Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Space Spectre

I don't know what it is that the spirit inside Space Mountain actually does around Halloween, but it certainly has infected the ride.  At night, the symptoms present themselves in a loud cacophony of piercing booms and echoing bursts, while a murky and amorphous palette of color seeps across the roof of the structure, tracing the infection.  It's a creepy scene, to be sure, although it certainly gives the long lines something to look at.  For Disney, this is edgy.  The ride can be legitimately frightening to those who are used to more tame attractions. But the crowds seem to love it, and come Halloween Time, Space Mountain always has increased wait times.  Ghost Galaxy is a hit, and I suppose like all Halloween fans, I wish it would continue to stick around and haunt us all a little longer.

Here's to a safe and spooky October 31st to all of my blog readers! Happy Halloween!

Eerie Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy at night, with its spooky projections.

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is certainly a prominent force in Tomorrowland!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Just Around the Grizzly Riverbend

You'll never get me to do this at night. No siree.  A rapids ride in the evening air? That's inviting shivers. And pneumonia. Why, I'd positively get drenched! And then to walk around sopping wet, with no bright, warm sun to dry me off?  I meant, what, is the moon going to that?  Of course not.  So why in the world would I ride Grizzly River Run at night?  No, I'll simply admire it instead.  Because it sure is purdy, I'll give it that!

The boarding dock for Grizzly River Run, shining at night.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Haunting Spree

The big show stopping scene at the end of the Haunted Mansion is a delightfully swinging number, with Grim Grinning Ghosts carousing all about and harmonizing. But for this poor groundskeeper, the scene is anything but socializing.  With spooks coming out with eerie eyes, starting to shriek, the poor gent and his ever-faithful old pooch are complete terrorized, frozen in fear.  Alas, while guests are haunted all the way home, these two cemetery denizens must remain haunted here for all of eternity.  It's a wonder they haven't become the 1000th and 1001st ghosts!

The groundskeeper dreads what he might encounter around the corner.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Full Thrusters On

It's a neat prop in front of Soarin' Over California... a jet thruster that functions as a mist shower that is especially welcome on those warm days.  Hanging out in front of the Soarin' hanger, it's very much a fitting piece of theming within Condor Flats.  Imagine if it was a real jet engine... would it dream of blasting off on its own flight? Does this prop get frustrated by the lack of force with which it ejects its mist?  The world will never know...

Soarin' Over California, with the jet engine mister in front.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Windows

I feel like every time I visit Disneyland, I notice a new detail or feature that surely had been there before, but which I had just missed the dozens of other times I'd visited.  Several weeks ago, the "new discovery" was that the shops all along Main Street had presented a Halloween overlay inside most all of the storefronts, casting a warm, cozy, Autumn setting through the street.  These whimsical, nostalgic presentations brought warm fuzzies to my heart as I imagined how an actual turn of the century town might have celebrated the fall holiday.  In any case, they're another neat little addition and part of what keeps me always coming back!

A look at a few of the autumn-themed storefronts on Main Street.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Wharf

Most of the photos posted on this blog have been taken relatively recently, but I felt like posting this picture, pulled from my old archives, to show a glimpse back into [not-too-distant] history.  Not only was this taken way back when Cars Land was still deep in construction (as you can see by the steelwork behind the Pacific Wharf signage that would eventually become the Cadillac Range), but this was also one of my first HDR photos that I was actually satisfied with.  I had, for a very long time, tried to figure out how to make nice HDR's on my own.  And like most everyone, I went through the "halo-mania" phase.  But eventually, with inspiration from such great sites as Tours Departing Daily as well a gander into a couple of tutorials, I managed to produce a photo that struck a nice sweet spot between complete artistic fantasy and more accurate grounded reality.

The entrance to Pacific Wharf, circa early 2011.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Old Station

If you're my age or older, you look upon this photo with fond memories of the old People Mover, a slow, leisurely trip that toured through the many attractions of Tomorrowland.  Replaced by the ill-fated Rocket Rods when Tomorrowland was refurbished and reopened in 1998, the People Mover was a ride that the whole family could partake, and I remember countless trips sitting with my parents and enjoying the beautiful day and exciting sights.

Nowadays, the station sits empty, and only the Observatron--that quirky almalgamation of satellite dishes and projectile elements that replaced the Rocket Jets attraction when it was effectively replaced and relocated to the front of Tomorrowland in the form of the Astro Orbiter.  And I (and many Disney fans like myself) wonder and hope that it can be brought back to its former glory.  At the very least, it seems like they've kept things nice and tidy, though!

The empty People Mover station with the Observatron sitting on top.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole

Since the beginning of the summer season, over in Hollywood Land, the Mad T Party has been providing evening entertainment and excitement to guests who happen to stop by.  The successor to the ultra-popular ElecTRONica takes a lot of similar elements--night time dance party, bar service, a themed arcade, and side show attractions--and mixes them together into an Alice in Wonderland theme.

The entrance to all of this is the "Rabbit Hole," a series of mist-filled archways that lead to the main stage, where the Mad Tea Party Band plays, and onward to other attractions.  And whether you're a fan of the event or not, it's hard to argue that the visual display is not impressive.  Colorful and wild, it's very appropriate to the surreal theme these nighttime festivities are patterned after.

The entrance to Mad T Party.
A close-up of the entry signage, inspired by the White Hare's pocket watch.
Guests head down the color-changing archway, "falling into the rabbit hole."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Los Muertos de Frontierland

Several years ago (I don't recall exactly how many), as part of expanding Halloween decorations, Disneyland put up a little exhibit on Día de los Muertos--the Day of the Dead--a Mexican holiday associated with Halloween (since it falls on November 1st, the day right after) but is more of a Memorial Day if anything--only without the exclusively patriotic stance.  The figures and props illustrate the altars and tribute and gifts and figurines and food that are all offered to the dead on this day of remembrance.  A nice bit of cultural education at the Happiest Place on Earth!

The Día de los Muertoes display, found adjacent to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Old Water Wheel

Looking out toward the entrance to Paradise Pier is this lovely water wheel that also serves as the building housing the bottom of the lift hill for Grizzly River Run.  With the iconic Grizzly Peak in the background and the mill churning away, this is a beautiful and rustic settings that pays homage to the majestic wilderness that can be found all over the state of California.  Nightfall brings a special blend of nostalgia.  The quiet air of the evening brings the brisk and wonderful feeling of the great outdoors, as well as the thought of great satisfaction.

A serene evening at Grizzly River Run.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree, across the shooting gallery in Frontierland, is Disneyland's tribute to famed science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who wrote the novel of the same name.  Twinkling in red and orange and yellow hues, with cheerful jack-o-lanterns hanging from its branches, the Halloween Tree symbolizes the excitement and adventure of this spooky holiday.  After all, if Christmas can have a tree, why not Halloween?

Disneyland's famed Halloween Tree.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Blue Mountain

From the viewpoint of the second floor balcony of Innoventions, the Matternhorn casts a bluish evening hue towards Tomorrowland.  This majestic mountain, so sunny and cheerful during the day, metamorphoses into a mysterious, looming peak at night.  What brave soul dares to venture forth to the mountain in this nighttime hour? What are those screams that echo through the caves, and that reverberating roar that rings out from the high peak?  Perhaps something legendary lies within.

There's only one way to find out...

The Matterhorn over Tomorrowland Terrance, at night.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Late Night Fill Up

A gas pump next to Fly 'n' Buy store.
For the four month anniversary of this blog, I present one of those photos that doesn't really come with an explanatory post or history.  This is more of a detail shot over in Condor Flats of a piece of theming that I've often felt was one of those really nice little touches that make a Disney park so nice.

One of two that stand outside the Fly 'n' Buy souvenir store, across the path from Soarin' Over California, this Condor Gas pump calls back to another era.  And it's so vibrant and pristine too!  That's what really caught my eye the night I walked past and finally decided to take a picture of it.  The design and lines are very nostalgic, and the crispness of the scene conjures a very pleasant feeling. 

So really, I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's no real compelling reason for this photo, other than I think it happens to be very nice.  Sometimes, it's that simple.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Riverboat Cruise

The stately Mark Twain is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing afternoon.  The elegant riverboat, with its articulate details and grand decor, forms a dashing vessel on which to cruise the Rivers of America.  And with the western ambiance, it very much feels like stepping back into time, when jazz was in the air and the riverboat was king!

Sailing aboard the Mark Twain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Last Stop of the Night

Well, keen eyed fans will note that this isn't technically the last stop. After all, the Red Car Trolleys would continue from Carthay Circle onto the Hollywood Tower Hotel stop. But still, by the time I had snapped this photo, the trolley was no longer taking new passengers.  This was its last run of the night, and after a busy day, it was relaxing to see the trolley car empty, making its final rounds.  There's a sense of calm that really takes over Buena Vista Street at night, especially around closing time.  The exquisite beauty of this land makes it a joy to walk through.

The Red Car Trolley at its Carthay Circle stop.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Sinister Spires

During Mickey's Halloween Time, Space Mountain is transformed into Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, a chilling and eerie version of the classic thrill ride with enhanced projections, special effects, and frightening haunts!  Outside, once night falls, the structure is beset by a sinister malady--a creepy projection accompanied by disturbing sound effects that give a spectral touch to the ride.  It's quite atmospheric, and a thrilling touch for what's otherwise a relatively tame (and understandably so) Halloween event!

The eerie peaks of Space Mountain during its Ghost Galaxy overlay.
The changing colors projected onto the Space Mountain building.

Ominous happenings are occuring inside.
The disturbing and diseased-looking roof facade creates an eerie effect.
The projections also switch to a more nebulous appearance.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lizzie's Shop

Seeing the origin story of Stanley and Lizzie in Time Travel Mater has allowed me to appreciate Radiator Springs Curios much more than I otherwise would have.  It's rather sweet to think that Stanley built this store for his loving wife to allow her to house her burgeoning souvenir sales and establish a classic piece of Radiator Springs architecture that would allow Lizzie to pursue her passion.  As such, though it may not be as pretty or sleek as some of the other edifices in town, it retains every bit as much charm and character, if not more.  Indeed, the Curios shop is a buzzing hub of activity at all times.  It's a must-stop for even the weariest of travelers at Radiator Springs!

The front porch of Radiator Springs Curios in the afternoon.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Princess and Her Men

The main way to go from The Hub into Fantasyland is by crossing the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty's castle, but there are alternate, less traveled routes available for those who want a more peaceful meander.  For instances, just east of the drawbridge is a pathway from Tomorrowland that passes by Snow White's Wishing Well and provides a view of some stone sculptures of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Interesting factoid about these figures... when they arrived, the Imagineers found that Snow White had actually be cast as the same size as the dwarves! However, through careful positioning and manipulation of forced perspective, the Imagineers were able to position her to appear properly scaled.  By setting her in a higher and seemingly farther away position, the Imagineers created the illusion of proper relative size.  Just some pixie dust in the arsenal of Disney's designers' tricks!

A view from the castle drawbridge toward the bridge next to Snow White's Wishing Well.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Elysian Arcade: Nighttime Edition

Remember when I posted about the Elysian Arcade a couple of months ago?  Well, here's an inverse shot--taken at the opposite time of day and from the other side of the arcade.  In the stillness of the night, this facade creates a serene and beautiful sight.  The architectural detail evokes that small town coziness, but with a touch of elegance.  Just one of a never ending set of reasons why I love the re-imagined entrance area of Disney California Adventure!

Elysian Arcade after park closing.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Shrunken Ned

It's that Halloween season, so what's more fitting than a disembodied head?  Well, this is no ordinary hanging head, for his name is Ned, and he is the only jungle self service witch doctor who dispenses medical advice at only $0.50 a pop.  Given the rising costs of health care these days, this is a fantastic deal!  Whether it's a prescription to treating Conowonobono Fever, advice on dealing with Mogo on the Gogogo, or figuring out why the Zambezi makes one sneezy, Dr. Nedley Lostmore is here to tender advice for patients of all ages, shapes, and colors.  So visit Shrunken Ned today!  He's the head shrink of Adventureland, and he could use your patronage!

Shrunken Ned, a real headcase in Adventureland!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cafe, Coffee, and Cream

I love the character and charm of Main Street.  The exquisite tributes in the windows, the festive details in the storefronts, and the unique articulation of each facade creates a wholesome and welcoming atmosphere in this, the entryway of Disneyland Park.  I also love the signage that has been put into place.  Projecting out over the sidewalk, they form an attention-grabbing yet classy manifestation of self-promotion, and the creative designs imbue each with its own identity.  Thus, I'm often drawn to such details when walking up and down Main Street.  They inspire a little bit of architectural glee.

Signage for the Carnation Cafe and Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Corn Dog Cart

Pity be placed upon those who've never savored the scrumptious flavor of Disneyland's corn dogs.  Those perfectly breaded, fragrant, slightly crunchy morsels of deliciousness are legen (wait for it) dary in the Disney park food connoisseur world.  And the Little Red Wagon on Main Street is a hot draw for these fantastic fried delicacies.  During peak hours, it's not uncommon to find the line snaking around the corner, intersecting the line into the Plaza Gardens Inn Restaurant.  And with a side of chips or apple slices, it's a relatively inexpensive but heavenly meal that should be heavily anticipated.  If you don't believe me, just ask the legions of Disneyland corn dog fans.  They'll relay the same thing.

The purveyor of Disneyland's magical, delicious corn dogs.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Jungle Boutiques

Looking to stock up on your expedition? Look no further than the shops along Adventureland!  With a grand supply of souvenirs, artifacts, and clothing, these markets will provide you with all that you need for exciting journeys and perilous explorations.  And if you're feeling hungry, stop on by the Bengal Barbeque!  Their delicious skewers and "Tiger Tail" breadsticks will give you a terrific energy boost and make those taste buds roar!  And it can all be found here along the marketplace at Adventureland!

Shops along Adventureland.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dusk Downtown

I haven't posted an image from Downtown Disney, but with all the eye candy in the newly expanded California Adventure and the inherent beauty in Disneyland, I haven't really had  need.  But on this evening, while waiting outside of Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, I caught an intensely blazing sunset and just had to capture the brilliant colors.  I'm pretty happy with the result.

A look toward the Disneyland Hotel at dusk.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cascading Splendor

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen! The beautiful! The spectacular! The Backside of Water!!!

Well, actually, it's more like the water on the backside of mountain--Grizzly Peak to be precise.  While the scenery along Grizzly River Run facing its front side--in the direction of the Grand Californian Hotel--is quite lovely, that doesn't mean the Disney Imagineers left the other side unattended.  The rockwork, waterfalls, and plantlife are quite nice on this side too, and if you combine that with some nice nighttime long exposures, the resulting composition is both rugged and spell-binding at the same time.  You might even say it's GRReat!

Spectacular Grizzly River Falls. Or well, one of them.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Surly Grasshopper

You'd think that life as a six foot tall grasshopper would be pretty advantageous. You're a giant bug, which would terrify most people, and you've got more appendages than humans do, which you can use to your advantage.  You've got sweet wings, so you can fly around.  So why is it that Hopper is always looking like he's in a bad mood?  Doesn't he know how nice he's got it?

Well, maybe the fact that he's an immobile figure has something to do with it.  Still, I think he should lighten up.

Hopper, standing menacingly in front of It's Tough to Be a Bug.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Busy at the Dock

Just because night has fallen doesn't mean work is done. At the World Famous Jungle Cruise, there are still tours to deliver and people to load.  Those hot shot skippers aren't going to let the jungle stand as a barrier just because of a little thing like darkness. No, no, no, there are more guests to take out--half way for half price--and more bad jokes and groan-worthy puns to deliver.  Besides, night is when the animals are most active.  So why not take a tour in the evening?  You might find the adventure most englightening!

Loading and unloding at the Wold Famous Jungle Cruise.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Halloween Facades

One of the nice things about Main Street is seeing it dressed up for a seasonal holiday, and Halloween Time is no exception.  Right now, the entrance land to Disneyland is adorned in autumn's finest.  Billowing banners, whimsical pumpkins, and Halloween-inspired store displays adorn the shops and restaurants.  There's a lot of detail to behold, too, which means walking up Main Street shouldn't just be treated as a chore to get to whatever attraction is next on the list.  Slow down and savor the small things.  It's a very enjoyable atmosphere at what is currently the Spookiest Place on Earth!

Halloween decoration adorn the facade of Main Street.

Jack-o-Lanterns at the second floor window.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Blast Off to Food and Refreshment

I don't quite dine there as frequently as I used to, but I still include Redd Rockett's Pizza Port on my list of preferred Disneyland dining establishments.  Their Pizza of the Day is always tasty, and the filling-to-price ratio is pretty good.  Add to that the nice exterior--one of the few parts from the 1998 Tomorrowland makeover--and it all makes for a nicely designed restaurant.  The Moonliner is also a great tribute to the old icon that stood guard at the Rocket to the Moon attraction that graced this land in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s.  Plus, it's a great photo op!

A late night at Redd Rockett's Pizza Port.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Admiring Grandeur

So two of the three subjects of this photo are doing it... I came across this photo I took while editing and thought it made for a nice little story--the epic scale of the Cadillac Range and the Radiator Cap placed front and center for the public to enjoy.  I've written time and time again how fantastic Cars Land has turned out, and the repeating is still not getting old for me. 

In fact, I recently went on an off roading trip to Utah and visited Canyonlands and Arches national parks.  Certain, the scale and magnificence of the natural beauty are far superior to Cars Land, but if you were to reduce that size and compress it into a theme park proportion, what the Imagineers were able to accomplish really isn't that far off.  The detail in the rockwork bears striking similarities to real Mother Nature.  So once again, I say hats off to the Imagineers for producing a splendid exhibit of immersive theming.  It really has been quite a rousing success!

A family taking in the sights along the exit queue of Radiator Springs Racers.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sunset at the Treehouse

I wish I had explored the old Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse back when it was open.  I'm sure that as a child, I would have enjoyed running across the rope bridge and climbing the steps and seeing the various rooms that the family had built in their perch high above the land.  The Swiss Family Robinson was also one of my favorite books growing up.  The sense of adventure and excitement was a wonderful draw, and the world in which the story took place must have been fascinating.

Today, the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse as been replaced by the Tarzan Treehouse, after the 1999 fully animated feature film.  Logically, it has scenes from the movie and some nice decorations of its own.  It serves as the fantasy dwelling for kids today too young to know of the previous iteration.  I don't know which of the two versions is better, but still enjoy climbing through this treetop abode and taking in the views and the atmosphere.  I suppose there's a certain timelessness to living up above the ground.

Disneydendron semperflorens grandis (or "Large Ever-Blooming Disney Tree") during magic hour.

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