Saturday, January 31, 2015

DDW Pic 1249. The Seas

The Seas
While visiting Epcot today, my son and I decided to visit The Seas with Nemo and Friends. We were in the second level viewing area of the aquarium when divers began feeding the sea life. There are several rays that live here, but one of them is huge. This black blotched ray was led right up to the glass by a diver, providing an amazing opportunity to snap this shot of her underside. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

DDW Pic 1248. Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest
Last Saturday was "picture perfect" at Animal Kingdom. It was in the 60s and breezy, so the visibility was excellent. I took this shot from the bridge to Africa, looking down the Discovery River. The tallest structure at Walt Disney World was looking majestic that day.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

DDW Pic 1247. Native American Village

Native American Village
The Walt Disney World Railroad is used by many Magic Kingdom guests to get from one spot to another. However, this ride around the perimeter of the park is really an attraction unto itself. The narration is fun and there are some great views along the way. The best stretch for "scenery"can be found along the route from Frontierland to Storybook Circus. There are many animatronic animals from deer to alligators, as well as a Native American village. This a photo of the village on the left of the train that I shot yesterday. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

DDW Pic 1246. Test Track

Test Track
Today, I decided to try something I've never done before. For my birthday, I thought it would be fun to ride all of the thrill rides from all four parks in one day. I started with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and ended with Mission Space, 7 hours later. I also enjoyed Soarin and Test Track over at Epcot. Here is today's view on Test Track shortly after hitting the outdoor section of the ride.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

DDW Pic 1245. Muppet*Vision 3D

Muppet*Vision 3D
Muppet*Vision 3D is a classic attraction at Hollywood Studios. It was the last project that Jim Henson worked on, as well as the last time he voiced Kermit the Frog. The whole area around the attraction is very well themed to everything Muppets, and there are funny signs and gags to be found everywhere. This sign would simply read "Cast Members Only" in any other area, but it has a little more "flavor" on this door!

Monday, January 26, 2015

DDW Pic 1244. Tree of Life

Tree of Life
A few days ago, I found myself waiting for my tour guests near the exit of It's Tough to be a Bug at Animal Kingdom. The sun was on the other side of the Tree of Life, making for some fun photo opportunities. It created a silhouette look in the trunk, but gently illuminated the leaves from behind. There were many guests taking photos of the tree that day. As I've said in the past, this park is one of my favorite spots to take pictures.

DDW Pic 1243. Kingdom Sunset

Kingdom Sunset
Early this evening, I rode the PeopleMover with my family. This has always been one of my favorite attractions, but the views were particularly beautiful as the sun was setting at the Magic Kingdom tonight. I snapped this shot of Cinderella Castle and the Rose Garden just before entering the indoor section containing the model of Progress City.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

DDW Pic 1242. Goofy and Goofy

Goofy and Goofy
Today, I gave a tour at Hollywood Studios in the morning and Animal Kingdom in the afternoon. I encountered Goofy at both parks. He was wearing his movie star outfit at the Studios and his farmer getup when I saw him in Dinoland. It is fun to see different versions of the classic Disney characters throughout Walt Disney World.

Friday, January 23, 2015

DDW Pic 1241. Space Mountain

Space Mountain
While riding the PeopleMover today, we got an interesting view inside Space Mountain. Since the coaster went down for technical difficulties, the lights came on inside this normally dark attraction. This shot was taken between the lift hills. If you zoom in and look closely, you can see there is a cast member standing at the top of the left track getting ready to help guests evacuate that rocket.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

DDW Pic 1240. Liberty Square

Liberty Square
Liberty Square is situated along the "Rivers of America" in the section that represents the Hudson and Mississippi. I took this picture in the area between the Haunted Mansion and Liberty Square Riverboat attractions. The river was a primary way of transporting goods during colonial times, and these were some of the things you'd expect to see loaded onto riverboats. It you look closely at the red barrel atop the blue crate, you'll see a number 71 painted on it. We can only assume that this was purposely done as a tribute to the year the Magic Kingdom opened.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

DDW Pic 1239. Way Back Wednesday - Treehouse View

Way Back Wednesday - Treehouse View
It is time for another "Way Back Wednesday" side-by-side comparison. This is the view from the top of Swiss Family Treehouse looking toward Cinderella Castle. The top picture is one that my dad took in 1977, and the other one was taken by me last week. You can see that the trees between the treehouse and the castle have grown quite a bit in the last 38 years. There was actually a more complete view of the castle in the old days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

DDW Pic 1238. PeopleMover

The PeopleMover is definitely one of my favorite attractions. It is relaxing yet fun, and it is a good way to experience a nice breeze on a hot day. Today, I was waiting for my tour guests near Carousel of Progress when I noticed this view. The sky appeared to be the same color blue as the "train" going by.

Monday, January 19, 2015

DDW Pic 1237. Princess Fairytale Hall

Princess Fairytale Hall
One of the must popular areas in all of Walt Disney World is Princess Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom. This is mostly due to the incredible popularity of the movie Frozen, and the fact that Anna and Elsa are there to greet guests on a daily basis. On a table in between Anna and Elsa are the fairytale books, with the titles written in the language where that story takes place. I took this picture while visiting this duo a few weeks ago with my tour guests.

DDW Pic 1236. Tomorrowland Speedway

Tomorrowland Speedway
A few days ago, I climbed into a "race car" at the Tomorrowland Speedway and went for a drive. This shot was taken during the first turn, shortly after the ride begins. These cars move at a whopping 7.5 mph utilizing a 9hp Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine. The Tomorrowland Speedway is the only attraction in this land from opening day in 1971. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

DDW Pic 1235. Carousel of Progress - Panorama

Carousel of Progress - Panorama
This past Thursday marked some special birthdays at Walt Disney World. Both Space Mountain and Carousel of Progress turned 40, and The Seas at Epcot turned 29. I visited the Magic Kingdom that morning to visit the two Tomorrowland  attractions on this special day. Although the Carousel of Progress opened in this park on January 15th, 1975, it officially debuted at the 1964 World's Fair. I took this panorama shortly after enjoying the classic show.

Friday, January 16, 2015

DDW Pic 1234. Fantasyland

While waiting for my tour guests near Small World this afternoon, I noticed this view as the sun started to set. I liked the way the castle and Peter Pan buildings looked at that hour. This is a very "quiet" looking shot, but if I had lowered the camera, you would see hundreds of people and a very busy Fantasyland. If you look carefully on the ride side, you can see the weathervane in the appropriate shape of a pirate ship.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

DDW Pic 1233. Under the Sea

Under the Sea
I had fun playing with my long exposure app again today. I set up my mini tripod on some rocks in the FastPass queue for the Under the Sea attraction at the Magic Kingdom. This shot of the rock work was set to a 16 second exposure, which really smooths out the waterfall. I hoping to try this technique out with fireworks next.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

DDW Pic 1232. Way Back Wednesday - Star Jets

Way Back Wednesday - Star Jets
For this "Way Back Wednesday" I decided to do a side by side comparison. On the left is a 1977 photo of the Star Jets that was taken on our family vacation. On the right is a shot of the current Astro Orbiter that I took a few weeks ago. This is one area of the park that has changed quite a bit over the years. You can see how "white" the area was when the park first opened and how colorful it is now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

DDW Pic 1231. Tomorrowland Speedway

Tomorrowland Speedway
Today, I decided to try out a fun new iPhone app that creates "light trail" shots like you'd get when using a long exposure setting on an SLR camera. I set up my mini tripod on the railing near the last turn of the Tomorrowland Speedway at the Magic Kingdom, and set the app to a 16 second exposure time. After several attempts, I was finally able to grab this shot with all four lanes full of cars. Although their top speed is only 7 mph, they certainly look a little faster using this technique.

Monday, January 12, 2015

DDW Pic 1230. Fantasyland - Panorama

Fantasyland - Panorama
I took this Fantasyland panorama a few weeks ago from just outside the back of Cinderella Castle. At the center of the shot is one of the most classic attractions in the park, Prince Charming's Regal Carrousel. It is the oldest ride to be found in Walt Disney World as it is approaching its 100th birthday. Fantasyland embodies what the Magic Kingdom is all about, as it is fun for kids of all ages and those who are young at heart.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

DDW Pic 1229. Rapunzel's Tower

Rapunzel's Tower
Rapunzel's Tower can be seen from several different areas in the Magic Kingdom. Many of my young tour guests get excited when they first notice it. Their enthusiasm typically wanes a bit when they hear that it is simply part of a well themed restroom complex. Although it is not an "attraction," this area of Fantasyland certainly highlights several aspects from the movie Tangled, and includes cell phone charging stations, hidden Pascals, and some very nice restrooms.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

DDW Pic 1228. Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth
There are so many fun angles from which to take photos of Spaceship Earth. A few days ago I found myself near the exit of The Seas, when I noticed the geodesic sphere through this group of palm trees. I probably have more pictures of Spaceship Earth than anything else at Epcot. I'm sure I will continue to take many more in the years to come.  

Friday, January 9, 2015

DDW Pic 1227. Main Street Station

Main Street Station
One of my favorite "hidden Mickeys" is located in the ceiling of the Main Street Station at the Magic Kingdom. It is unique in that you have to look at it from a specific spot, which is eight steps from the curb across the street from the station. When you look up from this angle, the Mickey is formed with the large circle around the light (that is currently out) and the speakers in the foreground. I took this shot while giving a tour of the Magic Kingdom a few days ago. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

DDW Pic 1226. Mission Space

Mission Space
Mission Space at Epcot is one of the most unique theme park attractions in the world. It gives guests the opportunity to choose between two versions, depending on how brave they are. It is also the only attraction in Walt Disney World that contains "sickness bags" near each seat. I took this shot yesterday, while in the briefing room prior to boarding the X-2 Deep Space Shuttle simulator.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

DDW Pic 1225. Friendship Boat

Friendship Boat
Today was a "picture perfect" day at Epcot. As I was walking across the bridge between France and the U.K., I noticed a Friendship boat making its way across the World Showcase Lagoon. These 100 passenger vessels can be found here, as well as on the water ways that connect the Epcot resorts to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Although you can typically walk in the same amount of time, the Friendship boats are a nice way to move around the area.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

DDW Pic 1224. Frontierland

The area around Thunder Mountain is a place where I have taken many photos. This attraction against a blue sky backdrop can be very inviting. Today, I saw a sight that I don't remember witnessing in the past. There was a Tom Sawyer raft heading up the river. These rafts cross back and forth all day long, but it is rare to see one off its normal route. I can only guess that it was being brought backstage for maintenance.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

DDW Pic 1223. Main Street, USA

Main Street, USA
It isn't easy to get a clear shot of Main Street, USA during the busiest time of year. However, it is possible right before the parade starts as most of the street is closed to guests. I took this shot on Thursday, only minutes before the parade came down the street from the hub. You can see the large crowds on the sidewalks getting ready to enjoy Festival of Fantasy.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

DDW Pic 1222. PeopleMover

The PeopleMover has always been one of my favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom. It rarely has a wait time more than a few minutes, it's relaxing, and it provides for a nice breeze on a warm day. For those who aren't thrill seekers, it is also a fun way to go inside of Space Mountain without riding the coaster. I had a young guest with me while riding a few days ago. The ride stopped temporarily as we were coming out of Space Mountain and the lights came on. That is when I snapped this shot.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

DDW Pic 1221. The Land - Panorama

The Land - Panorama
The Land pavilion at Epcot has seen several changes since opening in 1982. Without question, the most popular change was the addition of Soarin. However, there were two other attractions that were previously in that area before the "flight simulator" opened in 2005. The Kitchen Kabaret was there from Epcot's opening day until this date in 1994. On January 3rd, 1994, this audio-animatronic presentation closed to make way for a new show called Food Rocks. Finally, on May 5th, 2005, Soarin' took over and the rest is history. I took this panorama today, while giving a tour of Epcot.

DDW Pic 1220. Santa

As the Christmas season comes to a close, I wanted to post one more holiday picture. This Santa figure is on a fire escape in the area between Pizza Planet and Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios. There is also a year round Christmas shop in that area. It won't be long before all of the decorations are down and we are looking forward to next year.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

DDW Pic 1219. Frontierland

I am always writing about how well themed each area of the Magic Kingdom is. Some of the best can be found in Frontierland. I found myself in the exit area of Splash Mountain early this morning. For most of the day, this particular area is where Woody and Jessie meet with guests. However, I was there before they came out today. It was fun to get a good look at the details of this stagecoach station. It is complete with luggage and supplies on a loading platform, along with the "Frontier Stage Lines" schedule printed on an adjacent sign.