Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Halloween Roundup

On this last day of September, we venture over to Frontierland to see the Halloween festivities set up over there.  Tucked away behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a charming display of Halloween themed goodness.  During Mickey's Halloween Time, Big Thunder Ranch is transformed into an autum festival, with elaborate carved jack-o-lantern displays, flower settings, a dressed up petting zoo, and Halloween-inspired character meet-and-greets featuring Disney's villains.  It's a nice place to spend a little bit of time with the kids or to just admire the decorations.  Being a ranch, there's a bit of a farm theme, and a rustic homeliness underlying everything.

It's a nice treat to stumble upon this line of Halloween tribute, so next time you're wandering the path between Frontierland and Fantasyland, you might want to stop by and examine the activity!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Disney Gallery

The current site of the Disney Gallery, on Main Street, has been home to many venues.  For many years, it was the Bank of Main Street, complete with a real bank (Bank of America) inside where guests could withdraw cash that doubled as the only bank in the country open on Sundays.  Later, it served as the processing center for Disneyland Annual Passholders.  Now, it is home to the park's show case of Imagineering artwork and exhibits.  It's a wonderful space, with several rooms containing galleries and souvenirs, and is constantly featuring great exhibits, like the current Castles Exhibit I've written about previously.  Warm and inviting the Disney Gallery is a great addition to Main Street, and I hope it stays there for many years to come!

The lobby and gift shop of the Disney Gallery.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Eerie Macabre

You are about to take the strangest ride of your lives, aboard an elevator inside a building with a burned out husk of a wing, and those weird cantilevering projections on the side that don't quite make architectural sense.  It's bizarre how long ago, lightning struck the front of the hotel and disintegrated an entire section, sending five hapless passengers riding in an elevator into another dimension. And yet, the elevator wasn't really in the part that was struck.  It wasn't like the lightning struck the cab.  Could this be supernatural conduction at work?  The world may never know.  All that can be said is that the oddest forces are at play here, and nothing really makes sense.  And still, people continue to drop in.  Curious, it is.  Curious.

The Hollywood Tower Hotel, glowing at night.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Old Stumping Ground

This here is the remains of an old, old tree, from an era much long gone.  Millions upon millions of years ago, this tree stood tall, perhaps some twenty stories, in the forests of what is now Colorado.  But over time, through some fantastic event, it was petrified.  And now, it sits in Frontierland, along the Rivers of America, as a wonderful relic of both the park and of history!

Walt Disney's infamous "anniversary present" to his wife Lilian.

Today is the 100th post on Disney Photoblography, which means much like the tree, this blog has withstood the test of time--or at least three months.  Thank you to all who have supported the site with their compliments and sharing.  Please continue to do so!  Comments on blog posts, retweeting, sharing on Facebook, pinning on Pinterest, and even simple old fashion word of mouth are all greatly appreciated!  Help me continue to build a growing audience, and I'll help you enjoy a piece of magic from the Happiest Place on Earth!  Deal? Deal.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fall Flowers

Disneyland has plenty of fantastic plantlife, but perhaps the most noticeable are its numerous flower beds, regularly refreshed throughout the year, brimming with vivid color.  This one can be found at the south end of Main Street, near the flag pole.  It's a nice photo spot and  great backdrop, and gives a great splash of color to this most nostalgic of lands.

Flowers at Main Street.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tires and Tires

There are a lot of great viewpoints in Cars Land. Everywhere you walk, there's something pretty to behold, and not just from an overall view. Sometimes, little angles like this reveal themselves when you're walking into just the right position.  In this case, with the rocky Cadillac Range in the background, the Leaning Tower of Tires in the foreground, and the architecture of Luigi's Casa della Tires in the midground, the result is a wonderful little view from within Cars Land.

Signage at Luigi's Flying Tires, behind the Leaning Tower of Tires.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Aboard the Riverboat

There are few things as relaxing at Disneyland as a nice cruise aboard the Mark Twain along the Rivers of America. With the bright sunshine and genial atmosphere, it's very much like taking a trip back in time, when the riverboat was king.  The elevated views of Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country, and Tom Sawyer Island provide quite a scenic tour.  So take a cruise along the river when you have a chance.  It's quite a tranquil treat!

Aboard the Mark Twain.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Curios Galore!

Radiator Springs Curios is quite the eclectic shop. Inside, it's a souvenir store selling Cars-themed and Disney memorabilia. But on the outside, it's very much that quirky, charming store that Lizzie set up with the help of her late husband, Stanley.  The great thing about this place is that when designing it, the Imagineers scoured Route 66 for authentic signs and knick knacks to stick on the building.  So the resulting hodgepodge of signage is genuinely historical!  This adds a very nice charm to a very cute store.

Radiator Springs Curios in the magic hour sunlight.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Carnation Cafe Dining Part II

A couple of months ago, I posted about my first time dining at the reopened Carnation Cafe.  Since then, I've had a chance to visit a second time and sample some new dishes, so I thought I'd share my thoughts about them!

The amazing and decadent Baked Potato Soup.
I had heard about the delicious Baked Potato Soup, and this appetizer did not disappoint! It's all the delicious flavors of a fully loaded baked potato, in soup form.  Certainly, this is not the healthiest options, but the smokey bacon, savory sour cream, tangy chives, and luscious potato chowder were absolutely wonderful!

Chicken Fried Chicken, as scrumptious as it looks!
My friend had the Chicken Fried Chicken, which is basically like a chicken fried steak.  It was quite delicious... meat still moist, breading nice and crispy.  I haven't heard bad things from any of my friends who've tried this.

The Sustainable Fish of the Day was a delicious fillet of trout!
Because of my larger appetizer portions (I had also ordered the Fried Pickles), I choose fish for my main course, so that I'd have a lighter entree.  This was absolutely splended, flaky and moist, with a light crispy sear on top, and flavoring that might have been a tad too salty, but nothing to really complain about. Atop the bed of salad greens and edamame succotash, it made for a very balanced meal!

So, it goes without saying that the Carnation Cafe is a very fine restaurant and has become one of my favorite dine-in spots in the parks! Go check it out when you have the chance!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Holiday Mansion

Every year, for its Halloween and Christmas seasons, Disneyland dresses up the Haunted Mansion with a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, turning an already popular ride into an even more popular dual-holiday attraction.  To see Jack Skellington's handiwork is to witness a cornucopia of noel and fright, but it makes for a rousing fun ride.  And even if the holiday version has stayed the same over the past several years, there's always a unique and amazing gingerbread house inside the ballroom scene.  So join the thousands of people who flood Haunted Mansion Holiday.  You'll witness a ghoulishly glorious sight!

The Haunted Mansion in festive holiday garb.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Simple Pleasantries

I'm not entirely sure why I like this photo.  At first glance, there's nothing really striking that catches the viewer's eye.  The composition is almost inverted... the center region is texturally boring, and there's only a glimpse of something visually interesting at the side.  But I think it's the mood this photo conveys--a general bright serenity--that attracts me.  The Boardwalk restaurants are a lovely place to just eat and relax.  They're a wonderful remodel of the dining area that existed previously.  And sometimes, an area doesn't have to be spectacular. It simply has to be really nice.

Blue hour at next to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Court of Angels Redux

A little while ago, I posted a photo of the Court of Angels at night.  This tranquil and beautiful courtyard is a blissful place to get away from the crowds, and that's not only true for evenings.  It's just as charming and quiet during the day too.  Most guests walk past the Court of Angels without giving it a second thought. In fact, it's not usually frequented with any sort of popularity except during the fall and winter holiday season, when Disney stocks the space with retail carts in an effort to bulk up their souvenir sales.  But when it returns to its natural, serene form, oh how I love it!

A panoramic composite of four shots to form this view of the Court of Angels.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Art of Frankenweenie

From now through Sunday, November 4th, Disney California Adventure is holding an exhibit for The Art of Frankenweenie inside the Animation Courtyard, within the Art of Animation Building in Hollywood Land.  Frankenweenie, made in 1984, is famously known as one of Tim Burton's first movies, though the director was fired from Disney upon completion after the powers that be thought he had wasted company resources by producing a film that would not fit well with its intended demographic. 

Fast forward a couple of decades and massive commercial success, and now the movie is being remade using Burton's trademark stop motion technology style made famous in films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride.  And in advance of the film, as part of its promotion, Disney has offered a sneak peak at the props and characters of the movie.

"Tim Burton's Desk," featurin character models and art pieces.

The exhibit opened last Friday, the first day of Disney's Halloween Time.  I loved how much it reminded me of Burton's LACMA exhibit from last year.  The artistic direction and dioramas were exquisitely crafted, and it actually succeeded in making me look forward to the movie.  So kudos, Disney team, for good promotion and good behind-the-scenes featuring of what will hopefully be a Halloween hit. I highly recommend checking out this exhibit!

Close-up of concept and wardrobe art.

A close-up look at Mr. Rzykruski and Elsa.
Victor Frankenstein's parents.
Several creature models.
A classroom diorama.
Another look at Mr. Rzykruski.
Victor's nemesis, Tokiashi. Look at how he broods!
The diorama allows a peak-in on the side.
Another diorama showing the Frankensteins at home, during more peaceful and less tumultuous days.
Victor and his father, Ben, having breakfast.
Victor's mother, Susan, making breakfast.
And the last diorama, showing young Victor in his lab.
Victor has brought his beloved dog, Sparky, back to life.
The details in these scenes are fantastic!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Morning Castle

In keeping with the theme of the last two posts--unique shots that feature no one in them--I present a viewpoint you might recognize if you happen to glance over to the "Inception" page of this blog.  Yes, this is a photo of Sleeping Beauty's Castle... empty... during the daytime. 

I've posted a photo of the castle with nary a soul during the nighttime before, but that's a simple enough task to accomplish--just wait long enough.  But to accomplish the same shot during the day required being at the park at the right time.  In this case, I had to wait long enough... during daytime--after 6AM on March 1st!  It was definitely easier than sneaking into the park before it morning opening.  In addition to the whole trespassing thing, waking up early and I totally do not get along.  Thank goodness One More Disney Day was there to facilitate things to my greater convenience.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle after the first-ever 6AM closing to the general public.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Burning the Small World Oil

Here's a sight you will seldom see... It's a Small World alive at four thirty!  But not the normal 4:30... for this photo, as you might guess, was taken at 4:30 AM.  This was only possible, of course, because it was One More Disney Day.  On this exceedingly busy night, I ended up hanging out with the crew from Tours Departing Daily for much of the night, people watching and shooting the breeze.  Around the middle of the early morning, however, spurred by an idea that another friend suggested, we decided to head north to catch a most unique snapshot.

4:30 AM.  This is not a trick of the light.

There are lots of angles anyone can capture, if he or she is at the right spot.  But this particular view?  I'm not sure we'll be able to see something like this anytime soon.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stillness at the Circle

Photography is all about patience. Many times, if you want a great shot, you have to wait for it.  You have to allow the moment to come to you.  You have to allow the composition to unfold.  And so it was on this night, when I found myself with a great angle of Carthay Circle, only I wanted that pristine, "not a soul in it" shot.  And so I waited... and waited... and waited.  It was already past park closing, but a continuous file of people passed by, tired after a long, adventurous day.  And before that trickle could completely close, World of Color ended, which meant a flood of people coming through.

And so I waited. And waited. And waited.  Determined to get the shot, I stood next to the trash can I had turned into my own personal tripod.  I waited for the new flood to slow into a steady flow, which eased into a trickle, and then, eventually, there was enough of a gap to act.

Carthay Circle, long after Disney California Adventure has closed.
I think the photo was worth it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Commence Halloween Time!

Today is the first day of Disney's Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort.  This is an all-encompassing term for the general Halloween decorations that are up around the Resort (and mostly around Disneyland) during the latter half of September through October.

Lamp post decorations on Main Street during Halloween.

Although the special Halloween-themed events have now been strictly claimed by the separate-admission Mickey's Halloween Party, Halloween Time is still a nice chance to see the park decked in fall colors. And there are still certain seasonal attractions open to the general public, like Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and jack-o-lantern carving at Big Thunder Ranch.  Halloween Time: when Disneyland becomes the "wickedest" place on Earth!

An oversaturated view of Main Street during Disney's Halloween Time.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Checking In

Long ago, this was a palace of splendor, where the Tinsel Town elite wined, dined, and reclined.  Long ago, this was a bustling hub of Hollywood celebrity, where the glitz and glamor of the movies shown brightly.  Long ago... before that fateful night when five people stepped onto an elevator and into another dimension.  Since then, the hotel has had plenty of vacancy.  So feel free to make a reservation.  I hear the experience is out of this world...

Outside the lobby at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One More Jolly Morning

Sunrise on One More Disney Day offered a rare and magical opportunity to capture Disneyland at the break of dawn. And for photographers who stuck around the park even after the 6AM closing time, it presented a fantastic chance to photograph people-less scenes during the daytime.

So when I came upon the Jolly Holiday Bakery, which had been open not more than a month at that time, and saw the glorious morning sunbeams striking the building, I new I had to take a picture.  I took several angles, but this one, front and center, is still my favorite.  In the cool, crisp morning air, this newly remodeled dining area presented a wonderfully welcoming sight.  You might even say it was practically perfect in every possible way!

The Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe in the early morning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fantastic Flo's

The area around Flo's V8 Cafe is so lively and bristling with energy.  Guests walking in and out... diners enjoying delicious roasted meats and barbeques... a gorgeous setting straight out of the movie Cars...  It all adds up to a classic Disney atmosphere.  It's no surprise that this is one of my favorite spots in Cars Land. Then again, I think I have a lot of favorite spots in Cars Land, but that's a testament to the excellent work Disney has put into this place!

Beautiful lighting late afternoon at Flo's V8 Cafe.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Afternoon Bliss

In the late afternoon, when the light is just right, Cars Land falls under a warm and spectacular glow.  The blissful rays of magic hour create a wonderful atmosphere and really bring Radiator Springs to life.  It's enough to make one pause for a moment and just take everything all in.  What wonderful inspiration this beautiful land can convey!

The entrance to Cars Land off of A Bug's Land.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nice Day for a Spin

I, for one, am not a huge fan of spinning rides.  They very often make me dizzy.  Now, I can handle rides that move in a circular motion, as long as that motion isn't pure spinning.  Scrambled Egg rides, attractions like Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, and even carnival thrill rides like Tangos are surprisingly tolerable. But place me on the Mad Teacups, and I'm out for the count.

Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, with Roger's fountain in the foreground.

Despite this, I hold great esteem for Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin--a very spinning ride (though fortunately, the spinning is all rider controlled) that, really, is one of Disney's best dark rides.  Delightfully themed and featuring some surprisingly convincing and impressive special effects, this attraction bounds through Roger Rabbit's loopy world of cartoon shennanigans, battling Weasels, avoiding Dip, and saving the curvaciously lovely Jessica Rabbit.  This is tremendously fun, and even after all these years, often commands a sneaky long wait time by guests who share the same opinion.

The playful and utterly absurd architecture of Mickey's Toontown. Roger Rabbit's on the right.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Entering A Bug's Land

If you haven't noticed already, I've been adding a catalog of the themed lands in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to the sidebar to the right, and up until now, I had managed to provide at least one photo for every land in both parks--except for A Bug's Land.  Frankly, this is not a place I visit often, except to go on through to Hollywood Land.  But as I strolled through this child-friendly area, I found the entrance to be a bit more photogenic.  And as such, I snapped a few exposures to craft into an HDR composite.  So here's the view going into Flik's Fun Fair, and here's a complete listing of lands for the blog.

The whimsical entrance to Flik's Fun Fair, part of A Bug's Land.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Morning Fountain

It's a wonderfully soothing sight, this fountain in the middle of Carthay Circle. The classy Art Deco detailing and tiling provide an elegant touch to this feature monument on Buena Vista Street.  On a warm summer day, it's a psychologically cooling respite from the daytime heat.  Yes, the Carthay Circle Fountain is a fine icon here.  One of the many improvements that have been wrought into this redesigned Disney California Adventure.

Carthay Circle Fountain in the summer morning.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Streaking Past the Stars

There's a lot of fun that can be had with long exposure shots, and when you have a subject like the Astro Orbiter and the vibrant setting of nighttime at Disneyland, the results can be wickedly fun.  Just stop the aperture down to something that will allow the shutter to remain open for a couple of seconds, hit the trigger, and see what comes out.  In this case, some nifty perspectives.  I like to think of these photos as a rocket hitting lightspeed!!

The Astro Orbiter spinning around.

An on-ride shot with the neon lights of Tomorrowland streaming in the background.

A rare successful (for me) motion pan shot.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Oh sure, it seems like a beautiful day.  The bright, happy sun... the azure blue skies... the warm and vibrant colors of the hotel...  But more sinister things lurk within.  And there's a gateway to another dimension that catches guests by surprise.  A whole zone of inexplicable things and ideas, of matter and substance that defies rationale and wanders into the realm of superstition.  Don't think that everything is as cheerful inside as it appears from outside.  Nay, there's an eerie web of intrigue and macabre waiting to catch you, if only you... drop in.

The Hollywood Tower Hotel on a blissfully bright day.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Taste Pilot's Grill

This is a glimpse back into time.  You see, these days, Taste Pilot's Grill no longer looks like it does in the photo below.  Gone is the fighter jet blasting out of the restaurant's facade.  Gone is the neon lit graphical explosion.  Instead, the upper half is all gridded--the result of an exercise several months ago aimed at removing all visual eyesores from the viewlines of Buena Vista Street.  I'll admit that the facade now looks a lot plainer than it used to, but I guess we'll always have our memories.  Besides, fortunately, the food inside is still as tasty as before!

The old facade of Taste Pilot's Grill, home to ribs, burgers, and sandwiches.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lights of Lucky Fortune

One night, I was out with some friends, who decided to grab some dinner over at the Lucky Fortune Cookery.  While I waiting, I decided walk around the area and see what pictures and angles I could capture.  What caught my eye were the lamps and lighting of the Cookery.  There was a certain sense of charm to it all, and I snapped a few shots that interested me.  Sometimes, it's the details that really make a place come together.

The glow of neon at the Lucky Fortune Cookery.

A traditional lantern hanging over the queue to the quick serve windows.

Another lantern hanging over a painted brick branding sign.

A close-up of the lantern.

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