Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Villains on Display

One of the great features of Mickey's Halloween Party is the chance to meet less common characters, especially the villains.  Since it is all about having a sinisterly spooky time, this separately ticketed event makes sure to provide photo opportunities with Disney's most dastardly antagonists.  It's a lot of fun, too, because they sure enjoy hamming it up for the camera and acting villainously vain. 

Jafar gets his dramatic hand gesture on.

The Evil Queen is elegant and diabolical.

Lady Tremaine oozes patronizing disdain, while Drizella and Anastasia are always on the look-out for a new suitor.

And Captain Hook is both dashing and devious.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Frozen Painted Wonderland

Our Paint the Night series marches on with part nine, featuring the Frozen segment that immediately follows the princess floats.  With Frozen mania still going strong, it's no surprise Disney has featured the franchise in the Paint the Night Electrical Parade (along with pretty much everything else).  But regardless of any bias for or against the movie, the float in this parade is remarkably stunning.  Beautiful, icy, and full of details, it towers above the crowd, increasing its already prominent stature.  And Anna and Elsa appear to greet the crowd--with Olaf dispensing pleasantries too.  Take a look at photos!

The Frozen float makes its way up Main Street, U.S.A.

Beautifully lit ice dancer herald the float.

Anna and Elsa are on hand to greet the people.

They're certainly glad to be here!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Echoes of the Past Preserved

Cobwebs and dustballs and spirits of Hollywood gone past echo through the lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.  Eight decades ago, a tragic accident shuttered this lodging place of the elite and left five people stranded in another dimension, and the place has just never been the same.  Today, the eerie ambiance lends a creepy atmosphere to those who brave wandering through the grounds.  Interestingly, drop-in's are still welcome!

Seems like no one's dusted around these parts in a while.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Moonlight over Catal

Catal's location as an anchor right in the center of Downtown Disney makes it a beautiful scene to photograph. The luminous neon, the pleasant copper and green patina hues, and the sleek architectural lines provide a nice composition, especially at night.  A fixture of this retail promenade since its inception in 2001, Catal has become an integral part of the Resort, and I can't imagine the place without this fine dining establishment.

The midnight moon floats stilly over Catal Restaurant.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Partners with Pumpkins

It may be Halloween Time, but the Southern California weather doesn't seem to want to cooperate.  In traditional manner, fall has started off with a heatwave, which should surprise exactly no one who has paid attention to past years' weather patterns.  As welcome as it would be to have the Halloween season come in with a brisk snap of cold weather, it's usually more like a September sauna, slowly roasting to a peak during the third and fourth weeks of September, before October offers varying degrees of reprieve, finally cooling down to an autumn chill right before actual Halloween.  Well, I suppose we can't have it all.  But this weekend, the Disneyland Resort will certainly feel as warm as the photo below, so hydrate up, have fun, and enjoy Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort!

Walt Disney and Mickey stand surrounded by jack-o-lanterns for the fall season.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Mickey and Walt from the Start

With a suitcase and a dream, Walt Disney set out west with the hopes of a bigger success in showbiz after his initial animation foray turned sour thanks to some shady business dealings.  Fortunately, he had a little friend named Mickey Mouse that would soon turn Walt into one of America's great success stories.  But it's important to remember that Walt came from relatively modest beginnings--a mindset he kept throughout his life, even as he became wealthy and successful.  He was always a man of the people, desiring to serve the people.  He regularly strolled through Disneyland Park to observe operations from the guests' point of view, and he chatted with visitors as well to learn the good and the bad--all in an effort to improve the park.  This every-man's spirit is reflected in the Storyteller's Statue, which is just as accessible.  That's why so many fans lovingly call him Uncle Walt.  He just felt like a family figure!

The very approachable Storytellers Statue at DCA stands cheerful in the peaceful night.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spinning Threads of Light

Playing with long exposures is fun, especially when you have a subject that does light painting for you.  At that point, the only difficult part is to figure out the proper combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to yield a well balanced photo.  Fortunately, that task is something easily discerned after a little bit of practice.  Afterwards, you can get pictures like this fun bit of nighttime spinning!

The whirling Golden Zephyr paints beautiful patterns at night over long exposure.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Great Mickey Pumpkin II

It comes back year after year... that great big Mickey Mouse pumpkin head.  Smiling and cheerful, it provides a friendly welcome into the park during Halloween Time, and at night, it's a lovely and photogenic subject.  In this shot from last year, I decided to try a telephoto lens and look for a focused angle.  If ound this one, with the banners and the flag pole framing the Mickey--with just a glimpse of Sleeping Beauty Castle beyond.  I liked how this gave the composition layers and complexity, and hopefully, you do as well!

Looking through Town Square at the giant Main Street pumpkin.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Golden Tower II

So the photo below isn't exactly intimidating... it's hard for even the terrifying Tower of Terror to be so when it stands in the afternoon sun.  Then again, around Southern California, fall seems to behave much more like summer, so these pretty blue sky (and hot) days are pretty common, even though it is supposed to be Halloween season.  Ah well, I suppose that's the price we pay for year-round generally beautiful weather!

The Tower of Terror is less terrifying bathed in afternoon golden light.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Saturated Wilderness

During Mickey's Halloween Party, Disneyland Park receives some lighting effects that isn't present during normal nighttime hours, even during Halloween Time.  One of the interesting effects I noticed last year occurred across from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, along the path toward Big Thunder Ranch in Frontierland.  The trees were light up in an assortment of colors, providing an unnatural but fascinating visual scene.  I thought it made for a nice composition, and seeing examples like this made me wish that regular Halloween Time nighttime lighting could look like this.  Alas, I suppose that would detract from the special-ness of the Halloween Party, wouldn't it?

Lighting on the woods in Frontierland presents an interesting array of colors.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Stationed at Ghost Galaxy

Inside Space Station 77, with the exception of the differently colored lighting and the occasionally glitching monitor, there's no real indication that something is amiss at Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy.  There's no hint that an intergalactic ghoul is waiting for riders about to launch out into super space.  No, things just keep humming along, loading and unloading, busy busy busy.  Perhaps that makes the punch of Ghost Galaxy's thrills that much more effective...!

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is a flurry of activity.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Most Curious Flake

Christmas is a total mystery to Jack Skellington, who has only known frights and screams his entire existence. But when he stumbles upon Christmas Town in The Nightmare Before Christmas, it opens his eyes to a whole new world of emotions and feelings and festivities.  So he tries to incorporate Christmas into his Halloween sensibilities by taking over the role of "Sandy Claws."  Of course, this leads to perilous consequences...

The Haunted Mansion Holiday celebrates the adventures of Jack and weds them with its beloved home of the 999 Happy Haunts.  Now in its fifteen year, it continues to delight guests young and old.  Have you taken your ride yet, this season?

Jack inspects a snowflake in front of the Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sorcery in the Sky

When I shot the Halloween Screams fireworks show last year, had to make do with freehand fireworks photography.  The result was none of the typical long exposure streams that are so beautiful, but there was still some neat, dynamic shots. Here are a few more photos of one of my favorite Disneyland fireworks shows--of all time!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Frontierland Trick-Or-Treat

At Mickey's Halloween Party, there are many places to trick or treat. And though you can just buy candy for yourself for far less, there seems to be a certain magic and attraction to going out and getting candy from door to door at Disneyland.  This continues throughout the night, as guest in and out of costume partake in the festivities.  It actually gets kind of addictive, going from station to station just to be able to say you've collected everywhere Disneyland offers candy.  It's all just a part of the Halloween vibe at the Disneyland Resort!

Crowds pass through the Golden Horseshoe, collecting candy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pretty Painted Princesses

We reach part eight of our Paint the Night series, and this one is dedicated to the princesses. Fresh off the heels of the Toy Story segment comes Belle, Rapunzel, and Cinderella, each in her own float vehicle.  Belle's float is the main parade unit and is the most extravagant.  But flanked by swan dancers, Rapunzel and Cinderella glide by in beautiful luminosity as well.  Check out these 15 photos of this part of the parade!

Royal ballroom dancers waltz their way up Main Street, in advance of Belle.
They are lit up and aglow with elegance!
The costuming is beautiful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Whenever Candlelights Flicker

If they aren't already, this is the time of year when ghosts are especially present, as Halloween season gets underway with haunted attractions both spooky and scary start rolling out all across Southern California (and around the world).  Of course, at the Haunted Mansion, every day takes on an eerie tone, and this macabre mood translates all the way down to the details.  Those Grim Grinning Ghosts certainly steal the show, but there's a lot to behold when you look close enough.  Some of my favorites are the candles that reinforce the ambiance inside this antebellum estate.  What are some of yours?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Adventure in the Grotto

Over in the Adventure Isle part of Disneyland Paris' Adventureland, there is a mountainous land mass over which guests can clamber and explore... and also under.  Yes, there are caves beneath the area known as "Spyglass Hill," and explorers can even find hidden treasure in this network that draws comparisons to Tom Sawyer Island.  The scale is grander in Paris, though, and the atmosphere is moody and very conducive to discovery.  I think this is one of many little "hidden gems" scattered around Paris' Magic Kingdom!

Stalactites reach down in a cave within Adventure Isle at Disneyland Paris.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ready to Launch

Most roller coasters start with a slow and stead climb up a seemingly impossibly tall lift hill, clickety clacking up the track in a slow build toward that climactic first drop.  Not California Screamin', though!  Equipped with linear induction motor technology, this thrill ride zips its riders from 0-55 mph in a mere four seconds, and the ride hits a top speed of 62 mph on that first drop--the fastest speed of any attraction at the Disneyland Resort!

It's a tremendously exciting and fun ride, and it has not let down with age.  So next time you're around Paradise Pier, take a ride! Sit down, strap in, and get ready, screamers, in 5... 4... 3... 2...1... SCREAM!!!

Riders get ready for high speeds on California Screamin'!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Caras de los Muertos

Every year, the Dia de los Muertos display springs up at Zocalo Park in Frontierland, and I always think how those colorful skeletons make great subjects for some focused portraits.  Well, I finally decided to do something about that, so I present to you some headshots of these skeletal figures taken from a telephoto--to really hone in and compress the perspective!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Halloween Time Returns

It's the second Friday of September, and you know what that means around the Disneyland Resort--the return of Halloween Time!  This is the time of year when Disneyland is adorned in autumn oranges and yellows.  In this edition, we take a look at Main Street and spot some pumpkin-y details all along Disneyland's entrance avenue!

A Halloween street lamp banner by Market House.

A cute detail on Center Street.
Jack-O-Lanterns adorn the Crystal Arcade facade.

An angled look at Disney Clothiers.

Though the decorations seem to be the same each year, I still think they're atmospheric.

Just look how cheerful they can be!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Diamond Mad T Party

The Disneyland 60th Anniversary celebration has brought the return of Mad T Party to replace the not-quite-as-popular-as-projected Freeze the Night nocturnal event.  It's pretty much the same as the previous Mad T Party, but with some minor tweaks to the order and schedule of events.

This has never really been my exact cup of tea (pun intended), but it's certainly popular, and I will say that the Mad T Party Band is pretty fun to photograph, especially for someone wanting to practice concert photography. So here are about ten shots I took at a recent visit to the event, just showing how the band inject its fun spirit into their performances.

Alice and the Mad Hatter share a moment.
The Mad Hatter croons some silky lines.
The March Hare riffs.
The Chesire Cat provides the percussion for the evening.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Disney California Art Deco

This is just an exercise in capturing lines and composition.  The Art Deco tribute of Buena Vista Street creates some cool facade geometry in a lot of places, even as utilitarian as a locker area.  There's not much else to say for this...  just liked how the lines and building texture created a cool pattern across this little part of Disney California Adventure's entry area.

Art Deco verticality permeates the facade above the Buena Vista Street lockers.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Briefing Room

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is one of my go-to's when I'm at the parks and want to go on a ride but don't want to wait too long.  The shoot-em-up video game nature of this ride provides for high re-rideability, and I'm always trying to see how high of a score I can get (disclaimer: it's not really that high).  Each time I pass Buzz Lightyear giving guests the rundown on Emperor Zurg's attack, I wonder how many others are repeat riders, and how many are just enjoying this for the first time.  Either way, the experience is a fun one, and that's all that really matters.

Buzz Lightyear informs guests on their mission before they embark on a quest to defeat the evil Emperor Zurg.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Fire It Up

It's Labor Day, so you know what that means: time to FIRE up that grill for a fun barbeque with friends and enjoy the last holiday of the summer.  Yup, that's what I'm using the tie the photo below to the post.  The other relevance of the subject... well, the day I took this, it was 100 degrees at Disneyland, so I certainly felt on fire walking around the park!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

One Last Drive

It might have been a while since I posted a late night empty photo shot from Cars Land.  It's been even longer since I've actually shot in such an environment.  But what doesn't get old is the scene itself--a vibrant display of colorful neon, with a throwback ambiance to more innocent times.  If Buena Vista Street is Disney California Adventure's "Main Street," Radiator Springs serves as a second "Main Street," lovely and inviting, with kitschy attractions that beckon you back even after you've left.  It's all just lovely.

Late night down the main drag at Radiator Springs is quite the neon affair.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Moment of Golden Fortune

It's the start of Labor Day weekend, so I hope you're enjoying a wonderful time with friends and family.  Labor Day marks the unofficial end of the summer season, so get your outdoor times under your belt while you can. Soon, the air will turn cold with a snap, and the weather will prevent denizens from experiencing Mother Nature--oh who am I kidding.  This is Southern California.  It'll probably be in the 80s in December at some point.  Well, carry on then... carry on!

A golden afternoon at the Lucky Fortune Cookery.

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