Camera-phones in Walt Disney World

Mickey MouseOne of the things we treasure most after being on a magical Disney vacation is the pictures we take while we’re enjoying all the wonderful experiences Disney has to offer. My favorite pictures are always the unplanned, candid ones that truly capture a moment – the first look at the castle, the first taste of a scrumptious dessert, or the first hug from Mickey Mouse.

There is one thing I see at Walt Disney World that makes me sad though – people using camera-phones for pictures during their special trip.

It’s one thing to take a silly selfie with a character or in some silly pose to post on the internet, but people, please don’t rely on camera-phones for important pictures! Something a lot of people don’t understand about using the cameras that come included on cell-phones, smartphones and tablets is that the pictures they take are really only meant to be viewed on a screen, not printed.

Size – First, lets talk image size. Camera-phones have limited storage capacities, and as such are designed to take smaller images than even an inexpensive point-and-shoot digital camera. Both my iPhone and Sony Cyber-shot digital camera are the same age…but the pictures my camera takes are nearly twice the size of the pictures my iPhone takes. Photos from my camera are 60″ x 45″, and from my iPhone are 36″ x 26.889″. When these images are reduced to print size, the pixels per inch are adjusted according to the amount of reduction. So, the bigger your image is before you reduce it for printing, the better it will look. Using my image sizes for comparison, my camera takes pictures at nearly twice the quality of my iPhone, and it’s just a cheap-o digital.

Lens – Another major difference is in the lens. Digital cameras often combine optical and digital zoom. After a little playing around, you will definitely be able to see the point where the optical zoom (where the lens actually adjusts) changes to digital (faked zoom). The quality found in optical zoom is miles beyond that of digital, and the cameras on mobile devices rely completely on digital zoom. When digital zoom is used, images tend to get very fuzzy and grainy looking.

Sensor – Now, here’s the really important part – sensors. All cameras have sensors that use light in order to create a digital signal. Common sense dictates that the more pixels a sensor has, the better the image, but in this case, size really does matter. The larger the sensor, the more light that can be captured, equaling higher quality photographs (especially in low-light circumstances). Camera-phones simply aren’t able to carry a large sensor simply because the whole goal of the device itself is to be small and compact. Try taking a low-light image with a camera-phone and you’ll see what I mean…it looks like a dust-storm!

Lastly, here are some of the more obvious differences…

  • Battery Life
  • Storage Capacity
  • Shutter Speed
  • Burst Shooting

Also, here’s a side-by-side comparison from my Cyber-shot and iPhone.

Photo Comparison

I did not manipulate these images at all – I simply cropped them and placed them next to each other so you could see the differences. At this size, you can easily see the pixelization you would see from any digital imaging device, but notice the quality of color shifts and the simple number of colors used in the shifts. Also notice the sharpness of the twigs in the nest. Take a look the color – the Sony Cyber-shot is almost identical to reality, while the iPhone made all of the colors cooler. Once you really take a look, the quality difference is quite obvious.

Now for the glaring difference…take a peek at the branch behind the word “shot”. You can see all the little dimples and textures of a wisteria branch. Now look at the other side. Nearly all the detail is missing because the image is just so grainy.

So, for the love of all that is Disney and the magic Walt Disney World brings to our lives…please get yourself a dedicated camera and leave the cell-phones for checking the wait time for Pirates of the Caribbean.

Packing for Disney with Kids

PackingJust going out on a day trip with little kids and/or babies can involve some strategic planning and packing…but what about a vacation that will last several days in a warm climate?

Disney has you covered.

  • Forget bringing the Pack n’ Play – you can request them at the front desk. The same goes for mattress pads (for those who prefer a softer surface) and bed-rails for older kiddos.
  • Don’t bring your own stroller if you won’t use it at the airport. You can rent from Disney (in-park only) or from Apple Strollers or Kingdom strollers (for your entire stay). An additional benefit of not lugging equipment you won’t use is that you won’t risk damage to your own stroller (sometimes they get banged up in transport).
  • It is also totally unnecessary to pack more diapers, wipes, and powdered formula than you’ll need until you get settled into your room (I would say up to several hours after you land). Diapers and wipes alone can fill a small suitcase, and who wants to pay an extra bag fee? Instead, package up your trip’s supply of diapers, wipes and powdered formula in a box and ship them to your resort. As long as you include your name and your check-in date, Bell Services will hold the package for you until you arrive.
  • Want to save luggage space AND money on bottled spring water and other drinks for the resort room mini-fridge? There are two really good options – Garden Grocer and Amazon Pantry. Garden Grocer is a local grocery store that will deliver to your resort, and Amazon Pantry (if you have a Prime membership) will ship a huge box to your resort for around $6.
  • Don’t waste space packing a bunch of toys. Trust me – they won’t get touched. Pack 1 favorite toy for each kid. We wasted nearly an entire suitcase on toys for our then 2 1/2-year-old who is on the autism spectrum because we were anticipating needing lots of distractions for him. DISNEY was all the distraction he needed.
  • Make sure you have a change of clothes in your carry-on for the kiddos…just in case of an accident or spill and the possibility of being in the parks before you get into your room.
  • Fill down-time in the car and on the plane with fun activities and dollar-store finds. Kids each get their own carry-on, so pack a back-pack with fun distractions (and snacks)!

Disney Vacation Packing & Shopping List

PackingWe all know that getting ready for traveling – especially with kids – can be stressful. With that in mind, I’ve created an extensive shopping/packing list to help ease some of the worry of forgetting important items for your vacation. Feel free to copy and paste this into a document on your computer, or you can also download a .pdf file that has fill-in capability and is formatted for printing.

Disney Shopping/Packing List

Download File – PackingLists.pdf

Please double-check and make sure all items that are important to your family are included. If something obvious (like sunscreen) seems to be missing, it is probably just under one of the other categories.

For the Car & Plane

  • Rental Car Contract/Confirmation
  • Boarding Passes
  • Cash/Credit Cards
  • Dollar Bills for Tips/Tolls
  • Drivers’ Licenses/IDs
  • Notepad/Notebook
  • Maps & Directions
  • GPS
  • Stroller (Can be checked at the Gate and will be waiting for you to use at the other end of your flight!)
  • List of Stops (Gas, Food, Attractions,Bathrooms)
  • List of Rules for Kids (1 Each for Car & Plane)
  • Car Window Shades
  • Snacks (Pre-packaged for Airlines)
    • Granola Bars
    • Goldfish
    • Crackers
    • Cookies
    • Cereal Bars
    • Dry Cereal
    • Fruit
    • Pudding Packs
    • Lollipops or Gum (To Help Little Ears Pop)
  • Proof of Auto Insurance
  • Car Seat (Not allowed on Charter, Magical Express, or Internal Disney Buses)
  • Flashlight
  • Auto Club Card
  • Paper Towels
  • Wet Wipes
  • Trash Bags
  • Cooler
  • Umbrella
  • Drinks (Not Allowed through Airport Security)
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Portable DVD Player & Movies
  • iPad/Tablet & Charger
  • Headphones for Devices
  • Reading Materials
  • Travel Games
  • Backpacks for the Kids
    • Notebook
    • Markers
    • Crayons
    • Colored Pencils
    • Activity/Puzzle/Coloring Books
    • Silly Putty/Floam
    • Dollar Store Finds
    • Reading Material (as long as motion sickness isn’t an issue)

Clothing & Toiletries

  • Underwear/Bras
  • Shorts
  • Capris
  • Pants
  • T-Shirts
  • Sweatshirts
  • Blouses
  • Shirts
  • Dresses
  • Flip-Flops
  • Sandals
  • Walking Shoes
  • Dress Shoes
  • Suit
  • Socks
  • Pajamas
  • Belts
  • Costumes/Family Shirts
  • Hats/Visors
  • Jewelry/Accessories
  • Tie
  • Watches
  • Sunglasses w/Straps
  • Swimsuits
  • Swimsuit Cover-ups
  • Beach Towels (some people enjoy purchasing at resorts/parks)
  • Workout Clothes
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Floss
  • Shower Gel
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Liquid Hand Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Hair Gel
  • Hair Spray
  • Contacts/Solution/Case
  • Glasses
  • Face Wash
  • Face Lotion
  • Body Lotion
  • Make-up
  • Make-up Remover
  • Nail Polish
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Q-Tips
  • Tampons/Pads
  • Foot Spray
  • Foot Powder
  • Razors
  • Shaving Cream/Gel
  • Tweezers
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail File
  • Hairbrush/Comb
  • Mousse
  • Curling Iron/Flat Iron
  • Blow Dryer
  • Perfume
  • Kleenex
  • Kids’ Shampoo
  • Kids’ Bath Soap
  • Kids’ Hairbrush/Comb
  • Hair Bands/Accessories
  • Prescription Medications
  • Birth Control
  • Pain Medicine (Adult & Children’s/Infants)
  • Midol
  • Sinus/Allergy Medicine
  • Eye Drops
  • Vitamins
  • Cough Drops

For Little Kids & Babies

  • Pacifiers
  • Baby Food
  • Toddler Food/Snacks
  • Bottles
  • Bottle Cleaning Gear
  • Formula & Measuring Cup
  • Sippy Cups
  • Bibs
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Baby Wipes
  • Diaper Bag
  • Baby/Toddler Utensils/Bowls, etc.
  • Blanket/Toy/Lovey
  • Infant Thermometer
  • Teething Tablets
  • Teething Necklace
  • Onesies
  • Hats
  • Teething Toys

For the Parks & Water Parks

  • Magic Bands
  • Driver’s License/ID for each Adult
  • Cash/Credit Card
  • Meal Confirmation #s
  • Guidebooks
  • Park Maps
  • Camera/Charger/Memory Card
  • Cell Phone/Charger/External Battery
  • Lanyards & Pins for Trading
  • Water Bottles w/Strap (Leak-proof)
  • Collapsible Cooler
  • Snacks
  • Autograph Book with Fat Sharpie (easier for Characters to hold)
  • 1 towel (block the sun, save spot at parade, clean off a seat)
  • Bottles of Water (Not totally necessary – Any Quick-Service Restaurant will give you ice water)
  • Rain Ponchos
  • Umbrella
  • Personal Fan & Batteries
  • Mini First-Aid Kit
    • Band-Aids
    • Moleskin
    • Pain Medication
    • Antibiotic Ointment
    • Anti-Itch Gel/Spray
    • Travel Toothpaste (The white, paste kind – for Bee Stings)
    • Antacids
    • Motion Sickness Remedies
    • Blister Balm
  • Ear Plugs
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm with Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellant
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Large Ziploc for Wet Clothes
  • Dry Change of Clothes for Kids
  • Glow Sticks & Necklaces
  • Small Bottles of Bubbles
  • Pennies for Pressing (and quarters for the machines)
  • Kids’ ID Tags (Or write your contact info on the back of celebration pins)
  • Waterproof/Underwater Camera
  • Disposable Cameras for kids
  • Bathing Suits
  • Beach Towels
  • Goggles
  • Plastic Cups w/Lids & Straws (for Pools & Water Parks)
  • Beach Bag
  • Small Pool Toys (water wings, ball, etc.)
  • Swim Diapers
  • Waterproof Watch
  • Waterproof Case
  • Water Shoes
  • Waist Bag/Backpack
  • Ziplocs for Electronics (in case of rain)
  • Small Flashlights (for walking after dark)
  • Ziplock w/Sponge (wet at any drinking fountain for instant cool-off)

For the Resort & Room

  • Hotel Confirmation
  • Magic Bands! (These are you room key as well as Tickets/Reservations/Fast Passes, etc.)
  • Aloe Vera Gel (in case of sun-burn)
  • Mousekeeping Envelopes for Tips
  • Laundry Soap
  • Dryer Sheets
  • Laundry Bag
  • Stain Remover
  • Quarters/Credit Card for Laundry Machines
  • DVC Membership Card
  • Addresses for Postcards
  • Stamps
  • Pens
  • Coffee, Sugar/Sweetener/Non-Dairy Creamer (for rooms with Coffeemakers)
  • Tea Bags
  • Cocoa Packets
  • Juice Boxes
  • Powdered Drink Mix/Flavoring
  • Microwave Popcorn (All resort food courts have microwaves and toasters for guest use)
  • Bottled Water
  • Chips/Pretzels
  • Fruit Snacks
  • Trash Bags
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Power Strip
  • Laptop & Charger
  • Sound Machine/Fan
  • Sewing Kit
  • Safety Pins
  • Clothes Pins
  • Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer (To keep room organized)
  • Window Decorations
  • Stain Wipes/Stick
  • Anti-static Spray
  • Wrinkle Release Spray
  • Travel Iron
  • Pillows
  • Workout Stuff
  • Night-Light
  • Reading Materials
  • Playing Cards
  • Games
  • Frisbees
  • Eyeglass Repair Kit
  • Small Scissors
  • Insurance Cards
  • Portable High Chair
  • Pack N’ Play (can also be requested at front desk)
  • Baby Monitor
  • Board Games
  • Hand-held Games
  • Outlet Covers
  • Charging Cords for Phones/Tablets & Other Devices
  • Batteries
  • Aloe Vera Gel (for Sun Burns)