Thursday, July 20, 2017


This past Monday was the long-awaited official return of the classic Disneyland show, FANTASMIC!  After a year and a half off, while the Rivers of America was being reprofiled for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the beloved spectacular brought back a mix of new and old scenes and brilliant new visual effects and projections.

One of the iconic scenes from the original version that has been slightly retooled is the jungle medley following the opening refrains.  Kaa makes his way out, but instead of dancing monkeys floating by on barges, it's a Lion King sequence with dancing lions--though interestingly, King Louie maintains a role.  Besides the slight content modification, what's really noticeable is how beautiful the projections onto the Tom Sawyer Island stage are.  Luminous and vibrant, they create a saturated backdrop that is visually stunning.  And the whole segment is a great evolution of a classic FANTASMIC! part.

Kaa makes a slithering appearance.
The signature eye beams come out in full effect.
The music is different, but the scene still impactful.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Ominous Manor

Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor's position on the hill overlooking Thunder Mesa means it's always in few of anyone approaching the area.  The ambiance starts at the entrance into Fronterland, where the spooky estate can be seen past the river, and continues all the way up until where guests enter the ghostly mansion.  I've mentioned before that this has some amount of Psycho House thrill, and from the view below, the scene certainly feels foreboding.  But I love the creepiness, even if it is a little less kid-friendly in a Disney park.  The approach, the view lines, the house itself.  It's all absolutely wonderful!

Phantom Manor is lurking... always lurking...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Glow of TRONmorrowland

Over the weekend, at the D23 convention, Disney announced that Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom would be getting its own TRON Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster in time for its 2021 50th anniversary celebration.  TRON is one of the premiere rides at Shanghai Disneyland, with its fast curves and magnificently futuristic building.  It's a wonderful announcement for Florida that is sure to liven up their Tomorrowland.  The only question will be how TRON and it's Shanghai Disney Tomorrowland aesthetic will fit into the Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland look.  We'll see, but one thing's for sure.  Florida's Tomorrowland will soon be merging with the Game Grid!

Orange cast upon Shanghai Disneyland's Tomorrowland.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Today is the 62nd birthday of Disneyland Park, but perhaps more excitingly for longtime fans, it is the formal return of the beloved FANTASMIC! show, which is back after a year and a half down while the Rivers of America was being reworked for the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land that is coming in 2019.  During the time, the show has been reworked with new addition and tweaks that will make it a unique show in its return.  While the overall plot and overarching sequences of scenes will be largely the same, there will be new scenes and new effects.  The soft openings over the weekend have largely received solid praise, and I can't wait to see how my favorite Disney show ever shapes up!

Maleficent spews flames at the climactic moment of FANTASMIC!, which makes its triumphant official return tonight!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Restaurant Sakura

There's a building at Tokyo Disney Sea's American Waterfront area that seems to pull double duty.  Outside, a quick serve stand offers up some fresh seafood fare.  And inside, there's Restaurant Sakura, a more purposeful sit down restaurant offering Japanese cuisine (which is funny, given that it's located in the "American" section.

Of course, this is Tokyo Disney Sea, so the restaurant building needs to be in beautiful aged brick, with touche of steel to convey the optimistic advance of modern architecture in the early 20th century.  Ultimately, it's a beautiful building, right at home in this "New York-ish" part of the American Waterfront!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Buccaneer Shootout

On Pirates of the Caribbean, one of the most iconic scenes is the jailed pirates trying to lure the dog holding the prison keys to a noose.  It's the target of many a Disney photographer picture, but in my opinion, just as photogenic is the next scene, featuring the wild shootout among various pirates within a creaking, falling apart armory.  The splintering wood, burning embers, and fragile structure all make for a precarious position, which makes the senseless shootout even more comical.  The environment itself isn't that easy to photograph, since it's so dark, but I was able to do it during a past trip when the boat backed up for an extended period of time.  This gave me the chance to fire off longer exposures in greater stillness, and the result of one of the attempts was this photo below!

The final shootout is explosive and befits a moody, mysterious setting.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Parisian Space Mountain

It's kind of interesting how the condition of a ride can impact its popularity.  By all accounts, Space Mountain: Mission 2, in Disneyland Paris, should be just as--if not more--popular as its international brethren, whose lines frequently exceed an hour even on somewhat busy days.  Ten years ago, when the ride was freshly refurbished, that was more of the case.  But three years ago, when I visited, the ride was consistently only 5-15 minutes in the middle of the afternoon.  By then, the roughness of the roller coaster had become apparent once again, and no amount of ride effects could seem to counter that.  Since then, the ride has been refurbished as part of the park's overall refresh for its 25th anniversary this year, and Space Mountain has now evolved into Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain (joining the other Space Mountains around the world that have received this treatment).  While I haven't visited since this change, lets hope the ride is at least more comfortable now, again!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pacific Wharf Golden Hour

The first time I ever visited Disney California Adventure (back when the 's was still in the Disney name), my lone memorable recollection of Pacific Wharf was how lovely its actual wharf area looked from the Paradise Pier side.  The whole marine waterfront ambiance gave a distinct Monterey feel, which I'd always found charming.  I remember taking a picture that was pretty much my only "pretty picture" of the area for years, since the rest of it was basically a glorified food court.  Since then, Pacific Wharf has developed more atmosphere, but this "moneyshot" still attracts my photographic eye. 

Colorful Pacific Wharf in golden hour is absolutely lovely.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Inside the Nautilus

Discoveryland's main marquee attraction might be its Space Mountain: Mission 2 E-Ticket roller coaster, but guests at the park shouldn't pass up the nearby Mystères du Nautilus walk-through attraction.  Themed after the iconic submarine in Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this pedestrian attraction allows guests to tour the vessel and gain an idea of what life was like for those adventuring seafarers.  The attraction is immaculately themed, all the way down to Captain Nemo's famous pipe organ, and really immerses guests in the movie (pun intended).  The entrance is located near Space Mountain's exit.  Gems like this really make Disneyland Paris one spectacular Magic Kingdom!

Descending into the vessel.
The Captain's offices are luxuriously furnished.
Wares and treasures are held behind guarded display.
The interiors are absolutely gorgeous.
N for Nautilus... or Nemo.
The submarine looks every bit like what a fantastical working submarine might look like.
Notice the Pepper's Ghost effect at the pipe organ.  Captain Nemo makes a cameo!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cristal de Géométrie

Although I don't take a lot of photos of them, there are plenty of interesting patterns throughout Disneyland Park.  One only has to find the right perspective or keep an eye out at the right angle.  Take Cristal d'Orleans... it's lavishly furnished and and charmingly stocked with all sorts of beautiful glass works, but one of the most ornate is right above everyone's heads... in the form of a chandelier that shines brightly over the boutique space.  Look straight up, and it shows off several patterns.  I find that pretty nice.

Looking up at the chandelier of Cristal d'Orleans.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Welcoming Cruz Ramirez

With the recent release of Cars 3, Radiator Springs has seen a bit of a change.  A new addition has joined the town in the form of Cruz Ramirez, one of the new characters in the summer Pixar movie.  Cruz is the third character in the meet-and-greet at the Cozy Cone Motel, and the entrance banner to Cars Land has been changed to reflect this.  No longer is Lightning McQueen greeting guests.  It's newcomer Cruz.  I'm not sure how long this will remain, but suffice to say, there are some new changes in town!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Tomorrowland Lighthouse

The Season of the Force may be no more but that doesn't mean we can't look back at some of the iconic moments, such as the magnificently light scene over Tomorrowland at the Observatron.  It was absolutely lovely seeing the spots shine brightly into the sky, marking Tomorrowland with a literal beacon of light.  It made for a great scene to photograph, especially from the second floor walkway of the Tomorrowland Expo Center.  And though Season of the Force certainly ran its course, I wouldn't mind if they had kept this aspect of the promotion.  Ah well.

The Observatron shines brightly over the Tomorrowland sky.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bathed in Pink

This is a bit of a flashback to spring, since it's summer, but a few months ago, while I was taking photos of the beautiful tabebuia blooms in the Hub, all the lights shut down, leaving me to shoot what is normally a strikingly lovely and illuminated scene in relative darkness.  The only source of light was the show lighting on Main Street, normally used for fireworks and nighttime parades.  At the time, I joked to my friends that security was implementing a new strategy to kick out Disney fan photographers by depriving them of their normal light sources.  Little did they know that we photogs had a nifty trick up our sleeves: long exposure photography.  By simply extending the shutter speed, we gained the lighting lost.  The result was a markedly pink photo definitely unique from the normal, but it also provided a fun story!

Turned off Hub lighting plus Main Street show lighting makes for a very pink Hub!

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Port Railway

The Disney Sea Electric Railway is one of several transportation attractions at Tokyo Disney Sea.  Running from the American Waterfront all the way to Port Discovery, it may not have a long route, but it features plenty of great scenic views of the beautiful areas in both themed lands.  The classic rail cars also seem at home in both a nostalgic neighbor like American Waterfront and a futuristic district such as Port Discovery.  Such is the wonder of Tokyo Disney Sea.  Everything blends together nicely and organically!

The Disney Sea Electric Railway approaches its Port Discovery terminus.

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