Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Partners in Tokyo

By now (if you've followed along this blog for a while), you've figured out that pretty much every Disney Resort around the world as a Partners Statue of some sort.  This is no exception at Tokyo Disneyland, where a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse stands at the end of the World Bazaar--Tokyo's version of Main Street, greeting guests as they emerge to stare out into the wide open area of The Hub at Cinderella Castle and the park beyond.  Now, no tripod in the resort means that I just have to free-hand and rely on the good ISO performance of my camera, so that's exactly what I did when taking this picture during my vacation in Japan last year.  Fortunately, I caught enough blue hour to make this a little more captivating.  Yes, Walt and Mickey make a great pair--no matter what continent they're in!

The Partners Statue in Tokyo Disneyland is at the end of the World Bazaar and not quite in The Hub itself, but it provides a photo op with the park's castle nonetheless!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Across the River to the Briar Patch

Now here is a sight familiar yet different to California Disneyland locals.  It's Splash Mountain from across a western-themed river, and yet, there are differences, such as the more openness of the mountain as it faces the river, the lack of a turnaround visible after the climactic splash, and oh yeah, a railroad running in front of Splash Mountain rather than behind and going through. 

But it's a quiet moment (minus that climactic drop) and a lovely rustic scene.  The clouds in the background lend a sense of finality to the day as it transitions to twilight.  Looking at this, I'm reminded of the feeling of tranquility I had while just standing across the way in Frontierland, taking in the scene.  Such a fond memory!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Clouds on the Bay II

This month has seen its share of May Gray, but the cloud cover has been far from boring.  Rather than the typical dreary uniform clouds, this month has seen a lot of puffy, textured formations, with breaks in the afternoon hours allow glimpses of blue sky and wisps of sunbeams to peek through.  This has made even non-sunny shoots quite exciting, and shots like this from Disney California Adventure provide a bit of testament to that!

Dramatic May clouds provide some fantastic skies above Paradise Bay.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Springtime Around the Hub II

It's still spring, which means these photos of The Hub in bloom from a couple of months ago are still valid!  The colors and atmosphere are so charming and lovely, they really draw me into a feeling of springtime bliss.  Liveliness, rebirth, vivacity... they're call captured around Walt and Mickey.  Here are some more scenes around the center of Disneyland after winter has passed!

Walt and Mickey in front of the castle.
Foreboding clouds hover overhead, but rays of sunshine burst through.
Peering through the flowers.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Afternoon at the Hollywood Tower Hotel

The Tower of Terror is supposed to be haunting and ominous and very moody, but with typically blue, sunny, and beautiful Southern California days occurring so frequently, it's more often that the Tower will be bathed in wonderful sunlight.  And with the leafy trees all around the area, the setting is not much conducive to that eerie vibe the storyline behind this attraction attempts to portray.  Oh well, I suppose that's the price you pay for stereotypically fabulous weather!

Tower of Terror towers above surrounding greenery in Hollywood Land.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Flying Fish Coaster

Mermaid Lagoon is probably the most kid-oriented themed land at beautiful Tokyo Disney Sea.  There is an indoor portion with several flat rides and a lovely live performance theater and an outside area with a family roller coaster, Flounder's Fish Coaster.  This Togo creation is great for kids transitioning to more exciting thrill rides or parents who want to enjoy a fun attraction with their younger children.  With a cute, whimsical setting, friendly fishy cars, and nice aquatic hues, it's also pleasant to photograph--especially on a sunny day.  Here are a few shots of the ride!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Main Street Windows: Cinderella

Here's another look at one of the Disneyland 60th Anniversary windows at the Main Street Emporium.  Today, we look at the display featuring Cinderella.  As with the other Emporium windows, this amazing animated diorama is composed of two scenes, one highlighting Cinderella's transformation and the other the "happily ever after" as Princess Cinderella dances with Prince Charming.  Both are fantastic scenes, and here are some snapshots of the scenes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Discovering Future Waters

Discoveryland at Disneyland Paris is a land of retro-futuristic beauty, and as odd as it may be to say, it's difficult for photos to really capture the majesty of this place.  Everywhere you look, there are wonderful views, but beyond that, the space really envelopes you.  As you walk along the pathways, the icons and structures change perspective, and you move from futuristic spaceport to verdant waterscape and back.  Of course, the icon of it all is the dashing Space Mountain: Mission 2 roller coaster.  The only Space Mountain to feature a launch, as well as loops, Space Mountain is a thrilling and very exciting ride.  Although it can get a little rough, it's still a top attraction.  And it's incredibly photogenic!

It's a beautiful day at the lagoon around Discovery land, where Space Mountain: Mission 2 stands.

Monday, May 23, 2016

From the Parking Structure

When it first opened, the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure was the largest capacity single parking garage in the world.  Built to accommodate the increased traffic from the expanded Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure park addition, Mickey and Friends moved the old familiar Harbor Boulevard Disneyland approach over to West Street, renamed Disneyland Drive for the portion that went through the resort property.  To those who visit the parks regularly, the structure has probably become pretty regular sight, but I remember being pretty amazed at the size and scale of this multi-story parking lot when I first saw it.  And although it has traffic flow issues and design problems and can become a torrent of traffic due to looped congestion after cast members are no longer assigned to direct parking on the particular level, it's still an impressive feat of engineering and construction.

Oh, and sometimes, you can catch pretty sunsets from there!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Glimpse of Flo

Sometimes, when something doesn't quite look right, try cropping the view to get something more focused, filling the frame and adding more visual interest.  This can take an otherwise ordinary scene and give it focus and contrast, making it much more intriguing.  This is a tip that experienced photographers know very well but which may be foreign to new shutterbugs.  If you're part of the latter, try it out!

If you don't quite have the shot, try using a crop!

A detail of Flo's V8 Cafe, backlt.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Walt, Mickey, and the Stretching Guy

I'll never get tired of shooting the Partners Statue with the castle draped in the background.  The scene is so photogenic and lovely that I always snap a few shutter clicks each time I pass by, even though I've gotten the same shot before.  What does differ, however, is how fortunate I am with people in the way.  Ideally, there would be no one around The Hub at all when I take the shot, but that pretty much almost never happens during the daytime.  In the shot below, I came so close.  But ah well, another time, then!

Walt and Mickey shine brightly in the bright shining sun on a pre-60th Anniversary afternoon.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Boats on Cape Cod

A thought occurred to me as I was processing this photo... with the way the scene was framed, it was not exactly evident whether or not I was photographing a very elaborate miniature model or something life size.  I mean, the relatively sharp focus across most of the scene would give the answer away, as would the very small people in the background, but if you squint a bit (in effect giving a bit of a tilt shift effect to your sight), this could very well be a miniature model of a picturesque New England neighborhood by the sea.  Such is the surreal nature of Tokyo Disney Sea, where the theming is so realistic that it is hyperreal! 

The Cape Cod area of American Waterfront glistens with New England charm.

A simulated tilt-shift version I made for fun.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Jungle Atmosphere

The photo below is a bit of a different "Throwback Thursday."  I mean, it's not really, other than the fact that the photo was taken over two years ago.  But what is unique is that this photos require significantly heavier editing than my usual photos (even if it may not look like it).  The original photo was relatively dull and lifeless, so I adjusted the white balance and coloring and really pushed the shadows, highlights, vibrance, and clarity sliders to their extremes.  As I was playing around, I began to imagine the scene as a muggy jungle somewhere in the east, humidity weight down on the seen, bringing a soggy textures to the skies and a strangely warm but still muted vibe to the scene.  Not sure if that was conveyed successfully, but it was fun to work on the shot, at least!

Enter Adventureland--gateway to a jungle wilderness of mystery, peril, and excitement!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Life of a French Pirate

There's been a lot of buzz lately about Shanghai Disneyland's incredible Pirates of the Caribbean ride, an attraction that features the ultimate and latest advances in Disney animatronic, projection mapping, and physical prop technology.  I myself am keeping away from actual video and photos of the ride, since I want to avoid spoilers, but word on the street is that Shanghai's Pirates is incredible.

That seems to make a good segway to the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris.  It's a clone of the original Pirates at Disneyland, only the two halves have been reversed so that the story runs in chronological order, to make more sense.  The lighting is a little more colorful in Paris too, and I honestly think it may be my favorite version of the Pirates rides that I've actually ridden.  Here are some photos from the ride.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Heeeere's Harold!

It's been a while since I've tried to take pictures of the redone Abominable Snowman that debuted at last year's 60th Anniversary kickoff at Disneyland.  Each time I've tried, I've just been unable to capture that perfectly crisp and well exposed shot of the famed character.  But I haven't posted a picture of him in a while, and this is my last decent photo left, so I guess I better take a few runs through the Matterhorn to stock up on pictures again.  Wish me luck!

The Abominable Snowman strikes from nowhere along the Matterhorn Bobsleds!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nights in Grizzly Gulch

My trip to Hong Kong Disneyland last year was a mostly cloudy day, so when night fell, I made sure to try to get as many pretty nighttime photos as possible.  In Grizzly Gulch, one of the three newest expansions of the park, I made an extra attempt to get photos of just the general ambiance and environment, because I hadn't really seen that many photos of the area at night (not that I necessarily looked very hard).  The town turned out to be photogenic, though.  The romantic Wild West theming combined with ample illumination created a nice, romantic vibe, and with colorful Big Grizzly Mountain in the background, there were some nice compositions available.  Here are a few snapshots from strolling around Grizzly Gulch!

The Lucky Nugget Saloon is just a quick-serve restaurant here, unlike it's more elaborate similarly named cousins at the Magic Kingdoms in Tokyo, Anaheim, and Florida!

The facade that marks the entrance to the queue for Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars.

The main thoroughfare.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Wharf from Alfresco

I always enjoy finding new angles of familiar scenes, especially those above ground level.  The picture below is taken from the Alfresco Lounge, which is located above the Wine Country Trattoria in the Pacific Wharf section of Disney California Adventure.  Though most probably view Pacific Wharf as the Cannery Row-looking food court section of the park, it actually stretches across the walkway to include the Embarcadero facades across from the Little Mermaid ride as well as the vineyard-themed areas bordering the backside of Grizzly Peak.  On the other hand, the colorful facades of the food court area are probably the most photogenic aspects of this area, and that's completely fine!

An elevated view of the waterfront facades along Pacific Wharf.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sunset Upon the 60th Anniversary Castle

There are few things as serene and heart-lifting as gazing upon a Disney park castle in the magic hour of the afternoon, before the sun sets, as the golden light of the day casts warmly upon the scene.  It's a truly heavenly feeling, and I revel in the light during this part of the day.  To be able to experiences moments like these is certainly a blessing, so I do my best to capture the pure joy of the moment in the form of a pretty photograph.

A shot of Sleeping Beauty Castle at golden hour.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Ghost Ship

It's Friday the 13th, a day associated with spooky vibes and ominous forebodings, so I thought it would be a good time to do a bit of a "Flashback Friday" and go back to Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort last year--specifically Mickey's Halloween Party.  One of the coolest sights of the event is seeing the Rivers of America fogged out.  With the S.S. Columbia docked at Frontier Landing, the effect is deliciously eerie, looking like a haunted pirate ship floating through the mist.  It fits the atmosphere, don't you think?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Canal to the Harbor

Tokyo Disney Sea is absolutely breathtaking at night--just surreal and incredible, but the problem with capturing these scenes is that the park doesn't allow tripods of any type, not even the small flexible tripods (like "Gorillapods") inside.  Neither park at the Tokyo Disney Resort allows this, and while this does make exploring the parks a little lighter and reduces the hassle of fumbling around another's or one's own tripod, it makes nighttime long exposure shots really challenging.  So anytime there's a place to rest a camera, it's golden.  The catch is to try to use such a ledge to get the frame you're looking for, because the scene and the flat surface may not always complement each other.

Fortunately, in the scene below, by the "Venice" part of Mediterranean Harbor, they did.  The flat railings of the bridges provided a great place to capture this wonderfully moody scene of the waterfront beyond.

Mediterranean Harbor is still at night, with Mount Prometheus brimming in the distance.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Twice Upon a Time

Once, I had a blog post about Tokyo Disneyland's current castle/fireworks show, Once Upon a Time.  Now, I return and share a little more information about this nighttime spectacular.

Once Upon a Time does have fireworks, but it is really primarily a castle projection show, using the same type of 3D projection mapping pioneered in Disneyland Paris' Disney Dreams show.  The result is a stunning visual feast but not much for the pyromanic Disney fans.  Still, it's a fun story and wonderfully engaging, and thought it doesn't have the same moments of awe as a Disneyland Forever or Remember... Dreams Come True, it's still a great show.

Here's a recap of the moments of Once Upon a Time!

The show starts up with a typical Disney flourish of magic and pixie dust.

Scenes from numerous Disney movies play as the premise of the magic of "Once Upon a Time" is relayed, regarding the allure of these fantastical tales.

Aladdin, for example.

Beauty and the Beast (with Mrs. Potts and Chip as the storyteller and listener constant throughout the show).

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mickey and the Castle Bokeh

The title pretty much describes it all... I wanted to get a honed in photo of Mickey Mouse at the Partners Statue at The Hub in the center of Disneyland Park and bring him in sharp focused in front of a blurred out Sleeping Beauty Castle.  To do this, I utilized a long telephoto lens and a wide aperture.  The result? Some pretty glittery soft focus of the castle steeple lights, which made for a fun effect.

Mickey Mouse stands in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Castle on the Hill

The incredibly picturesque Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris.
I've made no secret of my love of the Disneyland Paris castle.  It's whimsical and fantastical features and slender proportions and lovely curves make it an ideal storybook castle, and while I haven't been to Shanghai Disneyland to see its castle in person, I feel like I might maintain my opinion even after I do. 

There's just something so charming and magical about Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant.  I can take pictures of it from any angle and never grow tired!  And on a sunny, blue sky day, every angle looks like a professional media image.  With the castle tucked into its verdant hill, its wonderful blue spires stretching up toward the azure skies, and its sweeping walkways leading guests both into Fantasyland and into a mysterious lair, everything just comes together in an incredibly magical and scenic way!

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