Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Resplendent Wilderness

I'm sure I'm not alone, but I find the sight of sunbeams filtering through tall evergreen trees to be a truly mesmerizing and majestic sight.  The very essence of light is distilled into radiant swaths to behold, and it's synonymous to the glory of mother nature. 

At Disney California Adventure, Grizzly Peak is one location that allows this to play out in an urban setting. Urban because the park is, of course, situated in the middle of the city of Anaheim.  But the magic of Disney has always been its ability to sweep people away to different and faraway worlds.  Here, one might as well be in the wilderness of the Sierra Nevadas.  In fact, if it weren't for the crowds and the clearly obvious theme park ride, I would challenge you to discern the difference in this picture!

Sunbeams shine onto Grizzly River Run in the late afternoon.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Soarin' to the Afternoon

Since Condor Flats is such a small section of Disney California Adventure, there's not a lot of sweeping, picturesque scenes.  But come the hour or so before sunset, the golden glow seems to transform this aviation-themed land, it visual takes flight to a new level of warmth and beauty and saturation.  The multi-faceted color palette becomes emphasized by the low rays of the sun, and everything feels more enhanced.  I suppose that can be said of any place during this time of the day, but I really enjoy how the light falls, particularly in Condor Flats!

Outside the filling station next to Fly 'n' Buy, purveyors of puns and souvenirs.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Bavarian Fantasy

I didn't know this until I was older, but when Fantasyland originally opened with the park in 1955, its dark ride facades weren't the ornate, romantic Bavarian village aesthetic that everyone is familiar with today. Instead, they were two dimensional Renaissance-inspired sets that thinly disguised the lines just inside.  It wasn't until 1983, after an extensive refurbishment that closed down the entire land, that the modern facades were revealed.  But I'm glad the park made the change oh so many years ago.  This charming village style helps build one of my favorite ambiances in the park, and it forms the backdrop of many a wonderful and magical childhood memory in this beautiful and most timeless of all lands.

The charming storybook village atmosphere of Fantasyland, with the Matterhorn in the distance.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mr. Potato Head

I remember back when Toy Story Midway Mania opened, one of the most amazing features of this attraction didn't actually occur on the ride, but rather in line.  The audio-animatronic Mr. Potato Head cracked jokes, tracked guest moments, literally interacted with them, and had convincing lifelike movement that made it look just like from the movie.  In the years since, Mr. Potato Head has settled into a regular part of the park, and the cancellation of an original plan to have a live operator improvise interactions with guests has taken a bit of the luster away from the novelty.  But he's still pretty cool to observe, and guests will still be taken aback when he stops to tell them, specifically, a joke.  Pretty good, for a spud!

Mr. Potato Head in line at Toy Story Midway Mania.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Floating Away on a Sunny Day

The balloons at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure seem to be a common photographic subject online, so one day, while wandering through the parks, I decided to snap a shot of my own.  Mostly, I like this for the various colors, as there are more spectacular balloon shots out there.  But seeing as having a picture of balloons at the Disneyland Resort is practically a right of passage for Disney photography, I figured I'd post one today!

Balloons sway in the wind on Buena Vista Street.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Maleficent's Fall

The climactic moment in FANTASMIC! is clearly the transformation of Maleficent into a terrible fire-breathing dragon.  When that imposing, 40-foot gall figure makes its entrance, it's quite an impressive sight.  But alas, Mickey always gets the upper hand, and I suppose it makes sense. It is his dream, not the villains', so he naturally comes out victorious.

Here are some shots I took not too long ago from a perch near the landing for the Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island.  It's actually a great place to get a pretty good view of the show if you arrive with minimal time before the show, and all the other spots have already filled up. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Monstrous Evening

The Monsters University dormitory overlay looks pretty neat during the daytime, but it really comes alive at night, when the lighting and colors really pop with a nice, moody vibrance.  The fuschias and magentas bring a nice twist to the usual brick red, and one can almost sense the curious revelry that might be going on inside. After all, if college folks can party like monsters, imagine how monsters party while in college!

The Monsters University facade at night!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rise and Tires!

Consider another "perspective distortion shot" that I like to do sometimes when I'm bored and looking for a unique angle on things.  Ideally, I would have had an actual fisheye, but that lens is not quite in my arsenal. At least not yet. So you get a very wide angle of the Leaning Tower of Tires instead, holding some pretty twinkly lights tethered to Luigi's Casa Della Tires.  In the early morning, before dawn, it's a pretty neat sight, if only because there's no one in view, which is exactly the type of shot I like to get.  What do you think?

Luigi's Casa Della Tires, in "blue hour" before sunrise.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Sun Setting Sail

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the 400th ever post on Disney Photoblography, so to commemorate this milestone, I figured I'd have to post an especially nice photo.

Well, a few weeks ago, after several prior attempts of doing a photo run around the Resort right at magic hour that ended in my arriving too late (and thus failing), I finally found myself succeeding in snapping a variety of shots with the golden glow of the setting sun illuminating the scene.  I had made sure to be strategic, working my way around both parks so that I sooner hit up areas that would be in shadow earlier, and striking out toward more open areas later.  But by the time the sun was really making its final approach toward the horizon, I had found myself over by Tarzan's Treehouse.  Looking up and seeing warm sunlight against the jungle foliage, I decided to trek up.  And by the time I walked across the rope bridge, ground level was already in shadow. 

If anything, though, that made this shot even more stunning.  Seeing the last vestiges of daylight bounce off the Pirates of the Caribbean show building brought forth a wonderful feeling of peace and relaxation.  It's perhaps the biggest reason why Disneyland doesn't get old no matter how many times I visit.  There are those moments of pristine beauty that burn their indelible way into my memory, and this was certainly one of them.

Looking down on the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean, from Tarzan's Treehouse.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Closing Down Main Street

Ever find yourself confronted by that perfect shot, but you don't have the proper equipment to pull it off?  Well, get creative.  Not ever shot requires a tripod.  Sometimes, just finding something sturdy to prop the camera against will do. This may be a light pole, or a bit of fence, or a trash can.  Or in this case, it might just be the ground itself, with the lens hood propping the camera up at a slightly upward angle that avoids photographing only street pavement.  And who knows, maybe at the end of the street, there's another photographer trying to get a similar shot looking in your direction!

Looking down Main Street at the very end of the night.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Beautiful Day for A Dip

On a bright and sunny day, few places are more spectacularly naturally vibrant than the lagoon that the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage calls home.  The shimmering cool blue, aqua, and green hues of the waters below and the skies above are offset by the friendly and cheerful yellow tones of the submarines, and the whole composition has a welcoming effect that always draws my attention.  To me, a picture like this just screams summer. What do you think?

It's a gorgeous day at the Finding Nemo Submarine Lagoon!
I'd like to also take this moment to promote the Facebook page for Disney Photoblography.  "Like" the page to get the latest updates on new posts and photos, as well as random little messages and such.  My Instagram page has managed to take off in popularity, thanks to some fortunate promotion from nice, much-more-popular accounts and even some reposts for Disneyland's Instagram account, but the Facebook page could use some more attention. So go check it out!

Thanks!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

VROOMing Through

It always seems to be a beautiful day in Cars Land, at least when I'm in the mood to take pictures. And as this land embodies the American Southwest and the dusty and spectacular geology along Route 66, this great setting is only fitting.  The desert landscape and red rocks make for a majestic backdrop, and when those Radiator Springs Racers come racing over that hill, it's a most picturesque moment!

Cars race over the hills of Radiator Springs Racers.
Speaking of VROOM... I'm playing around with different mobile layouts and have changed the way this blog looks on a mobile device. Do you notice any differences in performance and viewing, and do you like this new version better than the old, or vice versa? Feedback is welcome! Thanks!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cinderella Castle

Longtime Disneyland visitors who step foot in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom will quickly notice one distinction: Florida's castle is much bigger and grander than California's.  This follows a pattern--for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is larger and more impressive than Disneyland.  It's hard to say which is better (if you're into the comparison game), because one prefer cozy and charming while others are attracted to regal and imposing.  In any case, Cinderella Castle is certainly more impressive, because it dominates the view down Main Street and can be glimpsed from many other vantagepoints around the park.  When I visited in 2009, most of my days in the Magic Kingdom happened to be overcast, but this was one of the view where the skies shone blue, and the light was more picturesque.

Cinderella Castle from the waterway west of the park icon.

A closer view, looking up its many spires.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blazing into the Frontier

It's fitting that Frontierland is located next to Adventureland. Both have a sense of exploration, excitement, and yes, adventure!  But in Frontierland, the setting is wide open spaces, rugged desert, and the wild, wild west.  It's strapping on your biggest belt and saddling on into the comedic salaciousness of the Golden Horseshoe, or chugging into the little town of Big Thunder, or perhaps boarding a fancy river cruise aboard the Mark Twain or the S.S. Columbia.  Whatever path you take, you can be sure it will take you to the deepest regions of fun and entertainment!

The entrance into Frontierland at the peak of the afternoon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Setting Off for a Dream

Apparently, in the nearly 13 months I've been doing this blog, I haven't really posted a photo of the Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse Statue in Disney California Adventure!  Well, here's a few of the Storytellers statue that I love, because it captures the spirit of this art piece and the tale of Disney California Adventure in general. 

In the 1920s, Walt (and Mickey) arrived in Los Angeles fresh off the bankrupcy of his previous endeavor, Laugh-O-Gram Studios, and in need of a fresh start.  At this time, Walt was not yet the beloved father of millions of children's dreams, or the creator the Happiest Place on Earth, or even the ground-breaker mind behind the first ever fully animated motion picture.  He was just another person struggling to break through in the land of stars.  With all the hope and promise and future before him, Walt ended up blazing a ground-breaking trail that made animated and motion picture history, and continued to set a legacy unlike any other.

So on this, the 58th birthday of Disneyland, Walt Disney's Original Magic Kingdom, I'm posting a picture that represents the aspirations of one of our greatest dreamers, in commemoration of all that he's accomplished.  It's a reminder that even the grandest things have the humblest of beginnings.

"Storytellers," the Walt and Mickey Statue at Disney California Adventure.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Luck of a Bug's Life

Inside Flik's Fun Fair, there are many towering cloverleafs standing guard over the guests below.  But keen eyes will notice that most of them are of the three leaf variety.  Indeed, there is only one four leaf clover in all of this land, and it's not readily apparent unless one wanders around to catch a full revolving view.  Have you been "lucky" enough to find it?

This four leaf clover stands tall in the middle of A Bug's Land.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cruising the Winds of Paradise

In photography, there's something called a "pan shot" that basically consists of using a longer-than-usual shutter speed to snap a photo of a moving object, moving the camera (usually in the form of panning as it moves past the stationary photographer) to track the object in motion.  This will result in a neat blurred background and--ideally--a moving subject that is in focus.  It makes for a great, dynamic photo, but as one might guess, is difficult to pull off from the technical side of things.

An alternate is to situation oneself in an object that is already moving and take a picture of an adjacent subject that is moving at the same speed.  Simply focus on the subject, and keep still, and voila!  Blurred background and cool photo!  I'm still working on mastering a true pan shot, but in the meantime, here's the hackers version of that sort of shot.  Cool, eh?

A longer exposure was used to blur the background while keeping the subject relatively in focus.
Looking the other way and making the Golden Zephyr look much faster than it is!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Roaming a Swiss Meadow

These days, I find myself being more selective in the photos I take around the Disneyland Resort.  Whereas I might have clicked a snapshot in the middle of the day before, I now wait for "magic hour," that period time an hour or so before sunset, to capture the warm, golden sunlight.  I look for different angles or unique perspectives.  I try really hard to avoid crowds.  But despite all of these measures, sometimes the perfect opportunity just manifests by chance.  In this case, I was walking by The Hub when I spied the flower beds on the east side, next to Tomorrowland, and noticed how the warm golden light fell on them, creating a dreamy field of floral vibrance.  I also noticed how the Matterhorn loomed behind and thought, 'Gee, if I get the right angle, this could look like it was a scene from actual Switzerland! Or at least a scene not commonly framed.'

So here you are, a photo taken at the right place at the right time.  I really like it, because it conjures up all of the romantic and warm feelings of fantasy and adventure and beauty that's associated with the Happiest Place on Earth. I hope you like it too!

A beautiful flower bed at The Hub showered in golden sunlight with the Matterhorn in the background.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Monumental Gateway II

Sometimes, you want a do-over.  The first shot I ever posted on this blog was a nighttime view of Cars Land from the Pacific Wharf entrance. In my opinion, it's the most dramatic of the entrances, and it is a breath-taking vista to behold.  However, the one thing that always bothered me was the fact that in my first photo, the very tip of Willy's Butte (cue childish giggling) was touching the side of the entrance archway.  Not literally, of course, but compositionally, it bothered me.  So I thought I'd take the chance to redo the the shot again.

Entering Ornament Valley in the stillness of the night.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Docked at Midnight

It's a beautiful and serene sight to see the Mark Twain at night, docked at Frontier Landing, floating quietly in the Rivers of America.  During the day, this sturdy steamship is hard at work ferrying passengers all around the Rivers of America, past New Orleans Square and Critter Country, into the backwoods of the American wilderness. So it seems fair that this majestic vessel get some rest, before doing it all over again the next day!

The S.S. Mark Twain, at rest at night.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tower of Terror East

Among my friends who've had the privilege of visiting Walt Disney World, the Tower of Terror in Orlando is often referred to as "Good Tower." This isn't to say that the similarly themed attraction at Disney California Adventure is bad.  Rather, the original freefalling drop ride is simply the standard.  With randomized drop sequences, different and unique effects, a mysterious "Fifth Dimension Room" lacking in any of the other Tower of Terror rides around the world, and a different, more sinister looking structure, Florida's iteration of the Hollywood Tower Hotel is the classic that started it all.  Perhaps those who've also "dropped on by" can share their experiences?



Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Carthay Circle Premiere

If you're a Disney afficionado, you may know that the Carthay Circle Theater was where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had its world premiere, in 1937.  At the time, this theater was one of the most famous and popular movie palaces there was, and its selection to showcase the debut of first-ever fully animated major motion picture was a landmark.

Today, at Disney California Adventure, the Carthay Circle Restaurant pays tribute to this by way of faithfully recreating the iconic structure. And though films cannot be seen inside, the presence and revitalization of the area outside mirrors what the Carthay Circle Theater was able to do for that section of Los Angeles in the early-mid 20th century.  It's a fitting monument to the story of Walt Disney in Los Angeles, that's holds the underlying theme at DCA!

The marquee in front of the Carthay Circle Restaurant, harkening to the Carthay Circle Theater.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Peak from Tomorrow

Sometimes, it's nice to get above the crowds and take in Disneyland park and all of its remarkable views. Take this vantagepoint of Tomorrowland from the second floor of Innoventions.  The curving path, golden sunshine, and iconic Matterhorn beyond make for a a spellbounding sight, and the relative calm up here brings a pervasive feeling of serenity.  It's a welcome space to just stand back and enjoy all that the Happiest Place on Earth has to offer!

A view toward the northwest, from Innoventions to the Matterhorn.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Geodesic Icon

The most recognizable icon at Walt Disney World's EPCOT park is clearly Spaceship Earth, a massive geodesic sphere structure that houses an Omnimover type ride taking riders through the history of civilization.  The "giant golf ball," as its been nicknamed, stands 180 tall, with a sphere diameter of 165 feet.  Construction of this monumental piece of architecture took two years, and this impressive feat of engineering is composed of nearly a thousand aluminum composite metal panels attached to the steel skeleton.  The panels are held off just so to allow water to collect just within the exterior cladding, so that no rainfall drips onto guests below.  Without a doubt, this is one of the most involved structures that Disney has ever conceived, but it's become a classic architectural beacon synonymous with Disney parks, period.

Beautiful, imposing Spaceship Earth at night at EPCOT.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Whenever Candlelights Flicker

Where the air is deathly still, that is the time when ghosts are present, practicing their terror with ghoulish delight!

The Ghost Host welcomes call to his home of 999 happy haunts, and there are plenty of details to attract supernatural attention.  One of them is the candle-laden chandelier above the foyer, when guests first enter the Haunted Mansion.  Its flickering lights give a sense of the chills that are yet to come, but they're also fun to photograph.  The wispy points within the dim room provide just enough illumination to sense something may be amiss, but the only way to know for sure is to continue all the way through!



Saturday, July 6, 2013

Glimpses of Everest

Last month, I mentioned that I would be taking this blog to greater lengths than previously traveled. Well, today, we begin by venturing east... and I don't just mean to Tomorrowland. No, I mean to the magical and uncomfortably humid land of Florida, home to Walt Disney World and an entire kingdom of Disney parks!

Today's session focuses on Disney Animal Kingdom, one of the lesser acclaimed parks but quite a beautiful and photogenic one, in my opinion.  My favorite ride there is Expedition Everest (this probably makes sense), a thrilling runaway mine train roller coaster that takes riders to the peaks of the Himalayas and past a couple of close encounters with the infamous yeti.  Consider it WDW's Matterhorn.  Or consider it something unique. But it's a very fun ride either way, and it has quite a presence in the park!

Expedition Everest can be seen from quite a long distance away.

Closer to the ride, the peaks soar high above the surrounding lands.

If Everest was considered a real mountain, it would be the tallest in all of Florida!

A train dives down one of the ride's thrilling helixes, hurtling away from a meeting with the yeti!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Welcome to Cars Land!

You can't miss it. At the entrance to Cars Land, there's a prominent and very large billboard that welcomes all guests of Radiator Springs into Disney California Adventure's newest land.  This has proven to be a popular photo op area, with lines to stand in front of the sign rather prominent.  For this shot, though, I thought it might be neat to get a low and unique perspective, close to the ground, to the plants in front of the sign, to stair upward, emphasizing the billboard aspect.  Fortunately, the backdrop of a descending blue hour created a nice, somewhat dramatic composition!

This large and friendly sign greets new guests of Radiator Springs.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Model of Independence

In the back of the Main Street Opera House, near the doors to Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, there is an incredible architectural model on display.  It is a 3/16" to the foot scale representation of the United States Capitol Building, carved out of actual Caenstone from France, built to exacting specifications, and carried out to incredible likeness.  The sculptor, George Lloyd, relied upon actual blueprints of the real building, as well as photographs and drawings to ensure the greatest accuracy, and his endeavor required three years to complete.

Ultimately, though, it was a resounding and highly impressive success.  So I thought this would make for a great model for this year's July 4th post--a testament to American endurance, creativity, and determination! Happy Independence Day, everyone!

A model of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Looking at the model from the front, at an angle.

This is the other angle from the opposite corner of the building.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Grizzly River Overlook

This was a Kodak picture spot back when Kodak still sponsored Disneyland (and was successful in general business). Now, it's just a picture spot. But what a lovely one it is!  The earthy wilderness, the dramatic rapids, the iconic bear-shaped peak in the distance, and the blazing blue sky all add up to a gorgeous sight--one that really reflects the rugged spirit of Californian adventurism.  And now that it's summer, there's not much more satisfying than cooling down on a hot day on Grizzly River Run!

This beautiful panorama vista affords views of Grizzly River Run's climactic final drop.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Disney Gallery: Tiki Tiki Tiki Realms

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland, last week, the Disney Gallery opened an exhibit featuring some of the artwork and models used to design, promote, and draw off this classic Disney attraction.  This exhibit is actually on the Main Street Opera House side of the premises, not within the regular gallery, but it still features a pretty nice collection of artwork that is sure to bring a smile to any Tiki Room fan. Here are a few pictures and shots of some of what's featured!

The exhibit is staged at the corner of the Main Street Opera House lobby.

It is mostly artwork, but there are also two models.

Much of the artwork shows studies of the birds.

Some feature some of the other characters, like these tiki drummers.

Studies of the tiki gods outside the building.

The Enchanted Tiki Room was originally envisioned as a restaurant with a show.

Some architectural studies of the exterior, with various options.

You can see that ideas changed during the course of the development.

An early advertisement poster for the attraction.

Here's a model of a tiki!

And here's the original barker bird that perched outside the entrance to the Tiki Room in its early days!
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