Monday, September 30, 2013

A Most Uncommon Library

You are a guest waiting in a most uncommon library. You see, this library is dark and spooky, and it usually display weather completely contrasting what you had just left outside when you stepped into the building.  There are eerie spectral forces at work too--why else would the television turn on for no reason, then turn off after delivering an apparent ghostly message?  And then there the fact that doors open and close by themselves, and lead you out a different way from where you came in.  Yes, this is not like a typical library at all.  It is most unusual.

The opening scene of the Tower of Terror experience at Disney California Adventure.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Past the Witching Hour on Main Street

Until this past Friday the 13th, it had been a while since I'd done a late night Disneyland photo run. However, the park being open until 1AM enabled me to do just that on my way back home from a concert in L.A.  This was also my first time being able to take photos of a nearly deserted park during Halloween Time, and I must say, the atmosphere was most certainly charming. The romantic autumn hues gave a warm, welcome effect, and I thought, It sure would must been nice to be in a real turn-of-the-century town during this time of year! I imagine the atmosphere would have been quite magical in those more innocent times.

A nearly empty Main Street in the early morning, during Halloween Time.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Poolside in Paradise

If there's one thing synonymous with a vacation, it's the pool. Lounging by the water, taking in the sun, listening to the laughter of children and adults alike splashing around or taking a refreshing plunge... it's all the epitome of relaxing and letting those worries and stresses of real life just drift away.  At Aulani, the main pool sits in a gorgeous setting, just off the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by the two hotel towers of the resort, bathed in golden tropic sunlight, guarded by verdant palms.  It's a place of fun and tranquility.  It's a place of Hawaiian dreams.




Friday, September 27, 2013

Stretching Surprises

This year, for the 13th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion Holiday, the Imagineers have cooked up a few surprises. Among them is a re-invented Stretching Room experience.  The holiday spiel from the ghost host remains the same, but new effects and projections have been installed, and it makes for an interesting and fresh take on this familiar scene! 

Looking up at the Stretching Room from one angle...

And the other angle, to cover all the portraits.
Have you ridden the revamped Haunted Mansion Holiday? If so, what do you think? Do you like the new effects, or do you wish the original version was reinstated?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The River Run Cascades

At Grizzly River Run, water is the name of the game. Whether it comes in the form of turbulent rapids, dense mist, erupting geysers, or cascading waterfalls, water is most definitely everywhere.  It propels the ride, contributes to the thrills, and forms the backdrop of the environment.  Needless to say, water is pretty integral around these Grizzly Peak parts.  Water: it makes GRR run!

Waterfalls at Grizzly River Run.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sunset at the Treetops

A couple of months ago, I posted what I said was probably my favorite picture I've ever taken, a glorious shot of the Pirates of the Caribbean queue taken from high above the ground, at Tarzan's Treehouse.  A large part of that was being at the right place at the right time to catch the right light, and I thought that chance would be fleeting. Little did I know that a few weeks later, I'd have another chase to capture a similar scene.  The result is a slightly different vantagepoint overlooking New Orleans Square and the Rivers of America.  Still, the quality of light is the most striking aspect.  It's these little moments of bliss that make me come back again and again to the Happiest Place on Earth!

A lovely sight from atop Tarzan's Treehouse.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Halloween Tree II

Last year, I posted a photo of the Halloween Tree in Frontierland. This is one of the little things that I love about the park.  It's one tree, not unlike any other in the area, only it's been dressed up and light up.  It's not even that prominently different during the daytime, and it might not appear to be anything special--until night falls.  And then it becomes a cute tribute to one of the great fantasy writers of our time.  Since 2007, the Halloween Tree has been a part of Halloween Time at Disneyland, and it's a simple, small, very nice touch to the park.  One of those things that makes me happy, even if I can't exactly explain why.

This tribute to Ray Bradbury is back for 2013!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Halloween on Main Street

Christmas may get most of the attention in terms of transformative decorations at Disneyland, but Halloween certain leaves its mark, especially on Main Street. During the fall season, Main Street takes on the oranges and yellows of the autumn colors, and fun and fanciful jack-o-lanterns and colorful banners dot the facades.  I love the whimsical nature of the theming, and it really leaves a friendly, inviting touch for my favorite holiday of the year!

Halloween transforms Main Street into a romantic view of the autumn season.

Silly pumpkins can be found everywhere.

Most of the facades are dressed up.

Even those without jack-o-lanterns get some festive Halloween trim.

And of course, there are the photogenic "Halloween Time" street lamp decorations!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Skelling-Crow

This is the 13th year that the Haunted Mansion Holiday has made its appearance at Disneyland during the Halloween and Christmas season, and this calls for a spooktacular celebration.  So new banners have been hung, and proclamations have been made about the special anniversary, and there have even been a few changes made to the preshow.  But one constant is still Jack Skellington, for he is the protagonist who has "wrecked the halls" of the Haunted Mansion, spreading his own brand of "Christmas fear" for all of the guests.  And judging by the lines, the guests love it!

Jack Skellington stalks guests outside the Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Halloween Hub

Come Halloween Time, The Hub takes on the warm colors of the season.  The flowers are replanted to feature a yellow hue, while Disney themed jack-o-lanterns flank Walt and Mickey around the center of the park.  It's nice reflection of the season, and it really gives me appreciation to how the area around the Partners Statue changes throughout the year.  That's part of Disneyland's beauty and charm... it is ever changing, always evolving, and it grows as the years go by.

The Hub, dressed in its fall colors.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Wandering Lazy River

My vacation to Hawaii earlier this month was to celebrate the union of two of my friends from college, and as such, a bunch of my college buddies made the trek to attend our friends' wedding.  Among them was my best friend, and on the day after the wedding, he was kind enough drive me over to Aulani to visit the gorgeous Disney resort (having rented a car when he had flown in).

Upon arriving, he had planned on finding a nice corner to read while I went on my merry photo-taking way.  But we agreed it wouldn't hurt to wander around for a little bit at first.  Like me, he agreed that the setting was absolutely beautiful, but what ended up being the most exciting feature of Aulani was... the lazy river.  Indeed, Waikolohe Stream (as it's called) is a winding, watery route around the main pool and throughout the central garden space of the hotel complex, and it is very, very cool.  The way everything is set up, it feel like a meandering journey through a tropical forest, and the varying tight, secluded segments followed by wide open spaces make for a great experience.  To just float around this waterway seemed like bliss. It's something I'll have to be better prepared for, next time I come visit!





Thursday, September 19, 2013

Through the Mist

A month and a half ago, I posted what I thought was a nice, moody photo of Grizzly River Run, through the geysers.  Here's another shot from that day, again emphasizing the great lighting that filtered through the trees as I was shooting.  Diffused amongst the water vapor rising up, it made for quite a sight, almost as though this was really some intrepid white water rapids in the Californian wilderness.  I'm sure the ride was nevertheless quite thrilling for the brave guests aboard these rafts, though!

Grizzly River Rapids rocks through turbulent waters and through dramatic light and steam.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Zocalo de los Muertos

During Halloween Time, Frontierland presents its iteration in the form of a celebration of the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos, or "Day of the Dead."  This colorful display near the Rancho del Zocalo illustrates the Mexican take on Halloween.  In reality, it's less about spookiness and fright and more about remembering family members and paying respects to the dead. Though the imagery is vibrantly morbid, the tone is anything but.  During the Day of the Dead, presents and food are presented to those who have departed.  The tie-in to Halloween?  Well, this is also the one day that the spirits can return and make contact with the land of the living.  But it's typically in a warm or celebratory manner, not one of haunts and terror.  And that spirit is reflected quite nicely in this Halloween Time display!

Frontierland commemorates the Day of the Dead with two displays. Here's one.

Here's the other.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pumpkins on the Hill

Last Friday the 13th, while I was waiting in line for the Haunted Mansion Holiday, I happened to glance up at the hill of the berm that separates Disneyland from the outside world.  During this time of the year, the Imagineers place eerie jack-o-lanterns on the berm, skewered with stakes.  It makes for a cool and creepy sight, but at this time, the sun happened to be "setting" over the horizon of the hill, creating a great photo opportunity.  With just a little bit of time to compose before I knew I'd have to move forward, I positioned my camera into the light and shot with a raised exposure.  Yes, I broke the general rule of never shooting into the sun, but sometimes, if you know when, breaking the rules can yield a pretty cool image!

The pumpkins on the hill of the berm of the Disneyland Railroad, next to the Haunted Mansion line.

I think the sunlight and flare makes for neat effect.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Halloween Time Descends!

It's that time again... the spookiest time of the year... time for the ghouls and villains to invade the park. Yes, at the Disneyland Resort, it's Halloween Time, which means decorations and festivities dedicated to that eeriest of all holidays!  The even has slowly gotten bigger and bigger over the years, and one of the first signs of something different occurs in Main Street's Town Square, where a giant pumpkin Mickey greets visitors and serves as the de facto photography spot.  I love seeing the park dressed in its fall colors, and this cute "weenie" is one of my favorite bits of theming!

It's a rare sight to see this without a long line of guests waiting for a photo--except at the end of the night!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

E Komo Mai

It means, "come in, welcome,"1 and it's an appropriate representation of how the entrance of Aulani greets all guests and visitors.

The approach to Aulani is a slow and building one, layering on a combination of sound and sight and smells, before culminating in the grand reveal of the main lobby of the hotel, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean.  There is a theatrical manner in which all of this unfolds, complete with a soundtrack that starts off soft and low, then adds in melodies and bass, then crescendos upon entering the lobby.  Once in the lobby, the grand scale of the Hawaiian story hits you, and in addition the soaring space and detailed Hawaiian sculptures, there is also an expansive mural telling the story of Hawai'i.  All of this is accomplished to great effect and was one of many features that left me feeling quite impressed with Disney's magical tropical resort!


The main lobby space is open, soaring, and filled with light.
A mural wraps around the lobby and tells the story and culture of Hawai'i.
It is a grandoise and impressive space!

1 I think.



Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Most Uncommon Elevator

What happened here to dim the lights of Hollywood's brightest showplace is about to unfold once again.  One stormy night long ago, five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare.  That door is opening once again, but this time it's opening for you.

Such is what happens when you... drop in... upon ghostly spirits. You never know how they'll react, or what dimension they'll try to pull you into.

The doomed guests of that fateful elevator ride wave toward you in a scene on the Tower of Terror.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Welcome to Main Street Station

It's such a welcome and familiar sight--the Main Street station, starting point for a grand circle tour around the Magic Kingdom.  It's a great way to ease into the Happiest Place on Earth, or a wonderful way to end a magical day.  Here is the most outward manifestation of Walt Disney's love of trains--a charming, turn-of-the-century railroad station that harkens back to the days when rail was king.  At least here, at Disneyland, it still is.

The lovely Disneyland Railroad Main Street station immediately greets guests entering the park.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Five and Dime Jams Again

As I've mentioned before, watching and listening to Five and Dime play their swinging and upbeat jazz in Carthay Circle is quite the treat.  The energy and fun that resonates through the band and the crowd is unmistakably catchy, and coupled with the great music, it makes for a great show.  Here are some more photos of the group in action!

The band always plays great swing jazz.

It's great when Goofy gets into the action!


The beat and enthusiasm is infectious!



Sometimes, audience members unsuspectingly get roped into the action!




Jamming out...

...and giving a great beat.




And just like that, it's time to get back on the car and drive away... until the next show!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Rocket to Refreshment

Redd Rockett's Pizza Port is a metaphor for the feelings you go through when you cross the divide from hunger to fullness.  There is first the trepidation and unease that comes with the craving of food, followed by the excitement of choosing said food.  The devouring of the meal takes you to uplifting heights of tastes.  And though you will eventually have to come back down (perhaps in the form of a food coma), at that moment, everything is fantastic.

Redd Rockett's Pizza Port is my favorite east side restaurant, with great pizzas and tasty pastas and salads.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Partners Through the Golden Years

There's something just grand and beautiful about the Partners Statue, especially toward the end of the day, during "magic hour," when the sun's rays are low and blankets the scene in a warm, golden glow.  Paired with the lovely purple and fuschia hues of the flowers planted during this time of the year, and I feel like this makes for a lovely composition fitting of a scene at the end of the summer.  As the calendar starts to roll downhill, we approach the twilight part of the year, and although that means the liveliness of spring and summer are behind us, it by no means means the best has gone by.  No, there is still warmth and joy and magic to come.  It's just simply coming via a different form.

The Partners Statue during golden hour, as dusk approaches.

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