Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides is coming out soon. To help hype its release, Disneyland has an amazing 3D sneak peek showing in the evenings back at the Big Thunder Ranch. We had the pleasure of catching it the first night they showed it and it was a lot of fun. They pulled out the stops with theming the area and with talented performing cast members. Captain Jack would be pleased. This Jolly Roger draped barrel with weapons inside is just one small detail found outside the ranch as you wait. So if you have to opportunity to experience the show, do so. Savvy?
Sometimes we have to wait patiently for an area to clear to get a shot. After eating at Rancho del Zocalo one evening, I noticed that the outside dining area was practically empty. There was no waiting to be done and I took the shot without interruption. It really set the pace for a fun, relaxed night of photography. Now I just have to get the restaurant to go for my idea of character dining with Zorro.
Some of the best finds at Disneyland are inside the shops. No, I’m not talking about souvenirs, though I’m not discounting them. The Pioneer Mercantile on the borders of Frontierland and Adventureland is one of my favorite shops. It has that magic Disney theming that makes you feel like you’ve entered another world from the moment you step foot in the door.
Seeing the Sailing Ship Columbia in port like this at night was an awesome, and seemingly rare, experience. Maybe it happens more often than I think, but it seems to always be somewhere back behind Tom Sawyer’s Island* preparing for or having concluded Fantasmic! It felt good to see the ship at a well deserved rest.
*No, that is not a typo. That is what it will always be to me even though I have a great affinity for pirates. If you must know, it is also the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, not Tarzan the usurper’s. I love bumping the Swisskapolka on the way to Disneyland. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then I suggest you ask yourself: “Have I truly lived?”
It is one of the coolest things to be at the park so early in the morning that you can have a part of it all to yourself. With Fall just around the corner, Disneyland’s crowds are a little smaller and the weather a little cooler. In the middle of summer, this shot would probably not have been possible. But with kids back in school and the tourist season dying down, we didn’t even notice a crowd until 10:30AM.
We rarely have as much time as we’d like for a lot of the shots we take at the park. People are busy enjoying themselves, not worrying about getting in the way of a shot, which is how it ought to be. It was really nice though, to be able to set up my tripod and take this shot unhurried, and uninhibited.
I don’t like having change jingling around in my pockets, so this is my favorite way to solve that problem at Disneyland. I really don’t recommend playing arcades while visiting Disneyland, but the Shooting Exposition is my one exception. I’ve always been drawn to games that put your aim to the test. I think it’s that it’s more rewarding because aim is more of a real skill than dropping a combo with a few buttons and a joystick, or hopping around a dance pad. Not that either of those are bad, they’re not. They just don’t strike me as a wise use of time while at Disneyland. The Shooting Exposition is different in that it fits with the theming of Frontierland, and is unique in its genre. I’ve found games like this other places, but none of them compares to Disney’s. The look, weight, and feel of the gun are all part of that Disney magic in the details. All the targets you hit provide some sort of cool interaction. If you hit the target in the sky, you’ll get a ghost rider riding across it. That’s my favorite target to aim for. So if you’ve got a couple of quarters jingling in your pocket or purse, give the Shooting Exposition a shot.
The first time I rode on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I was small enough to fit between my mom and dad in one seat… sort of. I remember hearing so many interesting sounds and feeling the rush of wind against my face. What I don’t recall is seeing anything except for these bones. I was far too busy being made into the kind of sandwich that had mistakenly been sat on on the way to school, with a slice of mom on one side and a slice of dad on the other. As a child, I was frustrated. I felt like I had missed out. But it is just that kind of memory that fills me with gladness and brings me back to Disneyland time and again. And you can bet when I have a child who is sort of small enough to fit between my wife and me, we’ll be headed straight for the “wildest ride in the wilderness” to have ourselves a sandwich.