Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Light Trails from the Zephyr

It's been a while since I've posted a picture like this, but I do love this series that I did once upon a time showing the Golden Zephyr circling around in Paradise Bay, soaring above the water and leaving a luminous pattern in its wake.  It's not a difficult shot to get--just set up the composition and use a long exposure.  This one was 15 seconds, so a tripod is key.  But the result sure is pretty!

Light trails on the Golden Zephyr swirl next to Paradise Bay.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

On the American River in Japan

Tokyo Disneyland has a Rivers of America.  It has a Mark Twain.  And let, there are differences between this and the version in Disneyland California.  Here, the Rivers bridge Westernland and Critter Country, rather than Frontierland and such.  In addition, when docked the Mark Twain doesn't have Big Thunder Mountain Railroad behind it.  Instead, the familiar peak of Splash Mountain can be scene.  The Mark Twain itself is smaller scaled in Tokyo compared to in California.  But one thing is the same: at night, with the majestic riverboat docked, I can't help but take photos of the peaceful scene!

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Monday, May 29, 2017

The Capitol Model

This model of the U.S. Capitol building stands inside the Main Street Opera House, beyond the Disney Gallery, where guests wait to enter Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.  It's a lovely model, beautifully lit and showing the stately and monumental architecture of the real thing.  This is a nice area to peruse on warm days, and it's also a great place to pay homage to America's history.  And regardless of what you think of the current, messy state of politics, it's still important to remember our country's past.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Manor in the Distance

As much as I love blue skies and bright sun at a theme park, sometimes, gloomy, gray skies are fitting.  Case in point, at Disneyland Paris's Frontierland, the stormy setting is right at home at Thunder Mesa, home of the supernatural Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the cursed Phantom Manor.  This Haunted Mansion iterative is significantly darker than its international brethren, and I love the spooky vibes.  On day like what's shown below, with ominous clouds hovering overhead, the atmosphere felt particularly fitting.

Phantom Manor sits far in the distance, visible from the landing at Thunder Mesa.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Finding the Sunken Treasure

Shanghai Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure is a spectacular and state-of-the-art dark ride attraction that combines practical sets with immersive 3D projection mapping technology, and it is absolutely beautiful.  But while the video effects bring a great dynamic vibe to the ride, the traditional physical sets are still absolutely wonderful.  As guests sail through the caverns, they find plenty of visual eye candy grounded in constructed objects.  The cave of treasures is one such scene, clearly calling back to similar scenes in the traditional Pirates attractions at the other parks.  It's shiny, golden, and glittery.  What a sight!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Down by the Bayou

We stay in New Orleans Square today and head over to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, where ambiance of the Louisiana bayou serves a serene contrast to the swashbuckling excitement that will be coming later in the ride.  In this exposure, extended to capture more light than the human eye can typically perceive, we see a lone lantern sitting on a crawfishing rowboat.  The cage is empty of the catch, but the atmosphere exudes that peaceful Southern charm.  I used to love to take in the ambiance when I was a child, and even now as an adult, I enjoy the immersive environment this scene creates.

The scene down in the bayou of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Return to the Court

It has been some time since I've been in the Court of Angels during the daytime--not since before the 2014 refurbishment of Club 33 that enclosed the court off from public access for use as the waiting area for the club--but this past Sunday, I had a chance to admire the "Court des Anges" again when I dined at Club 33 as an early celebration of my birthday.  This quiet courtyard oasis inside New Orleans Square has always been a respite from the hustle and bustle of the park, but now as a part of the exclusive Club 33, it is even more so.  It was nice to within this tranquil and beautiful space again.  A lot of details were as I remembered, with some Art Nouveau additions, such as the handrails and statuette light fixtures.  But on a nice day like this past Sunday, it's still as beautiful as ever!

A look up the grand stairs of the Court of Angels, now leading up to the new entrance to Club 33.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Down the Critter Country Flume

As we move into the summer, the weather will start to heat up, which means those water rides will start to have even longer lines than usual.  And at Disneyland, the favorite among favorites is most definitely Splash Mountain.  This classic zip-a-dee-doo-dah attraction featured the steepest drop in a flume ride at the time it opened, and it continues to thrill and entertain riders today.  And on any given day, guests can hear those shrieks and hollers from the top of Splash Mountain from all over the west side of the park.  They function like clockwork, form part of this attraction's iconic appeal.

A log hurtles down the final drop on Splash Mountain.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When the Fat Lady Sings

The scene near the end of the Haunted Mansion graveyard sequence, where various knightly spirits sing the familiar refrains of "Grim Grinning Ghost," is one that I've wanted to photograph forever but have never had success due to the very low light, low contrast, and motion of the Omnimover as it rolls through this scene.  But last Sunday, I lucked out when the Haunted Mansion momentarily had "playful spooks" interrupting the ride, giving me some time to shoot off some exposures while holding as still as I could.  The result is some frames I've never gotten before, and for a Disney park photographer with a catalog of literally tens of thousands (or more) Disneyland park photos, new photo accomplishments are a rare and exciting feat!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Comets Around the Orbitron

Our international Tomorrowland journey ends over at Hong Kong with a glance at their Tomorrowland.  Hong Kong Disneyland doesn't get a lot of love among Disney fans (or even the local population), but it's still a really nice, charming little park.  Its scale is much closer to that of Disneyland California than the more grand spaces of Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney and the others.  But it has its differences.  For example, Hong Kong's Tomorrowland seems to take California's traditional aesthetic with a layout that is more spread out around a hub... and at the center of the spoke, the Orbitron, aka rocket ships that adorn every Tomorrowland around the world.

The view below is particularly eventful, since it also carries to Space Mountain in the background, while the Comet Cafe stands just to the side. And though the walkways are still, there's something vibrant about the Orbitron still whirling away through the night.

The Orbitron spins at night at Hong Kong Disneyland.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Tokyo Tomorrowland's Setting Sun

This is day three of our Disney international Tomorrowland spree, and our stop takes us to Tokyo Disneyland.  And while Japan may be known as the Land of the Rising Sun, today's post pays better tribute to #SunsetSunday, with this glorious scene in front of Space Mountain.

The photo below is from my first visit to Tokyo Disney in 2015.  Most of that vacation was gray skied, but I had good fortune to have two sunny days out of my three overall at the Tokyo Disney Resort.  And I was even blessed to get a dramatic sunset on my first afternoon at Tokyo Disney--which hardly happens even at home!  It was such an inspiring scene, I couldn't help but just stand there and gawk.  And with Space Mountain in full feature in the middle of my frame, it created a visual memory that I won't soon forget!

Dramatic clouds are lit up by the setting sun over Space Mountain at Tokyo Disneyland!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Curves of a New Tomorrowland

I mentioned yesterday that Disneyland Paris' Discoveryland is my favorite Tomorrowland iteration of all the parks, but that title suffered a major challenge last year when I visited Shanghai Disneyland and--among other enjoyments--took in their incredible Tomorrowland.  Sleek, with steel, glass, and tranlucency, this organic land thrives where other Tomorrowlands have struggled in the past--in creating a place that truly looks like it has come from the future.  Granted, forms like this are much closer to reality nowadays, but the sweeping lines and curvaceous structures still carry an uplifting and wondrous feel... to the point where I no longer can really say whether Paris carries my favorite Tomorrowland or not.  I love each for different reasons, and both have incredible perspectives.  But Shanghai definitely has the more free-flowing architecture, that's for sure.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Volant vers la Lune

I hope you guys enjoyed international iterations of the future, because over the next four days, we're going to take a trip to the Tomorrowlands (and equivalent) of Disney parks outside of the United States.  First up: magnificent Discoveryland, in Disneyland Paris.  This has long been my favorite "Tomorrowland" out of all the Disney parks, though last year's trip to Shanghai Disneyland has created a very strong contender.  In Paris, the future is one that never was--a Jules Verne-inspired steampunk-esque aesthetic that is fantastical and sleek and luminous all at once.  I think yields a rather spectacular ambiance.  Don't you agree?

Space Mountain: Mission 2 blasts off at night in beautiful Discoveryland.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fortress Explorations

As I've written before, Fortress Explorations at Tokyo Disney Sea is probably the most richly detailed, immersive, and fantastic outdoor play area Disney has ever developed.  Located technically on Mediterranean Harbor but on the Mysterious Island side of things, this sprawling playground is full of little bridges, passageways, and chambers to explore.  Plus, there's a full on galleon docked in the form of the Renaissance, which children of all ages can clamber around and within and without. 

Look at these photogenic scenes and tell me Fortress Explorations and Tokyo Disney are not amazing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Once Upon an Innovention

It's not Thursday, but today's post is a bit of a throwback, to the days before the Tomorrowland Expo Center, when it was simply known as Innoventions.  Originally the home of the Carousel of Progress, it has evolved over time, becoming a demonstration of the house of the future as furnished by Microsoft, a collection of Marvel meet-and-greets and interactive exhibits, and now the Star Wars Launch Bay.  In the following photos, lets look back on when the building was first starting to feature Disney's then-new Marvel acquisitions in the form of the Iron Man Experience.  On a beautiful spring afternoon, some rather photogenic shots could certainly be acquired from all around the Innoventions show building!

A near-overview of Innoventions, with Space Mountain in the background.
The winding entrance takes guests up to the second floor.
And up that curving ramp we go.
The upper level affords some nice views out onto Tomorrowland.
It makes for a lovely golden hour scene too!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Light Up!

It has not yet officially opened yet, but the work walls in front of the former Tower of Terror have been taken down in advance of the public grand opening of Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: Breakout!, scheduled for Saturday, May 27.  And with this nearly final push has come the nighttime lighting package unveiled.  It's got a distinctive red and green flare, and anyone who hoped that the gaudy daytime paint scheme might be offset by a sleek nighttime illumination package can... draw their own conclusions here.  I will say that editing these multi-exposure blends creates a scene that is more saturated than in real life.  But that's part of the artistry of photography... to create an idealized scene sometimes.  In any case, here's what the new Guardians Tower looks like at night.  Thoughts?

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Castle in Golden Hour

It's absolutely lovely to walk around the Hub in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle during that hour or two before the sun sets, when the golden rays of light are casting through the trees, across the stone and turrets and water and flowers.  It's a literal natural highlighting of the most beautiful and classic part of Disneyland Park--at the very heart and soul of the park.  It's Walt's original castle being illuminated by that life-giving force that we all require.  And it never fails to give me joy when looking upon this grand and charming scene!

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Evidence of the Yeti in the Mountain

Also recently reopened, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, now with FastPass!  This classic roller coaster is among the oldest steel roller coasters in the world, and its journey into the Swiss Alps gives riders a harrowing encounter with the abominable snowman inside multiple times.  But you wouldn't guess it from the idyllic scenes outside--the pretty alpine snow, the cascading waterfalls, the colorful wildflowers.  No, you wouldn't guess that a beast lurks in side--unless you notice the clues.

Evidence of an abominable snowman can be found around the Matterhorn, if you look hard enough.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Snow White's Grotto Revamped

Over the past month or two, the area over by Snow White's Wishing Well and the grotto featuring the forced perspective Snow White and her seven dwarfs figures has been behind work walls, being refurbished with some extended rehabilitation.  The work has taken longer than most projects of such a size, which has made me wonder what exactly they're doing over there.  Well, sometime over the past week or week and a half, this walkway on the east side of The Hub beside the castle has reopened, and the results have been... interesting.

The sculptures appear to have been replaced with differently cast types that give off a stony, granite feel, but also see a little plastic at the same time.  The entire scene looks very new, and perhaps even a little too new, as though it was manufactured and placed in stock just recently as opposed to decades ago.  Of course, it's possible that this is exactly what happened.  But the figures are back, and the scene by Snow White's Wishing Well is once again complete.  Take a look and tell me what you think!

An overview of the classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs statuettes scene.
Things have been spiffied up.
Snow White still appears distant to scale due to forced perspective.
A bit isolated, she does seem small next to the rocks.
Grumpy and Sneezy.
A close-up of Happy shows the textures is a bit shiny... too shiny.
Wide angle of the whole scene from down low.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Arabian Lights

Disney parks have always been known for the magic they bring after nightfall.  The lighting schemes accent so many memorable environments and really carve a wonderful atmosphere that can be even more vibrant than during the day.  There is a lot of work that goes into this, since much of these scenes rely on theatrical lighting that needs to be carefully staged yet hidden out of view.  But the result is a vibrant canvas that leaves photographers like myself very thankful to be able to capture moody scenes such as this!

The alleys of the Arabian Coast are awash in luminous color at night!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tokyo's Wishing Well

As one travels around to the Disney theme parks around the world, invariably, familiar elements will be encountered.  This is particularly true with the Magic Kingdoms, all or most of which share some form of regal castle, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, exhilarating mine train roller coaster, It's a Small World, and more.  But less prominent elements can also recur across the parks, such as Snow White's Wishing Well, which is found in Disneyland California, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland.

The last is what's shown here.  Located to the left of Cinderella Castle, Snow White's Wishing Well is a quiet spot off the beaten path, where guests toss a coin and make a wish and hope that their fairy tale fantasies may come true.  It's a lovely little feature and a nice callback to Walt Disney's original!

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