Monday, February 29, 2016

Fireworks Over the River

The the longest while, I've seen fellow Disney photographers shoot Disneyland fireworks from alternate spots, but I've rarely done so myself.  Well, last month, I set out to change that by seeing how Disneyland Forever looked from the Rivers of America.  This is a vantage point that my friend, George, often shoots from, and I must say... I think I like this spot too.  Especially now with FANTASMIC! closed for refurbishment, it's a free, uncrowded area with a unique and pretty cool view of the show.  Plus, those reflections are just lovely!

Disneyland Forever offers spectacular reflections over the Rivers of America!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

House on a Haunted Hill

Phantom Manor is so iconic and striking and spooky, it's the ideal haunted house.  The exterior is fitting for a ride that is darker than its global counterparts.  Whereas the other Haunted Mansions are grand and stately, Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor shows its dilapidated self openly, hinting at the ghostly machinations within.  But that's exactly why I love it so much.

Even on a sunny day, Phantom Manor can look a little eerie.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Castle in Two Moods

Tokyo Disneyland features a clone of Walt Disney World's castle.  Towering and impressive, Cinderella Castle marks a fine icon at the center of the park, and it is a popular gathering spot.  Early in the morning, though, it can actually be pretty empty, as evidenced by the photo on top.  But allow any significant time to pass, and crowds will quickly amass to get their photos taken in front of the monument.  So... like any Disney park, really.

Tokyo's Cinderella Castle in the early morning.
Tokyo's Cinderella Castle at midday.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hong Kong's Paint the Night

While the Paint the Night Electrical Parade is a feature part of the Disneyland 60th Anniversary celebration, it actually got its start in Hong Kong Disneyland, where a slightly shorter version still runs regularly.  There are some differences over there, though, both in the parade routing and in minor details in the floats.  Here's a brief photo tour of their parade!

As with Disneyland's, Hong Kong's Paint the Night begins with Tinker Bell and an escort of fairies, but her friends, Rosetta, Iridessa, and Silvermist, are missing.

Tink is still super photogenic here, though!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Partners with Golden Blossoms

I stumbled upon this photo I took two years ago of the Partners Statue during an early spring bloom--so early that it was still winter when the blossoms started blooming.  It reminded me of the pleasant afternoon of that day, and the nice light and familiar faces made for just a pleasant scene.

Walt and Mickey on a golden afternoon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Coasting through the Gulch

What Hong Kong Disneyland lacks in a Frontierland it makes up for in Grizzly Gulch, and what it misses in omitting a Big Thunder Mountain Railroad it compensates with Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars, an out-of-control roller coaster experience through caves, across wilderness, past mischievous bears, and traversing both forward and backward.  Here are a few shots of experience!

A train comes hurtling by the geysers.

Rounding a sweeping turn over a bridge.

Mine cars climb a slow and steady hill.
Toward the top, however, the cable snaps!
And the train begins to hurtle backwards.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tight on Willy's Turn

The splendor of Cars Land lends itself to wide, sweeping panorama shots, but using a long lens can achieve just as interesting--if not moreso--photos.  By compressing the perspective, a telephoto lens will make grand objects seem even grander and more epic.  Not that a place like Ornament Valley needs to be anymore magnificent!

A telephoto view of the turn of Radiator Springs Racers around Willy's Butte.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Main Street Windows: The Princess and the Frog

For the Disneyland 60th Anniversary, the storefront windows along the Main Street Emporium were completely revamped and unveiled as magnificent, dynamic, dual scene moving dioramas.  The amount of work, detail, creativity, and technical savvy it took to pull this off is very impressive, and since they are literally animated scenes, photos don't really do these justice.  All the same, I'll showcase all six windows (now that they've all been revealed) so that you can see what they're like.  First up: the bayou blues of The Princess and the Frog, a most atmospheric scene!

Part one begins with Tiana and Naveen in frog form, come upon the swamps of Louisiana.
The mood is eerie and threatening, with scary objects around every tree.
Doctor Facilier lurks in the background.
What will become of our amphibious protagonists?
Never fear, as scene two reveals that all did end up well.
The animals watch the celebration.
Tiana and Naveen dance aboard the riverboat, with a medley of musicians jamming along.
And, of course, Louis the jazz-loving alligator trumpeting through the night!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunset at Disney Sea

The weather wasn't that great on much of my trip in Tokyo last year, and my first day at Tokyo Disney Sea was similarly drab, so I was afraid I would come back with very minimal usable daytime shots from the most beautiful theme park in the world.  Fortunately, my second day at TDS (and third day overall at the Tokyo Disney Resort) was a fantastic boom, and there were plenty of sunny shots abound.

A highlight came at the end of the day, as the sun was setting.  Though the afternoon had turned gray again and looked to be leading toward a lackluster golden hour, at almost the last moment, the clouds parted, and the sun peaked through just enough to provide an dramatic shot.  So I raced back to Mediterranean Harbor to capture a picturesque scene featuring icons large and small.  My first Disney Sea sunset was sublime, and I hope it won't be the last!

The sun sets behind Mount Prometheus, as seen from Mediterranean Harbor.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

In and Around Mysterious Island

Mysterious Island may be the most epic land Disney has ever designed.  Although derivative off the works of Jules Verne, it is an original, non-intellectual property area that features two incredible attractions in Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a "live" volcano, incredible rockwork, and a magnificent steampunk aesthetic that is timeless and beautiful.  Here are some daytime shots that show off what it's like to walk around the interior of this incredible land!

The spiralling queue leads to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, while Mount Prometheus looms in the background.

Nautilus Gifts is nice souvenir shot, located above Nautilus Galley, the eatery.
Coming up the stairs to and from Nautilus Galley.
And earth digging machine entrenched into the rock.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Chateau on a Hill

When in Europe, castles are no laughing matter.  The worlds most spectacular call this land home, so when designing an iconic castle for a new theme park, Walt Disney Imagineers had to really dip deep into the creativity well.  What they conjured was not a castle based on real life examples but one out of storybook--a castle that was whimsical and dreamlike and not derivative of actual structures, but of imagination.  The result is the most spectacular Disney castle in the world, and it seems to grow more beautiful at each changing angle!

Disneyland Paris' Sleeping Beauty Castle from a waterfront perspective.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Rivers of the Far West

Each Disney Magic Kingdom park has its own local flair and flavor, and at Tokyo Disneyland, there are unique tweaks at its themed lands molded after American history.  Here, instead of "Frontierland," the open west is called "Westernland," and instead of the "Rivers of America," there is the "Rivers of the Far West."  This speaks to the far reaching appeal of the "cowboys and Indians" imagery.  It's not enough to simply suggest connotation the United States, it's specifically the days of frontier western exploration in American that is evocative.  And when you explore Westernland, the depth and beauty of that American West recreation is absolutely stunning.

A view of the Rivers of the Far West at Tokyo Disneyland.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hong Kong Space Mountain

Hong Kong Disneyland shares a lot of similarities with Disneyland in California, but when it comes to Space Mountain, the setting differs.  Though the interior ride layout is identical and the experience almost exactly the same between the two, on the outside, Hong Kong's Space Mountain stands a a readily accessible show building that guests enter directly into, rather than navigate a circuitous pathway up onto the roof of another building before finally entering inside.  It makes for a unique angle, and at night, it's still quite photogenic. 

Always interesting to see how things vary around the world, isn't it?

Hong Kong's Space Mountain is an monument and icon in Tomorrowland.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Jungle Cruise Land Cruise

So the World Famous Jungle Cruise is currently under refurbishment, and for the next few months, Disneyland is offering a suitable substitute: the Jungle Cruise Land Cruise.  It's just like the Jungle Cruise but with 100% less water!  And what that really means is that each day, once every couple of hours during daytime hours, some Jungle Cruise skippers will give a rendition of the Jungle Cruise experience right outside the station to anyone who cares to watch.

I happen to be a big fan and think this is absurdly hilarious and entertaining, so lets take a look at what this Land Cruise entails!

Welcome to the World Famous Jungle Cruise!  It's currently under a bit of refurbishment.
However, skippers are offering a land cruise during the daytime to still provide that JC fix!
The work walls are plastered with Jungle Cruise concept art and renderings.
This skipper was showing off his fish, so I took a picture of it.
Time to begin the cruise.  Everyone's safely secure? Then we are on our way!!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Ornament Valley Through the Trees

On New Year's Eve, I was in line for Radiator Springs Racers when I spied the mountainous Ornament Valley from a perspective I hadn't noticed before.  There was a particular oblique view of Firewall Falls and the bridge in front of the cascade that struck my fancy, and the nighttime lighting made for a warm and glowing scene.  The resulting shot is mostly about visual texture, but I like it for the mix of realism and impressionism it gives off.  Imagine cruising over the bridge and witnessing the splendor of Firewall Falls in true scale.  What a moment that would be!

A telephoto angle of the bridge spanning in front of Firewall Falls.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Maze of Hearts

It's Valentine's Day, so today's post is about hearts... specifically, the Queen of Hearts.  Over in Alice's Curious Labyrinth, at Disneyland Paris, the villainess of Alice in Wonderland stalks the center of the maze, popping out to scream "off with their heads!!" to the guests.  Those who make it past the decapitative royalty are treated to a lovely view, though, one that really makes one fall in love--with Disneyland Paris!

These cards are painting the roses red inside Alice's Curious Labyrinth.

The Queen is not happy.  She never is.
The King of Hearts stands guard over a marvelous view.

There are glimpses of other scenes from the maze (and movie).

And a lovely view of Fantasyland as a whole!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Small World Afternoon

When the sun is setting, that golden light makes practically anything beautiful.  But when cast upon that classic gold and white scheme of It's a Small World, the composition takes on a magical touch.  The whimsical facade glows with sense of worldly pride and glory.  It's a wonderful moment, no doubt!

Golden hour upon It's a Small World.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Raging Spirits

So here's an example of the amazing nature of Tokyo Disney Sea.  Over in the Lost River Delta region of the park, way in the back, there is a roller coaster called Raging Spirits.  Located next to the park's Indiana Jones ride, this attraction happens to also be an identical clone of the Indiana Jones roller coaster at Disneyland Paris.  But there are two major differences between the two rides:
  1. The Tokyo Disney Sea edition is incredibly smoother, with no head banging (but heavily padded over the shoulder restraints just in case), and very pleasant to ride.  By comparison, Indiana Jones et le Temple du Péril is rough, rattly, and noticeably conducive to headaches.
  2. The Tokyo Disney Sea edition is much more visually spectacular, especially at night, as the temple lights on fire on top of water, and a contrast of cool purples and turquoise juxtapose against the fiery stone and flames that line the steps.
It's just one of many way Tokyo Disney Sea is the most spectacular and gorgeous theme park in the world.  Theming-wise, it is just absolutely superior in a way that slaps you in the face--only you just want to see more and more.

Raging Spirits is stunningly beautiful at night.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Painting the End

In all the different types of content I've been eager to post over the past few months, from Halloween to the winter holidays to my new trove of Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disney pictures, I've realized that I never finished my "Paint the Night" series highlighting each segment of Disneyland's nighttime spectacular parade introduced for the 60th anniversary.  And I only had one more part too!

So picking up off the Frozen portion, we arrive at the end of the parade, featuring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy, and a kaleidoscope of shimmering color.  Lets check out what it's like!

Here come Goofy and Donald and Minnie!

Goofy is aw-hyucking it up!

Donald is here to light up the night!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mercantile Adventureland

A few days ago, I showcased a bit of Tokyo Disneyland's Adventureland.  Today, it's eastward to Disneyland Paris' Adventureland. 

France's interation seems to have a few different personalities.  There's the wilderness exploration of Adventure Isle, the hidden fortress around Pirates of the Caribbean, and the more bustling area around the entrance to the land.  This part carries a more Arabian feel, with some Saharan influences as well.  Here are a few shots of how that looks like!

The entrance to Adventureland off the Hub.

The shopping and dining area just as you enter.
Shops here...
...shops there...
And a restaurant inspired by The Lion King.

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