Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Paradise Bay Spectrum

That moment after the sun has gone down but before twilight fully arrives can be magical over at Paradise Pier.  If the clouds are set just right, the atmosphere can become a blazing waterfront scene, with pink, warm clouds painted across the canvas of the sky, and the blue hues of the bay providing a soothing end to a lovely day.  There's a certain juxtaposition between the serenity of the bay and the excitement of the sky, and they combine for a dazzling sight!

Lovely cotton candy colors blanket Paradise Bay.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Glistening Mark Twain

Over the past year, the Mark Twain has sat docked at the river side of Frontierland, serving more as a lookout point and part-time entertainment venue than the majestic sailing vessel it normally is.  This is, of course, due to the reconfiguration of the Rivers of America to make way for "Star Wars" Land, which has left the back half of the river distinctly barren.  But while this paddle boat may be deprived of its main function, it still looks as lovely as ever.  And when it's an evening when rain has fallen, the sparkling reflections make it and even more beautiful scene!

The Mark Twain sits, docked, at the end of the path to Frontier Landing.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gardens of the Storybook Castle

Shanghai Disneyland clears out pretty quickly at night after closing, mostly on the part of semi-aggressive security guards who sweep clearly and efficiently and move guests onto Mickey Avenue before leaving them alone to shop the rest of the night.  After the nightcap Ignite the Dream fireworks that end the operating day, guests and photographers usually have only 15-20 minutes to get their shots within the Gardens of Imagination, so they certainly need to count.  Of course, with a beautiful castle backdrop and pretty gardens all around, it's no surprise that even in China, people linger as late as they can for those final photographic memories.

A flower bed near the middle of the Gardens of Imagination at Shanghai Disneyland, with the Enchanted Storybook Castle beyond.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Of Spring Days Past

Once in a while, I go back into my photo archives to find a few old snapshots I never processed.  The series below stems from three years and one and a half months ago, during a winter where the tabebuia blooms seemed to start a little earlier than usual.  Even more odd, I seemed to have caught The Hub at a moment with relatively few people, despite the late afternoon hour of this photo.  Sometimes, photography is all about timing and luck, and such was the case here.  Regardless, those springtime views of Disneyland never get old!

Walt and Mickey stand in a quiet Hub as the tabebuias bloom.
A bit closer...
Partners in front of the castle, with a hint of blooms to the side.
Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Soarin' at Grizzly Peak

It's been nine months since Soarin' Around the World debuted at Disney California Adventure (and EPCOT... and Shanghai Disneyland--each with its own special location-specific ending scene).  The new ride takes guests flying around various landmarks across the globe, rather than only California, with new transitions, scents, and playful interactions within the scenes.  At California Adventure, this coincided with the transformation of Condor Flats into Grizzly Peak Airfield, which replaced the desert ambiance with a more rustic look.  And honestly, I like it.  The green wilderness feel more at home, and there's more of an immersive environment crafted around this extension of Grizzly Peak itself.  It's a place where, fittingly, dreams can take flight.

Just a late evening scene at Soarin' Around the World.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Thunderous Island

It looks so peaceful when things are still in the middle of the island... this "wildest ride in the wilderness" done up in a unique style for Disneyland Paris, hurtling under the Rivers of the Far West to reach a runaway mine train circuit that is beautiful and thrilling at the same time.  When it's not running, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad looks positively serene.  But when it IS running... hang on to your hats and glasses...

Paris' Big Thunder Mountain Railroad from Phantom Manor.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Captain Jack's Queue

Waiting in line for Shanghai Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction presents lots of visual distractions, especially once guests go indoors and catch a glimpse of some of the furnishings of Captain Jack Sparrow's private quarters.  This hodgepodge of pirate memorabilia is fanciful and exotic, and it sets the mood for a truly epic adventure that awaits riders of the ride.  There's a ton of detail and probably more than a few hidden Easter eggs.  Too bad the time to glimpse these scenes is brief.  Then again, once you ride Pirates in Shanghai, you'll probably want to repeat multiple times.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Pacific Wharf Panorama

Pacific Wharf is a bit different these days.  A little... closer to the water.  This is because the bay around the wharf doubles as the overflow tank for Grizzly River Run.  When GRR goes into refurbishment and is drained, all that water goes out to Pacific Wharf, raising the water level.  This provides some unique perspectives during this part of the year, and on a beautiful late winter afternoon, it makes for a lovely sweeping vista.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Space Helix!

Near the end of Space Mountain: Mission 2 at Disneyland Paris, there's a moment when the roller coaster train seems to go through a torquing helix along a zooming turn, creating an invigorating sensation of flight.  Turns out it's just a simple effect of twisting light bars around the roller coaster track in a helix of their own.  In the speed of the moment, riders can't process the construct, and the illusion is very effective.

Of course, take the magic of digital photography and capture that moment frozen and relatively crisp, and the mirage falls away entirely.  Consider this technically a bit of behind the scenes of how this Paris E-Ticket really works.

Zooming through space at Disneyland Paris.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fooding and Wining 2017

Folks, it's back! Another year of delicious food and beverages has arrived at the Food & Wine Festival at Disney California Adventure.  You may recall that this event returned last year after a five year absence (something to do with the whole park being pretty much under construction as part of an expansion project).  Featuring delicious food and delightful desserts and a bevvy of beverages, this culinary event is bigger than ever (at DCA), and here's a bunch of food porn to entice you to check it out for yourselves!

For a complete menu, head over to Disneyland's web site here.  In case it changes next year, Disney Parks Blog also posted a listing of this year's dishes here.  And as a cheap plug, you can get pictures of the full menus and much more over at Westcoaster's update.

The Brie Toast with Fig & Mint can be found at the Nuts About Cheese booth.

So can the Chevre Fromage Blanc Tartine (goat cheese).

At the Uncork California booth, a Mimosa Flight is one of many alcoholic offerings.

One of the most delicious and flavorful dishes is the Fried Artichoke Carbonara, found at I <3 Artichokes.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tomorrowland Dreaming

Shanghai Disneyland's Tomorrowland is bright, uplifting, soaring, sleek, stylish, and optimistic.  The colors, the curves, the flowing use of glass and steel and translucent materials... the fountains, the curving stairs, the futuristic rides... they all come together in a fusion that expresses the wonders and possibilities of tomorrow.  It truly feels forward-thinking--a trait that many a Tomorrowland has struggled to capture.  Add to that the sweeping and soul-cleansing soundtrack by French electronic artist BT, and it makes for bliss to just walk around this land admiring all the scenes.

Staring up at the TRON Lightcycle Power Run building from the Tomorrowland ground level.

The now-iconic view of TRON from the second floor walkway.

Stairs and fountains and continuous curves sweep all around Tomorrowland.

This circular stair seems Apple Store-esque.

The Jet Packs attraction through the canopy and outdoor seating of the Stargazer Grill.

Jet Packs, set in a quilt of various planting materials.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spring Blossoms at Disneyland

It's almost springtime, and that means the return of the Tabebuia blossoms at The Hub at Disneyland Park!  These photos below were taken last year, but the blooms typically happen around this time every year (give or take a few weeks).  It's a lovely time around the Hub as the trees burst into those alluring pinks that contrast so nicely with the greens of the new foliage in the background.  And in the middle of it all: Walt and Mickey, basking in all that beauty!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Cinderella's in the Sun

They say that taking pictures midday is not really favorable, because the high sun creates harsh shadows and lacks the warm of the early morning or late afternoon golden hour sun.  But you know what?  Rules are sometimes made to be broken--especially if that midday sun happens to be a winter sun that is already kind of low to begin with.  Also helpful is having a full frame Nikon camera that deals with shadows pretty well.  So midday sun schmidday sun.  I took a centered castle photo and still like how it turned out.

Tokyo's Cinderella Castle near midday.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Many Faces of Holiday Hatbox Ghost

A couple of months ago, I was riding Haunted Mansion Holiday with a friend when a most fortuitous thing happened.  The ride stopped right in front of the Hatbox Ghost, in all of his holiday decor, and stayed there.  And stayed.  And stayed.  And stayed.  All in all, the stoppage was at least ten minutes.  Naturally, we took out our cameras and began taking a multitude of photos.  If we were going to have a perfect chance to photograph Hattie under the most ideal conditions, this was it.  And so we rattled off shot after shot, to the point where we actually became bored and started wondering if the grim grinning ghosts really did want us to be their 1000th (and 1001st) happy haunt.

Fortunately, those Doom Buggies did eventually restart, but the chance was afforded.  I came away with enough Hatbox Ghost photos to last a good while, so here are a dozen of the shots from that interesting evening!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fleures du Château

In my book, Disneyland Paris still owns the title of having the most beautiful Disney castle, and at no point in the day is this most apparent than golden hour, when the sun casts a lovely warm glow on the pinks and blues of this fairytale structure and lights it up in lovely splendor.  Add a healthy bouquet of flowers planted right at the heart of The Hub, and you have a scene that's an indelible memory. 

Golden hours, flowers, and Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Say Aaah

There's something to be said about a whale that's always just waiting for the next hand-out... or sail-in.  That's a fish that's positively entitled, who constantly expects another meal to just float on into those waiting jaws, confident that food will be in consistent supply. There's no doubt that new canal boats will ever stop floating on through.  Just keep those chompers open, and feeding will happen.

It's just too bad Monstro lost his tail over the whole affair and can't take actual nourishment value from those who enter through his mouth.  Ah well.  Something fortunate for riders who board the Storybook Land Canal Boats!

Monstro takes a gulp at the Storybook Land Canal Boats.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Inside the Caldera

Mysterious Island is a world upon its own.  Set in the middle of a water-filled caldera next to a still-active volcano, this central land of Tokyo Disney Sea brims with geological activity and wonder.  Evidence of this comes from the rich texture of rocky strata ringing around the perimeter, the bubbling geysers at the water's surface, and the billowing smoke and occasional eruptions of Mount Prometheus.  Here, man-made merges with nature to create a wondrous environment that seems like something from a myth.  It's pretty incredible, to say the least.

It's a beautiful blue day over by Nautilus Gifts at Mysterious Island.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Red Rose Taverne Eats

The Red Rose Taverne has brought with it some new food items to the menu that have been quite enticing.  Drawing inspiration from Beauty and the Beast, the Disney culinary developers have produced some very scrumptious samplings and meals.  Here's a look at some of the items that I've had a chance to taste.  And you know what?  They're pretty good!  My favorites have been the Chicken Sandwich à la Lumière and the Beef Poutine.  The Grey Stuff is also truly delicious!  These dishes are a great incentive to dine at the Village Haus location again. Here's hoping that some of these stick around for the permanent menu!

Slow-Cooked Beef Poutine ($10.99)
Slow-cooked Beef and Gravy over Seasoned Waffle-cut Fries, Pickled Onion and Cheese Curds

Beast's Burger ($13.49)
1/3 lb Angus Beef Patty, Slow-cooked Beef, Gruyère Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Lettuce, Tomato, and Horseradish Aïoli on a Toasted Roll, served with Pommes Frites or sliced Apples

 Chicken Sandwich à la Lumière ($10.99)
Grilled Chicken Breast, Apple Slaw, Onion-Bacon Jam, and fried Cherry Peppers on a Toasted Roll, served with Pommes Frites or sliced Apples

Enchanted Cauli-Flower Sandwich ($10.99)
Grilled Cauliflower Steak, Spicy Lime Aïoli, Tempura-battered Green Beans, Lettuce, and Tomato on a Toasted Roll, served with Pommes Frites or sliced Apples

Grey Stuff Gâteau ($5.49)
White Chocolate Mousse and Red Velvet Cake with a Raspberry Center
Lemon Rose Cake ($5.49)
Lemon Mousse with Strawberry-Rose Filling

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Paradise Reflections on the Wharf

During this time of the year Grizzly River Run is under refurbishment and drained of water.  That means the overflow pool over at Pacific Wharf ups the water level much higher than normal.  Yes, Grizzly River Run is directly connected to the Pacific Wharf and Paradise Pier water storage system, which is a pretty neat feat of engineering.  The higher water level also helps the reflections of Paradise Pier, raising them closer to the bridge and walkway levels.  It's a bit tricky to get this angle, with the guardrail in the way, but it's a cool scene.  Peaceful too!

The reflection of Paradise Pier over the water of Pacific Wharf.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Remember... Dreams Get Cut Short When It's Windy

It's any Disneyland fireworks fan's worst fear... "due to winds at higher elevations, it is possible that tonight's performance of [insert fireworks show name here] may be cancelled."  And usually, when guests hear that warning, it can be assumed that the fireworks will not take place.  But once in a blue moon, Disneyland will start the show anyway, as conditions clear up just enough around showtime to begin. 

Of course, that doesn't mean the show is guaranteed to finish through.  Such was the case last night, as I was in the park to try to watch the Remember... Dreams Come True fireworks show for the third time in the last few visits, since I had yet to see this new version with castle projections enhancing the show.  The show started out well enough, with the projections adding lovely energy to the show.  But by the time the Adventureland segment started, no pyros were firing off at all, and the Indiana Jones moment produced zero flamethrowers.  Soon enough, the music cut, and the lights turned back on, and the Disney announcer proclaimed the bad news--that the presentation of Remember... Dreams Come True could no longer continue.

Ah well.  Such is the reality of having a theme park in a suburban environment.  Next time...

Waiting for the fireworks to start.

The prerequisite Mickey silhouette pyro burst.

For this show, guests flow through in front of the Partners Statue, which also means cast members wave their blue flashlights across to direct traffic.

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