Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tea Party at the Sunset

Being a resident of Southern California, I really appreciate it when a really good sunset happens.  Now, don't think I'm taking our weather for granted.  All the sunny days and generally pleasantly warm temperatures are fantastic.  But the atmospheric currents tend to lend themselves to plain, cloudless sunsets most of the time, or heavy clouds that settle and block the sun completely.  And on those rare cases when there is a really nice sunset (typically during early winter months), I seem to have a habit of missing them or being at a non-scenic place when witnessing.

That's what makes moments like this sunset at Disneyland Paris so much more special.  Not only was this a great sunset, but I was traveling abroad and staying for a limited time.  To have my presence and the occurrence of a dramatic sunset align is great fortune indeed, and I made the most of it during my Disneyland Paris visit a few years ago!

Puffy clouds make for a dramatic sunset over Disneyland Paris' Fantasyland.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Exploring Tom Sawyer's Island

Call it Tom Sawyer Tuesday?  A week and a half ago, Tom Sawyer Island reopened to the public, and I noted the return with an exploration of one of the moody and mysterious caves on the island.  Today, we take another jaunt but stay above ground, looking at the general rustic atmosphere of this big playground for the young and young at heart.

The Island has received some nice TLC, and all that was old has been refurbished and made new again, then made to look old again.  It's that Disney aging magic!  There are small additions and changes here and there, but by and large, the isle in the middle of the Rivers of America is as it was before it closed down last year.  The woodsy and frontier atmosphere encourages playful exploration, and even though the island itself is smaller, the publicly accessible areas remain about the same extents as they were.  So guests on the island won't notice much layout change.

Ultimately, it's great to have this classic part of Disneyland back.  And it also means that sooner or later, we'll be having FANTASMIC! back with us as well (specifically, on July 17).

Lafitte's Tavern serves as the backdrop for the platform area that serves as the stage for FANTASMIC! at night.
A new addition, this little boat has been pulled up to shore.
Moving onto the water wheel.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Golden Hour over the Jungle

Tropical Imports is relocating this summer, next to a new indoor dining area beside the Bengal BBQ.  In its place will be the new location of stroller parking--a move to ease congestion in the walkways of Adventureland.  It will be odd to see the spot next to the Jungle Cruise no longer sell fruits and snakes and various wares, but change is ever present at Disney theme parks.  I look forward to seeing how the new Tropical Imports will look like when it debuts this month or next!

Wares atop Tropical Imports can be seen in this photo from a few years ago, with Aladdin's Oasis in the background.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Elliott's Parade

Undoubtedly, the most iconic float and character in the Main Street Electrical Parade is Elliott--Pete's Dragon, who blows smoke and warbles his way through the parade route in adorable fashion.  And at the prompt of "Razzle dazzle!" Elliott is able to disappear--by turning off his lights.  With Pete at the helm, this popular float has captivated guests for over 45 years.  This summer, the Main Street Electrical Parade finally hoedowns into the night for the last time, back home where it all began.  Check it out before it's actually gone (this time) forever!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mickey and the Non-Existent Railroad

Shanghai Disneyland starts off familiar enough... as guests walk through the turnstiles, they encounter a feature of every Magic Kingdom, a floral Mickey Mouse, perfect for a photo op.  Beyond that, there are two towers and an elevated arcade that look just like they would be the perfect home to a railroad station--only there is no Disneyland Railroad in Shanghai.  Perhaps because it was too associated with American history and culture, Shanghai Disneyland eschews a round-the-park railroad, but there is still the suggestion of one as guests walk around the floral Mickey and through the archway into Mickey Avenue in proper.  It's kind of pretty and kind of curious, but it does make for a nice photograph!

Floral Mickey in front of the Not-Disneyland-Railroad-Station.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Mediterannean-American Blue Hour

As spectacular as some might appear, photographs really do not actually do justice to the rich, enveloping atmosphere of Tokyo Disney Sea.  From far vistas to close details, there is a bevvy of immersive elements that make this truly a Sea of Dreams.  Even where two lands cross in line of sight, there are icons to catch the eye.  In the scene below, Mediterranean Harbor streches off the frame to the left, but American Waterfront sparkles straight ahead and behind.  A glimpse of Fortress Explorations can be glanced on the right, and the lagoon forms the stage for both daytime and nighttime shows that add a dynamic flair to the park.  I love the ambiance at Tokyo Disney Sea, and I can't wait to revisit one day soon!

Staring across Mediterranean Harbor to the Hotel Hightower and American Waterfront.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A New Thunder Trail

About two weeks ago, Disneyland quietly reopened Big Thunder Trail, the pathway linking Frontierland and Fantasyland, after over a year of redesign and partial re-routing to make way for the upcoming "Star Wars" Land.  The new trail takes on the rich, warm sandstone hues of the Southwest to parallel the tones of Big Thunder Mountain, and the mining motif is ever-present.  It's a pretty desert landscape that will actually transition nicely into the mysterious wilderness of the unknown planet that serves as "Star Wars" Land's setting, and I think the Imagineers and construction folks have done a tremendous job!

Old battered retaining walls and mining artifacts dot the trail.
This gives way to some lovely red rock formations.
You can see the reference to Big Thunder across the way.

These lamps skewered into the rock are a lovely touch.

The rocks jut out to provide shade too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spotlight on the Lagoon

At Tokyo Disney Sea, Mermaid Lagoon is probably the least prominent "port of call," being designed mostly with attractions aimed at younger guests.  With a outdoor family roller coaster and a large indoor attractions area, this is basically a fancier version of A Bug's Land in Disney California Adventure.  But oh, how startling the difference in quality is!  Whereas DCA's "kiddie land" shows is fastrack, quickly built status, Mermaid Lagoon has beautiful and colorful rockwork and an immersive, theater-set atmosphere.  It's telling that even the least extravagant part of Disney Sea is still pretty impressive.  That's Tokyo for you!

Aquatic (ish) spires mark the home of Ariel's undersea kingdom, Mermaid Lagoon, at Tokyo Disney Sea.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dead Man's Grotto

Over the weekend, Tom Sawyer Island reopened after a year-plus refurbishment during the downtime of the Rivers of America.  The island has been truncated a little bit, but island attractions-wise, guests wouldn't really notice it, as none of the previously publicly accessible spots of the island have been removed. 

One attraction that has remained intact is a relatively recent one, added during the "Pirates Lair" overlay added ten years ago.  Inside one of the caves, theming related to the Pirates of the Caribbean film series was added to give a synergy of adventure to the land.  Corporate intrusion aside, the theming is pretty cool, with a very spooky ambiance, visual effects, and an immersive soundscape through the cavernous layout.  And with the refurbishment, this little subterranean trail looks as great as ever.  Explore it--if you dare!

A part of the cavern opens up to reveal Davy Jone's chest.
Inside here lies the beating heart of Davy Jones.
This soul was not too fortunate in retrieving any treasure he was seeking.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Five Years and Running

Who'd have thunkit... five years ago when I started this blog, I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep it regularly updated for five weeks, let along five years.  At the time, I merely felt inspired to combined two of my passions--photography and Disney--into a public forum that I could use to share my own love of the Happiest Place(s) on Earth with others who may not be so fortunate as I to be able to visit regularly.  The opening of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street--two exquisite and extravagant changes at the Disneyland Resort--spurred me to make an idea into a reality, and five years later, I've somehow managed to maintain my "picture a day" (and often more than one picture each day) trend.

The most dramatic entrance in all of Disney California Adventure remains the archway entry to Cars Land.
In the time that this blog has been running, I've accomplished a lot of Disney bucket list items that seemed like far stretches at the time.  I've been able to explore the wonder that is Tokyo Disney Sea (twice!)--something I've always wanted to see in person.  I've improved my own photography level to a state where I feel like I can at least occasionally approach that of some of my Disney photographer role models.  I've also been able to visit every Disney theme park in the world--something that seemed impossible anytime soon while I was in my mid twenties.  With those travels, I've been able to build this blog into what I think is a pretty good database of photos of Disney theme parks all around the world--one of the few on the interwebz that can claim such a collection.  So certainly, these past five years have brought a lot of highlights for me personally, and I am extremely thankful for all of them.

Willy's Butte and lovely Firewall Falls in the background.
I'm also extremely thankful for the comments (both online and in person) that people provide, the appreciation expressed, and the compliments lavished (I think often undeservingly, but I still am grateful).  My aim with this blog has always to bring a bit of magic to the viewer.  So if it inspires warm memories or some sort of joy, then I've done my job.  Any other recognition is just a bonus.
The Cadillac Range are whimsical and monumental at the same time.
Close-up of one of the peaks.

So on this, the fifth anniversary of Disney Photoblography, I'm taking back to the beginning, where the blog began... with Cars Land.  In all its grandeur.  It's been a fun five years, and I'm not planning on stopping this anytime soon.


The stillness of Cars Land at night is absolutely magical.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Tahitian Terrace

Once upon a time, Disneyland Park in Anaheim featured an exotic theater restaurant called the Tahitian Terrace.  Located behind the Enchanted Tiki Room, where Aladdin's Oasis stands today, this dining experience used to feature South Pacific cuisine and island dancers and performers and flame throwers.  It was quite a popular venue, but it closed in the early 1990s. 

As a tribute, Hong Kong Disneyland features a Tahitian Terrace of its own, also in Adventureland.  Unfortunately, this one is a more casual quick serve establishment, and there is no show offered for dining guests.  But it's still a nice nod, and to be honest, it's got quite a lovely ambiance at night!

The warm, inviting glow of the Tahitian Terrace at Hong Kong Disneyland creates a cozy scene at night.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Four Corners from Center Street

Standing in the middle of the midpoint of Main Street, where it intersects a smaller street, brings some nice perspectives.  And at Disneyland Paris, the four storefronts that anchor each corner have their own styles and characters.  Be they restaurants or storefronts, the early 20th century Victorian architecture is absolutely lovely, and the shift to more of an automobile theme brings to mind the flapper era and the Roarin' 20s.  Though that era didn't end up so well, at Disneyland Paris, time stands still, and the romance of the scenery at the end of the night provide absolutely lovely memories that last forever.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Glimpse of Rainbow Ridge

When I was a kid, I used to think that the queue of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was so cool, because they went and create a whole themed western town just to give waiting guests something really nice to look at.  Of course, Rainbow Ridge was part of the ride too--the end of it.  But I really appreciated the ambiance. 

Little did I know (and not till later when I was older did I learn) that the elaborate western town facade was actually remnant from a bygone attraction.  It used to be part of the old Rainbow Caverns Mine Train, a much slower moving tour through geological wonders of the Old West.  This attraction eventually became Mine Train to Nature's Wonderland in 1960 and operated that way until 1977, when it closed and was relegated to Yesterland forever to make way for the runaway mine train we all know and love today.  But the Rainbow Ridge town remains, and I love that bits of history that extend as far back as Disneyland's opening years can still be seen today, in pretty close to original appearance!

A Thunder Mountain mine train cruises through the town of Rainbow Ridge.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Buzz Lightyear: Planet Rescue

Like many other Disney parks, Shanghai Disneyland has a Buzz Lightyear shooting ride, titled "Buzz Lightyear: Planet Rescue."  But unlike the others, which are roughly clones of each other, this Buzz Lightyear ride has a fairly unique design and set, with vibrantly luminous scenes and vivid style.  The storyline and mission remain roughly the same.  The evil Emperor Zurg is attacking the planet of the Little Green Men, and riders need to help mount a counter-offensive.  The guns are mobile, and there's even a new built-in laser sight that makes targeting almost too easy, especially compared to the other iterations.  Still, this is a very fun ride that is visually stunning and definitely worth an experience even for those who have ridden Buzz Lightyear attractions at other Disney parks around the world.

Here are a few pictures from the ride, which I tried to take while also shooting along with my blaster at the same time.

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