flying on the wall down to Wendy.
For a lot of ‘Dark Ride Shooters’ this is one of the “Holy Grail” shots that we try to capture. What makes it so hard is the fact that the ship’s sails are in your way, the ship itself is now floating quickly and turning to the left so this whole scene is moving very quickly.
PHOTO TIP: When you get on the ride start getting ready to shoot. I set my camera AF to AF-C which is continuous focus. I also make sure I go into the settings and take off the AF Lock. AF Lock basically makes sure you have a confirmed AF on something in the shot before it allows the shutter to be released. So if you turn it off you can click away. Yes you will get some blurred shots, but you can get a keeper or two. With how fast this scene is moving, by the time AF Lock confirms you will be past the sweet spot for this scene. Another way to try to shoot this is by using manual focus and pre-setting your focus field.
As you move past this scene make and once your eyes adjust to the darkness make sure you not only look around, but below your ship. This ride has eye candy all over the place on the floor.
The next scene is one of the most magical scenes in this ride and that is the aerial view over the Thames River in England where you see London Bridge and Big Ben.
Here is a closer view of this scene where you can see the fine details which were put into it.
This is a short ride in terms of time, but it is a lot of fun and a ton of eye candy as I said. To shoot effectively on this ride you need a camera with clean ISO ability, in the range of ISO 5000-8000, and fast 2.8 zoom or f/1.8 or f/1.4 prime. I shot with a 35mm prime and came away with a bunch of great shots using my Full Frame D3S. If you were using a crop sensor camera I would say 18mm should be plenty wide enough.
If you decide to use auto focus on this ride like I do, keep moving the AF point to any bright spot in the frame to assist with AF.
Good Luck and Happy Rides!