Riding Tomorrowland’s Astro Orbiter in the Magic Kingdom

Photographic Innoventions by Scott Thomas

I have been visiting Walt Disney World since 1983. In all that time, I have never ridden one of the iconic rides in the Magic Kingdom. This has always been my view of it…

The Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Long exposure photo of the Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 6s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 55mm focal length, tripod.

On my last trip, I was bound and determined to rectify such an oversight. The Astro Orbiter has a very different queue. You line up in an outdoor queue below the PeopleMover platform. As you get close to the elevators, you are given a pilots card or a riders card and you are then placed in a holding area. The people in the holding area will take the next elevator up to the Astro Orbiter platform. Upon reaching the loading platform, you will have unique views of the Magic Kingdom.

Getting to Tomorrowland's Astro Orbiter in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Getting to Tomorrowland’s Astro Orbiter.

The main fascination for riding the Astro Orbiter on this trip was to do some slow shutter speeds while piloting one of the rocket ships. It is not that easy but I managed to get this one out of all the photos I took which came out.

Riding the Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Long exposure photo of the Astro Orbiter from the Pilot Seat.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/10s, f/22, ISO 200, EV 0, 24mm focal length.

Remember, motion photography is a high risk, high reward kind of photography. I felt very rewarded with the last photo. Until next time Space Rangers…To Infinity and Beyond!

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Scott's "Photographic Innoventions" blog focuses on intermediate to advanced photography concepts and techniques relevant for Point and Shoot and Digital SLR cameras.

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6 Replies to “Riding Tomorrowland’s Astro Orbiter in the Magic Kingdom”

  1. This is such a great photo. I love how it looks like the rocket ships are stationary and it’s everything around them that’s moving. My husband and I have never had the opportunity to ride the Astro Orbiter as it’s always down for refurbishment when we are at Disney World. Oh well maybe one day.

    Scott replies: Thank you, Peg. Hope you get a chance on your next visit. You see how long it took me to get around to riding it. 🙂

  2. Hey Scott,

    Those are great long exposure shots!! Too bad us readers can’t click on a picture and get a larger image and savor the beauty. : (


    Scott replies: If you look up my flickr photostream you can see a bigger image of the same photo. With all the photos on All Ears, smaller images help to optimize loading time and storage requirements.

  3. Hi Scott –

    Great photo! The sense of spinning is amazing! Hmmm, I wonder how the same shot at night would look…

    – Jeff

    Scott replies: I bet it would be even better at night.

  4. This is humorous timing for this article since the Astro Orbiter is not currently in operation at the Magic Kingdom. Beautiful photograph! It is especially great luck that the Minnie ears and Oswald ears are in front of you. I am wondering how you managed to hold the camera so steady so that the rockets have minimal motion blur – did you steady it on top of the little windshield in front of you, or completely freehand? Also, how effective do you think a rear-sync flash would be, especially at night?

    Scott replies: I have no control on when Disney will rehab a ride. I am sure it will be up and running again soon. Well, I was lucky in that the family with the Oswald ears was on my ride. However, I did make sure they were seated in front of me before I choose my rocket.

    I was the only one in my rocket so I sat way back and reached out to control the height of the rocket. I held the camera as steady as I could by tucking my arms in close to my body. I took several photos and not many came out. I feel fortunate this one came out.

  5. Scott, I absolutely love this photo!! Great capture 🙂 I took a picture once like this on the tea cups, from the outer edge though, not spinning on the ride itself. I plan to try that one day, if I could take that spinning! Love this effect..
    You won’t get me on this ride however! Lol….although I do like photographing it from below.

    Scott replies: Thanks…oh, give it a whirl, Becky!

  6. This is one of the coolest photos I’ve seen of AA…Love the traditional Mickey ears and then the Epic Mickey ears.

    Scott replies: Thank you, Vanessa. Those Epic Mickey ears are Oswald ears. Everyone who has seen this photo really like those Oswald ears.