Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Halloween on Main Street II

Though most of my Disneyland Halloween photos are nighttime shots (to fit the mood), the park is quite pretty during the daytime portion of Halloween Time as well!  This is especially true for Main Street, which is always beautiful.  So here are some more photos of Main Street during Halloween season, dressed in its spookiest holiday garb!

The large Mickey Mouse jack-o-lantern greets all visitors entering Main Street,

Though the decorations have remained the same each year, I still enjoy the cute, whimsical quality they bring!

The Partners Statue is surrounded by pumpkins!

Here's a lower view from the other side.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Library of Terror

To continue the spooky mood of Halloween Time, I thought I'd post some photos from the very dim and dark library portion of the Tower of Terror queue. It's a nice, spooky environment throughout the year, not just September and October, and it's certainly got some eerie touches!

These photos aren't as crisp as my usual batch, but I could only hand-hold the camera (no tripod), so I had to dial up the ISO big time!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The New Mission

Space Mountain is iconic in all of its iterations around the world, but at Disneyland Paris, it is perhaps the most uniquely spectacular.  Rather than feature the clean, sleek lines of its brethren in California, Orlando, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, this Space Mountain carries a Jules Verne inspired retro-future look.  Local Disneyland fans may recognize this aesthetic as what the 1998 Tomorrowland refurbishment tried to accomplish, but to much less success.

In Paris, though, the effect is top notch and utterly fantastic.  The attraction, which received an upgrade in 2005, carries a unique steampunk look and is the only Space Mountain that is launched and the only version with inversions.  The ride itself is quite exhilarating, and if it wasn't for the roughness caused by the trains, I'd rank it as one of my favorite roller coasters overall!

Nevertheless, the theming and architecture is stupendous, and I think you'll agree that Disneyland Paris certainly has its fair share of eye candy.  And don't worry, we're just getting started with the DLP Resort content!

The entrance sign of Space Mountain: Mission 2 greets guests.

Unlike the other Space Mountains of the World, this one is set in a watery retro-futurescape.

It is the only launched Space Mountain among all the Disney parks.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Summer at the Wharf

I won't expound too much today, but I just wanted to post a couple of pictures from Pacific Wharf, taken earlier this summer.  Although it's officially fall now, in Southern California, it seems like summer never truly leaves.  The past week has been pretty warm, not unlike the temperatures on the day these photos were taken.  But it sure makes for pretty blue sky days!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Halloween Carnival

Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort has many offerings around the park, but one of the less noticed occurs back at Big Thunder Ranch.  Tucked away in this far corner of the park is a carnival of Halloween-related activities available to any guests who ventures in.  There are plenty of decorations in a harvest-y environment, and folks can see world-class pumpkin carvers, pet goats dressed in fall attire, meet Disney villains, and see fun Halloween dioramas.  It's all a bit of good ol' countrytime fun, and it's in the back of Frontierland, at Big Thunder Ranch!

Big Thunder Ranch features the Halloween Carnival, where guests can engage in a variety of crafts, see amazing Disney-inspired jack-o-lanterns, and meet Disney villains.

This scene can be found in one of the little "cabins" at Big Thunder Ranch.

Bountiful autumn theming abounds in these parts!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bienvenue au Monde de Ratatouille

Two days ago, I introduced Disneyland Paris to the confines of this blog, and today, it's time to do the same for its neighbor at the Disneyland Paris Resort, Walt Disney Studios.  This theme park, which opened in 2002, is very similar to Disney Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World, except with less attractions and more sparsity.  In effect, it suffers from the same general lack of content that Disney California Adventure did for many years after its opening. 

Fortunately, the Imagineers have been trying to correct this, and their latest venture is a mini-land inspired by the world of Pixar's Ratatouille, including a radio-controlled trackless dark ride themed after Remy's capers at Gusteau's.  Here's a look at the ambiance of this area, which attracts a long queue just to get into the mini-land every morning.  It's quite beautiful, and although it doesn't solve Walt Disney's Studios content woes, it certainly goes a long way toward building the park into the quality and quantity Disney fans expect!

The Ratatouille mini-land in Toon Studios has attracted crowds at Walt Disney Studios.

The area recreates Paris--as romanticized by the Pixar movie.

In addition to Ratatouille--Remy's Totally Crazy Adventure, the area features a sit-down restaurant.

Bistrot Chez Remy is themed to the eatery Remy opens up at the end of the Ratatouille movie.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Midnight Main Street in the Fall

There are lots of places around Disneyland that are decorated during Halloween, but Main Street, U.S.A. is the most handsome out of them all.  With orange and yellow trim, jack-o-lanterns everywhere, and that warmly illuminated atmosphere, Main Street reverberates the tones of autumn.  This is especially true at the end of the night, when all is still.  When it's just the land and oneself, the setting transforms into something beautifully magical.

Looking down Main Street at the end of the night during Halloween Time.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant

Welcome to the first of what will be many (and I mean many) posts from Disneyland Paris!  Last month, I embarked on a two and a half week vacation that stretched from the last few days of August through the first two weeks of September, traveling through France, Belgium, Denmark, and Sweden.  The first leg went through Paris, which meant, of course, that I had to visit the Disneyland Paris Resort.  I had been there before, eight years ago, but that was before my photographic hobby got as serious as it currently is. 

Beautiful Sleeping Beauty Castle stands tall at the end of Main Street in Disneyland Paris.
This time around, I went armed with my Nikon D600, and I came out of the day with hundreds upon hundreds of photos on what turned out to be a beautiful day in Marne-la-Vallée (when the sun was out).  But perhaps the most beautiful object in the entire resort is Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  This centerpiece of the Disneyland Paris park is--in my opinion--the most beautiful and spectacular Disney park castle of them all. And though Shanghai Disneyland's Enchanted Storybook Castle will give this one a run for its money, until Shanghai Disneyland opens, Paris' remains the king.

With a verdant hill ascending one side and a jagged moat wrapping around, it's certainly dramatic!
The immediate difference one will discern is the fairytale, whimsical nature of the castle. It doesn't look like a real castle, but rather something out of an artist's brush for a fantastical story in a make-believe location.  The Imagineers knew that in France, land of hundreds of real life castles and gorgeous chateaus, simply creating a castle would not be anything special. And trying to outdo real-life historic castles of the countryside would be an unwise task. So instead, the designers went to the architecture of dreams, conjuring a beautiful structure that seems to be full of magic.

It's the most photogenic of all the castles as well! Nary a bad angle to be had for this beauty!
The result is a most wonderful "weenie" for the park.  And as you'll learn in upcoming posts (if you don't happen to know already), this castle hides some mysterious and exciting surprises!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Boardwalk Carbs

It's been a while since I've posted photos of the Boardwalk area of Paradise Pier. This dining district received a lovely facelift a few year ago during the Disney California Adventure expansion and upgrade program and is now home to a pair of great quick serve restaurants.  My favorite of the two is Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, which offers tasty salads, pizzas, and pasta dishes, all set in a nostalgic, seaside Victorian environment.  On a beautiful day, it's quite a lovely sight, so here are some photos to go along with the recent warm weather we've been having in Southern California!

The entrance to Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, formerly Pizza Oom Mow Mow.

It has some lovely Victorian-esque facades.

The entrance to one side of the Boardwalk restaurants.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Ghostly Queue

During Halloween Time, Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is a fantastic transformative experience.  Besides the ride itself becoming significantly spookier, the exterior gets a nice lighting treatment, and the queue becomes a lot eerier.  The screen flickers in an out with the effects of a spectral disturbance out in space, and sinister music pervades the air.  I always thought this added to a great, slightly scary ambiance!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cars Land Details

Most of my shots on this blog are wide overviews, taking as much of a step back to capture everything as possible. But sometimes, it's nice to zoom in as well and capture the little things tucked away around the parks.  Details are meant to be appreciated, so here are a few from around Cars Land, at Disney California Adventure.  Can you identify the locations of each photo before you reach the caption?

This tire air inflator is located in front of Luigi's Casa della Tires.

Wispy blades of grass shuffle by Radiator Springs Curios.
These cacti can be found there too.
These succulents are at the front of Radiator Springs Curios, at the walkway to the porch.

Finally, a pin trading sign--also in front of Radiator Springs Curios.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Halloween Tree III

Another year, another instance of Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort. The Halloween season started last Friday, but seeing as I was in Europe at the time, I'm posting the first Halloween-related photo today, with the beloved Halloween Tree over in Frontierland. It's a wonderful surprise of theming to those unfamiliar with the parks, and it's a pleasant surprise for those of us who are regular park-goers.  This tribute to Ray Bradbury lights up at night, and it's quite a pretty sight. Here are a couple of photos of my favorite tree during the sppokiest time of year!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Step Toward City Hall

Staying at the parks late enough to have an area to yourself is a wonderful, calming feeling.  There's a sense of exclusiveness of a priceless treasure, and it makes for a charming mood.  Seasoned photographers who stay late at Disneyland know to work from the perimeter of the park in, ultimately winding up at the Hub, and then slowly making a way down Main Street, which is open an hour past park closing.

This culminates in photos taken at various angles around Town Square, and in this case, I thought the framed view of City Hall between the trees was kind of interesting.

A quiet evening in Town Square on Main Street.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Night Over Pirates

Ever since I started taking pictures of New Orleans Square from Tarzan's Treehouse, I've thought about the idea recreating that shot at night.  This would require a quiet evening, though, and the use of a tripod across the rope bridge, which would impede traffic.  The less people around, though, the better.  Fortunately, several months ago, such conditions presented themselves, and I was able capture the scene below.  It's a nice juxtaposition against the daytime version.

A beautiful quiet evening over New Orleans Square.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stopping for a Fill-Up

Most shots of Oswald's Filling Station are taken entering the park or passing by, and my collection is no different. But while sitting at the nearby seating area a few weeks ago, I realized that I never taken a shot of the building from this side perspective.  Suddenly, the composition seemed completely unique.  Rather than greeting visitors, the iconic Packard Coupe seemed to be wishing guests a friendly goodbye, and the towering signage and orientation of the automobile seemed to point the entry gates into more of a feature role, despite being located in the background.  At the very least, it was a different angle, and for a regular Annual Passholder, those different shots have become my goal each time I bring my camera to the Resort!

The classic Packard parked by Oswald's Filling Station.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Wine Country Trattoria

There are only a handful of restaurants from which I've never dined at Disney California Adventure, and the Wine Country Trattoria is one of them.  The best reason I can give is that this restaurant is a more formal sitdown establishment, rather than the usual quick-serve, and I've just never taken the time to dine. But it features a gorgeous and relatively secluded setting (given its location smack dab in the middle of the park), with a lovely Mediterranean atmosphere mixed with Napa Valley wine country.  The complex also includes the Alfresco Lounge upstairs and a couple of bars adjacent serving beer and wine.  A little swanky, a lot of style, and just a great atmosphere in which to enjoy a meal or a beverage.

The Wine Country Trattoria follows a Tuscan architecture theme and serves up delicious Italian cuisine.

This rustic, curving trellis offers shade to diners during the day time.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Splash Mountain Resplendent

Perhaps you'll agree, but I feel like there's a Lion King-esque feel to this shot.  Maybe it's the brilliant orange sky and the silhouette of Splash Mountain looking a little bit like Pride Rock, or maybe it's the setting sun in the background, or the general feeling of wilderness.  But when I was editing this photo, despite the subject matter being completely unrelated to the 1990s blockbuster hit, I couldn't help but mentally blare "The Circle of Life" inside my head.

In any case, I think it's a really simple but majestic shot of one corner of Disneyland at the end of the day.

Splash Mountain in silhouette as the sun sets behind it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Soggy Tower Evening

It's always been my dream to take a nighttime photo of the Tower of Terror, and suddenly, a flash of lighting strikes.  It doesn't have to hit the actual building. Just a bolt (or two or three) in the background would certainly be dramatic enough.  Well, on this drizzly night, my dream didn't come to fruition, but the wet and luminous ground certainly provided a unique perspective.  So ah well, just another goal to aim for in the future!

A damp evening at the Tower of Terror.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Scenes from Big Thunder Mountain

I haven't posted photos from the redone Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in a while. Though it's been a few months since it reopened, it's still as popular as ever, and the ride is absolutely gorgeous, given its over-yearlong refurbishment. Here are some snapshots to enjoy!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad splashes down in its climactic finale.

Whizzing by some flipping opposum.

I really liked how the light fell upon the rocks and the track in this shot, looking back, from the second lift hill.

Beware of critters loitering around Big Thunder Mountain!

A new explosive scene livens up the final lift hill!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lizzie's Curios

It's not the most aesthetically pleasing building, but there's a beautiful charm about Radiator Springs Curios, a collection of knick-knacks and souvenirs and curiosities in architectural form.  The personal project of town-founder Stanley's beloved Lizzie, this shop offers a variety of toys and collectibles from the town.  The signage that adorns the exterior was actually collected throughout stops along Route 66, and the building is a cute tribute to the sights and treasures of the "Mother Road."

The most whimsical building in Radiator Springs is most definitely Lizzie's Curios shop!

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