Friday, June 30, 2017

Pizza Port Golden Hour

Back when I was young lad, Redd Rockett's Pizza Port was probably my favorite restaurant at Disneyland Park.  Back then, it was new and exciting--a part of the 1998 Tomorrowland makeover which, though now decried as an aesthetic mistake, promise new attractions and a new vision at the time.  Among them was a pizza and pasta restaurant with (for the time) pretty good food! Fancy salads, tasty garlic breadsticks, and gourmet pizza.  My favorite was the barbecue chicken pizza, which I had never had before until dining at the Pizza Port.  This seems silly now, but such was the simplicity of childhood.  And though I don't dine there as much these days, preferring food from the super menus of the west side of the park, Redd Rockett's Pizza Port will always hold a special place in my heart, simply for its nostalgia of my [younger] youth.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blazing Skies Over Splash Mountain

Although I have posted a very similar photo before, I like this simple dual tone composition so much that I'm fine with posting again, for readers who didn't see it the first time a couple of years ago.  I like it enough that I actually have a print of this hanging in my hallway gallery.  The sun, setting over an icon of Disneyland Park, during brief time of the year when it is far enough north to be able to do so in the afternoon.  Though my photography is usually about vivid, crisp, detailed  wide angles, sometimes, it's nice to just go simple.

The sun sets over Splash Mountain, casting an orange glow over silhouettes.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Tea Party at the Sunset

Being a resident of Southern California, I really appreciate it when a really good sunset happens.  Now, don't think I'm taking our weather for granted.  All the sunny days and generally pleasantly warm temperatures are fantastic.  But the atmospheric currents tend to lend themselves to plain, cloudless sunsets most of the time, or heavy clouds that settle and block the sun completely.  And on those rare cases when there is a really nice sunset (typically during early winter months), I seem to have a habit of missing them or being at a non-scenic place when witnessing.

That's what makes moments like this sunset at Disneyland Paris so much more special.  Not only was this a great sunset, but I was traveling abroad and staying for a limited time.  To have my presence and the occurrence of a dramatic sunset align is great fortune indeed, and I made the most of it during my Disneyland Paris visit a few years ago!

Puffy clouds make for a dramatic sunset over Disneyland Paris' Fantasyland.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Exploring Tom Sawyer's Island

Call it Tom Sawyer Tuesday?  A week and a half ago, Tom Sawyer Island reopened to the public, and I noted the return with an exploration of one of the moody and mysterious caves on the island.  Today, we take another jaunt but stay above ground, looking at the general rustic atmosphere of this big playground for the young and young at heart.

The Island has received some nice TLC, and all that was old has been refurbished and made new again, then made to look old again.  It's that Disney aging magic!  There are small additions and changes here and there, but by and large, the isle in the middle of the Rivers of America is as it was before it closed down last year.  The woodsy and frontier atmosphere encourages playful exploration, and even though the island itself is smaller, the publicly accessible areas remain about the same extents as they were.  So guests on the island won't notice much layout change.

Ultimately, it's great to have this classic part of Disneyland back.  And it also means that sooner or later, we'll be having FANTASMIC! back with us as well (specifically, on July 17).

Lafitte's Tavern serves as the backdrop for the platform area that serves as the stage for FANTASMIC! at night.
There's the Columbia, just beyond.
A new addition, this little boat has been pulled up to shore.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Golden Hour over the Jungle

Tropical Imports is relocating this summer, next to a new indoor dining area beside the Bengal BBQ.  In its place will be the new location of stroller parking--a move to ease congestion in the walkways of Adventureland.  It will be odd to see the spot next to the Jungle Cruise no longer sell fruits and snakes and various wares, but change is ever present at Disney theme parks.  I look forward to seeing how the new Tropical Imports will look like when it debuts this month or next!

Wares atop Tropical Imports can be seen in this photo from a few years ago, with Aladdin's Oasis in the background.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Elliott's Parade

Undoubtedly, the most iconic float and character in the Main Street Electrical Parade is Elliott--Pete's Dragon, who blows smoke and warbles his way through the parade route in adorable fashion.  And at the prompt of "Razzle dazzle!" Elliott is able to disappear--by turning off his lights.  With Pete at the helm, this popular float has captivated guests for over 45 years.  This summer, the Main Street Electrical Parade finally hoedowns into the night for the last time, back home where it all began.  Check it out before it's actually gone (this time) forever!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mickey and the Non-Existent Railroad

Shanghai Disneyland starts off familiar enough... as guests walk through the turnstiles, they encounter a feature of every Magic Kingdom, a floral Mickey Mouse, perfect for a photo op.  Beyond that, there are two towers and an elevated arcade that look just like they would be the perfect home to a railroad station--only there is no Disneyland Railroad in Shanghai.  Perhaps because it was too associated with American history and culture, Shanghai Disneyland eschews a round-the-park railroad, but there is still the suggestion of one as guests walk around the floral Mickey and through the archway into Mickey Avenue in proper.  It's kind of pretty and kind of curious, but it does make for a nice photograph!

Floral Mickey in front of the Not-Disneyland-Railroad-Station.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Mediterannean-American Blue Hour

As spectacular as some might appear, photographs really do not actually do justice to the rich, enveloping atmosphere of Tokyo Disney Sea.  From far vistas to close details, there is a bevvy of immersive elements that make this truly a Sea of Dreams.  Even where two lands cross in line of sight, there are icons to catch the eye.  In the scene below, Mediterranean Harbor streches off the frame to the left, but American Waterfront sparkles straight ahead and behind.  A glimpse of Fortress Explorations can be glanced on the right, and the lagoon forms the stage for both daytime and nighttime shows that add a dynamic flair to the park.  I love the ambiance at Tokyo Disney Sea, and I can't wait to revisit one day soon!

Staring across Mediterranean Harbor to the Hotel Hightower and American Waterfront.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A New Thunder Trail

About two weeks ago, Disneyland quietly reopened Big Thunder Trail, the pathway linking Frontierland and Fantasyland, after over a year of redesign and partial re-routing to make way for the upcoming "Star Wars" Land.  The new trail takes on the rich, warm sandstone hues of the Southwest to parallel the tones of Big Thunder Mountain, and the mining motif is ever-present.  It's a pretty desert landscape that will actually transition nicely into the mysterious wilderness of the unknown planet that serves as "Star Wars" Land's setting, and I think the Imagineers and construction folks have done a tremendous job!

Old battered retaining walls and mining artifacts dot the trail.
This gives way to some lovely red rock formations.
You can see the reference to Big Thunder across the way.
These lamps skewered into the rock are a lovely touch.
The rocks jut out to provide shade too.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spotlight on the Lagoon

At Tokyo Disney Sea, Mermaid Lagoon is probably the least prominent "port of call," being designed mostly with attractions aimed at younger guests.  With a outdoor family roller coaster and a large indoor attractions area, this is basically a fancier version of A Bug's Land in Disney California Adventure.  But oh, how startling the difference in quality is!  Whereas DCA's "kiddie land" shows is fastrack, quickly built status, Mermaid Lagoon has beautiful and colorful rockwork and an immersive, theater-set atmosphere.  It's telling that even the least extravagant part of Disney Sea is still pretty impressive.  That's Tokyo for you!

Aquatic (ish) spires mark the home of Ariel's undersea kingdom, Mermaid Lagoon, at Tokyo Disney Sea.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dead Man's Grotto

Over the weekend, Tom Sawyer Island reopened after a year-plus refurbishment during the downtime of the Rivers of America.  The island has been truncated a little bit, but island attractions-wise, guests wouldn't really notice it, as none of the previously publicly accessible spots of the island have been removed.

One attraction that has remained intact is a relatively recent one, added during the "Pirates Lair" overlay added ten years ago.  Inside one of the caves, theming related to the Pirates of the Caribbean film series was added to give a synergy of adventure to the land.  Corporate intrusion aside, the theming is pretty cool, with a very spooky ambiance, visual effects, and an immersive soundscape through the cavernous layout.  And with the refurbishment, this little subterranean trail looks as great as ever.  Explore it--if you dare!

A part of the cavern opens up to reveal Davy Jone's chest.
Inside here lies the beating heart of Davy Jones.
This soul was not too fortunate in retrieving any treasure he was seeking.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Five Years and Running

Who'd have thunkit... five years ago when I started this blog, I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep it regularly updated for five weeks, let along five years.  At the time, I merely felt inspired to combined two of my passions--photography and Disney--into a public forum that I could use to share my own love of the Happiest Place(s) on Earth with others who may not be so fortunate as I to be able to visit regularly.  The opening of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street--two exquisite and extravagant changes at the Disneyland Resort--spurred me to make an idea into a reality, and five years later, I've somehow managed to maintain my "picture a day" (and often more than one picture each day) trend.

The most dramatic entrance in all of Disney California Adventure remains the archway entry to Cars Land.

In the time that this blog has been running, I've accomplished a lot of Disney bucket list items that seemed like far stretches at the time.  I've been able to explore the wonder that is Tokyo Disney Sea (twice!)--something I've always wanted to see in person.  I've improved my own photography level to a state where I feel like I can at least occasionally approach that of some of my Disney photographer role models.  I've also been able to visit every Disney theme park in the world--something that seemed impossible anytime soon while I was in my mid twenties.  With those travels, I've been able to build this blog into what I think is a pretty good database of photos of Disney theme parks all around the world--one of the few on the interwebz that can claim such a collection.  So certainly, these past five years have brought a lot of highlights for me personally, and I am extremely thankful for all of them.

Willy's Butte and lovely Firewall Falls in the background.
 I'm also extremely thankful for the comments (both online and in person) that people provide, the appreciation expressed, and the compliments lavished (I think often undeservingly, but I still am grateful).  My aim with this blog has always to bring a bit of magic to the viewer.  So if it inspires warm memories or some sort of joy, then I've done my job.  Any other recognition is just a bonus.

The Cadillac Range are whimsical and monumental at the same time.

Close-up of one of the peaks.

So on this, the fifth anniversary of Disney Photoblography, I'm taking back to the beginning, where the blog began... with Cars Land.  In all its grandeur.  It's been a fun five years, and I'm not planning on stopping this anytime soon.


The stillness of Cars Land at night is absolutely magical.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Tahitian Terrace

Once upon a time, Disneyland Park in Anaheim featured an exotic theater restaurant called the Tahitian Terrace.  Located behind the Enchanted Tiki Room, where Aladdin's Oasis stands today, this dining experience used to feature South Pacific cuisine and island dancers and performers and flame throwers.  It was quite a popular venue, but it closed in the early 1990s. 

As a tribute, Hong Kong Disneyland features a Tahitian Terrace of its own, also in Adventureland.  Unfortunately, this one is a more casual quick serve establishment, and there is no show offered for dining guests.  But it's still a nice nod, and to be honest, it's got quite a lovely ambiance at night!

The warm, inviting glow of the Tahitian Terrace at Hong Kong Disneyland creates a cozy scene at night.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Four Corners from Center Street

Standing in the middle of the midpoint of Main Street, where it intersects a smaller street, brings some nice perspectives.  And at Disneyland Paris, the four storefronts that anchor each corner have their own styles and characters.  Be they restaurants or storefronts, the early 20th century Victorian architecture is absolutely lovely, and the shift to more of an automobile theme brings to mind the flapper era and the Roarin' 20s.  Though that era didn't end up so well, at Disneyland Paris, time stands still, and the romance of the scenery at the end of the night provide absolutely lovely memories that last forever.

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Glimpse of Rainbow Ridge

When I was a kid, I used to think that the queue of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was so cool, because they went and create a whole themed western town just to give waiting guests something really nice to look at.  Of course, Rainbow Ridge was part of the ride too--the end of it.  But I really appreciated the ambiance. 

Little did I know (and not till later when I was older did I learn) that the elaborate western town facade was actually remnant from a bygone attraction.  It used to be part of the old Rainbow Caverns Mine Train, a much slower moving tour through geological wonders of the Old West.  This attraction eventually became Mine Train to Nature's Wonderland in 1960 and operated that way until 1977, when it closed and was relegated to Yesterland forever to make way for the runaway mine train we all know and love today.  But the Rainbow Ridge town remains, and I love that bits of history that extend as far back as Disneyland's opening years can still be seen today, in pretty close to original appearance!

A Thunder Mountain mine train cruises through the town of Rainbow Ridge.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Buzz Lightyear: Planet Rescue

Like many other Disney parks, Shanghai Disneyland has a Buzz Lightyear shooting ride, titled "Buzz Lightyear: Planet Rescue."  But unlike the others, which are roughly clones of each other, this Buzz Lightyear ride has a fairly unique design and set, with vibrantly luminous scenes and vivid style.  The storyline and mission remain roughly the same.  The evil Emperor Zurg is attacking the planet of the Little Green Men, and riders need to help mount a counter-offensive.  The guns are mobile, and there's even a new built-in laser sight that makes targeting almost too easy, especially compared to the other iterations.  Still, this is a very fun ride that is visually stunning and definitely worth an experience even for those who have ridden Buzz Lightyear attractions at other Disney parks around the world.

Here are a few pictures from the ride, which I tried to take while also shooting along with my blaster at the same time.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Summer Launch

Yesterday, we looked back to the start of spring. Today, we look toward the summer, and fun in the sun and beachside settings.  What better place to capture that than Paradise Pier, which seems to perpetually be in the summer with its California boardwalk setting?  This is one area of Disney California Adventure that has retained much of its opening day character, though some Victorian upgrades have improved the ambiance.  At the end of the day (literally, in the case of the photo below), it's still a sun-drenched scene of loveliness, and it screams that favorite season of Olaf.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

An Evening in Bloom

Sure, it's June, and summer vacation is in full swing for most people, but technically, the season is still spring, so I feel justified in posting a photo from earlier this year, during the tabebuia blooms, in a scene quite evocative of the changing of the seasons to new life and new energy.  These quiet scenes at the end of the night never get old.  The colors add wonderful pop to an ambiance of rebirth, and seeing Walt and Mickey surrounded by such beauty is simply magical.

The Partners Statue in the Hub at springtime night.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Castle on the Hill II

The most beautiful Disney castle in the world is Disneyland Paris' Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty Castle.  With its whimsical spires, terraced hill terrain, and dreamlike architecture, it's quite literally something out of a fantasy storybook.  Surrounded by greenery, there are few more spectacularly wonderful scenes in a Disney park, especially on a gorgeously sunny day.

Another shot of the gorgeous Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sleeping Adventureland

Yesterday, the Orange County Register reported some changes coming to Adventureland.  In an effort to ease the crowding that plagues this exotic land during Disneyland's busy days, the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost and South Sea Traders stores will be removed to make way for a relocated Tropical Imports plus an indoor dining area for Bengal Barbecue that will allow for the outside stand-up dining area to be remove, easing the bottleneck that builds across from the Indiana Jones Adventure.  In addition, relocating Tropical Imports will allow for a covered stroller parking area, and the island between the Jungle Cruise and Adventureland Bazaar that currently serves as the stroller parking area will be removed to widen up the paths.

While it will be a shame to lose the stores--especially if that means the permanent removal of Shrunken Ned--it will be nice to have a roomier Adventureland.  It is one of the most packed walkways in the park, and though it's a bummer to lose some Disney history, in this case, they're only stores, and the trade-off will be worth it.  All the construction is supposed to occur relatively quickly this month, with parts of the project wrapping up by July.  Should be interesting to see the results!  In the meantime, here are some nighttime shots of some of the area... and also the entrance to Adventureland.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Maleficent's Entrance

I realized that in the year and a half since I first stepped foot into Tokyo Disney Sea, I have never posted any photos of their FANTASMIC! show.  Given that FANTASMIC! in Southern California is returning later this summer, I thought it might be fitting to finally rectify the first issue.

At Tokyo Disney Sea, FANTASMIC! takes place in the water of Mediterranean Harbor, with Mysterious Island's Mount Prometheus serving as a dramatic backdrop.  Given the large size of the body of water, there is no permanent stagecraft or equipment to serve the show.  Instead, everything occurs on barges that float through the various scenes.  One of the most dramatic, however, is the arrival of Maleficent in dragon form.  Similar to the other FANTASMIC! shows in California and Florida, this occurs at the climactic moment in the show when it appears the bad guys will triumph.  The dragon appears almost magically out of mist screen that reflects the projection of the Magic Mirror.  In a way breaking the fourth wall, Maleficent is a ball of fire, and she rises up for a faceoff against Sorcerer Mickey. 

It's a really fantastic moment and quite a sight tobe hold in person!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular

Shanghai Disneyland has several live action shows to provide guests with a nice, air conditioned break from the rides and walking around the park, and among the most notable is Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack's Stunt Spectacular.  Held in the Teatro Fandago in Treasure Cove, this stunt show sees Captain Jack Sparrow checking out reports of an imposter stealing his glory.  But as usually happens with Captain Jack, the British troops show up, and a battle ensues as they try to capture the famous buccaneer.  The climactic finale of the show sees an amazing display of literal aerial acrobatics, as Captain Jack fights an opponent within the vortex of a massive wind tunnel.

The show is entirely in Mandarin, but the nature of the plot makes it relatively easy to follow along.  The only downside to the language barrier is missing out on the jokes lobbed throughout both the preshow and actual show.  There is a lot of slapstick comedy, which seems to fit something featuring Jack Sparrow. 

Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular is pretty popular and can fill up quickly sometime.  On busy days, arriving early is definitely recommended if you want to make sure you catch a showing at the time you want.

Guests queue in the large lobby outside the theater before the show.
Before the actual show, actors come out with some background for what's to come.
The theater is wide but not very deep, providing a rather intimate experience.

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