Friday, May 31, 2013

Billy Hill and the Hillbillies

There's a certain innocent and likeable charm, as well as a vivacious energy that fills the room when Billy Hill and the Hillbillies take the stage at the Golden Horseshoe.  This bluegrass and country playing quartet of talented musicians thrill the crowds with their lively stringwork, wry and sarcastic wise-cracks, and fun comedy the whole family can enjoy.

Performing regularly at Disneyland since the early 1990s, these musicians--all named Billy Hill--have been a Frontierland staple for almost as long as I can remember going to Disneyland, and during last week's Monstrous Summer All Nighter event, they played multiple shows both at Big Thunder Ranch and at the Golden Horseshoe.  And even at 4:30 in the morning, they were still going strong.  Always professional, always entertaining!

Billy Hill and the Hillbillies take the stage to must applause.

They start off with a few bluegrass tunes.

They invite a guest to come on stage and sing a little diddy inspired by some of her responses to questions.

One of my favorite bits is when they do "that train thing." Their instruments make locomotive noises!

Dancing, playing, and singing... these are a multi-talented bunch!

The climax of the show comes with an impressive display of dueling teamwork.

How about playing on each other's fiddles to bring the crowd to its feet?!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Village Pinocchio

If you haven't noticed, I've been spending this week posting photos I took during last Friday/Saturday's Monstrous Summer All Nighter event.  This one comes from Fantasyland and was taken about an hour before dawn. 

Interestingly, had I taken this shot last year during the One More Disney Day event, there would have been a throng of people in the way. But somehow--be it because the was less open advertisement, or a different type of crowd showed up, because a better prepared Resort staff ran things so efficiently that most people didn't have much incentive to stay--by this time last Saturday morning, the park had quieted down to a level comparable to after regular closing time.  That allowed me to stroll through various areas and capture still moments like this without needing to expend that much patience waiting for other guests to leave the shot.  It made for a much less stressful 24-hour Disney Day compared to last year!

Pinocchio's Daring Journey, still at 4:30 in the morning.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fabulous Flo's V8 Cafe

I love photographing Cars Land, and I love photographing it especially at night, when the neon comes alive and dazzles visitors with its colorful and sleek streaks of light, but when it comes to the most photogenic feature of Radiator Springs at night, the winner can only be Flo's V8 Cafe. This retro and super stylish diner glows with groovy warmth and welcome vibes.  And last week, when I came upon the cafe in the early morning blue hour just before sunrise, with the entire scene empty, I absolutely had to take a dramatic photo.

Vibrant and luminous Flo's V8 Cafe shines brightly in the early morning, before dawn.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Toontown Trolley

Until last Friday's Monstrous Summer All Nigther event, I had never taken photos of Mickey's Toontown at night.  But given the opportunity, I walked over to check things out.  Among the shots I got, this composition of the Jolly Trolley was among my most intriguing. The Jolly Trolley used to be a fun and whimsical mode of transportation from one end of Toontown to the other, but over the years, due to maintenance issues and concerns with vehicular movement among crowds, it was used less and less, until eventually, it was brought to a stop.  These days, it serves as Disneyland's most heavily themed bench.  But perhaps one day, it can be restored to its former transportational glory.

The Jolly Trolley in the middle of the night, during Disney's Monstrous Summer All Nighter event.
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Monday, May 27, 2013

The Pacific Dawn

I spent the end of last Friday and beginning of early Saturday morning marathonning the Disneyland Resort for a second year, on a day when Disney chose to have a park (or in this case, both parks) open for 24-hours.  And while last year's One More Disney Day event culminated in a liberating and validating break of gorgeous sunrise and blue skies, this year's "morning after" was a cloudier and grayer affair.  Fortunately, one aspect of the skies that did provide for visual contrast was the clouds.  So this image taken from the bridge onto Paradise Pier imparts a calm and peaceful memory of finishing up another 24-hour Disney Day--this one much less chaotic than the last--and something I won't forget anytime soon!

The morning dawns on Pacific Wharf at the tail end of another 24-hour Disney day.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dining in Southern Hospitality

A regal and cozy locale, the River Belle Terrace delicately balances the convergence of Frontierland and New Orleans Square with a Southern style that still calls to mind a sense of sitting by the great Mississippi, upon the cusp of the western frontier.  Home to a variety of sandwiches and salads, this dining establishment is also a great place to grab a fresh, flavorful meal.  And here, sitting in front of the Rivers of America, it's not hard to drift back in time to the spirit of the 1800s, where exploration and elegance could sometimes go hand in hand!

Guests enjoying themselves at the River Belle Terrace in the late afternoon.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Dawning on the Firehouse

In honor of Disney's Monstrous Summer 24-Hour "All Nighter," here's another photo taken the morning after last year's Disneyland Leap Day festivities.  As I mentioned yesterday, though the night was chaotic and crowded, the majesty and magnificence of the new Disney morning made the experience worth it. To see the park in golden tones, empty, at still peace, was like a glimpse into its soul--pure, pristine, blissful.  The way the light fell upon the buildings and trees was absolutely wonderful.  And in that moment, I was reminded why this is such a special and magical place.

The beautiful Main Street Fire Station in the early morning.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fruits of a Marathon

Today, Disneyland is open for 24 hours. Again.  Last year, the park conducted the same promotion, and the result was madness as the night progressed and the crowds came and came and came... and did not leave.  Rides were backed up, food ran out, and lines sprawled everywhere one looked.  And as the hours ticked by, the park began to resemble a horde invasion of the walking dead.

Now, admittedly, things weren't quite that bad (at least not to the point of zombie outbreak), but truthfully, the sheer volume of guests in the park was incredible and unexpected.  With this "Monstrous Summer" kickoff party affecting both parks this year, the sequel may be even bigger than the original.  We'll know by this time tomorrow.

But for me, the reward for surviving the night was daybreak, and the incredible photo opportunities I had to photograph an empty park the following the morning, in daylight, as the last stragglers left the park.  Those signature shots of Sleeping Beauty's Castle and The Hub, with nobody in them, certainly made the grueling night worth it.  At least enough that I may very well be doing this again today!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Docked in Golden Light

On days when FANTASMIC! is scheduled for the evenings, it's not uncommon to see the Sailing Ship Columbia docked before sunset, no longer accepting passengers.  She's a majestic ship, the first three-masted windjammer built in the United States in over a hundred years when she was built in 1958.  Modeled after the first American ship to circumnavigate the world, the Columbia bears a very realistic representation of what naval life was like in the 18th century.  Guests can go beneath the deck to see recreations of the galley, crew's quarters, and other spaces to get a sense of what circa-1700s sailors endured.  Beautiful and educational, the Columbia remains a classic part of Disneyland history!

The Frontier Landing dock, with the S.S. Columbia tied up.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One Blustery Windsday

Apparently, I've begun this week with links.  Monday and yesterday both featured bays.  Yesterday and today both have puns in their titles.  What will tomorrow hold?

Guests who wander toward the back of Critter Country, not looking to ride Splash Mountain, might instead opt for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, a dark ride attraction that replaced the former Country Bear Jamboree show.  Though its predecessor is certainly a classic show, Winnie the Pooh is a cute attraction in its own right.  With colorful and whimsical scenes from the beloved books and Disney-adapted movie, it's a fun ride for children and families.  Though there's nothing really spectacular, Winnie the Pooh provides an escape from the crowds on busy days and a bit of cool down--be it via the interior air conditioning or perhaps those occasional gusts that seem to stir up in Hundred Acre Wood!

Winnie the Pooh hangs onto a floating balloon on a windy day in Hundred Acre Wood.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

End of a "Pierfect" Day

From one bay to another, today takes you across the way to Paradise Bay, Disney California Adventure's premiere body of water.  So what if it's the park's only substantial body of water, it's still where nighttime magic like World of Color happens, and where thrills happen all along the boardwalk.

But the Bay is almost home to moments of peace and tranquility.  Amidst the activity, there are areas of calm, like Ariel's Grotto, providing some relaxation and respite from a flurry of a day.  By the end of the afternoon, Paradise Bay stands at the cusp of its illuminating transformation into a nighttime twinkling wonderland, and that anticipation bears a certain sense of joy for what has already passed during the day, as well as what promises to unfold at night!

Ariel's Grotto casts a smooth reflection off the waters of Paradise Bay!

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Evening at Nemo Bay

One of the neat and welcome changes when the submarines returned to Disneyland was a renewed liveliness in the bay during the nighttime.  In its refurbishment of the ride, Disney added an array of colorful lights, providing a soothing and luminous glow to the water after dark.  The resulting emanation of vibrance makes for a pleasing sight in the waters of Nemo Bay!

The nighttime colors of Nemo Bay.
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Birds Here to Stay

As they sing in the show, "Most little birdies will fly away, but the Tiki Room birds are here everyday!"  And so, at the end of the night, they do stay, all propped up in their little perches, not even fluttering off when the doors open, content to be with the enchanted flowers and tiki gods and sculptures.  I suppose it's not a bad idea. After all, during the day, Jose's siestas are always shorter and shorter, and this way, the birds will all get a nice, restful sleep to help them perform at their finest all over again the next day.

The Enchanted Tiki Room after the last show of the night.
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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ramone's House of Body Art

While perusing old entries, I realized that I had never posted a dedicated photo of Ramone's House of Body Art.  I suspect the unintentional neglect stems from my inability to get an overview shot of the store that I liked.  While the other buildings and attractions have interesting forms or features that made for compelling photos, Ramone's is just there, ablaze in neon, but not in a particularly harmonious combo. 

Well, better late than never.  So here's a nighttime photo of Ramone's, to complete the Cars Land set!

Ramone knows how to attract customers at all hours of the day and night!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough

In 1957, Sleeping Beauty's Castle was opened to the public in the form of a walk-through that allowed guests to trace the story of Sleeping Beauty through two dimensional dioramas, which depicted scenes from the animated movie.  At the time, the film hadn't even been premiered yet--that would not occur until 1959--so this was, in effect, 1950s viral marketing for the movie.

The walk-through grew to become a classic part of Fantasyland, so there was some nostalgic sadness after it closed down in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks.  Fortunately, in 2008, the attraction was reopened, with updated effects but the same charm of those layered 2-D dioramas.  The following photos take a tour through the castle to witness some of these scenes.

The story begins right inside the entrance, as the birth of Princess Aurora is told.

Up a flight of stairs guests go to the next room.

After witnessing Maleficent curse young Aurora, the king and queen burn hundreds of perfectly useful spindles.

Perhaps they could have sold them to a neighboring kingdom and been less wasteful?

Despite the precautions, Aurora grows to age 16, falls under a spell, and pricks her finger on a spindle anyway.

The three good fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, place the entire kingdom under sleep.

It's fortunate that they had changed Maleficent's death curse to a sleeping curse.

Still, the old witch is pretty proud of herself.

Prince Phillip faces off against Maleficent in dragon form, to fight his one true love.
Everything works out, and with Phillips awakening kiss, the two live happily ever after!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Scenes from Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Peak may only be home to one ride, but there's a pretty good amount of richness around this land, especially when viewed off the path less taken.  That would be the "back route" that does not pass by the Grand Californian.  It branches off by the final splashdown of Grizzly River Rapids and arcs by waterfalls, old mine shafts, and bountiful wilderness.  And the less commonly scene glimpses of GRR are pretty neat as well!

Abandoned track and a rail cart extend into this view of the Grizzly River Rapids loading dock.

An old mine shaft, no longer used and sealed off from the public.

I like this vantagepoint of Grizzly River Rapids because it's not the typical "moneyshot" angle.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Welcome to Condor Flats

Condor Flats is the smallest themed land in Disney California Adventure, even smaller than A Bug's Land, and with only one attraction and a not-so-glamorous-looking aerospace theme, it's a challenge for me to uncover a lot of good angles for photos.  However, last weekend, when I was strolling through the park right before sunset, I came upon the sun just as it was setting behind the roof line of the Grand Californian Hotel.  The golden sunlight streaming almost horizontally into my eyes, coupled with the barren rockwork marking the entrance, made for a dynamic scene.  So I shuffled around, looking for the right angle, and with the help of the wonderfully wide end of my Nikkor 16-35mm lens, came up with something that imparts a sense of ruggedness and warmth at the same time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Nighttime Splashdown

I have friends who are bold, and daring, and are perfectly content to ride Splash Mountain at night.  I am not so bold and daring, and even though I've accomplished the task once, I have no desire to do it again.  After all, it's generally cold at night.  And you get wet on this ride. Coldness and wetness? Sounds like a recipe for hypothermia to me, and I don't think even pixie dust would be able to save me from that.

Or perhaps I just don't want to deal with the hassle of being damp during the evening.  So I just take pictures of this classic attraction instead!

Splash Mountain at night!

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Treetop Portrait

I never explored the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse when I was younger, so I can't adequately judge how it compares to Tarzan's Treehouse.  But I imagine the previous incarnation definitely had a more realistic and grounded feel to it, for obvious reasons.  In Tarzan's Treehouse, from room to room, three dimensional versions of the animated characters are present, including this scene, where Jane sketches Tarzan, frozen in pose, for her records.  It's a pivotal moment in the movie, since it represents Jane's heart starting to grow fonder for this strange yet caring jungle man, and it's captured nicely enough in this scene on the walk-through attraction.

Jane sketches out Tarzan, at Tarzan's Treehouse.
Do you have any requests for photos or scenes to be posted on this blog? Any particular attraction or show or cozy corner of either park that you've always wanted to see pictures of, or perhaps felt was under-represented in the Disney park photographic world? Well, leave a comment, and I'll see if I can make it happen!  Thanks, as always, for your support!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Whale with No Tail

What misfortune Monstro had to encounter Pinocchio, who was swallowed by the giant whale, only to devise an escape plan that resulted in the fearsome sea creature having his tail blown clean off!  Fortunately for guests in Fantasyland, this has enabled them to cruise on through into the wonderful world of Storybook Land, where Disney's most famous scenes and settings have been recreated in miniature.  Hopefully, Monstro appreciates the legacy he left behind... via the tail he left behind.

Monstro serves as the portal into Storybook Land, much to his own misfortune.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Racing Till the Sun Goes Down

On Thursday, I waxed upon what a nice day it can be some days to go out for a drive, top down, sun in face, enjoying the great weather.  Well, over at Disney California Adventure, something quite similar happens, only it ends in much more than a relaxing road cruise--it ends in a race.  Radiator Springs Racers is a culmination of all of Disney's advances in major types of ride design, from dark rides with animatronics to adrenaline-fueled thrill rides.  And add to that a doubling of excitement with the racing component--two "Test Tracks" in the space of one--and you have yourself a preeminent attraction!

Cars launch over a hill toward the finale of Radiator Springs Racers.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Welcome to Radiator Springs

There are three ways into Cars Land:
  1. The main drag straight on to the Courthouse, recognizable from the movies.
  2. The epic archway entrance off of Pacific Wharf
  3. By way of A Bug's Land
The third route seems to me to be the least talked about, but that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile.  Strolling in off of Flik's Fun Fair, guests pass by Luigi's Flying Tires and are greeted with miniature billboards boasting of what's to come.  It's like driving into town off a hidden side road, off the beaten path, but charming in its own right.  And remember, when you get there, the townsfolk are going to give you just as big of a welcome as if you'd come any other way!

The late afternoon sun shining over the cutest little town in Carburetor County!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cruisin' in the Sun

People have this stereotype that Southern California is nothing but blue skies and bright sun and all smiles, where people are relaxed and carefree, and the pursuit of dreams takes place amidst glamor and romanticism.  Well, in real life, it's not quite like that.  But there are those days where you step outside, look around, take in that golden sunshine, and think, "Man, it definitely is good to live in SoCal!"

Just a typical, gorgeous, sun-drenched day at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Dining Hall

There are two dining rooms within Club 33.  Last month covered the Trophy Room, and this month, the main dining room is featured.  Located Cafe Orleans, this grand space is luxuriously furnished with warm wood trim, regal curtains, and a grand chandelier.  Overlooking the Rivers of America, guests can even slip through the balcony doors to catch a glimpse of FANTASMIC! at night, if they'd like to.  Ornate and prim, it's a most special place to spend a meal at Disneyland's most exclusive club!

A look at the main dining hall, with the hallway back toward the entry to the left.

Looking out at the windows, with the Rivers of America beyond.

A glimpse at the mantel.
Detail of a place setting.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Rustic Queue

Details abound everywhere in a Disney park, and not just on the rides.  There are plenty of bits of theming in line as well.  Take Grizzly River Run.  During a hot summer day, the wait can be one or two hours.  So it makes sense to offer a bit of visual relief.  So a scene showing an outpost in the middle of prepping for an excursion makes all the most sense!  Little artifacts like guide books, posters, maps, backpacking supplies, a little radio, and more provide an artful touch.  And as you gaze upon the photos below, I don't think it's hard to imagine yourself whisked away to the land of wilderness, ready to tackle the challenges that come just around the riverbend!

The Grizzly River Run line is rich with crafted details.

A look at the other side of the wall from the previous shot.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Room Most Enchanted

Believe it or not, it took me about twenty years of existence before I first set foot in the Enchanted Tiki Room.  Yes, it's true, and yes, I'm ashamed.  Because this delightful classic Walt Disney attraction is brimming with song and character, and it's a whole lot of fun.  Sure, there's far more advanced audio-animatronic technology now, but it's hard to beat the charm of Jose, Michael, Pierre, Fritz, and their feathery friends.  And those songs are so bubbly and catchy!  Indeed, it's nice that Disneyland has a little bit of paradise within itself.

Our host birds awaken to begin the show.

The ladies come down and sing some songs.

The fountain rises as the birds engage in some celebrating.

In my opinion, this is the original "World of Color!"

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