Home Disney, Universal & Other Theme Parks Professional Pilot’s Pics of Closed Walt Disney World From 1,500 Feet

Professional Pilot’s Pics of Closed Walt Disney World From 1,500 Feet

by SharonKurheg

Jonathan Salazar has quite the resume. He’s a private jet pilot, a glider instructor, a SCUBA diver and a professional traveler. He’s also a big Disney fan. Living in Orlando, that makes for a lot of visits to the theme parks. Well, when they’re open, anyway.

Jonathan is also a photographer and he was recently lucky enough to combine that love with his love of flying and of Disney, but in a very special way. Earlier this month, he got permission to fly over a quiet, closed Walt Disney World and took dozens upon dozens of photos of the resort.

From his Facebook:

This may be a once in a lifetime occurrence, being able to photograph all the Walt Disney World Theme Parks and Resorts, completely empty and deserted. This past weekend, I was able to fly through the Disney TFR Airspace (with permission) as low as 1,500 feet AGL and capture these shots. Facebook has limited me to 80 photos uploaded, but here’s some of the highlights. I hope this will bring some joy to everyone currently in quarantine and missing the beloved parks.

In this post you will find:

-Magic Kingdom (Full park, TRON Construction, TTC, Massive parking lots)
-EPCOT (Future World, Heavy construction – suspended, and World Showcase)
-Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land, Fantasmic, Parking)
-Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Pandora, Africa, Kilimanjaro Safari, Everest etc)
-Disney’s Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon
-Disney’s Contemporary Resort (and Bay Lake Tower)
-Disney’s Polynesian Resort
-Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
-Wedding Pavilion at the Grand Floridian
-Swan and Dolphin
-Disney’s Riviera Resort
-Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
-Shades of Green (Military hotel on property)
-EPCOT Resorts (Yacht & Beech Club, Boardwalk Villas)
-Disney’s All Stars Resorts (Sports, Music, Movies)
-Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
-Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser Hotel
-Disney Springs (formerly ‘Downtown Disney’)
-Walt Disney World Entrance Sign
-Mickey-shaped Solar Panel array

This was a super fun and equally challenging project, but I’m so glad I was able to combine my skills as a Pilot and Photographer for this shoot. Several hours went into planning the shoot: building KML files for the photo targets, planning the flight, coordinating with ATC on a fairly busy day in Orlando’s airspace, reaching out to the Walt Disney Company, taking the shots, combing through hundreds of pictures, editing over a hundred, and organizing them.

Special shoutout to the FAA’s Orlando Approach Control (ATC), The Walt Disney Company’s Aviation dept for guidance, my fellow pilot for his great airmanship, and my supportive girlfriend, Meghan – who’s tolerated my time and energy taken to making this happen!

(Disclaimer: I also had a fellow pilot in the right seat for those moments I needed to stick my camera out the window and get my face kicked around in the wind at 120MPH.😁)

Here are some of his shots (click on any collage picture to see it enlarged)

(all photos posted with permission of Jonathan Salazar):

The route he took:


Magic Kingdom:


Hollywood Studios:

Animal Kingdom:

On Property Hotels:


To see everything Jonathan’s posted so far, check out his Facebook page. It’s the May 4th, 2020 entry and it’s public.

He is developing an Instagram site with his Disney pictures – you can see those at @thedisneypilot. You can also check out his aviation IG site at @colombianpilot.


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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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