Saturday, August 31, 2013

Partners from the Start

When the Imagineers were working the redesign of the entrance area of Disney California Adventure and wanted to explore the placement of a commemorative Disney statue in this park, they looked to Walt's history in Los Angeles as inspiration.  Striking upon Mr. Disney's humble arrival, they placed this statue at ground level, "among the masses," just as Walt (and Mickey) were still simple beings looking to strike their mark, but had not yet done so.  At this point, they still had ways to go, but young, optimistic, and in a city built on dreams, the confidence they portrayed would go on to change the world of animated cinema and contemporary culture and society forever!

The Storytellers statue at DCA is friendly and welcoming, invoking the humble beginning of Walt and Mickey's arrival in Los Angeles.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Down Hollywood Blvd

Although it began life at Disney California Adventure the Hollywood Backlot Studios, a small, featureless area that was little more than a Disney Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney's MGM Studios) copycat, Hollywood Land has grown into a rich themed land with a wide selection of attractions for guests of all types. 

Thrill seekers get the Tower of Terror, while the youngest of young can go on the Monsters Inc. dark ride.  Those with a thirst for funnies can check out the still-classic Muppet Vision 3D, and the Animation Courtyard offers a break from the heat, as well as several fun exhibits and attraction based on the history and technique of animation.  And at night, the Mad T Party (and before that, ElecTRONica) boasts an evening dance party for those who want to get down.  Yes, things are shaping up for this version of Hollywood, almost as though it was entering a golden age of its own.  Won't you drop by?

A beautifully sunny day on Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood Land.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Turn of the River

Grizzly River Run recreates the thrill of whitewater rafting, and part of that is the uncertainty that each bend of the river brings.  Will it be tranquil waters or roaring turbulence?  The alternating between sublime serenity and exciting rapids helps contribute to the thrill.  And at the same time, the gorgeous setting makes the whole experience absolutely captivating.

Mist rises above the river after the climactic spinning drop of Grizzly River Run.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Steamboat Fantasmic

After Mickey Mouse has vanquished the beastly Maleficent, it's time to celebrate! This means classic Steamboat Mickey aboard the Mark Twain, piloting a host of Disney characters as they cheer and wave on toward the crowd, hailing the magic and positive power of Mickey's imagination.  It's a great spectacle indeed, and the most uplifting part of the show!

Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie form steers the Mark Twain at the end of FANTASMIC!

He waves at the crowd.

It's hard not to be captivated by the mouse who started it all!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Paradise Flying

I really like this picture.  Not because it captures a grand scene, or because of a majestic overview, but because it captures a moment--a magical moment for one child who is flying through the air, briefly fulfilling a dream that all children have.  In this land called the Happiest Place on Earth, it is the dreams and fancies that drive the joys of the young and young at heart.  So to briefly let go of the restraints of reality and spread one's wings and soar to greater heights... it's what I think Disney is all about.

Flying over Paradise Bay, from the Silly Symphony Swings.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Lobby Californian

At any given time, the lobby at the Grand Californian Hotel is abuzz with activity as well as people relaxing and enjoying themselves. This soaring atrium space brings the warmth of the Arts and Crafts style and the majesty of a grand wilderness lodge.  And with pools, bars, and fine restaurants within a short walk, it's a great hub from which to create a most pleasant afternoon!

The lobby during afternoon time at the Grand Californian Hotel.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Lone Tower

Yesterday, I posted about Disneyland's main architectural icon.  Today, we switch to that of Disney California Adventure.  Of all the things I like about the Carthay Circle Restaurant, perhaps its elegant and sleek tower is my favorite.  The art deco design, married to a distinct Los Angeles Spanish style, makes for a very pretty and classy landmark.  There's something very appealing about the simplicity of the form.  It makes for a great subject, especially in nice light!

The Carthay Circle Restaurant tower in the afternoon light.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

All Lit Up

Disneyland is alive with magic and majesty at night, and one of the most photographed spots is Sleeping Beauty Castle.  But for a limited part of the evening, the park's icon is even more fantastically lit.  After the fireworks end, spotlights uplight this classic icon from behind, forming a spectacular backdrop for the castle.  I've loved this scene ever since I saw it on a cover of an old Disneyland souvenir guidebook, and when I was finally able to capture something somewhat close, a couple of months ago, I felt like I'd accomplished a small victory!

Sleeping Beauty Castle aglow with light after the fireworks.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Treehouse at Sunset

A month ago, I posted what may very well be one of my favorite photos ever--a gorgeous overview of the Pirates of the Caribbean queue at sunset.  The golden light coupled with the high angle made for a very stunning shot. 

This time around, I turn around and showcase the view that day looking back toward Adventureland.  During this time of the day, Tarzan's Treehouse really glistens with a warmth that makes treetop living seem oh so romantic and exciting.  Channeling the spirit of its predecessor, the Swiss Family Treehouse, this setting high above pedestrians below draws adventurers into the fantasy of a life  in the canopy, of self substainability, and living in the wild.  It's every kid's backyard treehouse dream, amplified with Disney magic.  And now that I think about it, It *would* be pretty awesome to camp out here at night. Perhaps that can be a Limited Time Magic event?  Ball's in your court, Disney!

Tarzan's Treehouse is beautiful in the golden light of what many photographers call "magic hour."

A detail of Tarzan's Treehouse.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Through the Gateway II

I make no secret of my immense infatuation with the view through the gateway arch into Cars Land from Pacific Wharf. It is the most dramatic and most scenic of all of Cars Land's entrances, capturing the majesty and wonder of the spectacular outdoors of the wide open west.  Whether it's day or night, the view never gets old, so I hope you'll forgive me for posting yet another version.

Another view of the entrance into Cars Land from Pacific Wharf.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Grim Night

This is a bit of a different processing on picture of the "Peeping Queen" in Fantasyland.  Whereas my last picture on this was an HDR that emphasized the cool tones, this one opens up the exposure, resulting in a very red sky that really highlights the light pollution in Southern Califorania. Still, I feel like there's a bit of a surreal sense to the photo... an ambiance of post-apocalyptic malaise that the Evil Queen would probably find just welcome, I'm sure. After all, she's utterly heartless, so suffering would probably bring her joy.

The Evil Queen from Snow White gazes disdainfully upon the kingdom below.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ready for the Rapids

I really like the giant grizzly bear statue that stands guard over the entrance area to Grizzly River Run. He's dressed up for a day on the rapids and seems so anxious to go.  With an oar in one hand and a lantern in the other, his cheerful disposition indicates his comfort in the great outdoors.  Then again, it's such a beautiful environment all around, it's hard to be anything except comfortable.  Here is the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind in the splendor of nature.  It's something I certainly wouldn't hesitate to pounce on, given the opportunity!

This giant grizzly is all ready to enjoy white water rafting. Unfortunately, he's a bit immobile.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thwarting Zurg

I love Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters because it typically has a short line, and it always has high replay value. After all, this laser-tag omnimover pits riders in competition with each other and themselves, aiming for higher scores each time.  Of course, it takes some knowledge to achieve the higher scores.  Not all targets are worth the same--triangles net the most points, followed by diamonds, squares, and circles.  Take note of the order of the targets when they're shown on a mural on the left wall while in line if you have trouble remember.  And there are hidden targets at the chest of each Emperor Zurg animatronic. Of course, targets are worth more when they're lit, as Buzz constantly reminds everyone.  So hop in, take a spin, and shoot some alien bad guys!

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is full of colorful neon hues.

Emperor Zurg greets riders in an early room. Aim at the middle of the vertical line at his chest for extra points.

No time to monkey around if you're aiming for high scores!

A similar hidden target exists in the final room.

But there's also a very nearby triangular target directly behind this angle that is revealed by hitting a round one.
Send Zurg back to his box, since he's been a bad toy. Verrry baaad!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Petrified Trunk

Last year, in a post about the same topic, I mentioned that this petrified tree stump was a  present from Walt Disney to his wife, Lilian. At least that's what legend says.  At the very least, in 1956, Walt Disney purchased the remains of a former redwood sequoia in Colorado believed to have once stood over 200 feet tall.  A year later, Lilian presented it to Disneyland Park, claiming that it had proven to be "too big for the mantle."  Whether the specifics of the present are true, it's still a mirthful story and an act that I can imagine Walt doing.  Today, though, this Disney keepsake stands by the waterfront, in Frontierland.  On beautiful afternoons, it makes for a wonderful portrait.  So next time you're across the Golden Horseshoe, stop by and check out this grand old tree!

A petrified tree stump stands in front of the Mark Twain and the Rivers of America.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Temple of Heaven

I feel that EPCOT's most beautiful settings occur in its World Showcase area, home to numerous pavilions themed to various countries around the world.  When it comes to China, the setting is very serene and majestic.  Dominating this sub-area is a replica of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests structure within the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, which also serves as the entrance to the "Reflections of China" film attraction.  Authenticity of scale and surroundings aside, it's tough to tell the difference between this and the real thing.  The details are very articulated, and the Imagineers have gone through great efforts to ensure accurate replication based on hearty research.  So even on a not-so-sunny day, I found my photos of this area to be among my favorites.

The Temple of Heaven replica, inside the China Pavilion.
The beautiful domed interior of the Temple of Heaven replica.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Citizens of Buena Vista Street: The Messenger Twins

I realized I never really finished my Citizens of Buena Vista Street series last year, but maybe it's a good thing, because this post would have only been half complete had I done it last year.

Molly and Milly are the Messenger Twins on Buena Vista Street.
Originally, there was only one delivery girl in this neighborhood--Molly the Messenger.  She was well intentioned, but she had a knack of getting lost of bumbling her packages around.  But she was always nice, and always trying to figure out this whole thing.

They share a bike and pedal around trying to deliver packages.
At some point, though, her sister, Milly, joined the fray. And since then, everyone's been seeing double.  Like any pair of sisters, Molly and Milly have their fair share of amusing bickering, and they'll try to prove how right they are. But ultimately, they're around to enjoy things.  So even if those packages don't necessarily get delivered in a timely manner, at least there's fun in getting them there!

Sometimes, it's a trying experience.

The pair constantly needle each other.

It can result in awkwardly entertaining scenarios!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Snow White After Dark

The area by Snow White's Wishing Well is quite pretty during the day, but at night, it transforms into a magical and luminous dreamscape of purple and blue hues.  The light water and moody setting makes for a bit of a romantic spot, and it's not uncommon to find a couple enjoying the magic of this slightly secluded spot in Fantasyland.

The statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at night.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An Afternoon by the Fountain

There's something about the way the afternoon sun strikes the Carthey Circle Fountain that I absolutely love. There's a glistening glow, like the fountain itself is luminous, when the rays of sunshine strike the water at just the right angle, and I never seem to tire of it.  So here, I've tried to capture the quality of light, and I'm not quite sure I've succeeded, but I hope I've come somewhat close.  The vibrance that the whole area picks up is utterly fantastic, and I find it wonderful time to just relax and soak in the bustling atmosphere of Disney California Adventure.

The Carthay Circle Fountain glistens in the afternoon sun.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cristal d'Orleans

The Cristal d'Orleans shop is a beautiful exhibit of fine china and crystals in which a bull should most certainly never set foot.  The elegant and immaculately crafted ornaments, jewelry, and souvenirs glisten in the display light, and the refined elegance of this space is clear to all guests who enter.  But outside features a piece of fine art as well. The sign into the store has always attracted my eye as a beautiful piece of glasswork.  And night, everything seems even more regal than it already is in this special store.

The elegant Cristal d'Orleans sign at night.

Monday, August 12, 2013

An Exhausting Day

What's your preferred style of spending time at the parks? Is it taking things easy and going slowly, savoring each moment but not necessarily experiencing every major attraction?  Or is it action packed, non-stop, and full of so much excitement that it leaves you with no energy left by the end of the night? 

Back when I used to do all-day Disneyland trips, before I had the luxury of an Annual Pass, my style was the latter.  Because each trip to Disneyland was precious, I made sure to arrive at opening and stay all the way through the end of the night--all the while riding every E-Ticket and catching multiple shows.  I had no problem with it, but many a friend would surely be exhausted by the end of the night.  After all, there is a lot of walking and running around a theme park, especially when hitting multiple attractions!  But I would have it no other way, and even in their fatigue, my friends would always admit that this was the most fun they'd had at the park.

Enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth until you faint? There are certainly worse things in life!

One in a series of signs alongside Radiator Springs Racers that advertises Rust-eze.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Time to Head Home

It's the worst part of any trip to Disneyland--leaving.  But inevitably, the fun must end at some point.  And usually, that's after the fireworks and the first showing of FANTASMIC!, when most families have done everything on their agenda for the day, and it's time to say goodbye to all our company.  But the pull of that allure and magic will inevitably pull guests back.  So really, as Walt Disney used to say, it's never really a goodbye.  More like a "see ya later."  Because Disneyland, to an extent, is everyone's home.

The crowds depart en masse at the end of another magical Disneyland night.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Peaking" Above the Rooftops

On the same day I shot one of my favorite photos ever--a "golden hour" photo of the Pirates of the Caribbean queue as the sun was setting--I also spied a unique (to me) view across Adventureland, toward one of Disneyland's mighty peaks.  Yes, the Matterhorn, in its golden glow, was quite a sight, especially as it towered above the surrounding datum of the park.  And even though this view wouldn't make much sense geographically if it was real life, in the Magic Kingdom, it felt just right at home.

The Matterhorn looming high above the treeline, as seen from Tarzan's Treehouse in Adventureland.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Barbossa's Charge

In Pirates of the Caribbean, after sailing through haunted lairs of pirate treasure and buccaneer spirits, riders pass through a ghostly mist screen and into a fierce seaside battle between an invading pirate ship and a Spanish fort.  At the helm of the ship is none other than Captain Barbossa, mutineer of the Black Pearl, although in this scene, rather than command Jack Sparrow's beloved ship, he's actually aboard the Wicked Wench. See, prior to the 2006 remodel of the ride, this character wasn't Captain Barbossa at all.  It was an untitled pirate (some thought perhaps Blackbeard), commanding his crew to blow the cannons right through the fortress.  The scene is largely the same now, just updated with the movie franchise overlay.  But the captain is still menacing, and he certainly is unyielding in his continuous quest to sack the village!

Captain Barbossa threatens a Spanish fort in the battle scene of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stopping to Smell the Bulbs

There are lots of little details in Cars Land. Sometimes, one merely has to stop and look to see them.  And among the most noticed are these little flower beds that are scattered around.  Made of tail light bulbs, they're a cute and whimsical touch to a land where everything is interpreted through the automobile form.  These flowers may not bring as nice of a fragrance as real ones, but they're certainly still nice to look at!

Playful organic plants in Cars Land...
...and non-organic types.  These are certainly bulbs, but not quite the living flowery type!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Cozying Up to the Morning

When I attended the Monstrous Summer All Nighter, I expected crowds even worse than One More Disney Day put on during leap day of last year. But surprisingly, by the time the morning "blue hour" rolled around, many people had left. This made running through DCA and getting relatively empty photos much easier than expected!  In the example below, I really liked the contrast of the orange neon with the dark blue hues of the dawning skies.  Sprinkle in a little Tower of Terror in the background, and this made for a neat shot.

The Cozy Cone Motel in the early morning hours.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Entering Another Dimension

I like the juxtaposition between the daytime version of the Hollywood Tower Hotel and this iteration, at night.  The nighttime version seems to pick up a wholly different and vibrant energy that's a stirring contrast to the building's appearance when the sun is out.  The colors are more saturated, and the character of this abandoned haunted hotel really takes root.  It's a pretty great scene to stand in front of this supernatural establishment and just gaze upward, wondering what sort of spooky spirits are beckoning you in.

The Hollywood Tower Hotel sure looks a little more sinister at night, doesn't it?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Golden Spires of Super Space

The pure form of Space Mountain's ride building is iconic and epic--an instantly recognizable piece of architecture that has managed to survive as one of the more timeless pieces of design from that time period.  During an era when popular style was loud, colorful, and almost cartoonish, Space Mountain took on a sleek, elegant approach.  Of course, it was in an area themed to the future, but previous architectural attempts at futurism have not always ended so successfully.

When Space Mountain opened at Disneyland in 1977, it introduced a whole new thrill to the park--this indoor roller coaster simulated the exhilaration of rocketing through the deep recesses of super space, all while never going above 32 miles per hour.  It's true!  The top speed for this ride is lower than the average speed limit of a local street.  But it's the sharp turns, minimal lighting, and projections that make everything seem so much faster.  And it's all part of why Space Mountain is my favorite ride in the entire park.

The sleek spires of Space Mountain in the golden hour before sunset.
If Space Mountain isn't your favorite, sound off!  What IS your favorite ride?  Conversely, who agrees with me that Space Mountain is tops at the Happiest Place on Earth?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fish Are Food

...Not friends?

Well, maybe that's what ol' Bruce used to say, before the events of Finding Nemo, but over in Disney California Adventure, at the Pacific Wharf area, the fish are very much food--in that they point to the locations of the dining establishments that dot this area.  It's a cute sign, and a playful detail in this San Francisco-inspired area that makes for an interesting subject. 

Some fishy signage abounds at Pacific Wharf.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Little More Warmth in the Country

I've posted this view before.  On that particular day, I found myself in Critter Country, gazing upon the beautiful, golden lighting of the late afternoon hour.  With such splendid illumination, it was not hard to be entranced by the scene. 

But I also noticed how the light fell upon this little elevated part of the roof.  The warm, organic wood structure and thatched shingles recalled a time long gone, when thing were simpler and man was more connected to nature.  There wasn't anything about the setting that conveyed this, but this was the type of "warm and fuzzy" feeling common whenever I was outside, in a wilderness type setting, under the wonderful embrace of such golden rays.

And so, I bought my camera to this detail, zoomed in, and snapped off a few shots.  It's a little thing, but it's a reassuring thing.  Just a small part of why Disneyland is like home for me.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Oasis Courtyard

Sometimes, I wonder if there are places that plenty of people know about, but I have not noticed before, or whether others have also passed it by. For example, here is a courtyard.  It's quite lush, and it imbibes a pervasive feeling of tranquility.  And yet, it's located in one of the more openly bustling themed areas of the park, Adventureland.  I've walked past this many times, but I've rarely stopped to just take in a moment here.  But one night, in a moment when the ambiance caught my eye, I did. And then I wondered why I'd never stopped here before!

The courtyard between the exit of the Jungle Cruise and Aladdin's Oasis.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Penchant for the Disembodied

A few months ago, I posted an on-ride photo of Madame Leota inside the Haunted Mansion.  Here's another angle of everyone's favorite spiritual medium, in the same setting.  She summons the spirits to this ghostly haunt to put on a show for the guests drifting through, and they greet her in return.  It seems she's the only one who can really get through to the other side, but maybe that's because she a certain head for it!

Another angle of Madame Leota, inside the Seance Room within the Haunted Mansion.

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