Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Disney Costume Party

Last Friday, I attended Mickey's Halloween Party for the first, time, and one of my favorite parts was seeing all the fantastic Disney-bounding and cosplaying that many guests engaged.  Mickey's Halloween Party is one of the few Halloween related events where guests are allowed (and encouraged) to wear costumes, and many people take full advantage of that when attending this separate admission event.  Here are a few photos of some of the sights and fashions around the park last Friday evening!

A Roarin' 20's / Little Mermaid quartet pose in a photo with Disney Food Blog's Heather Sievers.

A whole family of sock monkeys are photo bombed by the door from Alice in Wonderland.

This family is part Snow White, part Gothic.

Heather Sievers brought a entourage along, all themed to Alice in Wonderland!

Well, three of the four are here...

Here's an interesting pairing--Flynn Rider with Genie. But whatever works at Disney!

I loved that this Ursula even had Flotsam and Jetsam around her, and her friends made for a great Ariel and Eric!

I passed these ladies several times during the evening, with many guests wanting to take photos with them. I finally had a chance to take a photo of them near the end of the night--great examples of some of the more elaborate costuming that can be seen at this event!

Finally, a bit less literal, a bit more "Disney bounding," or dressing in the spirit of your favorite Disney characters!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Spirits of Phantom Canyon

Phantom Manor, at Disneyland Paris, is a much darker and more twisted take on the Haunted Mansion series compared to the rest of the Disney properties. But this is what sets the attraction apart and why I like it more than the Disneyland and Walt Disney World versions that I have experienced. 

The climax of the ride comes when the ride ventures out into Phantom Canyon, a supernatural version of Thunder Mesa full of macabre spirits set in a haunted Wild West environment.  Like the rest of the Haunted Mansions, there is a bit of a facetious spirit here, but it's still noticeably more sinister than the Grim Grinning Ghosts elsewhere.  Still, it's a fantastic ambiance, visually, and though this ride is exceptionally difficult to photograph (especially since I'm not as familiar with it), I did manage to get a few decent shots from this part of Phantom Manor!

A decapitated mayor welcomes guests and ghouls into Phantom Canyon.

Alcoholic apparitions hang out around the watering hole.

Music is complementary, as is a corpse-y candelabra.

Fancy some spirits from a spirit?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Ghost Ship

When I attended Mickey's Halloween Party last week, I forgot that during this event, they fog out the Rivers of America, creating a dramatic and eerie scene of limited visibility.  It's certainly a very cool effect, and when I first saw it, I knew immediately that I wanted to play with a composition involving one of the ships on the river.  The docked S.S. Columbia provided a great model, and combined with the great Disney lighting, made for a great supernatural visual story!

The docked S.S. Columbia looks quite atmospheric in the fog of the Rivers of America!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Great Mickey Pumpkin

Interestingly enough, I got the idea for the shot below from a similar perspective I took during Christmas time last  year.  The precise angle looking up Main Street, with a Town Square holiday icon in the foreground and Sleeping Beauty Castle in the background, is an interesting one on my telephoto lens because of how the depth compresses, and the castle actually comes into pretty nice detail despite being so far away.  The Mickey pumpkin head is also always so cheerful... it makes for a wonderful subject in the foreground.  '

Of course, to get an almost empty shot, I pretty much had to wait until almost the time when security would kick me out, because there are always guests taking photos in front of the pumpkin, even an hour past park closing.  Patience is a virtue, however, and I think this photo was worth it!

A glimpse up Main Street at night during Halloween Time!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Haunted Lobby

The Tower of Terror Lobby sits frozen in time, cobwebs from 1939 built up over the decades, a spectre of the once-golden Hollywood showbusiness elite. That was until that tragic night when five souls stepped into an elevator that transported them into another dimension.  Guests who now wish to check in must pass through the lobby.  And the lingering eeriness might serve as a warning that what happened so many years ago may very well happen again!

A look at the lobby area of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

Some side chars and a table sit unused.

It is a grand space, but also a spooky space.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Skeleton Jack

The Haunted Mansion Holiday is a classic holiday tradition now.  All the decorations and garland and spooky theming create a wonderful fusion of the Halloween and Christmas holidays, and guests love the Nightmare Before Christmas tie-in. 

I took the shot below on Friday, and although I've done a similar shot before, I liked the illumination and color captured in this photo, especially on Jack and the pumpkins below him, which have typically been darker in my past photos.  It's just a great scene, and I enjoy capturing the frame!

Skeleton Jack completes a great fall evening scene at the Haunted Mansion Holiday!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Cadaver Dans

On Friday, I attended my first Mickey's Halloween Party ever as a guest of the wonderful Heather Sievers of Disney Food Blog.  I had never gone before, because I didn't consider the upcharge event to be worth it, but after a fun-filled night of trick or treating, great shows, fantastic costume watching, and just entertaining times with new friends, I might have to change my tune.

One of my favorite parts of the event are the Cadaver Dans--the Dapper Dans "zombified."  Floating along the Rivers of America, they harmonize various spooky tunes of note.  The lighting is great, and combined with the fogged out river, makes for a fantastic visual spectacle.  The animated expressions and motions also give a great effect, and the result is a fantastic bit of entertainment!

The Cadaver Dans are a play on Disneyland's famous Main Street quartet.

Their performances are more than just vocal. They use gestures for nice exaggerated effect!

The facial expressions are great too.

The parting of the fog at moments allows for clearer shots.

Bravo, gentlemen! Bravo!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Frontlot Fountain

Walt Disney Studios is laid out a little differently from most Disney parks.  After passing through the gates, guests come upon a courtyard with all the basic park services before passing through a covered "Main Street" of sorts that contains dining and shopping options, and after that comes the arrival at the main branch-off point for the park, the Production Courtyard

But back at the first space, there is a lovely fountain themed to the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment in Fantasia.  Sorcerer Mickey conjures magic to direct walking brooms to engage in cleaning, and they certainly take to the task!  This statue and fountain show the early parts of this endeavor, and I must say that the accompanying landscaping and general setting make this a very pretty scene.  The color palette comes together in a vibrant and welcoming manner, and my only wish is that the dirt on the fountain wall had been brushed aside before I snapped this picture.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice statue stands in front at the entry plaza of Walt Disney Studios.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Halloween Time Welcome

It's the first sight visitors see when they enter and the last glimpse when they leave. The Mickey Mouse floral arrangement on the lawn fronting the Disneyland Railroad Main Street Station has been a part of Disney history for generations.  It is literally my first memory, and just a simple but lovely piece of landscaping.  During the fall, the orange and yellow flowers give an even warmer, more welcoming feel.  The train station trims complete the effect, and oh, what an even lovelier scene this becomes!

Disneyland Railroad's Main Street Station during an autumn afternoon.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Golden Tower

The other day, someone asked me if I had a daytime photo of the Tower of Terror from its approach from the Hyperion Theater.  Surprisingly, try as I might, I could not actually locate a nice photo of this!  Determined to correct this measure, I stopped by the Resort over the weekend to grab the shot. And while this is far from my ideal people-less shot (which is generally impossible during the daytime anyway), it does cast the Hollywood Tower Hotel in a beautiful light.  Literally!

The golden rays of the setting sun cast on the Tower of Terror.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Zocalos de los Muertos II

From one Frontierland to another, Halloween Time at Disneyland takes on a festive shape outside Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland Park in Anaheim.  The Dia de los Muertos display showcases the culture and decorations of Mexico's "Day of the Dead" holiday and also provides a vibrant exhibit bursting with color.  El Dia de los Muertos is commonly associated as a Mexican Halloween, but it's more of a [non-military] Memorial Day, if anything.  It's a day to remember one's departed family and ancestors, and it's a celebration of their life as much as it is a macabre ceremony associated with death.

The Dia de los Muertos display is an annual tradition at Zocalo Park.

The figures and food settings are representative of what is offered to dead relatives in Mexico.

It's quite a nice, colorful affair!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The House on Thunder Mesa

A week and a half ago, when I introduced Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor, I noted how much darker the French iteration of the ride is.  From the outside, this is especially obvious.  In contrast to the pristine antebellum mansion of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, Phantom Manor appears noticeably dilapidated and weathered.  There's a "Psycho House" feel to this eerie structure at the end of Frontierland, and even across the waters, it seems to just loom and have a presence over the rest of the land.  And if the house is this spooky from the outside, just imagine what it's like once one enters!

Phantom Manor sits positioned at the far end of Frontierland, an ominous sight in Thunder Mesa!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Coffee Downtown

Earlier this year, the third of the Disneyland Resort's Starbucks franchises opened in Downtown Disney.  A beautiful exercise in contemporary design, with stylish, totally clear glass, sleek steel structure, and warm wood plank finishes is elegant and welcoming at the same time--a nice mix of Disneyland's emotional nostalgia mixed with the world's largest coffee chain striving for more modern aesthetics.

I snapped several photos back in June when I photographed this, which itself was several months after the store's grand opening.  With no one around at night, the facade was ripe for architectural photography, and my friends and I all agreed that this new store was a most successful design!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

St. Mickey's Fire

Last Friday, I was at the Disneyland Resort with my friends, George and Doug.  As usual, we were there to wait out the crowds as the night progressed and close the park down shooting photos of any angle that appealed to us.  Working from the back of the park at Paradise Pier to the front, by the time we reached Buena Vista Street, almost all of the guests were gone, leaving us to capture those empty-park shots that are oh so gratifying.

Having three photographers in the same vicinity with the chance to take the same shots breeds a bit of mischief. After all, we want to be original in our own way, but we're staring at the same subject at the same time.  So sometimes, to break the monotony, someone goes off script. In this case, it was George wandering over to the Storytellers Statue as Doug and I were in the process of taking long exposures and snapping his flash straight into the camera, effectively "ruining" the shot with the sudden bright blast of light.

Except it didn't ruin it... at least not for me.  When I looked at the photo after it finished processing, I noticed that the flash had simply produced a single orb of light, rather than wash out the entire shot.  "How interesting," I remarked. It looked like a ghostly sphere, floating like a levitating spectre, not unlike what sailors used to think how the weather phenomenon of St. Elmo's Fire was a ghostly plasma.  In this case, it was just a trick of the light and long exposure processing, but with the month of Halloween in full effect, eerie associations were on my mind.  Sometimes, a ruined shot isn't ruined at all!

The combination of a long exposure and a quick flash results in a ghostly glow above Mickey!

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