Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Mysterious Island Sunset

Because it is surrounded by high rock walls all around, Mysterious Island receives "sunset" earlier than the other lands around Tokyo Disney Sea.  By the time the sun is approaching horizon, this watery crater is already in shadow.  But for those moments before that occurs, the golden hour is mesmerizing and fantastic.  Mysterious Island is already epic enough on its own.  But add the warm, romantic light of a departing sun?  Well, it becomes downright mystical.

The sun peeks over the surrounding volcanic rock wall as it sets over Mysterious Island.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

It's a Small Line After All

The beautiful Mary Blair facade of It's A Small World provides a whimsical, light, and cheerful facade for a ride dedicated to the children of the world and those with childlike wonder still inside.  The facade has undergone a variety of aesthetics over the years, but the gold and white that was applied during the most recent major refurbishment several years ago echoes the original design, and it's my favorite of the series.  There's a classic feel to it, enhanced during the afternoon sunset, and this has become one of my favorite areas to shoot near the end of a day!

Boats drift into the show building of It's A Small World during golden hour.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Pirates' Rooftop

Have you ever taken in the detail on the Pirates of the Caribbean show building?  The multi-faceted roof, the central tower with prominent flag pole, the roof dormers, shingled siding, and trim.  It's all aesthetically romantic and fun to look at.  And on a beautiful day, the scene is absolutely lovely.

The rooftop of the Pirates of Caribbean show building is so intricate and ornate.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Entering Halloween Time

In a couple of weeks, Disneyland will once again be transformed for the more sinister, as Halloween Time invades and turns the park into the Spookiest Place on Earth.  There will be plenty of autumn hued trim around the parks, especially since the 60th Anniversary celebration will have officially concluded by then.  And sure, the fall snap in the air doesn't really appear in Southern California until late October, but I'm still looking forward to Halloween Time.  Are you?

Mickey's Halloween Party, end of night, from a few years ago.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Submarines and Sunsets

From a sunset taken during the winter to a sunset actually taken in the summer, we return today to the lagoon of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and take a look at the beautiful golden hour of a common August day.  Here, from the steps of the Disneyland Monorail exit, palm trees, snowy peaks, and peaceful waters coexist in a classic Southern California scene.  Even though plenty of guests are passing by in the main walkway below, the scene still manages to retain a sense of serenity.  Guess the Happiest Place on Earth can do that to you...

The sun sets over the Matterhorn as a Finding Nemo submarine drifts by.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Another Paradise Bay Sunset

No matter how many times I photograph Paradise Bay during golden hour and sunset, it doesn't get old.  Those deep azure hues, the warm and shiny sun, and the lovely waterfront atmosphere make for a dreamy composition.  And with the clouds playing different textures upon the sky, even shots of the same thing take on different characters.  So here's another Paradise sunset.  It may have been taken in the winter, but it still carries the vibe of a summer day.

Just another glorious sunset on Paradise Bay.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Toontown Firehouse

Mickey's Toontown is so goofy and wacky, I wonder how much good its fire department really would do.  Chances are that any flames being through would dance around haphazardly squirted jets of water, most likely to whimsical music, as the building personifies fear and worry at its impending fiery demise.  Of course, at some point the fire fighters would figure out a silly manner to control the taken-on-a-life-of-its-own fire hose, and all would be saved. 

Or was I thinking about the classic cartoon, Mickey's Fire Brigade again?

The Toontown Fire Department is a colorful facade.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Teeming at Tokyo Disneyland

The crowds of the Tokyo Disney Resort can be seen in full effect in the photo below.  Though it may not look much different than a day at the parks stateside, it's important to know that Tokyo Disneyland has wider walkways and thoroughfares than its domestic partners, and a full cluster of people around The Hub means a FULL cluster.  That was one of the major eye-opening experiences at Tokyo Disney when I visited last year.  Though I knew that their parks were busier than U.S. parks, I didn't fully comprehend until witnessing it first hand.  The Japanese LOVE their Disney parks, and they flock en masse on those busy days.  And yet, things still run in an orderly manner, because that has been so programmed into Japanese culture.  It's nice to be able to navigate through full crowds and still not necessarily feel oppressed.  The politeness and classy behavior of the locals makes the crowds more bearable.

Walt and Mickey stand in front of the Cinderella Castle in Tokyo Disneyland.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Twilight at the Tower of Terror

Blue hour upon the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror creates an ominous presence, as the sunny, inviting golden rays of the afternoon light fade away, and the eerie shroud of night starts to take hold.  From this vantage point off the stairs of the Hyperion Theater, the radiant rocks of Cadillac Range in Cars Land form a sharp contrast against the cool saturation of the Tower of Terror and the deepening dusk sky.  This moment of transition provides a fun moment to take in--it's Disney at the cusp of night.

The warm to cool hues of the scene create a vibrant blue hour upon the Tower of Terror.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cooped Up in the Coffin

We're a month away from Disney's Halloween Time.  It's my favorite time of year, not just at Disney parks, but in general, since I love scary spooky time activities.  At Disneyland, though, festivities are a much more family-friendly affair, for obvious reasons.  There is fun and good spirit (pun intended) to everything, so in that intention, here's a photo of a grim creature trying to escape his final resting place inside the Haunted Mansion.  This has always been one of my favorite scenes in the ride due to its photogenic and silly morbid nature.  I'm glad I've finally gotten to the point where I'm able to capture scenes like this onto photographs.

In other words, is it Halloween season yet?

A ghoul can hardly contain himself inside the Haunted Mansion.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The 60th Celebration Morn'

The morning of the 60th anniversary kickoff was a cloudy affair.  Like the May 24-hour days the previous two years, the morning blue hour gave way to morning gray, as the sunshine was unable to really find its way to the ground.  Fortunately, one benefit the clouds did provide was some great sky texture, and so, despite failing once again to get some nice Disneyland sunrise shots, I did get a nice snap or two of the early morning ambiance and that nice texture in the skies.

Early morning at Sleeping Beauty Castle at 2015's 24-hour day.

The Waterfront of Yesteryear

The awe of Tokyo Disney Sea includes the construction of a seemingly close to life size scale cruise liner "just because."  Well, effectively, anyway.  There is no actual attraction on board the Columbia, though a fantastic Teddy Roosevelt Lounge can be found.  But when you think of nostalgic old American waterfronts, you think of those luxury steamliners of the Atlantic, so the Oriental Land Company, majority owners at the Tokyo Disney Resort, simply had one designed and produced.

At night, the Columbia forms a beautiful sight, sitting still in the water, waiting for a new adventure.  And her setting is quite beautiful too, with a wonderful iron arch bridge bringing guests into her port.  This scene just echoes with serenity for me, reminding me of wonderful late night memories at this "Sea of Dreams."  It's just lovely.

The Columbia sits docked at port in the still of the American Waterfront night.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Bachelors on the Twain

While the Mark Twain is docked because of the Rivers of America closure (for "Star Wars" Land-related renovations), the Royal Street Bachelors have been offering several sets of live music each day during the summer season.  Hearing great jazz emanate from this stately riverboat has provided fantastic ambiance to the Rivers of America.  The Dixieland tunes really take guests back in time and enhance the romance of the river.  Here are a few shots of the musicians!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Chateau Illuminated

Seeing Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant lit up in spotlights is a beautiful sight. This whimsical and majestic castle is most surreal out of all the Disney castles, and it is gorgeous at night as it is in day.  At the end of the night, the castle is actually closed off in preparations for the nighttime spectacular, Disney Dreams.  This makes for a nice way to get a relatively uncluttered shot of the castle, even if there are people in front of you, because they're all gathered in the foreground and out of the pathway leading to the actual castle.  Such is a foreign concept to local Disneylanders in Anaheim, but that's how Paris does things!

Guests wait in front of EuroDisney's Sleeping Beauty Castle prior to Disney Dreams.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ramone and Flo's

Beautiful Radiator Springs is spectacular at night.  All that neon makes for a splendid sight.  No matter what angle you photograph, it's always quite right.  Because the scene is always illuminated with colorful light.

Flo's and Ramones glisten in Radiator Springs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Another Cruise Through the Jungle

It's been a while since we've taken a cruise through the jungle aboard the World Famous Jungle Cruise, so lets see what those zany animals are up to back there in the wilderness of Adventureland!

It's the Indian elephant bathing pool, where the whole herd is out with the trunks on.
Such a sighting is pretty unherd of!
Bertha has been under that waterfall for decades, providing that if you shower long enough, you'll turn into an elephant.

These apes are just monkeying around.  Better split before they really go bananas.

This is the second most feared animal in the jungle, the African bull elephant.

Of course, number one is his mother-in-law.

Over in the African veldt, these guys don't look too familiar.  They must be gnu to the jungle.

Of course, we have the pride of lions protecting that sleeping zebra whose so tired that he's resting in peace.

The other zebras are old ones.  You can tell because they're still in black and white.

And of course, headhunter territory is a terrible place to beheaded.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Volcano Over the Harbor

Mediterranean Harbor is an absolute dream--reminiscent of the Italian Riviera, full of gorgeous, romantic scenery.  It's a sprawling area, the most sprawling of all the Disney entrance areas--save EPCOT's Future World if you want to be technical, and it always provides a wonderful, welcoming front.  Even as it curls around toward Mysterious Island and wraps in front of the looming shape of Mount Prometheus, it is full of beauty and splendor.  And at night, all of this spectacular majesty comes even more alive!

Glistening Mediterranean Harbor at night, with Mount Prometheus looming over everything.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Merrily on Our Way to Nowhere at All

I was walking through Fantasyland a week and a half ago, looking for scenes to snap, when I happened to notice the shadows working out to allow a fun idea reflecting Mr. Toad's wanderlust.  In The Wind and the Willows, the crazy amphibian enjoys putting around in his motorcar all over the place, with reckless regard for other people's safety.  Certainly, that must mean Mr. Toad has plenty of destinations in mind.  What better to symbolize that than with the cardinal directions of a weather vane, and what better to show that as a thought than to juxtapose its shadow--or non-physical form--beside Mr. Toad to give the idea of a thought bubble!

Well, I like the idea at least.

Mr. Toad seems to ponder where he should careen off to next, as represented by the shadow of the weather vane a little off to the side on the chimney.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Toontown Ways

It's another photo where I shoot into the sun, and while it isn't a perfect shot, the mood here takes me back to my favorite time of day at the Happiest Place on Earth.  Afternoon golden hour overlaps my usual time at the parks.  Usually, though, this means plenty of people in my shots, which means I have to just wait or get lucky.  In this case, I had a bit of both.  As I've mentioned this week, the parks have been quieter than usual during the summer, so that means I get empty patches of path more often.  I also stumbled upon this composition almost by accident.  Though I've wandered through Mickey's Toontown enough times previously, I never seemed to notice this frame before, looking into the sun with the directional sign in the foreground to one side.  Paired with the pretty flower bed, this makes for a colorful and charming scene.  But ah well, better to notice a shot late than never at all!

The former Jolly Trolley stop makes for a nice monument in the afternoon sun.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Winding Turns of Royal Street

When I was a child, the perfect representation of the essence of New Orleans Square happened when I strolled through Royal Street, gazing up at those wrought iron railings, verdant hanging plants, colorful facades, and pretty balconies.  The way the space flowed provide a beautiful tension that felt cozy and intimate.  It filled me with a longing for New Orlean's real French Quarter, to see how things compared.  And even at a young age, I appreciated the architectural and urban space value of this artificial land.  Believe it or not, it was experiencing and innately understanding spaces like this that led me to want to be an architect, so that I could maybe recreate the uplifted spirits that spaces like Royal Street had on me!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Treetop Mansion, Treetop Mountain

It's been a while since I've posted a photo from my favorite perch at Tarzan's Treehouse, high above the paths of Adventureland.  There hasn't really been many dramatic sunsets lately, and when there are hints of them, I haven't been at the parks (as usual).  Still, it's quite fun to be high up above everyone and enjoying a bird's eye vista.  I could relax and take in this view for a while.  And sometimes, I go up the treehouse and do just that!

For veteran readers of this blog, that treetop view of the Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain is a familiar sight!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Golden Hour on the Opera House

The summer has been surprisingly quiet at the Disneyland Resort--most likely a product of the demand-based pricing that sets single day tickets higher during expected busy periods and the sharp rise in Disneyland Annual Passport prices for the highest levels that still allow guests to visit during the summer.  I, for one, have welcomed this.  The past few years saw crowds sometimes swell to difficult to bear levels, and I really missed the days when the parks had an off-season that offered peace and quiet.  Of course, I didn't expect the "off-season" to occur during the summer, but I'll certainly take it.  Walking through the parks on a Friday afternoon (my usual visit time) with plenty of elbow room has been quite joyful.  And while I certainly don't want the lack of crowds to result in cost cuts or operations reductions, I can't help but appreciate the extra space I get, which also helps my daytime photos more!

The Main Street Opera House with the banner of the current Disney Gallery exhibit featuring Disneyland's Steam Engines.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Snow and Palms and the Bay

It's the quintessential Southern California scene: blue skies, warm sun, palm trees, and snowy mountains.  Well, okay, so it isn't like that right now, and of course, there aren't any vibrant yellow submarines cruising around Los Angeles (that I know of), but those peaks get some dusting of snowflakes in the winter, and a favorite tourist shot from L.A. is that juxtaposed scene with the palm tree in the foreground and the white-capped mountains beyond.

Disneyland only has one white-capped mountain, and fortunately, it is snow-covered all year round.  So that, coupled with the water of Nemo Bay, and you get the Disney version of the quintessential Southern California scene.  Yes, I know we're pretty blessed out here to have beautiful weather scenes like this be commonplace.  But then again, that's what our high cost of living pays for!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Another Small World Sunset

Shooting into the sun is normally not really recommended, but I've that it yields some dramatic shots in the afternoons (or early mornings, though I'm never awake that early) by forcing long shadows across the scene.  You have to be able to compensate for the overload of light, though.  This means focusing on a darker object if it's in the foreground, or bracketing to overexpose the scene.  I usually set my shutter to be one or two stops above neutral, so that I can get some details in my shadows as opposed to flat out black.  And usually, it turns out alright!

The sun sets upon It's a Small World as a boat leaves the loading dock.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Toontown Facades

I don't wander back to Mickey's Toontown nearly often enough.  Part of it is because of its location, out of the way to my usual interests in the park.  The other because of general wear and tear over the years creating less than stellar photograph opportunities.  But they did do a little refurb lately, so on Friday, when I was wandering the park during golden hour, I decided to run through and snap a few shots of the facades as that golden solar lumination was being cast from the late afternoon sun.  I'd say these photos show the land in a favorable light.  Don't you?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

That Glimpse of New Orleans

In the ever increasing desire to capture shots of Disneyland that I haven't seen others post, I've turned more and more to my Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom lens to compress depth of field and grab focused crops.  In this case, I wanted to capture the romantic riverfront of New Orleans Square in my minds eye--as more of a two dimension element with layers of facades.  I found a nice little niche across from Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, behind the Mark Twain, where I could shoot across the water and just through the trees to catch the right angle.  The resulting photo, below, is just one of those that reminds me of the essence of Disneyland--plenty of people walking through a land that was one man's dream.

Gazing upon New Orleans Square from Frontierland, across the Rivers of America.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Castle of Sleeping Beauty

Like something out of a dream, Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant at Disneyland Paris is draped with whimsy.  Set on a verdant green hill, spires reaching toward the lovely blue sky, grazing those whispy clouds floating by, the castle of Disneyland Paris looks inspired from a magical fairy tale unlike any other.  It has been my favorite castle to photograph, even though I've only been able to visit this park twice.  But man oh man, what a beauty it is!

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris is the absolute of picturesque.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Center Volcano

In Disney-speak, a "weenie" is a monumental icon that attracts attention from multiple perspectives and serves as a beckoning device, drawing guests to the element.  It was a term Walt Disney used to describe Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, which stood at the end of Main Street and enticed guests to stroll up the park.  Icons like the Disneyland Mountains (Splash, Space, Big Thunder, Matterhorn) serve as weenies.  But nowhere is there a more towering weenie than at Tokyo Disney Sea, where the outline of Mount Prometheus is visible from any other land in the park, serving as both an orienting device and an object of attention.  Even at the Magic Kingdom Parks, the castle is not always visible from large parts of the park.  But at Disney Sea?  The central volcano is king.  And it provides amazing photo angles.  Mount Prometheus just doesn't get old!

Mount Prometheus appears deceptively dormant on a beautiful day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Fun in the Sun for Everyone

Paradise Pier is themed to the beach, so while it's definitely beautiful in the still or the night or upon a brilliant sunset, it's most familiar on those typical blue sky Southern California days that just emanate warm sunshine and happy vibes.  So here's a simple shot of the banner over the entry to the land.  Just a reminder of the beach weather summer atmosphere.

The sunny entrance to Paradise Pier.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A European Town Square Night

I've posted plenty of photos from Disneyland at the end of the night, glancing up Main Street at the castle from Town Square.  But I haven't done much (if anything) for this in Disneyland Paris.  In my opinion, still the most beautiful of the Magic Kingdoms, Disneyland Paris' Main Street is especially charming, with an extra European flare.  Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the background makes for a wonderful beckoning icon, and a scene like this just fills me with longing to go back.  Ah well, I guess those are travel goals, right?

The peace of Disneyland Paris' Town Square at the end of the night.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Flying Over London

As a child, my favorite part of Peter Pan's Flight was taking off from the Darling house and soaring over the city of London.  Being above the rooftops and then transitioning to high above the city, watching those little cars twinkle as they motored on their lanes, was incredibly magical and joyful.  It is one of those deep, emotional memories I permanently associate with Disney wonder.  So it's good to see that these scenes were made even better by the Peter Pan ride refurbishment that happened last year.  Here are some more photos of the best section of the ride--in my opinion.

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