Thursday, April 24, 2014

Alpen Rocks

Sometimes, I take little detail shots without a clear vision of what I want, but the result ends up being interesting in some manner anyway, even if I can't quite pinpoint how.  This is an example... a close-up of the side of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, with a glimpse into the mysterious caverns within.  I was originally trying to focus on the bridge in the middle of the shot, which was redone during the ride's extended refurbishment a couple of years ago.  Alas, I couldn't quite get the angle and instead tried to come up with a visual texture shot.  Is it good?  I'm honestly not quite sure. So I'll let you decide.

A detail on the Matterhorn.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Victorian Boardwalk

Whenever I'm strolling around Paradise Pier, I wonder what it must have been like to have experienced those classic Victorian seaside theme parks of the turn of the last century, with those bright, twinkling lights, screams of fun and excitement, and elegantly dressed patrons, strolling along the ocean.  It was certainly a different era back then.  Wooden roller coasters were marking their first heyday, and a trip to the beach was a more formal affair.  Though I'm sure it's not quite as romantic as I imagine it, I still think it would have been wonderful and memorable experience.  Alas, we'll have to make do today with recreations like Paradise Pier!

Looking forward past the entrance of Paradise Pier.

Ariel's Grotto stands shimmering at night.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Gateway to Adventure II

Today's post is simple.  It's another after hours shot, with the gateway to adventure on exhibit.  When Adventureland first opened, the Jungle Cruise was about the only attraction there, and the trees and foliage hadn't yet grown into the tall, lush vegetation that they are today--the kind that transports guests out into the heart of the jungle wilderness.  But today, it certainly does feel like a jungle in there--sometimes because the crowds are so clustered--but mostly because the theming has grown to be so immerssive and atmospheric.

This is also the only time you'll ever see the Dole Whip stand have no line--after it's closed!

Entering Adventureland when it's time to exit.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rocky Red Majesty

Here's another nerdy commentary about the interesting play on perspective you can attain in photography through the use of different lenses, even if the scene is the same. 

Our subject: the grand archway that frames the most spectacular entrance into Cars Land.  I've posted photos before showing its wide, sweeping beauty before, but there's another view I like as well, shot from afar, bringing framing the background closely through the opening, making the monumental rocks seem even larger and more towering.  Through this focused perspective, the background seems even more realistic.  It's all pretty wonderful, and reason #48,291 why Cars Land never stops being photogenic for me!

Ornament Valley is compressed in perspective, which makes it seem even more sprawling beyond.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Golden Hour at the Inn

Known for its wonderfully delicious fried chicken dinners, the Plaza Inn is also a lovely building in its own right. This charming Victorian cornerstone at the end of Main Street is a lovely restaurant that has anchored its location since the day the park opened. Formerly called the Red Wagon Inn, it was the first fine dining establishment and Walt's favorite restaurant when he roamed the park.  The menu back then was more diverse than it is today, and it boasted full sit-down service, akin to the Blue Bayou or Cafe Orleans today.  These days, it's more of a quick serve, but the classic ambiance still pervades, and the food is still delicious!

The Plaza Inn under the afternoon sunlight.
You can read more about the old Red Wagon Inn here.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Carthay Tower... at Night

The cupola at the top of the tower of the Carthay Circle Restaurant is a most iconic feature, and quite photogenic too. A few weeks ago, I posted a daytime version of this, so I feel it's appropriate to do a nighttime versiion as well, to complement it.

What I love about the tower is how it is both clean and ornate at the same time, with stylish lines and colorful accents.  It provides an elegant and unmistakable presence to DCA's skyline.  Most undoubtedly, it is nicer than the old metal sun sculpture that occupied this space before, and it's got a wonderful restaurant and classy bar inside to boot!

A fun fact... though it looks assembled together, the cupola is actually one piece, installed onto the tower almost like a cap piece.  A couple of years ago, Disney Parks released a video showing the process, and it's nice to take a look back, now that Buena Vista Street has been around for a couple of years.  Neat, huh?

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Ghostly Balloon

On the night I was taking this shot, I was all set up to snap my photo, when I noticed a lone balloon, tied to the railing, floating in the air, the lone obstruction in my otherwise clean and clear shot of the Haunted Mansion.  At first, I thought of what I could do to hide it, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it might actually be humorous to feature this souvenir as the lone subject in an otherwise surreal scene from Disneyland's most macabre property.  And so, I let the balloon simply waft in the almost-still air.  I let the exposure run for half a minute, capturing as much detail as I could from an ordinarily dark scene.  And when I was done, there was the balloon in the middle of the shit, drifting just ever so lazily so, almost like it was a hovering spirit itself. 

At least that's the story I'd like to think this photo tells. What do you think?

Gazing up the steps toward the Haunted Mansion.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Another Afternoon by the Fountain

Man has always been attracted to being near water. Perhaps it's that innate psychological association between water and life and benefit, but people have always flocked to beaches, riverfronts, and lakes. And on a smaller scale, to pools, fountains, and water features.  Not only are they often beautiful, they are actually cooler and more physically pleasant to be around.  So it makes a lot of sense to make the focal point of Disney California Adventure's revised entry place a fountain.  The Carthay Circle Fountain is a beautiful homage to the art deco, with sleek lines and cool colors, and it's a popular waiting spot or relaxation bar.  On a beautiful day, it's certainly a lovely experience to just sit by the water and take in the sights!

Golden afternoons at Carthay Fountain are bliss.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

From 1900 to Space

I've always thought that the view from the head of The Hub over toward Space Mountain was an interesting juxtaposition between the turn-of-the-century Victorian charm of Main Street U.S.A. and the futuristic sleek lines of Tomorrowland.  There's such a contrast in styles, and Space Mountain seems to loom unnaturally large over the Plaza Inn.  This contradicts the basic theming philosophy of keeping each land contained and feathering transitions to prevent any jarring overlay of themes, but that's just what happens here due to viewlines.  On the other hand, this scene has been like this for so many years that everyone's just used to it. And indeed, even though it doesn't make technical sense, I actually like the way these two structure interact with each other, visually.  It just makes for an eye-catching scene!

Space Mountain looms over the Plaza Inn.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Explosive Finale

SPOILER ALERT!

The following post contains photos from the redesigned final lift hill on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. If you do not wish to know what the new effects look like, then read no further and do not scroll down to the photos!

Alright?

Are you sure now?

Last chance... I want to make sure you read the warning in the second paragraph.

Okay, here we go...

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has been open for a month now, and I think enough time has passed to be able to shed some light on the one new redesigned aspect of the ride experience.  Of course, the track has been completely replaced and is now buttery smooth, and the town of Rainbow Ridge (formerly named Big Thunder) has been rebuilt and given a fresh coat of paint, and all the theming elements and animatronics have a new gleam to them from their refurbishment.  But there has been one wholly different part of the ride, and it occurs at the third and final lift hill of this thrilling mine train roller coaster.

Previously, riders coming into the final lift hill ascended a crickety track with boulders shaking awkwardly, simulating an earthquake, with a silhouetted projection of falling rocks (or mostly rubble) reinforcing the instability of the cave.  However, in the new and improved Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, riders find themselves in a blasting zone gone wrong.  3D mapping projections trace dynamite trails along the rocks, as explosives shoot forth from each side in a billowing discharge of smoke and "fire."  This culminates with a charge directly above riders' heads at the apex of the hill going off right into their faces!  The effect is achived with a combination of ejected fog, projections, and lighting, but it's quite impressive, and rather realistic! The first time I rode, I was blown away (pun intended)!

Here are a few photos showing how the effects go.

Climbing up the final lift hill.

Though I wasn't able to capture them in this series, there are explosions that rocket from both sides overhead.

And then the grand finale...

A big KABOOM...

Right at the riders! It's quite spectacular.
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