Sunday, May 31, 2015

DDW Pic 1369. Pangani Forest Trail

Pangani Forest Trail
I took this picture of a white heron last weekend at Animal Kingdom. This was at the Pangani Forest Trail in the Africa section of the park. It is hard to see in this shot, but the bird is actually standing on the head of a submerged hippo.

DDW Pic 1368. Star Wars Fireworks

Star Wars Fireworks
It is a fun time of year at Hollywood Studios, as this park is in the middle of Star Wars Weekends. Tonight, we watched the special fireworks display, which closes out each "Star Wars" day. This show is one of the best displays at Walt Disney World. I took this shot during the finale.

Friday, May 29, 2015

DDW Pic 1367. Canada

Canada
While walking around World Showcase yesterday, I stopped by Canada for a few photos. This is one of my favorite spots in all of Epcot. The waterfall, rock work, and pine trees really transport you to a different place, far north of Florida.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

DDW Pic 1366. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Today, we say happy 1st birthday to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This attraction officially opened on May 28, 2014, although guests were riding it a week earlier, during "soft" openings. The coaster remains the most popular ride in the Magic Kingdom, based on FastPass availability. The standby wait times still average over an hour. I took this shot on opening day, last year.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

DDW Pic 1365. Casey's Corner

Casey's Corner
Today, we say happy 20th birthday to Casey's Corner. On May 27, 1995, the name changed from the Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner to Casey's. It doesn't get much more "American" than this spot. You have hot dogs, baseball, and Disney all on the same corner of Main Street, USA.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

DDW Pic 1364. Conservation Station

Conservation Station
A few days ago, I visited Animal Kingdom with my son. One of the first things we did was take the Wildlife Express up to Conservation Station. They were doing an examination in the veterinary facility when we arrived. This was a turaco that had recently arrived to the park. The new animals remain in quarantine for up to 90 days to make sure they aren't carrying any diseases.

Monday, May 25, 2015

DDW Pic 1363. The Hall of Presidents

The Hall of Presidents
Since it is Memorial Day, I wanted to post an appropriate picture. The most patriotic area of the Magic Kingdom is certainly Liberty Square, where The Hall of Presidents is located. I took this shot a few days ago at dusk.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

DDW Pic 1362. Flag Raising

Flag Raising 
As part of the 24 hour event at the Magic Kingdom on Friday, they had a ceremonial flag raising at 6:30 am. I have seen many flag retreats over the years, but this is the first raising I've attended. It was a short and tasteful ceremony hosted by Fire Chief Smokey Miller

Saturday, May 23, 2015

DDW Pic 1361. Harambe Market

Harambe Market
Today marked the opening of the brand new Harambe Market in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom. This new area serves many purposes. First, it has several counter service eateries with African inspired food. Also, there is a large seating area with tables and chairs. Finally, it serves as a cut-through between the exit of Kilimanjaro Safaris to the walkway to Asia. It will relieve the congestion that is typically found on the main drag through Africa. My son and I were the first guests to arrive at Harambe Market this morning, and I was able to take many pictures before the crowds showed up.

Friday, May 22, 2015

DDW Pic 1360. Wishes

Wishes
Today was the 24 hour summer kickoff event at the Magic Kingdom. We watched Wishes from my favorite spot near Beast's Castle. This was the first time I had the chance to try out my "long exposure" iPhone app on fireworks. Here is one of the better shots of the night.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

DDW Pic 1359. Diamond Horseshoe

Diamond Horseshoe
The Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland used to be the home of a restaurant with a western style stage show. Now, it is a quick service spot that is open during the busier seasons. However, the stage is still there along with a player piano. I had lunch there a few days ago and took this shot from the balcony. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DDW Pic 1358. Asia

Asia
I stumbled upon a brand new pathway in Asia at Animal Kingdom today. It connects the area in front of Kali River Rapids with Anandupur, where Expedition Everest is located. It is a very convenient "cut-through" that helps guests stay away from the very congested area near Yak and Yeti. It also makes it easy to  avoid the dance party that takes place in that area.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DDW Pic 1357. Sonny Eclipse

Sonny Eclipse
Sonny Eclipse is a lounge singing alien who has been entertaining Magic Kingdom guests for years. He's located inside Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, which is one of the largest quick service restaurants in the park. I snapped this shot as I was walking through this morning.

Monday, May 18, 2015

DDW Pic 1356. Rebel Hangar

Rebel Hangar
Disney introduced a new dining experience for this year's Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios. They took half of the Backlot Express and turned it into the "Rebel Hangar." It is decorated with all kinds of Star Wars themed props, posters, and figurines. This caged-in storage area has life-size droids. Guests who are eating at this restaurant during the week can enjoy the Star Wars theming without reservations.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

DDW Pic 1355. Liberty Belle

Liberty Belle
Late this afternoon, I was standing near the exit of Thunder Mountain. The Liberty Belle Riverboat was moving into view and I decided to try for a fun photo. I was able to time the nearby geyser just as the Belle was in the frame of my shot. It can be challenging to snap a picture of two different subjects in motion, but I like how this one turned out. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

DDW Pic 1354. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Here is a shot of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train that I took a few days ago. It is of the east side of the attraction, closest to Storybook Circus. The detail that Disney put into the landscaping is pretty amazing. It is difficult to tell what is real and what is man-made.

Friday, May 15, 2015

DDW Pic 1353. Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars Weekends
Yes, it is that time of year again. Today was opening day of Star Wars Weekends - 2015, at Hollywood Studios. I had the chance to walk around the park today, and of course I took a few fun shots. Here are Chewbacca and an Ewok. They can be found right across from the exit of Star Tours. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

DDW Pic 1352. Frontierland

Frontierland
As I was waiting for my tour guests near Country Bear Jamboree today, I noticed some fun signs toward the top of a building in Frontierland. They add to the illusion of being in a town in the old west in the late 1800s. You can see ads for "rooms" and supplies for "gents." Again, these are little details that most guests never see, simply because they don't look up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

DDW Pic 1351. Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios
A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of the recently changed view of the Chinese Theater at Hollywood Studios. The Sorcerers Hat was finally removed, and the theater was once again the focal point looking down Hollywood Boulevard. However, that view was short-lived. The giant stage used for Star Wars Weekends has been erected, once again blocking the view of the Chinese Theater. I took that shot today, while walking around the park.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

DDW Pic 1350. Space Mountain

Space Mountain
I took this shot of Space Mountain last week on a "picture perfect" day in the Magic Kingdom. I was standing in the path between Storybook Circus and Tomorrowland when I snapped the photo. This very popular attraction turned 40 earlier this year.

DDW Pic 1349. Walt Disney

Walt Disney
For many of us Disney enthusiasts, it is fun to think about what it would be like to have the chance to sit with the man himself. Yesterday, I had that opportunity.....sort of. The brand new Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum recently opened in Orlando, and this "likeness" of Walt is amazing. Although I don't typically post pictures from outside of Walt Disney World, I thought this would be a valid exception.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

DDW Pic 1348. Tick Tock Topiary

Tick Tock Topiary
As we enter the last week of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, I thought I'd post one more topiary picture. Tick Tock Croc is prominently displayed in front of the United Kingdom pavilion. If you look up on top of the building, you will see the Peter Pan topiary. Captain Hook is also nearby. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

DDW Pic 1347. Swan and Dolphin

Swan and Dolphin
The grounds of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts provide some of the best photo opportunities in the area. Everything from the unique architecture to the flower beds make it fun to take pictures there. I was standing in between the two hotels when I took this shot the other day. You can see the beach and grotto pool on the other side of the water. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

DDW Pic 1346. Beast's Castle

Beast's Castle
While waiting for my tour guests near the Little Mermaid ride today, I noticed this view of Beast's Castle at the Magic Kingdom. I liked the way it was framed by these two palm trees. This castle is actually very small, but through forced perspective it looks like a giant structure on a hilltop in the distance.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

DDW Pic 1345. Conservation Station

Conservation Station
Today, I spent some time in Animal Kingdom at Conservation Station, enjoying the nearly 40 hidden Mickeys to be found there. The one on this butterfly is definitely a favorite. If you look closely, you can see Mickey's face on it's head. The next time you find yourself in this building, take the time to look for the hidden Mickeys. You will find some of the best ones in all of Walt Disney World.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

DDW Pic 1344. Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth
As we were walking out of Epcot yesterday, I noticed this interesting reflection. This is actually the Art of Disney store. I took this shot at an angle and time of day to see this image of Spaceship Earth in the giant windows. I have taken hundreds of Spaceship Earth photos over the years, but never one like this.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

DDW Pic 1343. Soarin'

Soarin'
Today, we say happy 10th birthday to Soarin' at Epcot. It opened on May 5, 2005, and it quickly became one of the most popular rides in all of Walt Disney World. The "flight number" on the ride is 5505, which references the opening date. I took this shot today while enjoying the attraction from the bottom row.

Monday, May 4, 2015

DDW Pic 1342. Fountain of Nations

Fountain of Nations
Epcot is the home of cutting edge technology and futuristic type attractions. However, it is also full of natural beauty as well. At the center of Future World is the Fountain of Nations. I like using palm trees to frame many of my photos, and this technique seemed to work nicely here.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

DDW Pic 1341. Big Al

Big Al
Although it's not the most popular attraction, Country Bear Jamboree is still a Magic Kingdom classic. Big Al is my favorite, and he is voiced by Tex Ritter, father of John Ritter. I took this shot while enjoying the bears with a friend today. 

DDW Pic 1340. Fantasyland Station

Fantasyland Station
There are so many great details to be found at Walt Disney World, but my favorites are the ones that pay tribute to Walt himself. I took this shot of the railroad station in Storybook Circus yesterday. If you look closely, the signs reference Carolwood Park, which is a nod to Walt's backyard train, which was called the Carolwood Pacific.

Friday, May 1, 2015

DDW Pic 1339. Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios
Today, we say happy 26th birthday to Hollywood Studios. On May 1st, 1989, this park opened for the first time. This picture I took today shows a view of the Chinese Theater that is similar to opening day. Since 2001, there had been a giant sorcerer's hat blocking the theater, but it was finally removed this year.