Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Caravan Courtyard

Tokyo Disney Sea is packed with gathering spaces, similar to the urban layout of an organically developed city.  The spaces compress and stretch, creating moments of spatial drama and then relief, and the plazas that open up very successfully draw guest to rest, people watch, or just enjoy the incredibly intricate ambiance. 

One of my favorite spaces is in the Arabian Coast, next to the Caravan Carousel, where a lovely Middle Eastern aesthetic fountain encourages guests to congregate like an oasis in the middle of a desert.  The large scale courtyard behaves much like an authentic iteration might, injecting vitality into the space.  Plus, look at how gorgeous everything is!  Places like this are examples of why I could probably spend months at Tokyo Disney Sea and still never grow tired of all the detail.

The central courtyard of the Arabian Coast is a lovely gathering space.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Aquasphere

Tokyo Disney Sea is grand in almost every sense, and this starts right from the entrance of the park.  Guests enter through a lovely Mediterranean courtyard, and right in the middle is a majestic fountain topped by a spinning globe.  The Aquasphere, as it's called, is a giant globe draped with water cascading across the surface, held by surface tension, creating a shimmering aquatic effect over the bustling fountain that seems to keep the globe magically afloat.  This is the first sight every Tokyo Disney Sea guests sees and the last fleeting image when they leave.  And what a spectacular environment it is!

Guests stroll past the Aquasphere as they enter Tokyo Disney Sea.
The Aquasphere spinning tranquilly at night after hours.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Afternoon at Cozy Cone

Sometimes, just strolling through the Disneyland Resort on a beautiful afternoon is enough for a small bit of bliss.  No rides necessary, not even any shows.  Just enjoying the wonderful, immersive ambiance under a lovely golden light beneath a friendly blue sky and soft, wispy clouds.  Hearing the laughter of children, cheered discussions of family members, and exclamations of glee from guests of all ages getting in touch with their younger side... it all makes for a grand and relaxing atmosphere.  Yes, sometimes, just being present at a Disney park is magic by itself.

Golden hour at the Cozy Cone Motel is lovely.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Canoes of the Far West

We continue the parallels of Tokyo Disneyland to American Magic Kingdom parks with a look at the Beaver Brothers Explorer Canoes, the Japanese equivalent of Disneyland's Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, including the circling of Tom Sawyer Island.  But whereas America's version has its landing in Frontierland, Japan's has its landing in Critter Country, next to Splash Mountain.  Not that this is an issue; both Critter Country and Frontierland/Westernland and Rivers of America/of the Far West share the same rustic environment, so the slight differences are pretty much semantics.  The scene is every bit as beautiful!

Cast members direct guests on the paddling path.
The boats circle Tom Sawyer Island through the Rivers of the Far West--the same sort of experience as in America!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Loading the Columbiad

Disneyland Paris' Space Mountain began as a concept about shooting a rocket from the Earth to the Moon.  It makes sense with Discoveryland's retro-future steampunk motif that the device used to make the interstellar launch is named The Columbiad, after both the 1800s cannon and the device in Jules Vernes' From the Earth to the Moon used to shoot objects to our celestial neighbor.

The visuals when Space Mountain: Mission 2 launches are pretty fantastic.  The roller coaster train cruises into the sloped hill and then stops.  A arched vaulted door rolls up, revealing the train to daylight, similar to the action of loading a bullet into a rifle.  It closes, and then the train hurtles up and into the main ride structure.  And why not?  It has been shot just like a projectile, only its destination is the stars!

This beautiful display marks the storyline name of Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris--the rocket launcher to the stars.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Peeping Queen III

She's so derisive, staring upon the people who are so clearly not worth her attention.  But she is a villainess, so Queen Grimhilde cannot help but to look, lest she miss someone who is a threat to her title of the fairest of them all.  Don't let her spot you if you are.  She might decide to send you a fruit basket offering...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Paradise Sunset

Spectacular sunsets are hard to come by--at least for me.  So I save up photos from those rare cases where I happen to be witnessing a dramatic sunset... and am in a scenic setting... and have my DSLR camera...  The photos below are from a couple of years ago, during a blazing post-sunset in April.  Most of the time, these views are prominent in the winter, but the springtime scene was quite welcome.  Those magenta, azure, and orange hues?  Absolutely lovely!

The clouds light up moments after the sun sets.

I'm not the only person to enjoy the view.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In and Around Mysterious Island II

Last month, I posted some scenes around the majestic themed land that is Mysterious Island--the heart and crown of Tokyo Disney Sea.  It is so meticulously detailed and marvelous to explore, and photos really don't do it just, but since I took a bunch anyway, here are some more to check out!

Nautilus Galley below, Mount Prometheus above, and the queue into 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea beyond.
Mysterious Island is a bustling "hub" in a sense.  Pathways to four other lands diverge from this area.
The sun begins to set over the profile of Disney Sea's resident volcano.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Springtime Around the Hub

Spring is finally officially upon us, and it is probably the most naturally beautiful time of the year at the Disneyland Resort, especially around The Hub, where all life clusters at the heart of Disneyland Park. It is spring when the flowers bloom and the blossoms open, and from the vibrant pinks of the tabebuia trees to the delicate shapes of the flowers planted all around Walt and Mickey, a stroll around The Hub during springtime is absolutely beautiful and livening.

Here are some more photos from my shoot of the tabebuia blooms a couple of weeks ago, including some of the other plantlife around The Hub!  I think you'll agree, the sights are rather spectacular!

Walt and Mickey stand in front of dramatic storm clouds as golden hour descends upon the park.
This area of the park is a constant source of photo stops.
Walt and Mickey are in a lovely frame with the tabebuia blossoms!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cinderella Castle Far East

Last month, I featured Tokyo Disneyland's castle from a head-on shot. This time, you get a view more from its side.  And if it looks familiar, it is because (as I mentioned last month) Tokyo Disneyland features a clone of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom castle.  This is not a bad thing.  For one, there's a good chance that most visitors of one park will never see the other.  But besides that, it's a pretty nice castle--towering and majestic, with an iconic profile and the same attractiveness that makes everyone want to take photos of and around it.  And a Disney castle on a lovely blue sky day?  Well, that's photo bliss.

Cinderella Castle is majestic even when shooting into a midday sun.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Afternoon Across the Bay

I'm using shooting southward across Paradise Bay.  The view of California Screamin' and Mickey's Fun Wheel is quite the picturesque one, and it is the postcard shot that is by far the most popular.  But looking the other way has its niceties as well, especially when you play with foreground/background angling and position yourself at a nice vantagepoint to create layers of composition.  So this middle afternoon shot looking back northward toward the Grand California Hotel presents some nice elements to scan across.  And most importantly for me, it's a more unique view I haven't really showcased on this blog!

A beautiful view across Paradise Bay!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Caribbean Evenings Aglow

At the cusp of Adventureland, Frontierland, and New Orleans Square, Pirates of the Caribbean marks a unique transition of three different yet similar lands.  All share a sense of exploration, excitement, and intrigue.  Though their themes differ, there is a solid spirit of journey and old fashioned romance.  I find this especially true at night, when the mood is more intimate.  And after so many years, the facade original Pirates still remains the most evocative out of all the Pirates around the world!

Entry of the Pirates of the Caribbean, still at night.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Chamber of Planets

At Tokyo Disney Sea, Fortress Explorations serves as the Tom Sawyer Island of the park--a sprawling playground with no actual rides but plenty of features and attractions to explore.  But unlike Tom Sawyer Island, which is nestled in the middle of the Rivers of America and relatively tightly-packed, Fortress Explorations is sprawling, with multiple chambers and areas to see, each with its own surprises.

The Chamber of Planets is one of my favorite spaces here.  This room is like being transported back to the Galilean era of science, as the study of the stars was beginning to widely move beyond the Earth-centric model and understand more about the greater cosmos.  This space is breath-taking and relaxing at the same time... often sparsely populated, but full of beautiful angles and real rotating model of the solar system that guests can crank around. 

It's one of the many little treasures that I love about the most beautiful theme park in the world!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mystic Manor Blues

Mystic Manor is pretty amazing in a myriad of ways, mostly on the interior, where Disney has crafted what I consider to be its best attraction ever and the best ride I've ever been on at any theme park (yes, that includes Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which I recently experienced at the soft open Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood--but I digress from non-Disney talk...).  With a trackless and dynamic ride system, incredible effects, a wonderful story, an addictive musical theme, and an adorable protagonist, Mystic Manor is truly the pinnacle of the next generation of rides.

But outside is pretty fantastic too.  With a show building fronted by a quizzical looking building that is Haunted Mansion-esque--if the Mansion was part Winchester Mystery House, part Victorian mansion, part eclectic spires from architectural styles around the world.  And together, they from a facade for the wonders that are concealed within the jungle paradise home of Lord Henry Mystic!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Fireworks Over the River II

So a couple of weeks ago, I posted a picture from a lovely vantagepoint of the Disneyland Forever fireworks show, shot from the Rivers of America.  With the reflections that are available over the water, the scene is very photogenic, and here are some more photos from the same night of shooting, showing the colorful visual magic that can be found!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters

Last Monday, Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters debuted after a nearly yearlong refurbishment transforming it from its former flying saucer bumper car style attraction to its new radio controlled synchronized motor dance iteration.  Gone are the flying tires.  In their place, adorable little cars that swivel and glide and spin and slide around one another. 

The story is relatively simple: Luigi's family has come for a big reunion, and of course, their celebration requires dancing and merriment as big Italian families apparently do.  So guests are invited for the festivities, and the experience--while far from thrilling--is a cute, family-friendly venture that is quaint and charming. 

For photographers, it also means so nice photo ops at night with the lights and the moving vehicles.  So here are some photos I took this past Sunday showing off some of the movements of the ride!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Walt and Mickey Among the Tabebuias

Last month, I made a post about the Partners Statue in the spring bloom around The Hub.  Well, that photo was from two years ago.  This year, the bloom has been pretty fantastic.  Not only have the tabebuia trees bloomed pretty evenly, they have also been full and vibrant, thanks to the El Niño that we've been having.  So this past weekend, I took a jaunt to the Resort to capture what I could.  Though some of the trees are already in decline, overall, things are gorgeous, and here are a few shots of Walt and Mickey surrounded by lovely pink blossoms.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Kali River Rapids

Disney Animal Kingdom is home to a variety of nature-themed attractions, some matching what's found at animal parks, others being more traditional theme park rides.  Kali River Rapids, in the Asia section of the park, is more of the latter, but the theming around it certainly maintains an ecological theme.  Highlighting the plight of habitat destruction and illegal logging, the ride takes guests through a beautiful forested area before giving way to scenes of the wilderness being pillaged by loggers.  Riders avoid several perilous encounters with irresponsible logging equipment before plummeting down a three story drop, certainly getting drenched along the way. 

The ride was Disney's first attempt at a rapids attraction, making it the precursor to Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure.  Those who have ridden both will probably notice similarities in flow and layout too, but one thing's for certain: on a warm day, the rapids are the ride for cooling off!

Riders enjoying a splash on the rapids at Animal Kingdom!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Into the Eastern Briar Patch

The one thing I dislike about Splash Mountain in California is that most of it is surrounded by tall fencing that blocks off all wide angles of the ride.  No such problem exists at Tokyo Disneyland, though, where guests can come right up to the rockwork that surrounds the briar patch that surrounds the climactic drop of the ride.  At night, this makes for a great scene, and I can even just prop my camera right on the rocks to take the shot, rather than struggle to wedge my camera above fencing.  What a nice perk!

Tokyo Disneyland Splash Mountain has a much more approachable briar patch than Disneyland Anaheim's!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Mighty Temple

There were a few shots of Tokyo Disney Sea I knew I had to get when I visited, and one of them was a nighttime shot of the temple that houses the Indiana Jones Adventure at Tokyo Disney Sea.  This massive pyramid, nestled in the Mexican jungle, is a towering behemoth that is a mixture of both actual massive scale and fantastic use of perspective.  And at night, the deep purple hues mixed with the blazing torch light make for an incredible scene. 

Since the Tokyo Disney Resort does not allow tripods of any sort, I had to be creative to get this shot.  Fortunately, there was a trashcan almost centered with the temple, which I used to get the shot.  Unfortunately, it took me nearly half an hour of waiting for both the scene to clear and also people to stop stopping in front of that idol right in front, lest they ghost into my long exposure (and this required a couple of long ones, including one half a minute long!).  In the end, I didn't quite notice that my lense was so wide that it captured a guest sitting off to the left.  But after further editing, I kind of like that he's there, admiring this gorgeous sight, possibly awestruck by the beauty and majesty that is Tokyo Disney Sea!

The massive Aztec temple that encloses Indiana Jones Temple of Crystal Skull is spellbinding at night.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Main Street Windows: Toy Story

We're back with a second installment of a series looking at the fantastic Main Street Emporium storefront windows, redone for the Disneyland 60th anniversary celebration.  Last time, we took a look at The Princess and the Frog, and today, we look at a window dedicated to the Toy Story franchise, the one that launched it all for Pixar.

This display isn't quite as elaborate as the others, at least from a transformational quality, but it's definitely pretty adorable and a lot of fun.  Lets take a gander!

Upon first glance, we see Andy playing with Buzz and Woody as the rest of the toys stand transfixed.

Reach for the sky, to infinity and beyond!
Then, after Andy goes away, the toys come out to play.
Spanish Mode Buzz Lightyear whisks Jessie around an intimate dance.

The Little Green Men throw down their jail door, and the rest of the toys cheer on the dancing duo.

The scene isn't as lengthy as some of the others, but it's still pretty fantastic!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sunset on the Super Hero HQ

The sun sets behind Space Mountain on a lovely winter day.
Well, if you haven't made a trip to the Super Hero HQ at the Tomorrowland Expo Center (formerly Innoventions), you've got less than a month to check out the Iron Man exhibit, the treasures of Thor, and the other Marvel meet-and-greets.  After April 2nd, Disneyland will be closing this attraction to expand the Star Wars Launch Bay.

Don't fret if you miss the Marvel superheroes, though.  Captain America and Spiderman will be making meet-and-greet appearances over at Disney California Adventure.  But the Iron Man and Thor exhibits will be permanently shuttered.

In the meantime, here's a shot I took a couple of months ago of sunset over Tomorrowland, with Marvel Super Hero HQ signage in focus.  I like the layers of subjects from foreground to midground to background.  Plus that beautiful sunset doesn't hurt!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Hong Kong Fantasyland Fountains

Hong Kong Disneyland's Fantasyland has a few water features for display, and provide a nice whimsical feel to this smallest of the five Fantasylands around the world.  Here are a few looks at these fountains.

Snow White's Wishing Well feels a little more open but is pretty similar to the Anaheim version.

There's a nice Sorcerer's Apprentice fountain on the backside of Fantasyland.

And technically, the waterworks under Dumbo the Flying Elephant are fountains too!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The French Emporium

Main Street is beautiful in all of the Disney Magic Kingdom parks, but at Disneyland Paris, it may be at its most romantic.  With tall, grandiose Victorian style, the beautiful fairy tale Sleeping Beauty Castle in the back ground, and an accented French charm, the area is truly quite nostalgic.  It's truly a beautiful parting gift at the end of the night, and I wish I could just stay and savor the moment forever.  But alas, even Disney magic must rest before each following days, so I only have photographic memories such as this to tide me over until next time.

The Emporium is almost at still at the end of the night at Disneyland Paris.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Radiator Springs Rain

It's been a bit soggy this past weekend, so I'm posting a bit of a throwback photo from a couple of years ago, when I was in the park during the rain and took advantage of disappearing crowds to snag some very moody rainy nighttime shots.  Cars Land is one of the best places to do this, thanks to the neon that can reflect magnificently off the ground.  The colors and patterns form a fantastic scene, and with no one around, there's a sense of stormy bliss that pervades.

One rainy evening in Radiator Springs.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Stillness of the River

So for the next year or so, the Rivers of America will be shut down as work goes on for the infrastructure and construction of "Star Wars land" on the backside of the river.  That doesn't meant that everything is behind walls, however.  Though the Mark Twain and the Columbia will not be running, and FANTASMIC! is on hiatus until spring of next year, the river itself remains photogenic and approachable.  Construction workers have dammed up the back side, out of normal public sight, to do layout adjustments needed, but this allows the front side to remain photogenic.  Good thing too, because it sure is a pretty sight!

The Columbia rests along the Rivers of America, currently closed for the "Star Wars land" preparation and construction.

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