Saturday, December 20, 2014

¡Viva Navidad!

During the Christmas season, the Disneyland Resort offers a lot of holiday themed entertainment, and one of them is the ¡Viva Navidad! pop-up show over at Paradise Pier, in Disney California Adventure.  Set at the walkway right by the Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta and Garden Grill dining areas, this show stars Donald Duck, Jose, and Panchito, the Three Caballeros, as they explore the celebration of Christmas in the Latin American world through song and dance. 

It's a fun show that's a great hit with families, and the energy is delightfully spirited.  Here are some photos from the show, which runs several times a day through Disney's holiday season.

The Three Caballeros come out first, followed by dancers and musicians.

Spanish speaking cultures get the stage in the first set.

Lively floats also drift through the scenes.

Portuguese cultures get a chance to shine as well, when the samba is introduced.

The rest of the show melds the beats and rhythms together in wonderful and lively union.


Mickey and Minnie join the fun as well.


More singing and dancing.

The floats showcase all the main representations of Christmas in the Americas.


Audience members young and old enjoy the show and line up advance for it.

Near the end, guests are invited to participate in the revelry!


The musicians are talented and very enthusiastic.

Donald, Jose, and Panchito share the stage.


Eventually, it is time to wrap things up.

The dancers, musicians, and characters make their grand exit, and thus concludes a great holiday show!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas in the French Quarter

The balconies overhead, the lush planters, the ornate benches, the luminous and classic street lamps, and the romantic facades of New Orleans Square bring a beautiful ambiance to Disneyland Park, and during the holidays, the Christmas decorations enhance this even more so.  This angle, looking straight toward the Court of Angels (now sadly covered by gates to conceal its new purpose as the entrance to the remodeled Club 33), sparkles with a flavor that is wholly reminiscent of the French Quarter.  The peaceful winding streets add a sense of adventure.  What lurks around each corner?  Continue on through to find out!

Looking into the gates that conceal the Court of Angels.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Bustling Holiday Main Street

As much as I love shooting empty photos of areas of Disneyland, sometimes, a capture with people can be equally fulfilling.  Guest infuse the life into the Happiest Place on Earth, and a scene like the picture below really sets off the frenetic but communal of the holidays.  With the Winter Castle set off in a cool blue glow in the background in contrast to warm Main Street, the scene appears even more ethereal!

A busy Main Street evening during Christmas time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Passing the Night in Fantasyland

This isn't a particularly focused photo. I don't really have any leading lines, or enhanced perspectives, and my subject--the show building of Peter Pan's Flight, is mostly obscured by trees.  But I just like this as an ambiance shot.  The moving clouds give a little extra oomph too.  But mostly, I find to be a pleasant, serene example of the peaceful grandeur of Fantasyland, late at night.

Quick moving clouds glide over Peter Pan's Flight.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another Carthay Circle Christmas

It's been a couple of years since Disney California completed its five years expansion program in grand fashion with the addition of Cars Land and the reimagining of Sunshine Plaza into Buena Vista Street.  At the latter, the Christmas decorations have reinforced the transformation of a kitschy pop culture-centric area into an elegant, charming neighborhood.  And over at Carthay Circle, the "uptown" portion of this district, the kinetic holiday energy really comes to life as guests coming to and from intersecting paths converge upon this "hub" of DCA.  The magnificent Carthay Circle Restaurant tower stands as a bold icon, and the wonderful lighting infuses a holiday glitz into the atmosphere.

I literally waited ten minutes for the cast members standing in the foreground to finish speaking with their friends, who were in the park as guests, but they literally stood there for at least that long. Finally, I decided to snap the couple of exposures I needed anyway.  The result still turned out nicely, I think!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Nightmare Invading the Mansion

A week and a half ago, I took another ride on Haunted Mansion Holiday, and of course, I snapped some photos inside.  Lets take another ride on this beloved Christmas attraction!

The elaborately dressed loading station.

I do love this year's gingerbread house. I mean, I love every year's, but this one's a foodie!

House closed.

Zero floats around a Halloween Town Christmas tree!
Vampire duck!!
This jack-o-lantern candle fixture is pretty neat.
Good list, or bad list?

Vampire Teddy sits on a tree following the attic scene.

Skeleton Jack as Sandy Claws!

And his ever-faithful dog, Zero, by his side!

The graveyard scene is pretty much impossible to shoot, due to the moving vehicles and very dim lighting...

But I got stopped at this scene for several moments, so I managed to get... something sort of usable!

Trumpeting pumpkin angels.

Oogie Boogie is, of course, always up to his tricks.

New this year (I believe) at the exit is an animatronic Sally, bidding guests goodbye.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Flying Through Hollywood

Hollywood Land is home to lots of stars, and during the holiday season, the most famous celebrity of all can be found swooping by the end of the main drag.  Yes, over by Hyperion Theater, Santa Claus can be seen flying by, with his eight reindeer leading the way.  It's a quirky and fun gesture to Christmas time, and it's especially lovely at night, when the glow of neon contribute to the glitzy affair.  Hopefully, all the actors and actresses have been good!

Santa makes a cameo over at the end of Hollywood Boulevard!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Le Château S'endort

At Disneyland, shooting Sleeping Beauty Castle at night with no one in the frame is a patient affair.  One simply waits until the park has officially closed... and then wait an addition half hour to ninety minutes.  Eventually the people will filter out, but the time is still required.  Over in Disneyland Paris, the process is considerably simpler.  The French do not put as much commitment in their work, so when it is closing time, they tend to want you out as quickly as they can get you. 

In this case, I was at Disneyland Paris on an evening when Disney Dreams--the park's incredible fireworks and projection mapping and water fountain extravaganza--was playing.  Unlike fireworks at all the other parks, which occur at the midpoint of the night, Disney Dreams starts when the park closes.  So it becomes the last thing guests really do, and after it concludes, the park has already been closed for nearly half an hour. 

Thus, with the area in front of the castle already blocked off, I had little trouble taking empty castle photos.  But I had to be quick, and I only got several views before security was present to ask me to start heading back out Main Street.  Fortunately, I was able to get a "front and center" view.  With the post-fireworks spotlights lighting up the park icon, it certainly made for a beautiful sight!

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant after the evening's performance of Disney Dreams.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Buena Vista Tree II

My photography has certainly come a ways since I started doing this blog two and a half years ago.  The first time I posted a photo of this Christmas tree, I was using Photomatix to take five JPEGs and create a processed HDR.  These days, I take three (sometimes more) separate exposures in RAW, edit them separately, them combine them in Photoshop and mask in and out th eparts I like.  I feel like this has a more natural look, and it has the benefit of taking less time than my previous method!

Anyway, this scene of the Buena Vista Christmas tree seems so nice and soothing.  The tree over here in Disney California Adventure is a little different from its Main Street counterpart.  It has a more classic showbiz feel, with a Hollywood tinsel overlay.  I'm not even really a fan of this aesthetic when it comes to Christmas trees, but somehow, it works. And all the presents stashed underneath are pretty fun to inspect.  That makes this little spot a good gathering place for photos or just taking in the atmosphere.

The splendid Buena Vista Street Christmas tree glows by Carthay Circle.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Glow Aside

It's a Small World Holiday is such a dazzling spectacle that it naturally lends itself to being the target of a camera's lens.  Dealing with the drastic differences in illumination in any scene of this ride facade, though, is challenging.  The lights themselves are wonderfully bright and provide plenty of lux for the camera to capture, but good luck trying to get detail in any other part of the same exposure.  So for shots like this, combining multiple takes into a manual HDR is essential to really balance out the actual brightness that the human eye sees.  I shot this photo from a more oblique angle to get the tree framing the upper left corner.  It's not quite the panoramic, sweeping overview as last year's angle, but I still like it!

The colorful, saturated glow of It's a Small World Holiday.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Noel Vista II

Just a week and a half ago, I posted a view looking up Main Street with the Christmas tree in the foreground and Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background.  Today, I bring an accompanying view, also taken with a telephoto zoom, but situated from the opposite side of the tree, taken at the end of the night as opposed to the blue hour of the start of the evening, showing Main Street at peace instead of bustling.  I find this to be a fitting juxtaposition of the opposites that Christmas at the Disneyland Resort brings!

Looking up Main Street from the right side of the Town Square Christmas tree...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas in the Crescent City

The decorations at New Orleans Square have generally remain constant throughout each Christmas season, but the theming draped over the "front entrance" of this land seems to change just a little bit each year.  The change from last year to this year hasn't been much--a few different ornaments on the sides and the lack of the draped cloth, but two years ago, there wasn't even a masquerade mask, just an oversized and luminous wreath.  I doubt most guests would register this, but for people like me who go year after year, it's kind of fun to try to pick up on the little details that change.

Past closing hour at New Orleans Square.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Silent Night, Curio Night

Radiator Springs Curios has always struck me as the quirky shop in Radiator Springs. With various knick-knacks and random collectibles (and that's just plastered on the outside of the store!), it already takes on an eclectic look.  Add to that the multi-colored lights and ornate nature of holiday decorations, and the result is a funky but loveable shop that invites people to come in, if only due to curiosity.  Normally, people walk in and out throughout the evening.  So it's a nice moment to catch a break in the crowds.

The peaceful Radiator Springs Curios on a cool and calm winter evening.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Glistening Palace

I've found it rather fun to use a telephoto lens to shoot down Main Street U.S.A., compressing the sense of depth to bring farther background objects "closer" to the frame.  Shooting on a telephoto also provides different challenges of composition, because the zoomed in view limits the content of a photo.  Therefore, to maintain interest through the layering of subjects in the foreground, middleground, and background, sometimes some creative perspectives are required.  In this case, there is no grand overview; just a glimpse, and added interest to see more.

Glimpsing the winter castle through the Main Street ornaments.

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