Video Camera Tips

A FEW POINTERS


  • Figure out how much video tape and batteries you will need and take one extra of each.

  • Don't zoom too much, but if you think that you will zoom during a show or ride, follow this tip: zoom in all the way, focus, then zoom out all the way. This should keep you in focus throughout your zoom.

  • If you always look through the viewfinder, you will never feel like you were on vacation.  Look at the start of your shot and then look away from the viewfinder.

  • A small handheld camera, even those with steady shot, are almost impossible to keep steady in your hand aimed at a single location, despite the best efforts. A tripod can fix this problem, if you don't mind walking around with a tripod or setting one up before a show. Without a tripod, you wind up more with people's heads or the roof of the theatre, etc. Especially if you are far back in the seating, which is the best place to be, but just the slightest movement of the camera in your hand can actually move the view of the lens a fairly large distance. Of course, the full size VHS cameras are much easier to keep aimed, but walk around too much.

  • It is a good idea to transfer your camcorder video onto a regular video tape. This way you can edit and rearrange. Even if you transfer everything as is, you will have a back up copy. If you do edit, make two versions - one for you and a much shorter version for showing others (they may not want to see the entire Diamond Horseshoe Review!).

  • The further back you are during a show (Fantasmic, Hall of the Presidents, etc.) the more you can video. You can always zoom in closer, but you can't zoom out enough if you are in the first few rows.

  • You may wish to combine Disney World segments from television (annual Christmas or Easter Parades, recent Disney World update special, etc.) with your own videos to make a more professional looking final tape.

  • Always respect the rights of anyone (especially family members) who do not want to be taped.

  • Ask any of your friends that visit other Disney parks if you can borrow their tape for copying. It's fun watching and listening to The Timekeeper or the Kids of the Kingdom in Japanese.

  • Buying tapes on property can be done, but at a price. Kodak sells video tapes for much higher than the stores that surround WDW. If you are staying off property or on property, but rented a car, I suggest getting extra tapes in Kissimmee at Wal-Mart or Target. You will find them to be almost half the price of Disney.

  • Know your camcorder!!! If you rented a camcorder or have a camcorder, know what model it is, anything you might have had in it, what the case says if it has a logo. This may be your only way to reclaim a lost camcorder. First check Lost & Found or the nearest CM to where you think you lost it. Sometimes they will pick it up and put it behind the counter at the location before sending it to L&F. For instance, I dropped a viewfinder (when they were detachable on RCA full size camcorders) on a borrowed camera while walking around World Showcase. I panicked because the finders are very expensive. I ran out of American Adventure frantic and found the first CM I could find. I asked if she had it and sure enough she did and I was just so overjoyed, I couldn't tell ya.

  • Extra batteries can also be purchased at Disney as well, again for the highest suggested retail. These can be gotten via generic brands at Wal-Mart, but you may want to consider Best Buy or Circuit City in Orlando. Tapes and Batteries are also available at Virgin Megastore in Downtown Disney. The prices are middle to high between Wal-Mart and the theme parks.

  • Keep your camcorder from getting wet. Florida has the strangest weather sometimes, especially in the summer when the time between perfectly sunny and evil storms is very short (within 15-30 minutes). It can also be raining across the street and not where you are. These storms are very precise. Anyway, it is always a good idea to keep a plastic bag handy that your camcorder will fit in for these times, as electronic equipment does not like getting wet inside. You may also find your camera acting strangely when going from your air conditioned hotel room into the humidity. This is often due to the dew sensor telling you that there is water in your camera from the humidity. If your camcorder does not go on immediately, this could be the problem. Wait a few minutes and try it again.


FILMING IN THE PARKS


The places that allow videotaping appear to be inconsistent. One 3D film allows video taping and two others do not. An attraction that once allowed taping no longer does. And a ride that I video taped in Disneyland doesn't allow taping at Disney World. And sometimes you are told at the start of a show that taping is not allowed and sometimes they forget.

Take pictures of signs before the attraction. It's always fun to know what attraction you are about to see and Disney has crafted some of the best artwork into these signs, so tape them as well to identify your attractions.

Magic Kingdom

You can tape anywhere except at Carousel of Progress (which allowed taping in the past) and the last part of Alien Encounter (no one stopped me from taping poor Skippy being burnt).

Epcot

Honey, Universe of Energy (taping was allowed years ago pre-Ellen & Bill Nye) and American Adventure (no announcement was made, but I asked prior to the show and was told no, the moral being don't ask).

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Star Tours (I was previously allowed at Disneyland), Sounds Dangerous (you can video lobby exhibits), and no where at no time in the Animation Studio Tour. Yes, you can tape Muppets 3D. I had a lens from a broken pair of glasses all the way back from Magic Journeys and it worked fine on my camera. You won't be able to play back in 3D, but the picture will be viewable. Please do not be encouraged to purposely break a pair of glasses!

You cannot tape is the Backstage Pass in the Soundstage portions of the tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

During the Super Soap Weekend, it is much better to tape your favorite star in the air conditioned comfort of Doug's theatre during their half hour talk sessions, then during the autograph signing unless you are just a glutton for punishment for a few seconds of good tape.

Animal Kingdom

Nightshot works in many dark, dark attractions. Nightshot for those unaware is the ability to tape in nearly pitch black environments using infra-red lighting to see. Only some cameras, mostly Sony, have this feature. In attractions like Haunted Mansion, it is especially significant because many rooms are just too dark even with a low lux camcorder. Disney uses infra-red to monitor their attractions, so to a Nightshot camcorder, it looks like a well lit room. Other places to use it that are just fun is Carousel of Progress (during the lights-off scene), Fantasmic and Voyage of the Little Mermaid (WARNING: Do not use it the first time you see these attractions, because doing so will contain spoilers that will make you never see the show the same way again).

During my most recent trip to Disney World, instead of bring a tripod, I picked up a monopod to bring with me. A monopod is a lot more compact than a tripod, and easily fit into my camera bag. While it's not self standing like a tripod, the monopod did allow to keep the camera steady and saved my arm from getting tired during a thirty minute parade or show. My videos of shows definitely lacked the shaky quality that I've seen in other home videos, and it was nice not to have to lug a heavy tripod around.  

I had purchased a thin, clear plastic poncho for a dollar at Sport's Authority before I left on my trip in case of rain, but didn't use it during the trip. Our last day there, I wrapped the poncho around the camcorder, and filmed Splash Mountain from start to finish (I even lucked out and was able to get Brer Bear and Brer Fox on tape as they exited from a log on the ride). I was able to get a clear shot through the poncho, and kept my camera nice and dry. By the end of the ride, there were drops of water on the poncho, but my lens stayed dry I'd rather have a one dollar poncho get soaked than a $500 camcorder. 

During special tapings of outdoor shows that tape at Disney's Hollywood Studios, sometimes it is better not to be in the audience if you wish to tape your favorite stars. We had tickets to see the show, but found out that hanging around "backstage (the hub in front of Great Movie Ride)" allowed some great shots of stars, much better than being in the audience (where you cannot tape).

Charging of batteries can be done at any of the four parks Guest Relation's offices. They are located just inside the park on the left hand side.  They will take your charger, camera and battery and plug it in, giving you a claim check for it. DO NOT lose the claim check as you will need it to get your camera back. Though we've done it, it is not generally accepted to plug in your camera's charger any place you see an open socket (such as a restaurant or something), though I've never actually been told not to by a CM.


Video Rentals


Video Camera Rentals are no longer available at WDW locations.

Magic Video Shop (Buena Vista Palace) - 1-800-393-1125 open 8am-5pm; hours vary with season Please call for Buena Vista Palace prices. (also offers full repair services) Reservations Available through Buena Vista Palace only. Call 827-6056. Delivery provided within the WDW area. Other rental locations are available off-property.

VIDEO CAMERA REPAIRS - Location: Magic Video Shop (Buena Vista Palace) Phone: 827-6056 Hours: 8am-5pm daily; hours vary with season

The following persons contributed to this page: Lou Kramberg, LA-sunken and Karen Young.