Thursday, February 28, 2013

Glimpses within the Temple

As I've mentioned before, the line for Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye has plenty of details and nifty little views.  You just need to notice them.  Below are a half dozen shots from within the temple.  Can you identify where to find these details?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The French Market

Probably my favorite non-reservation-required restaurant in Disneyland Park is the French Market.  This New Orleans Square fixture features a variety of absolutely delicious Cajun-inspired dishes, from tasty jumbalaya to zesty marinated "Plantation Chicken" to delectable salads, and of course, clam chowder in a bread bowl.  Paired with live jazz music depending on the hour from bands such as the Royal Street Bachelors, and the French Market makes for a wonderful place to enjoy a savory lunch or stomach filling dinner. 

The French Market on a fine autumn day.
Does this count among your favorite Disney park restaurants, or do you have others you prefer?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fortuosity Shop

There's a key difference between Main Street, U.S.A. and a real small town main street... the shops here at Disneyland certainly stay open a lot later.  If it was a real mom and pop establishment, the owners probably would have gone home by the end of the night. Instead, stores on Main Street like Fortuosity Shop still have their doors open, eager for the business of any remaining guests straggling out of the park.  And, well, if I saw a store that looked this beautiful, I'd probably be inclined to pay a quick visit inside!

The Fortuosity Shop on Main Street, open an extra hour after park closing.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Midnight Recharge

Once upon a time, Taste Pilot's Grill had a big jet sticking out of its facade.  It represented the aviation theme of Condor Flats in overt fashion, and it created a recognizable feature for the restaurant.  Unfortunately, when Buena Vista Street debuted, the powers that governed the park aesthetics felt that the jet might be too visually intrusive into Carthay Circle, and to streamline viewlines, the jet was removed.  Incidentally, what's taken its place doesn't really look too shabby.  It might have been a stark absence to long time park goers, but for someone who might have never visited before, there's no evidence this facade used to be any different.  And really, in a way, the simplicity makes for a cleaner, nicer looking restaurant front.  Sure, it lacks the pizzazz it used to have, but there's still beauty to be found here.

The new Taste Pilot's Grill facade.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Toast to Piracy

"Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me. I raise a toast to honor my many shipmates lost at sea."

Those thoughtful parting words are the least Jack Sparrow can do after collecting the treasure of said shipmates, right?  It used to be that the scene at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride featured two pirates vainly trying to hoist a chest of treasure.  When the ride was refurbished in 2006, Jack Sparrow was added in three scenes to tie into the popular movie franchise. Though fans initially decried the idea, Jack has since become a familiar and well integrated animatronic within the ride.  And his scene of tribute at the end of the ride is certainly visually impressive!

"Salute, mes amis. Drink up me hearties, yo ho!" 

Jack Sparrow, admiring his treasure at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Circle Fountain

For long-time Disneyland Resort guests, it still might be hard to believe that only a few years ago, this area was home to an amorphous set of concrete planter blobs and a large metallic sun that many people nicknamed "The Hubcap."  But what once was kitschy Sunshine Plaza is now elegant Carthay Circle, the focal point of Buena Vista Street, and the glamour of 1920s Los Angeles comes to a point right here.  The beautiful fountain, a wonderful place by which to relax and take in the scenery, is stunning at night, and the beauty and majesty of this reimagined creates a most wonderful serenity.

Next to the Carthay Circle Fountain at night.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Railroad Country

I've mentioned before that Tours Departing Daily was a huge influence and inspiration on this blog, so from time to time, I'll see a shot that they've taken and think, "Man, that's awesome! Can I get something like that?"

The photo below is one such example.  When I first saw it posted, I realized I had never really looked at the park from that point of view. I wasn't even initially sure from which vantagepoint this was taken! But a bit of thinking deduced that it's a lookout from the Hungry Bear Resturant.  On the far left side of where guests order and pick up food, there is a spot that offers this prime angle of the Disneyland Railroad, making its way through Splash Mountain and onto Fantasyland.  This rustic and beautiful scene is just aglow on a beautiful sunny day. So here's my stab at a photo I first saw on Tours Departing Daily.

The E.P. Ripley steams its way through Splash Mountain and over a bridge at Critter Country.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Mansion Beckons

Just around the bend on the way back from Critter Country, the Haunted Mansion unveils itself from amongst the trees that shield it.  It calls to you, the eerie sound of those 999 happy haunts.  There's room for a thousand, of course, should you elect to join those ghoulish ghosts who gallivant day and night.  Just make... final arrangements, please.

The Haunted Mansion, as seen coming from the direction of Splash Mountain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Previewing Fantasy Faire

As March approaches, Disneyland is in full swing, putting the finishing touches on their new Fantasyland expansion, the Fantasy Faire, just outside Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  Located where the old Carnation Plaza Gardens used to be, this outcropping on the way to Frontierland will feature a Disney princess meet-and-greet, a unique food stand, a grand open-air dance hall, and even some interactive surprises.

But since no one can really get a clear view of the exquisite architecture going up, Blue Sky Cellar has recently unveiled a new exhibit featuring artwork, plans, and mockups for this new area extension.  Among the features, the paint color model of Fantasy Faire is perhaps the most impressive. Here are some photos of this fantastic model that provides an idea of what Fantasyland's newest area will look like, when it opens next month!

An overview of the Fantasy Faire model.

The old Carnation Plaza Gardens grandstand has been replaced with a more regal structure.
At the center of the square is a sculptural icon in the form of Rapunzel's tower, from Tangled.

A close-up of the architecture, which blends the royal Sleeping Beauty Castle aesthetic with the village motif.

Clopin's Music Box will be an interactive moving diorama.

A close-up of the Rapunzel Tower sculpture.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Bottle Shop

Radiator Springs Racers is Disney's brand new E-ticket attraction, and as the star anchor of the park's new Cars Land themed area, it's no surprise this ride often features a long line. But that doesn't mean hours of pointless waiting.  In reality, there are plenty of things to see and take in while waiting in line.

One of my favorites is the oil bottle house.  Made from thousands of oil bottles embedded into the walls, this marvelous structure has a magical play with light throughout the day, letting different angles and hues of sunshine through to create some dazzling effects.  I've yet to properly capture this on camera, mostly because there's always people in the way, but I'll figure something out one day!

A look a the side of the bottle house in the Radiator Springs Racers queue.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Those Grizzly Falls

Even though it's designated as a photo spot, I feel like most people just stroll by the waterfalls located on the backside of Grizzly Peak.  Especially with the opening of Cars Land, this pretty sight has now become just a quick glimpse on the to exciting newness.  But under the right light, these falls are pretty breathtaking on their own, and they become quite the pretty portrait!

The splendor of the waterfalls on the backside of Grizzly Peak on a beautiful day.

Frame it right, and it's not exactly obvious to tell that this isn't at a theme park!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Indy Jeep

This genuine artifact from the Indiana Jones movie franchise has been featured on this blog before, but I thought a daytime shot might be worth showcasing, if only because back when I created this image, it became one of my more favorite HDR photos.

I've definitely evolved and refined my style of HDR processing over the years.  Like most everyone who dabbles in the fad, I went through my phases of not being able to create HDR-like images at all, to discovering the practice and proceeding to over-use it, to the halos galore stage, to something a little more refined than that.  But sometimes, pushing that boundary beyond the smooth, crisp, photo-realistic iteration of high dynamic imaging and into the more artistic still feels more appropriate.  For me, this image was one of those cases, meant to evoke the rust and history and character of this vehicle and its famed role in cinematic history.  Sometimes, creating the feeling of a memory through an image is more fulfilling than maintaining an accurate image itself.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sailing Miss Daisy

That Mickey's Toontown is pretty much landlocked is not part of the equation.  Donald Duck is still going to have a fabulous boat docked in his own rather tiny harbor.  Why?  It's a symbol of his love for Daisy Duck, of course!  What sends a stronger gesture than purchasing a boat that you'll never be able to use and name it after your beloved, and even have her likeness carved into the front?  Not a lot, I tell you.  You don't see Mickey doing this for Minnie. Nope. When it comes to bold gestures, Donald's the man--er--duck for it!

Donald Duck's boat, named after his favorite companion.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Never Too Tired

Luigi's Flying Tires inspires a wide variety of opinions within the Disney fan community, but for me, it's a cute and fun attraction that's worth the now relatively short waits the ride commands.  Where else can you experience the wonder of the old Flying Saucers ride re-imagined in a much larger arena, under the Cars motif, with wonderful Italian music playing in the background as riders swish and woosh this way and that across a surface of air?  Not to mention the queue building itself is positively radiant.  Wonderfully articulated and full of pleasant surprises and mementos inside, it's a charming place to visit.  It's something I certainly won't get "tired" of photographing anytime soon!

Guests gather in front of Luigi's Casa Della Tires on a beautiful and sunny day.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Redhead

Apparently, even back in the days of pillaging pirates, there was a fascination with redheads.  Sassy, alluring, and certainly inviting, it seems that redheads turned heads wherever they were--at least in this case, at a wench auction.

Indeed, as the head auctioneer is trying to conduct a sale on a broader sized beauty, most of the attention is focused on the dashing dame next in line--a fashionably dressed damsel who's not afraid to show a little leg and give a sign of the assets she might bring to the table.

It's no wonder this typically results in the pirates losing interest in the subject at hand and turning their attention to her.  Always posing, never speaking, her silence only serves to drive the pirates' desire, and inevitably, they lose control and begin chanting, "WE WANTS THE REDHEAD!! WE WANTS THE REDHEAD!!"

Well, belay there, ya focsle swabs. She'll still be there later.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bridging the Wharf

One day, I thought it might be interesting to frame a view of the Pacific Wharf while standing right in the middle of the bridge, amidst pedestrian traffic, and angle a view toward Cars Land.  The horizontal overhead bars of the bridge made for a nice series of borders.  Add to the fact that it was a beautiful day, and you have the explanation for this shot.

Walking across the bridge to the Pacific Wharf, with the towering Cadillac Range in the background.
On a separate note, sometime over the past two days, Disney Photoblography reached 25,000 total page views.  That's a pretty monumental number!  When I started this blog, I had no idea how successful it would ever get, and while I had an inkling there would be people who enjoyed these photos, I never got my hopes up that it would ever be significant. 

Well, it's definitely reached a milestone of significance, and I have you the readers to thank.  So once again, to anyone who's stopped by, spread the word, shared posts, shared posts again, and given gracious compliments... thank you.

And keep on doing what you've been doing!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Scenes from Main Street

The simple pleasure of strolling up or down Main Street is an understated treasure at Disneyland Park.  Though most people treat Disneyland's entrance land as a pass-through to reach their intended destination, or as an end-of-the-day shopping destination, there is actually a great amount of detail that can be observed here. 

A recreation of a turn of the century town, inspired by a romanticized version of Walt Disney's home town of Marceline, Missouri, Main Street U.S.A. has a collection of carefully crafted storefronts and facades, each with its own details, character, and tributes.  As is the case throughout the park, the use of forced perspective is employed here to make the buildings seem taller.  Though the ground floor is normal scale, the second floors are about 7/8th the height and proportion of the first, while the third floors (where they occur) are about 7/8th the proportion of the second, or about 3/4th the scale of the ground floor. This creates the illusion of a taller and more encompassing space that stretches on longer than it really does, further cementing the idea that when you enter Disneyland, "you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy."

The various facades are rich with articulation.

The Market House signage, with Disney Clothiers beyond.

Guests strolling up Main Street on a beautiful day.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Disney Theater

There are many theaters at the Disneyland Resort, but only one actually has "Disney" as part of its official name.  More commonly known as where the Disney Junior - Live on Stage! show is held, this building was given a bit of a facelift as part of the refurbishment and expansion of Disney California Adventure park.  Lines were smoothed out, and a classic style marquee (current show graphics excepted) given to bring the facade more in line with the 1930s style re-christening of the Hollywood Backlot Studios to Hollywood Land.  All in all, they did an elegant job--again, if you ignore the actual Disney Junior signage.

The Disney Theater, currently home to Disney Junior - Live on Stage!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Estrellas del Zocalo

One late evening, I was walking around with a fellow photographer friend, when we found ourselves upon the Rancho del Zocalo Restaurant.  Though the dining establishment had long closed operations for the evening, the seating area was still open for anyone to wander in and about.  And when I beheld the twinkling scene in front of me, I knew I had to snap some pictures to capture the wonderful magic of the ambiance. 

At night, dozens of beautifully crafted star-shaped lamps illuminate the eating area.

Each one is beautifully unique and wonderfully charming.

Together, they create an ethereal and luminous scene!

I had forgotten about this treasure within the park.

It was nice to stumble upon and rediscover such a simple and beautiful thing that brought happiness.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Check-In Counter

Normally, the scene below is filled with the hustle and bustle of guests leaving and entering the Grand Californian Hotel, located next to Disney California Adventure.  Eager families waiting to check in to an extended stay at the Happiest Place on Earth, tired but gleeful guests ruing the end of their vacation, busboys wielding luggage toward rooms... it's all quite a hive of activity.  But to see this desk empty, late at night, a scene of tranquility, is to capture a very brief moment of respite. For the very next day, the cycle will start again: guests eager for new magic, and hose ever-helpful cast members waiting to provide magic to them.

The registration desk at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Mermaid's Park

Paradise Park was one of the earlier features to open during the five year renovation of Disney California Adventure. Built as the main viewing area for the nightly spectacular, World of Color, the park also afforded a lovely place to take a stroll or just sit and taken in the scenery in front of Paradise Bay.  A year later, in the area formerly occupied by the Golden Dreams show, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersa Adventure opened.  The lavish, Victorian-inspired facade was a sign of the new, more elegant Paradise Pier, and while it retained some elements of the former building, such as the San Francisco Palace of Arts recreation, it was by and large a prettier, much more fashionable replacement for its predecessor.  Together, the two form a wonderful backdrop for the front side of Paradise Pier, and a lovely evolution for DCA!

Looking at the facade of The Little Mermaid show building.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Don't Be Cheecken

Poor, poor Carlos, the mayor of this town those dreadful pirates have chosen to attack.  All he's done is lead Isla Tesoro, and yet the pirates have strung him up, demanding to know where the treasure is.  Bless his heart, though, no matter how much they threaten him with drowning, he is brave and does not talk!  Too bad his wife in the windows above doesn't seem to understand. She always seems to pop out of the shutters to remind Carlos to be brave and not to tell, even though he's been keeping silent for over 45 years!  Ah well, the life of a pirate's captive be he.

Carlos, the mayor of Isla Tesoro, getting dunked by pirates as his wife looks on from above.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gateway to Adventure

It isn't until well after the park has closed that Adventureland finally quiets down. Normally, it is a bustling beehive of activity, as guests wander in and out on their way to new exciting quests and journeys deep into the jungle.  Plus, the Dole Whip stand more than attracts its fair share of crowds, even on cooler days.  So it's nice to see this scene docile and almost completely devoid of people.  The calm of night gives it an almost dreamlike feel, and it's fun to imagine this being the entry to a real colonial outpost, and what adventures might await brave explorers the next day.

The entrance to Adventureland, next to the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bulging with Character

As a project coordinator at an architecture firm, I often wonder what it was like to design and construct Mickey's Toontown. After all, here is a land whose architecture is practically bereft of straight (or at least orthogonal) lines.  They've been cast aside in favor of arcs, curves, and cants.  Did the project drawings dimension all of these to exact specificity?  Did the designers allow the builders a certain amount of leeway?  Did they just draw sketches and tell the construction workers, "make it look like this?"  One thing's for sure: the result looks very much like something out of the world of cartoons, which was exactly the goal.  Mickey's Toontown is colorful, fun, and full of dynamic facades and playful architectural elements.  And while it could use a bit of sprucing up these days, it's still a silly land to visit at the Happiest Place on Earth.

The whimsical and wacky architecture of Mickey's Toontown.

Monday, February 4, 2013

An Astro-nomical Evening

Although Disneyland's Tomorrowland at night isn't quite as dazzling as, say Disney World's or even Disneyland Paris', there are still moments that glow with electric photogenic dazzle.  The neon illumination of the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride is one of them.  With its cool blue and violet hues, the facade's color schemes already convey a sense of effortless sleekness.  But the lighting really touches it off... which makes for nice compositions after the park has closed!

Buzz Lightyear after a long day--and night--of laser shooting action.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rolling Up the Mill

Day or night, the Eureka Gold and Timber Company mill is probably the most iconic feature of Grizzly River Rapids.  The start of GRR's lift hill, this lovely, rustic buildng, with its water wheel constantly turning, is nestled in the wilderness of Grizzly Peak.  And with the peak looking on in the background, this scene makes for quite the popular photo spot!

The set building covers the start of Grizzly River Run's ascent to higher elevation waters.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Racing Beyond the Rocks

On a beautiful winter day, when the lighting was naturally low and filtered throughout the day, I found myself snapping away countless shots of Radiator Springs Racers.  This one in particular attracted my viewfinder because of how seemingly natural everything looked. If it wasn't for the Racers car hopping over the hills, this could be the wild and rugged Southwest!  Instead, it's Anaheim, but the place in Anaheim where guest can relinquish their everyday cars and worries, throw their hands in the air, and scream with exhilaration as they race across the canyon lands like Thelma and Louise.  Well, without the flying-off-a-cliff part.

A Radiator Springs Racers car, powering through those hills.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Disney Gallery: The Storybooks Continue

If you haven't had the chance to stop by the Disney Gallery (or if you aren't a frequent visitor), you may have missed the latest exhibit on display inside.  Branching off the previous subject of Disney Castles, and as part of the promotion for Walt Disney World's New Fantasyland expansion, the Disney Gallery has unveiled a new tribute to the Fantasylands around the world.

So I thought it might be a nice way to kick of February by taking a look at just a few of the art pieces on display. Many of them illustrate Fantasyland as it exists or will exist (in the case of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom) in the parks, while some others cover areas thematically inspired by Fantasyland or by the general spirit of imagination and adventure.

A rendering of Fantasyland in the shadow of the Matterhorn.
The Little Mermaid at Walt Disney World's New Fantasyland.
The interior is different from Disney California Adventure's version.
Beautiful gardens in Hong Kong Disneyland.
The famous rendering of New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World, which Disney fans are now familiar with.
Characters from Peter Pan adorn this Fantasyland rendition.

Over in Disneyland Paris, Adventure Isle takes off a different type of imagination.
A map of Disneyland Paris's version of Adventureland.
And a whimsical art piece featuring the tea cups of Mad Tea Party.
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