Friday, November 30, 2012

The Grand Lobby

Bar none, the most striking feature of the Grand Californian Hotel is its main lobby.  This soaring five story atrium space is ornately decorated in the California Arts and Crafts style, with large size timber pieces, warm wood paneling, and cozy stonework creating an intimate feel.  It provides a relaxing place to wait, or a comfortable setting to enjoy company.  The Craftsman style is executed to stunning detail, from the uphostery to the light fixtures to the welcoming interior finishes, and provides great homage to the architects of that turn of the 20th century time period.

The majestic main lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel.
Looking toward the Registration Desk, with a children's TV viewing area in between.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Tree and the Theater

The new Christmas tree up off Carthay Circle, behind the Partner's Statue, is a beautifully detailed piece of holiday theming.  With plenty of glistening garland and intricate ornaments (not to mention gorgeous string lights that add a brilliant flair at night), it is a beautiful centerpiece of the Buena Vista Street Christmas time decorations.  And as a holiday icon, I love juxtaposing it against the area's main icon--the Carthay Circle Restaurant (or Theater, as it's symbolically representing) tower.  They make such a great pair--each regal and elegant in its own way.  Indeed, when I look at the scene, I am definitely filled with Christmas cheer.

Details on the Buena Vista Street Christmas tree.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Behind the Facade

Avast, mateys! This may seem like an innocent New Orleans facade, with intricate French styling, but it hides something deeper. For you see, there be a portal to a hidden world within... one of buccaneers, and buried treasure, and ghosts and apparitions, and squalls ahead, and Davey Jones, waiting for them what don't obey.

Yes, all may seem pleasant from the exterior... a pristine picture of Southern plantation life, but deep inside the recesses is something much darker and more adventuresome.  With pillaging pirates, burning villages, and fearsome battles, it's not something you're likely to forget soon.  You wouldn't think that New Orleans would hold the passageway to the Caribbean, but it does.  And it's quite the exciting one indeed.  Just remember to be careful.  After all, dead men tell no tales.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Christmas Night at the Pier

I have spent a lot of time focusing on the Christmas decorations over at Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, and I will continue to do so, but that doesn't mean the rest of Disney California Adventure isn't adorned in holiday colors.  Over at Paradise Pier, they had a giant Christmas tree before Buena Vista Street did.  And it still stands, a nice, less crowded tree--not quite as tall as the one over at Carthay Circle--but still quite pretty.

The gazebo at Paradise Pier, with a tall, colorful Christmas tree next to it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Carnation Cafe

At the beginning of this year, the Blue Ribbon Bakery closed its doors for the last time.  Several months later, it had been transformed into part of Carnation Cafe, complete with new menu, new decor, but same cozy and inviting atmosphere.

I've had the pleasure of dining there a couple of times, as I've documented before here and here, but I also love the furnishings Disney has provided.  It's a warm, hometown diner, and the all-Americana of the turn of the century exterior translate inside as well.  Pair that with some great food, and you have a wonderful place to have a great meal!

The Carnation Cafe at night, still buzzing with activity.
Warm colors and organic textures make the interior a welcoming place to have a meal.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Hovering Space Craft


Can you guess where this unique angle can be found?  It's kind of mysterious, and quite dramatic.  The cool blues and purples add an ominous glow, and yet the mosaic tiled curves nestled within the hugging branches of this most unusual tree suggest something mechanically organic.  It's almost as if a large UFO had touched down, announcing its presence, ready for exploration.

In a sense this is a space craft.  But not the extraterrestrial kind... this a craft that articulates space--a house, in plain speak. And this house can be found within Innoventions, showcasing the technological "features of tomorrow."  Of course, predictions for the future in Tomorrowland have a tendency of becoming outdated before they're even unveiled, but the whole presentation is certainly not unflattering to look at!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Lucky Wreath

The spirit of the season has decked Buena Vista Street, and Oswald's Filling Station is no different.  This cheery facade has taken on the happiness of Christmas and presented a warm, inviting face to all guests.  And in the afternoon glow, it really captures the holiday joy.

A beautiful wreath adorns a post at Oswald's Filling Station.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Stanley of the Season

At the end of the main drag of Radiator Springs, right in front of the Courthouse, stands a status of Stanley, the good humored founder of Stanley's Oasis and Radiator Springs.  The short film "Time Travel Mater" explores the origins of this most likeable character, and having seen it, I now understand and appreciate his charm even more deeply.

During this Christmas season, Stanley has been engaged with the holiday spirit, and as a result, he and the Courthouse behind him have been dressed to the nines in Christmas finery.  The air filter wreaths found all along the main street make their appearance on the building as well, and Stanley has been outfitted with a Santa sack--no doubt filled with radiator cap goodies for the good boys and girls who just need a Stanley cap!  It's a wonderful transformation and one of many lovely details that form the "Carsmas" overlay.

Stanley's statue in its "Stanley Claus" overlay.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Promise of a New Morning

Happy Thanksgiving! On this day of gratitude, I reflect back on how blessed I've been to have been able to visit the Happiest Place on Earth time and time again, with great friends, and on great occasions. 

On the morning of March 1st, following the conclusion of One More Disney Day, I found myself at the front of the park, just before leaving, gazing at the beautiful, warm morning light, glowing on the Main Street Station, symbolizing another new beginning... a new day... another chance for magic and memories to last a lifetime for thousands of guests that would soon be entering.  For some, Disneyland is a once in a lifetime trip.  For many others, it is a rarity--something long anticipated and deeply cherished.  And for me, it is something I've been fortunate enough to be able to visit regularly.  That is certainly a privilege, not a right, and I am thankful for the ability to continue to do so.

The Disneyland Railroad Main Street Station on the morning after Leap Day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Snow Castle

With the Christmas season at the Happiest Place on Earth comes Sleeping Beauty's Castle's transformation into the snow castle.  By day, it's not much to look at--the snow-capped roofs looking odd in the warm Southern California daylight. But by night, the castle transforms into a magical twinkling display of glistening icicles and sparkling lights.  The snow castle comes with its own regular lighting ceremony several times an evening, and the effect is pretty wondrous, especially to first time visitors during the holidays.  But it definitely conveys the wonder and spirit of the season!

The glistening snow castle at night.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Carthay Manhattan

Within the Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge, there is a cocktail one may order which may be the most sophisticated cocktail Disney has ever offered.  It is called the Carthay Manhattan, and it comes with a demonstration that is every bit as delightful as the drink itself.

Upon ordering, a series of supplies are brought to presentation.  There are the ingredients, of course--Bulleit Rye Small Batch American Whiskey, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, and Angostura Bitters, along with a garnish of Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino cherries. And then there is a sleek golden cylinder.



 This cylinder is the magic behind the wonderful small ball of awesomeness known as the ice sphere.  A core of ice is placed in the middle of the cylinder, and the shear weight and density of the half above is allow to settle onto the ice.  This creates enough pressure to melt the core of ice into a perfect sphere.

Meanwhile, the rest of the ingredients are prepared within a glass shaker.  The whiskey, very crisp and pure, is mixed with a bit of ice, the sweet vermouth, and bitters.

When everything is ready, the ice sphere is placed into a martini glass, and the Manhattan is pour in and garnished with the exceedingly rich and flavorful cherries.  They may be Maraschino cherries, but these aren't the type that go on a sundae.  The exceptional sweetness and tart reflect a more sophisticated fruit that pares very well with the cocktail itself.


It is, to modify a phrase, drink and a show.  The presentation is nicely done, and to see the ice sphere created is to undergo an almost childlike glee--despite the very grown up nature of the drink and ambiance.  So next time you're at the bar at the Carthay Circle Lounge, or if you're even so fortunate as to be able to visit the exclusive 1901 lounge, give it an order.  You shouldn't regret it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Plaza Inn

From time to time, I will dine at the Plaza Inn. And every time I dine, I order the same thing: the fried chicken dinner.  It's irresistible! The wonderful, savory aroma of crispy fried chicken skin, creamy mashed potatoes, and warm, buttery biscuits wafts all around The Hub and into Tomorrowland.  It beckons like a decadent siren of taste, urging me to give in to my stomach's desires.  And so I do. And so I visit the Plaza Inn.  And I enjoy a delicious dinner, and I am satisfied.

The entrance to the Plaza Inn restaurant.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bringing Yuletide Pier

I took this photo on a brilliantly cloudy day last year, during the Christmas season.  As the sun set, and the evening lights came on, I was struck at the magnificence of the view, and with the holidays in full effect, the Paradise Pier Christmas tree added an especially festive flair to the environment.  It's become one of my favorite scenes I've ever captured around the Disneyland Resort.

A dramatic Christmastime evening at Paradise Pier.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Capt'n's Gold

Arrrr, treasure. He has it.  Glittering dubloons.  Glistening jewels.  Chests of gold.  It is all his, for ever and ever.  Yes, this old pirate will have eternity to enjoy his loot.  He can just sit there, counting his spoils.

If only he could spend it.

An old pirate sits upon his booty in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Making a List

Christmas fanfare is not just limited to the exterior of Disney California Adventure. There's holiday happenings inside as well. Over in Elias and Company, guests and line up and meet Santa Claus, much in the vein of a traditional department store, and tell him what they want for Christmas, and even take a photo with the jolly old guy.  This certainly seems like the start of a tradition to come, and is a great way to spread the magic of the season!

Santa Claus at Elias and Company.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Season's Speedings

You're greeted with the new motto of the season when you enter Cars Land now: "Season's Speedings!" and the very warmest holiday wishes to you.  For Christmas time, Cars Land has been dressed in its finest noel-inspired regalia.  Snowflakes made from wrenches... wreaths of ivy and air filters...1 tire ribbons... the details are everywhere--all Cars inspired, and all delightfully creative.

It's fantastic what's been done in DCA's newest land for the holiday season, and in the upcoming weeks, I'll be posting more photos from Cars Land and Buena Vista Street (as well as the rest of the Resort, of course).  Stay tuned, it's going to be a wild and festive ride!

Christmas decorations hanging over the main drag of Radiator Springs.

1 Thanks to regular reader David L. for pointing out my brain fart. They're air filters, of course, not radiators, as I had previously called them. The lesson as always--if prescheduling and blogging late at night, proofread.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Mad T Party Band

One thing that separates the Mad T Party from its nighttime event predecessor, ElecTRONica, is the Mad T Party Band, a cover band that takes the main stage once every hour (or two) for a half hour performance rocking out rock hits of the 80s and pop hits of today.  And while, admittedly, I prefer ElecTRONica over Mad T Party, I think the cover band is actually pretty good, all things considered.  The vocalists have pretty good range, and the covers seem to get the crowd going.  Backed up by a very impressive visual and audio system, it's an invigorating experience for those who stop by!

The main stage at Mad T Party comes alive with the Mad T Party Band.

"The Mad Hatter" is the lead singer of the Mad T Party Band.

The "March Hare" rips off a riff.

"Alice" sings a tune with the "Mad Hatter."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Fountain of Innovention

Innoventions gets a bad rap from many Disney fans, and... to be honest, I can't necessarily disagree.  Founded on the premise of showing the cutting edge, this attraction, like Tomorrowland in general, has often suffered from a case of "it's-already-outdated-itis."  But that doesn't stop it from being a very photogenic subject, especially at night.  The vibrant colors do contribute to a nice, sleek scene.  At least when you know which angles to find!

Looking back toward Space Mountain from next to Innoventions.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Buena Vista Tree

Although decorations have been springing up around the parks over the past couple of weeks, today marks the official start of the holiday season at the Disneyland Resort.  And over in Disney California Adventure, this means new opportunities for the newly expanded or renovated parts of the park.  Buena Vista Street has been decked out in a classic noel fashion, with Christmas lights, wreaths, and garland strung out on building facades, and this lovely multi-story Christmas tree standing tall over between Elias & Company and the new Partner's Statue.  It's a majestic sight and makes for a great juxtaposition with the nearby Carthay Circle Restaurant.  I have no doubt Buena Vista Street will fit right into the wonderful Christmas tradition that's been established at the Resort.  The whole area is full of holiday charm!

The new Christmas tree at Disney California Adventure is a sight to behold!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Orleans Portraits

Disney is in the details, so a fan of the Mouse might modify a Mies mention.  And it's true, Disneyland is filled with little moments and bits of theming that really set off a store or ride or general environment.  So at Port Royal, while shoppers are perusing souvenirs and Disney wares, there are mantlepieces like these lined up on against the walls, purely for show, all to enhance the immersive experience that Walt Disney sought to evoke.  It works. Every time I stumble upon something I'd never noticed before, it reminds me just how special this place really is.

Decorations above the register at Port Royal.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mater Claus Is Coming

You better watch out! You better not spout! 
You better not slide. I'm telling you why.
Mater Claus is coming... to town.

He knows when you need towing.
He knows when you can't brake.
He knows when to pop dag gum hood,
So drive safe for Cars Land's sake!

You better watch out! You better not spout! 
You better not slide. I'm telling you why.
Mater Clause is coming... to town!!

Christmas Mater at his meet-and-greet at the Cozy Cone!
Whether you love it or hate it, the Christmas season is upon us.  And while it seems to happen earlier and earlier each year, and even I have to admit it's coming too soon these days, there's no denying that the Disneyland Resort does Christmas right!  This year, with Disney California Adventure's new offerings come new opportunities for some great holiday theming. So over the next two months, you'll see lots of festive flare from around the Resort.  And even though I'm hardly over Halloween, I must confess that I'm pretty impressed with the decorations!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gadget's Go Coaster

When I was a child, I was afraid of roller coasters, and I could only tolerate the more gentle and family friendly varieties.  So when Mickey's Toontown opened in my late elementary school years, I enjoyed many a ride on Gadget's Go Coaster, a Vekoma roller skater that took riders for a nice spin around the yard of Disney's heroine chipmunk inventor and pal of Chip n Dale in their Rescue Ranger days.  These days, I don't hit the area of the park as much, but when I do, it's always with a bit of a nostalgic air.  A reminder of the wonderful childhood memories I have of the Happiest Place on Earth.

Gadget's Go Coaster, from Chip n Dale Treehouse.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Looking for a Laughing Place

Oh those funny Br'er Animals!  Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear are all looking for that clever and rascally Br'er Rabbit, and try as hard as they can, they just can't find him!  Meanwhile, Br'er Rabbit is on a constant search of his own--for his Laughing Place, that is.  Fortunately for him, he doesn't have to look far.  The hare always seems to have a knack of finding it pretty quickly.

That's the whimsical storyline behind Splash Mountain, that blockbuster log flume attraction which debuted at Disneyland way back in 1989.  And over two decades later, it continues to thrill and entertain.  After all, everybody's got a laughing place, and even if you need to dive down a five story drop to get there, it's still a fun experience in which to partake!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Another Grizzly River Evening

It occurs to me that I need to start getting some nice pictures of Grizzly River Run during the daytime.  All I've posted so far has been shots of the ride and area around it at night!  That's rather counter-connotative.  After all, most people would ride "GRR" during the daytime, when the warm rays of the sun call for a splashy cooldown, and the hot temperature can dry a soggy body in no time.  And instead, I give you pictures of Grizzly River Run at night.  Whatever am I thinking?

Evening at Grizzly River Run.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Emporium Dioramas

Have you ever went into the Disneyland Emporium... and looked up?  If so, you may have spotted these entertaining scenes posted high above the retail floor.  A child in trepidation under the guise of a barber; a lady in love with birds and plumed hats; a bratty, belligerent child stuck at the department store with her parents... they capture scenes from turn of the century Americana and add a whimsical touch to Disneyland's main shopping complex.




Monday, November 5, 2012

Enticing the Key

Those woeful pirates, stuck in their cell for over forty five years.  Every day, they crouch there, whistling, whispering, trying to persuade that dog to come over and turn over the keys to their salvation.  With a tasty soup bone in hand and a trusty noose in another, they continuously wait in anticipation, hoping the canine will finally fall for their trap.  But dogs are smart, and it seems this one is onto their plan. So the ever faithful and dutiful guard maintains his post.  And that's just too bad for these plunderers.  Too bad indeed.

Pirates forever doomed to imprisonment at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Evening Flowers in Paradise

I was walking around Disney California Adventure one evening when I found myself passing Paradise Park, just shortly before World of Color was to come on.  I found myself attracted to the flowers in front of the seating area.  Amidst the seaside hustle and bustle, it almost felt out of place to have a large be of beautiful flowers, and dropping down low, I thought it would be interesting to compose an image with the flowers on one half and the completely man-made funscape of Paradise Pier.  Was it interesting?  Well, you decide.

Paradise Park at night, before World of Color.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Here It Is

Has anyone ever figured out what "it" is?  I mean, I know it's here, but I don't know what "it" is. And who's to say I would like "it?"  What if "it" wasn't something I'd want here?  It's rather assuming to think that I would greet "it" with affection.  Perhaps "it" would be unwelcome.  Has anyone ever thought about that?  What's up with it anyway?

A bold proclamation on the side of Radiator Springs Curios.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Saga Begins

A few days ago, Disney made a bombshell announcement with their acquisition of Lucasfilm for a cool $4 billion.  In honor of that, I give you the attraction inspired by George Lucas' most famous creation, Star Tours.  Named after that legendary explorer, Dr. Albert Tours.  Wait, no, not actually.  But Star Tours has been thrilling fans ever since it opened in 1987, and after last year's re-debut--now with 54 possible experience combinations--it has new wings to last another couple of decades.  But why wait that long?  Disney has already announced that Star Wars Episode VII will be released in 2015, and there plans for additional films "every two or three years."  What exciting content that might become for this most diverse simulator ride!

Of course, I'll always miss Captain Rex.  He was aboard my first flight on Star Tours, and coincidentally, it was his too.

Star Tours at night!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cozying Up to Deliciousness

Walking down the main drag of Radiator Springs is such a lovely experience. On a bright, cheery, sunny day, the immersive ambiance and friendly disposition of the town is enough to wipe those worries away.  And it's a joy to stumble upon each of the sites.

Take the Cozy Cone Motel.  With its well manicured lawn, adorable headlight flower gardens, and welcoming signage, it marks a wonderful place to stop and relax.  Of course, here at Disney California Adventure, rather than actually sleep in, the rest is for a gastronomical recharge.  Whether it be meals in cone form, or a deliciously refreshing (and sugar filled) Red's Apple Freeze, or the ice cream or churro bites, there is plenty to sooth the digestive soul.

So stop on by.  Heck, as the sign on the adjacent Radiator Springs Curios shop even proclaims... Here it is!  It being food and merriment!
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