Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween and Beyond

I've posted quite a few shots from The Hub during Halloween Time, and I think it's obvious why. It's so photogenic and inviting, and when you combine this with long exposures that really bring out the vivid hues and illumination of this area, the resulting images are pretty wonderful.  This last angle looks westward with the connotation of gazing toward the horizon.  Come this time of the year, that's really what seems to happen.  Summer ends, and the seasons change, and Halloween brings a crisp spook into the air.  And then it's November, with Thanksgiving around the corner, and beyond that, the winter holidays.  It's the downhill portion of the year, and though Halloween Time has been a lot of fun, even more magic awaits.

Stick around.  As Walt famously said, "We're just getting started..."

Walt and Mickey say goodbye to Halloween Time as October draws to a close.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

End of a Hallow's Eve

There comes a time on every Disneyland visit when it's time to close the book on a day of fun and exit the Magic Kingdom. It's the saddest part of the day, because who would want to leave the Happiest Place on Earth?  Alas, it must happen, since even Disneyland has to end its operating day to get ready for the next.  What is nice, though, is that there are always cast members at the gates to provide one last friendly sendoff.  It's not all bad, though. Once you pass through those gates, the anticipation for the next visit begins. And looking forward to something is half the fun!

The last guests of Disneyland Park leave for the night.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Sounds of Spooky Space

One thing that cannot be captured by any photograph of Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is the creepy nighttime soundtrack that transforms the local ambiance from a futuristic space port to a haunted space station infected by an insidious interstellar spirit.  Accompanying the hypnotic projections on the Space Mountain building is an eerie low bass of suspense, punctuated by random shrieks and loud crashes.  Something is inside, something that should not be disturbed. But it clearly has, which has frightening implications.  And of course, I love the ride all the more because of all of this!

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, lit up in mysterious hues at night.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Halloween Hub III

I love how beautifully serene The Hub is late at night, and during Halloween Time, with the friendly Disney-themed jack-o-lanterns sprinkled around the Partners Statue, it's an even more breath-taking nostalgic feeling.  The orange adds a touch of liveliness to the scene, and the pretty, twinkling lights in the trees complete a rich ensemble of illumination.  Add Walt and Mickey looking on toward the guests making their last stroll home, and it all adds up to a lovely moment that never gets old.

Looking down toward Main Street on an October evening, from The Hub.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Faire-ly Serene Evening

It's been a few months since Fantasy Faire opened, and it seems like this little Fantasyland extension has settled in nicely as a part of Disneyland Park.  Storybook, and charming, this area is lively and bustling by day, with performances and meet-and-greets and royal proclamations.  But at night, it settles into a nice calm--the kind that's needed at the end of the day, when everyone has gone home to rest for another day.

Fantasy Faire after closing--which happened to be merely 9:40PM on this particular weeknight.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Makahiki: The Bounty of the Islands

Makahiki is the feature restaurant located inside Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa.  Featuring a lavish buffet as well as tasty ala carte menu that draws upon dishes inspire by island flair, Makahiki places diners in a breezy, open air space for a meal in paradise.  The interiors are brushed with the warm, fiery hues of a tropical sunset, punctuated by rich woodsy tones that connect a celebration of the earth and land.  It's a beautiful setting to enjoy a meal at Disney's Hawaiian getaway.

A hallway toward the dining area is warmly decorated.

The serving stations for the buffet.

The space opens up to the bright and airy outdoors.

There's also a relaxing bar for quicker serve libations.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Town Square Halloween

We're coming down on less than a week until Halloween.  That's less than one week before these festive, orange-y decorations make way for those of the upcoming winter holiday season.  I've had the chance to do a few late-night photo runs at Disneyland during this time, and I must reiterate how much I've enjoyed these autumn trimmings, especially on Main Street, which always evokes that nostalgic appeal.  So enjoy these snapshots from Main Street's Town Square, because it will soon have to be another year before it looks like this again!

That friendly giant Mickey Pumpkin is a popular photo spot, though the guests have almost all gone home here.

Still, a few get some final photos in (including the one behind this camera!).

The Main Street Station is beautifully lit and decorated at night!

The Opera House is elegantly dressed as well!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Outside the Haunted Mansion Holiday

If you check in regularly, then it should be apparent that this is a companion post to my inversely titled "Inside the Haunted Mansion Holiday" post, which took a look inside the Haunted Mansion during the holiday season.  This post take a look outside, and, well, there's pretty much one signature shot of the Mansion! On this night, I was among the last guests to ride the Haunted Mansion before it closed for the night, and by the time I made it out, the gates had been shut for the early morning.  It was so late, in fact, that the sprinklers had started operation on the lawn, which gave a nice ghostly tinge along the left side of the photo.  I thought it was neat...

The "HMH" in an early morning haunting spree.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Miss Daisy Docked

Last May, during the Monstrous Summer All Nighter, I spent some time gathering nighttime photographs in Mickey's Toontown, something I'd never really done before.  The fact that it was during a special event meant that I couldn't get my usual assortment of late night "no people" shots, even though it was late at night, but there were a few moments of peace and tranquility, like this scene of the boat dedicated to Donald Duck's beloved.

The S.S. Miss Daisy sits still at night.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Ghostly Galaxy

Although I don't ride this as often as I do the Haunted Mansion Holiday, Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is by far my favorite of the two major Halloween Time E-Ticket transformations.  With a chilling soundtrack, creepy vibe, and amazing projections and effects, it's a darker and scarier edge on a Disney ride, and I love it.  Most people seem to agree, as evidenced by its often one or two hour lines.  I wish Disneyland could use the same technology and level of effects during the rest of the year, but I suppose that might detract a bit from how special Ghost Galaxy is. 

Are you brave enough to explore the terror of space?

This is the emptiest outside Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy you will ever see.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween at the Cinema

Even during the busiest of days, the Main Street Cinema is a quiet haven of peace and escape--an bastion of air conditioned calm where guests can view six classic early Walt Disney cartoons, including the first cartoon with synchronized sound, Steamboat Willie.  With ticket taker Tilly manning the booth outside, it's a lovely place to visit.  And at night, it's even more lovely.  During autumn, awash in warm orange tones, it becomes that old fashioned getaway... a please to retreat into from the outside when the air gets just a little too crisp.  That old timey nostalgia of Main Street U.S.A. never really gets old, though, does it?

The Main Street Cinema aglow at night.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Animals of the Kingdom

For today's post, I wanted to travel back to Florida and highlight just a few of the many examples of wildlife that can be found at Disney Animal Kingdom park.  As its name implies, this is a more ecologically oriented park, and there are numerous exhibits and a safari trail featuring animal habitats.  This is a real connection to the many species of nature, and I thought it would make for a nice contrast to the usual architecturally or thematically dominated compositions.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What Chills Await

Well, it's not exactly a secret, I suppose, as to what happens inside the Hollywood Tower Hotel. Certainly, it is spooky business.  From afar, it looks like a grand old hotel fallen into disrepair, but up close, its true nature manifests, as exposed elevator doors routinely open, revealing terrified guests inside, moments before they plummet into an alternate dimension.  Do you dare brave the tallest, and ghostliest attraction at Disney California Adventure?

At the right moment, the stately Hollywood Tower Hotel sign reveals a ghostly secret.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Ghoulish Wares on Display

As a follow up to my glimpse inside a couple of New Orleans Square shops during Halloween Time, here's a look at another corner inside Pieces of Eight, where souvenirs devoted to The Nightmare Before Christmas are housed.  During Halloween, these are especially featured, since their spooky tie-in is obvious. But is a nice little corner that's not necessarily prominently featured, and I found this to be a nice little surprise of a nook, with the Halloween items featured herein!

Halloween fixtures are aglow at Pieces of Eight!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Jambalaya Jazz Band

There's an addictive pleasure in walking through New Orleans Square, taking in the lovely French Quarter sights, enjoying the warm, friendly sunshine, and listening to the wonderful music that permeates this entire land.  New Orleans Square has several musical acts that perform at various times, and among them is the fun and swingy Jambalaya Jazz Band, which can often be found blowing those horns and plucking those strings in front of the Rivers of America.  They're a lively and enthusiastic bunch, and listening to them, one can't help but tap those toes and be swept away to that cozy Southern hospitality.  As much as sight, sound plays a vital role in the Disneyland experience, and the Jambalaya Jazz Band remains among my favorites at the park!

The Jambalaya Jazz Band performs on the steps of New Orleans Square.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Autumn at the Arcade

I might sound like a broken record stating this, but the quiet night of Main Street U.S.A. after Disneyland Park has closed is my favorite time to spend in the park.  It's a time that has etched numerous memories in my mind, because the peaceful magic is evocative of everything I think Disneyland represents.  The romantic notion of a cozy turn-of-the-century small town and the idea of simpler times is such a captivating one, and Main Street hits upon this wonderfully. Add to that the spirit of the fall holiday season, and it's no wonder why I love this time of the year!

The Crystal Arcade aglow at night during Halloween Time.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This Is Halloween!

This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night

This is Halloween, everybody make a scene
Trick or treat till the neighbors gonna die of fright
It's our town, everybody scream
In this town of Halloween

 And so, we are welcomed into the world of Halloween Town in the classic Tim Burton film, The Nightmare Before Christmas.  At Disneyland, Jack Skellington welcomes guests into his own version of Halloween and Christmas, as he's applied it to the Haunted Mansion.  For 13 years, this transformation has been delighting guests, and the ride's popularity during the holiday season shows no signs of letting up.  Need more proof this is the most wonderful time of the year?

Iconic Jack Skellington in front of the Haunted Mansion during Halloween Time!

Monday, October 14, 2013

That "Pierfect" Afternoon

If you follow Disney California Adventure's live twitter feed (@DCAToday), you might notice that they often throw the catchphrase "Pier-fect Day" around as a pun for those gorgeous days at Paradise Pier.  And sure, it's cheesy and punny, but it describes the setting perfectly.  Paradise Pier is gorgeous.  It's bright and sunny and reflects what Southern California is all about. And on those days when the afternoon sun casts a stunning cascade of gold over the bay, it really is, well, "pier-fection!"

A golden sunset at Paradise Pier.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Koi Ponds of Ko'Olina

Beauty can be found everywhere and in every detail at Aulani. This time around, I'd like to feature a few photos of the koi ponds located around the central courtyard area of the resort.  These are stunning nods to the spectacular geology of the Hawaiian Islands, pakced with lush foliage and dramatic looking rockwork, and of course plenty of koi fish.  They're a beautiful and relaxing part of a gorgeous getaway resort that Disney has crafted in the middle of paradise--creating magic and wonder in a land already full of both!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Entering Hollywood Land

This view of Hollywood Land has seen its share of changes over the years. From the frontage of the old Sunshine Plaza to the era when the iconic elephants still stood guard alongside an actual sign to the old Hollywood Pictures Backlot to the summers where ElecTRONica still had its setup on stage even during daytime hours to its current form, the entrance to Disney California Adventures movie-themed land has certainly evolved.  Today, Hollywood Land has settled into its role as a natural transition from 1920s neighborhood Buena Vista Street to 1930s Hollywood at the height of its golden age.  There's an elegance and grandeur here now, and although the land couple probably benefit from more attention to its backlot area, I think it looks pretty nice now!

It may be a beautiful afternoon, but it's a great time to run into some stars!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Goats of Autumn

Today's post is a departure from the usual beauty shot. Instead, I'd like to focus on a guilty and silly pleasure of mine--visiting the goats in Big Thunder Ranch.  Goats are wonderful creatures, useful for naturally mowing the lawn while also being adept at mimicking human sounds and yells.  At Disneyland, they don't do much of either, but they do sport fantastic bandanas during Halloween Time, and that alone makes them absolutely awesome.  So basically, here's a bunch of pictures of goats for today.  Yes, goats.  Because goats are awesome.

This goat has a great goatee!

This one stares in a docile manner.

This guy's all business.

Back to the Goatee'd One.

Meanwhile, this goat is all, "DURRRR..."

And of course, you can't miss the Incredible Barrel Jumping Goat of Rainbow Ridge County!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Halloween Hub... at Night

Disneyland at night is magical, and during the Halloween season, it's a spooky kind of magical.  At The Hub, though, it's more of a friendly and warm kind of spooky--the kind that beckons the autumn season and the impending arrival of the holidays.  The jack-o-lanterns that surround the Walt and Mickey statue provide a friendly golden glow at night, and crisp evening air ushers forth the sharpness of the season.  It's a wonderful time of transition, which if you think about it, is a sort of magic in and of itself!

The Hub at Halloween in the late night.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Screaming Through Space

Tomorrowland has only one entry in the Halloween Time offerings, but oh, what an entry! Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is a dressed up version of the popular indoor roller coaster with a spooky space ghost overlay.  There are impressive projections inside, and it's definitely a little scary for those expecting just the typical innocent Disney attraction.  But if that's too intimidating, there's always the outside, where a regular projection show takes place on the show building at nighttime.  Accompanied by apocalyptic sounding music and sound effects, the visuals are quite spectacular. But then again, maybe those might scare the prone-to-craven.  Sure is pretty, though!

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy features a wonderful projection show at night.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gothic Shop Pieces

Details abound in New Orleans Square during Halloween Time. Though not as overtly dressed up as some of its other theme land neighbors, there is certainly an amount of Halloween inspired items to behold. Though some of them also appear year-round, they certainly contribute a spooky flavor during this time of year.  Take a look and see if you can spot them!

Props and decorations inside Le Bat En Rouge.

I love the skull and the potions and candle!

Pieces of Eight has a bit of a Jack Skellington affair.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Looking Out for Adventure

I think this qualifies as a detail, even though it's rather prominently situated along a major pathway within Disney California Adventure. But I kind of like this little tribute to the movie Brother Bear, where the little bear cub, Koda, is perched atop Kenai, who had been transformed into a bear.  The friendship between the two and the love and bond are all Disney ideals.  Together, they can survive any adventure or danger and ultimately triumph over their adversity.  It's a great tenet, for sure!

A happy totem from Brother Bear over at the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Great Rivers of America

The Rivers of America have been a feature at Disneyland since day one.  They provide a wonderful simulation of life along the water back in the days of the Old West and the exploration of America's frontier.  Adventurers big and small (but more easily, small) can take a raft over to Tom Sawyer's island and explore the many caves and play areas, or even stumble upon pirate treasure!  Alternately, guests can take a peaceful cruise aboard the Mark Twain or Columbia around the river, past the edge of civilization, and into the wilderness.  Yes, the Rivers of America are a gorgeous tribute to our country's enterprising past.  And they sure are pretty to photograph!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rainbow Reef

Aulani is most certainly Disney's take on the complete Hawaii experience, and one of the features available to guests is the opportunity to go salt water snorkeling on property at Rainbow Reef.  Filled with colorful butterflyfish, angelfish, surgeonfish and tangs, this little lagoon is sort of like a beginner's guide to snorkeling, but it also offers the exotic excitement of being with the tropical fishies for those who've never had the experience.  Kind of a neat feature, if you ask me!

It's a gorgeous day at the Aulani Resort and Spa, and at Rainbow Reef!

Here, guests can go snorkeling with real tropical sealife and swim up to an aquarium of ocean critters.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Inside the Haunted Mansion Holiday

I'll keep the description short and sweet for this post.  The Haunted Mansion Holiday is a Disneyland guest favorite and a very fun way of transforming a classic attraction for the holidays.  Here are some photos I was able to snag within the ride the last time I rode it!

A man eating plant makes a wonderful wreath--as long as you don't get caught in its teeth!

Jack has given Leota 13 presents for each day of his version of Christmas! And she's decked for the season!

Sandy Claws worked his magic both outside and in, but one final touch made his bony face grin.

Now what better gift on my friends to bestow than a graveyard that's covered in ghostly white snow!

And of course, Oogie Boogie has some surprises for the riders!

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