Monday, July 31, 2017

French Market Canopies

The French Market is my favorite quick serve restaurant in Disneyland for many reasons.  The food is consistently delicious, there's live music at intervals, and the ambiance is wonderful.  The New Orleans Square vibe really creates a romantic environment, and one of things that I've always found interesting were the fabric canopies draped across the outdoor dining area.  They offer some nice shade on sunny days and also carve a sense of space in what would otherwise be a more nondescript outdoor area.  Sure, they do collect leaves, but the architectural effect they add is an overall net plus.  My only wish is that they'd string lights underneath to provide some illumination at night!  Ah well, perhaps in a future improvement.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Discoveryland Lagoon at Night

If you haven't been able to tell through most of the lifetime of this blog, I love Disneyland Paris' Discoveryland.  This different play on the traditional Tomorrowland is vibrant, actually futuristic, and absolutely spectacular.  Whether by day or by night, it always features gorgeous views.  But at night, it really seems to carry an electric energy that's reminisicent of the optimism and movement of the future.  I love shooting from here, because it feels like anything photographed will look great.  Just editing a photo like this makes me want to go back!

Nighttime is beautiful in Discoveryland.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fantasy Faire Rainfall

It feels like a long time ago now that summer has provided those typical warm temperatures and bright, sunny Southern California days, but this past winter was one of the wettest in recent history, which provided several opportunities for me to actually get those rare rainy evening photos that I previously had never seemed to get.  On one particular evening in February, conditions were especially ripe, after a steady drizzle near park closing slickened the ground with a nice reflective layer of rain, then stopped just in time to allow park close-out photography without having to fight those drops of moisture.  The result?  Pretty, romantic scenes like the on below, from Fantasy Faire!

A drizzly evening at the Fantasy Faire.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Avenue M for Midnight

Earlier this month, I posted a daytime photo from a familiar site in Shanghai that wasn't quite what it appeared to be.  Well, here's a nighttime shot from the corner of Mickey Avenue, with the Carthay Circle Restaurant-esque tower anchoring Shanghai Disneyland's entry land and marking the location of the Avenue M Arcade shops.  It's one part of an eclectic style of facades along Mickey Avenue and probably one of the more elegant styles.  At night, it looks even more regal.

The beacon of Mickey Avenue lights up at night.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Gothic Details in the Night

When you look closely at Cinderella Castle (Tokyo or Florida edition, though Tokyo is pictured here), you begin to notice a lot of rich, elegant details that would be perfectly at home on a grand, High Gothic cathedral.  Beautiful windows, pointed arches, articulated trim... they all make for a very regal and spectacular structure.  Of course, these bits of ornamentation of derivative, so they're not exact copies of what happens in Gothic architecture, but the inspiration is clearly there, and it's stunning.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Whisking Wenches Away

This is a bit of old news, but about a month ago (while I happened to be on vacation), Disney announced that the auction scene at Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Park would be receiving alterations to remove the wench auction and replace it with a scene of forced valuables relinquishment.  In the middle of all of this, the famous Redhead would even don a new role as a pirate supervising the fleecing of the townspeople. 

This prompted a sharp reaction from the Disney fan community bemoaning the loss of a classic and original scene from one of Disney's greatest rides--all in the apparent name of political correctness.  It's not exactly acceptable to sell off women to be involuntary brides these days, after all.  But then again, many of what pirates did back then was quite unsavory and nowhere near acceptable in today's society, and it would be a slippery slope and an disingenuous move to sugarcoat everything about a pirate's life.

The change has already occurred in the newly reopened Disneyland Paris Pirates attraction, and the American versions will receive their changes following a scheduled refurbishment next year.  So in the meantime, get your rides in this year.  Because come 2018, this scene below will be looking mighty different.

The Redhead will be getting a makeover in Pirates of the Caribbean, changing this scene forever.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Around a Hong Kong Fantasyland

It's been a little while since we've visited Hong Kong Disneyland.  This Magic Kingdom gets the least love out of the six in existence, probably because even with its great expansions over the past several years, it still offers relatively little in terms of quantity and spectacular quality in comparison, and it's no longer the shiny new park on the block.  Still, it's a nice park that will become even nicer as further improvements and expansions are made.  Here's a little stroll through a bit of Fantasyland, which will look noticeably different in a few years!

This is Sleeping Beauty Castle, a modern day clone of the original Disney Castle.
Here is the backside of castle.  This will change in the upcoming years, as the castle is enlarged into something taller, grander, more visually impactful, and unique.
The back of Fantasyland has a relatively open feel, with the mountains of Lantau Island forming a nice backdrop.
Like most Fantasylands, there's a carousel at the heart of the area.
And spinny rides too!
Hong Kong Disneyland organizes most of its eateries into food court type establishments, and this is one of them.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Carthay in Bloom

The weather is pretty warm these days, so I thought it'd be worth another look back to cooler temperatures--specifically, springtime at the Disneyland Resort.  Though I usually post about the beautiful tabebuia blooms over at The Hub on Main Street, Disney California Adventure has its share of colorful blossoms as well.  At Carthay Circle, this is especially true, as the trees around this central area burst forth with beautiful violet color every year.  Juxtaposed against the tower of the Carthay Circle Restaurant, it looks rather serene and peaceful.  At least it does for me!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Enchanted Storybook Angle


The Enchanted Storybook Castle from the Fantasyland side.
The Enchanted Storybook Castle is one of those breeds of buildings that has a much different feel in person than in photos.

In photos, the castle seems rather blocky and bulky--a weighty mass with a lot of detailed ornamental features, but which seems to lack the whimsical elegance of Disneyland Paris' castle, or the refined grandeur of Florida's and Tokyo's, or even the cozy classicism of the original Disney castle in Anaheim.  Although the Enchanted Storybook Castle is certainly beautiful, it doesn't have the organic feel of a castle.

In person, though, this changes.  As one walks around the castle and views it from different angles, it begins to gain a complexity that single shots can't quite attain.  I was surprised by how much more I enjoyed the castle when I visited Shanghai Disneyland last year.  Sometimes, [photographic] looks just deceive!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Dragon's Return

Since FANTASMIC! has returned, I've noticed that Murphy (the dragon in the show--really Maleficent) has looked a little different.  Appearance-wise, (s)he is generally the same, but the beast looks a little shinier... spiffier... and just newer.  Murphy also has a few more actions in the show now.  Not only does (s)he light the Rivers of America on fire, Murphy also lets out a flaming final death cry before succumbing to Mickey Mouse's powers.  Yes, Murphy still loses.  I suppose some things must stay the same.



Friday, July 21, 2017

Woodland Critters

Critter Country is, of course, home to all things rustic and wilderness-living.  Although much of that comes from the forest-y wilderness that surrounds the area, there are also fun touches from the creatures that "reside" in this Laughing Place land.  Various animals in wood cut form can be found around the area, adding some adorable atmosphere all around.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Some eager beavers investigate a canoe along the Rivers of America.
A bear holds a fishing rod as if to prepare for some leisurely fish hunting for the day.

Raccoons around food are not normally a good thing, but this is an exception.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Jungle FANTASMIC!

This past Monday was the long-awaited official return of the classic Disneyland show, FANTASMIC!  After a year and a half off, while the Rivers of America was being reprofiled for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, the beloved spectacular brought back a mix of new and old scenes and brilliant new visual effects and projections.

One of the iconic scenes from the original version that has been slightly retooled is the jungle medley following the opening refrains.  Kaa makes his way out, but instead of dancing monkeys floating by on barges, it's a Lion King sequence with dancing lions--though interestingly, King Louie maintains a role.  Besides the slight content modification, what's really noticeable is how beautiful the projections onto the Tom Sawyer Island stage are.  Luminous and vibrant, they create a saturated backdrop that is visually stunning.  And the whole segment is a great evolution of a classic FANTASMIC! part.

Kaa makes a slithering appearance.
The signature eye beams come out in full effect.
The music is different, but the scene still impactful.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Ominous Manor

Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor's position on the hill overlooking Thunder Mesa means it's always in few of anyone approaching the area.  The ambiance starts at the entrance into Fronterland, where the spooky estate can be seen past the river, and continues all the way up until where guests enter the ghostly mansion.  I've mentioned before that this has some amount of Psycho House thrill, and from the view below, the scene certainly feels foreboding.  But I love the creepiness, even if it is a little less kid-friendly in a Disney park.  The approach, the view lines, the house itself.  It's all absolutely wonderful!

Phantom Manor is lurking... always lurking...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Glow of TRONmorrowland

Over the weekend, at the D23 convention, Disney announced that Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom would be getting its own TRON Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster in time for its 2021 50th anniversary celebration.  TRON is one of the premiere rides at Shanghai Disneyland, with its fast curves and magnificently futuristic building.  It's a wonderful announcement for Florida that is sure to liven up their Tomorrowland.  The only question will be how TRON and it's Shanghai Disney Tomorrowland aesthetic will fit into the Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland look.  We'll see, but one thing's for sure.  Florida's Tomorrowland will soon be merging with the Game Grid!

Orange cast upon Shanghai Disneyland's Tomorrowland.

Monday, July 17, 2017

FANTASMIC Alight

Today is the 62nd birthday of Disneyland Park, but perhaps more excitingly for longtime fans, it is the formal return of the beloved FANTASMIC! show, which is back after a year and a half down while the Rivers of America was being reworked for the new Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge land that is coming in 2019.  During the time, the show has been reworked with new addition and tweaks that will make it a unique show in its return.  While the overall plot and overarching sequences of scenes will be largely the same, there will be new scenes and new effects.  The soft openings over the weekend have largely received solid praise, and I can't wait to see how my favorite Disney show ever shapes up!

Maleficent spews flames at the climactic moment of FANTASMIC!, which makes its triumphant official return tonight!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Restaurant Sakura

There's a building at Tokyo Disney Sea's American Waterfront area that seems to pull double duty.  Outside, a quick serve stand offers up some fresh seafood fare.  And inside, there's Restaurant Sakura, a more purposeful sit down restaurant offering Japanese cuisine (which is funny, given that it's located in the "American" section.

Of course, this is Tokyo Disney Sea, so the restaurant building needs to be in beautiful aged brick, with touche of steel to convey the optimistic advance of modern architecture in the early 20th century.  Ultimately, it's a beautiful building, right at home in this "New York-ish" part of the American Waterfront!


Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Buccaneer Shootout

On Pirates of the Caribbean, one of the most iconic scenes is the jailed pirates trying to lure the dog holding the prison keys to a noose.  It's the target of many a Disney photographer picture, but in my opinion, just as photogenic is the next scene, featuring the wild shootout among various pirates within a creaking, falling apart armory.  The splintering wood, burning embers, and fragile structure all make for a precarious position, which makes the senseless shootout even more comical.  The environment itself isn't that easy to photograph, since it's so dark, but I was able to do it during a past trip when the boat backed up for an extended period of time.  This gave me the chance to fire off longer exposures in greater stillness, and the result of one of the attempts was this photo below!

The final shootout is explosive and befits a moody, mysterious setting.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Parisian Space Mountain

It's kind of interesting how the condition of a ride can impact its popularity.  By all accounts, Space Mountain: Mission 2, in Disneyland Paris, should be just as--if not more--popular as its international brethren, whose lines frequently exceed an hour even on somewhat busy days.  Ten years ago, when the ride was freshly refurbished, that was more of the case.  But three years ago, when I visited, the ride was consistently only 5-15 minutes in the middle of the afternoon.  By then, the roughness of the roller coaster had become apparent once again, and no amount of ride effects could seem to counter that.  Since then, the ride has been refurbished as part of the park's overall refresh for its 25th anniversary this year, and Space Mountain has now evolved into Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain (joining the other Space Mountains around the world that have received this treatment).  While I haven't visited since this change, lets hope the ride is at least more comfortable now, again!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pacific Wharf Golden Hour

The first time I ever visited Disney California Adventure (back when the 's was still in the Disney name), my lone memorable recollection of Pacific Wharf was how lovely its actual wharf area looked from the Paradise Pier side.  The whole marine waterfront ambiance gave a distinct Monterey feel, which I'd always found charming.  I remember taking a picture that was pretty much my only "pretty picture" of the area for years, since the rest of it was basically a glorified food court.  Since then, Pacific Wharf has developed more atmosphere, but this "moneyshot" still attracts my photographic eye. 

Colorful Pacific Wharf in golden hour is absolutely lovely.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Inside the Nautilus

Discoveryland's main marquee attraction might be its Space Mountain: Mission 2 E-Ticket roller coaster, but guests at the park shouldn't pass up the nearby Mystères du Nautilus walk-through attraction.  Themed after the iconic submarine in Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this pedestrian attraction allows guests to tour the vessel and gain an idea of what life was like for those adventuring seafarers.  The attraction is immaculately themed, all the way down to Captain Nemo's famous pipe organ, and really immerses guests in the movie (pun intended).  The entrance is located near Space Mountain's exit.  Gems like this really make Disneyland Paris one spectacular Magic Kingdom!

Descending into the vessel.
The Captain's offices are luxuriously furnished.
Wares and treasures are held behind guarded display.
The interiors are absolutely gorgeous.
N for Nautilus... or Nemo.
The submarine looks every bit like what a fantastical working submarine might look like.
Notice the Pepper's Ghost effect at the pipe organ.  Captain Nemo makes a cameo!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cristal de Géométrie

Although I don't take a lot of photos of them, there are plenty of interesting patterns throughout Disneyland Park.  One only has to find the right perspective or keep an eye out at the right angle.  Take Cristal d'Orleans... it's lavishly furnished and and charmingly stocked with all sorts of beautiful glass works, but one of the most ornate is right above everyone's heads... in the form of a chandelier that shines brightly over the boutique space.  Look straight up, and it shows off several patterns.  I find that pretty nice.

Looking up at the chandelier of Cristal d'Orleans.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Welcoming Cruz Ramirez

With the recent release of Cars 3, Radiator Springs has seen a bit of a change.  A new addition has joined the town in the form of Cruz Ramirez, one of the new characters in the summer Pixar movie.  Cruz is the third character in the meet-and-greet at the Cozy Cone Motel, and the entrance banner to Cars Land has been changed to reflect this.  No longer is Lightning McQueen greeting guests.  It's newcomer Cruz.  I'm not sure how long this will remain, but suffice to say, there are some new changes in town!


Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Tomorrowland Lighthouse

The Season of the Force may be no more but that doesn't mean we can't look back at some of the iconic moments, such as the magnificently light scene over Tomorrowland at the Observatron.  It was absolutely lovely seeing the spots shine brightly into the sky, marking Tomorrowland with a literal beacon of light.  It made for a great scene to photograph, especially from the second floor walkway of the Tomorrowland Expo Center.  And though Season of the Force certainly ran its course, I wouldn't mind if they had kept this aspect of the promotion.  Ah well.

The Observatron shines brightly over the Tomorrowland sky.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bathed in Pink

This is a bit of a flashback to spring, since it's summer, but a few months ago, while I was taking photos of the beautiful tabebuia blooms in the Hub, all the lights shut down, leaving me to shoot what is normally a strikingly lovely and illuminated scene in relative darkness.  The only source of light was the show lighting on Main Street, normally used for fireworks and nighttime parades.  At the time, I joked to my friends that security was implementing a new strategy to kick out Disney fan photographers by depriving them of their normal light sources.  Little did they know that we photogs had a nifty trick up our sleeves: long exposure photography.  By simply extending the shutter speed, we gained the lighting lost.  The result was a markedly pink photo definitely unique from the normal, but it also provided a fun story!

Turned off Hub lighting plus Main Street show lighting makes for a very pink Hub!

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Port Railway

The Disney Sea Electric Railway is one of several transportation attractions at Tokyo Disney Sea.  Running from the American Waterfront all the way to Port Discovery, it may not have a long route, but it features plenty of great scenic views of the beautiful areas in both themed lands.  The classic rail cars also seem at home in both a nostalgic neighbor like American Waterfront and a futuristic district such as Port Discovery.  Such is the wonder of Tokyo Disney Sea.  Everything blends together nicely and organically!

The Disney Sea Electric Railway approaches its Port Discovery terminus.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

China Carthay Circle

Shanghai Disneyland has a lot of deviations from the standard Magic Kingdom model, but there are some familliar sights as well, even if they're not completely the same as their original versions. 

At the end of Mickey Avenue--Shanghai Disneyland's entrance area that replaces a too-American Main Street, U.S.A., there's a familiar tower that seems to look a lot like Disney California Adventure's Carthay Circle Restaurant.  It has no such dining role in Shanghai.  Instead, it's just an architectural feature anchoring a prominent corner at the transition of Mickey Avenue to the Gardens of Imagination.  But it's a Disney connection, which makes for a bit of a surreal experience for any Southern Californian Disney fan visiting the newest Disney park!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Escaping the Lava Monster

The Lava monster is the ferocious beast lurking in the fiery, volcanic depths at the heart of the Journey to the Center of the Earth attraction at Tokyo Disney Sea.  Unlike certain monstrous audio animatronic showpieces in other major E-Ticket rides, this guy works regular, and he's quite an intimidating creature.  Surrounded by the earth's magma, it is tinged in red and orange, and he lets out quite a roar when it see passengers cruising by in their little digging machines.  Fortunately, a quick escape out of Mount Prometheus prevents further harm.  Close call!


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