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!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Falls on Fire

I've undoubtedly posted many photos of Firewall Falls, but the contrast between the red and orange rocks and the shimmering purples light up around the cascading ribbons of water constantly attract my attention and the shutter of my camera.  There's just something about that color combination and the saturation in the shift that is just stunning and spectacular.  Hopefully, you don't get tired of this view either!

Beautiful Firewall Falls at night.
Some housekeeping messages... as I mentioned a few days ago, I've removed the catalog of posts sorted by Disney property and themed land from the side bar and placed them on a spiffy dedicated page called "Catalog," which you can access in the navigation bar above.  I've also updated my "Equipment" page, so check that out if you've ever wondered what I use to shoot these photos!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Halloween in the Town

Night shots and Main Street during Halloween Time just go together like Jacks and O-Lanterns.  The park is particularly atmospheric in the evenings, and the oranges and yellows really go well with the warm nighttime lighting in this nostalgic entry area of Disneyland.  Naturally, the end of the night is when I wait for before I start photographing, but it's well worth the magical ambiance I get with those empty park shots. So here are yet more Main Street photos taken during October!

The Mickey pumpkin from Town Square.

Market House was newly refurbished last year.

The Emporium, always a great place to shop for Disney wares.

Another angle of Market House.

The Main Street Station, as seen from Town Square.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bones in the End

The Pirates of the Caribbean attractions that exist in the various Disney Magic Kingdom parks around the world are all a little bit different.  At Disneyland, guest cruise through a bayou before descending down some waterfalls, past skeletal pirates, through a battle, and into a town ransacked by singing and looting buccaneers.  At Walt Disney World, the ride is similar, but little more than half as long, with many details missing.  And over in Disneyland Paris, the attraction has more in common with its California cousin, only the experience is reversed.  Live pirates kick off the ride, and guests sail through multiple scenes of various pirate villainy and larceny, and at the end of the ride, they encounter the familiar skeletal remains.  This makes sense, though, because that's what chronological order would dictate.

For this series, I'll focus on the end scenes, in an effort to tie into the spooky theme of the month.  After all, skeletons are spooky, right? And here, they represent the ultimate fate of the marauding men... a date with the ultimate claimer of everything.  They'll look familiar, but each area is just a little bit different from what Southern Californians might be used to.  I think it's pretty neat, though.  It's always nice to see how a different spin works out!

A pirate sits atop his golden bounty.

The captain keeps a sharp weather eye on his plunder.

Of course, even in death, pirates must enjoy the occasional libation!

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