With the Mark Twain and Sailing Ship Columbia preparing for Fantasmic!, the loading area at Rivers of America is left vacant. It provides a welcome, stark contrast to the building crowds. I really love the lanterns’ radiant glow and the structure’s lines.
It really never ceases to amaze, watching the transition from day to night at Disneyland. Michaela and I enjoyed an afternoon in Frontierland a few weeks ago and I kept coming back to Big Thunder Mountain. I really had been wanting to do a panoramic picture, something I don’t attempt very often. To be honest, I’ve had a pretty rough go of them, despite countless Google queries… Fortunately for me, yet again, I am blessed with a wife who spurs me on to achieve bigger and greater things. She’s also really good at panoramic pictures, so she was a great help. It felt great to put this together in Photoshop. I love this view of Big Thunder. For me, it’s the moment when I am most in awe of it and immersed by it. The Frontierland bridge off to your left. The old mining town off to your right just over the ridge where riders come screaming through, held captive by a runaway train. Behind you the amazing and complex sound of people both exhilarated and exasperated from the ride, making their way to their next adventure. If you’re lucky, strollers won’t obscure what’s in front of you. Amidst the trial and error, the advice and enjoying the scene, afternoon quickly became night. And let me tell you, night falls like thunder when the glow on that peak strikes into the night sky like lightning.
I love rounding the corner from Adventureland into Frontierland. When I was a little boy, I had a small log cabin that looked a lot like the siding of the Pioneer Mercantile. Along with that, my grandparents bought me a custom sign that read, “Fort Matthew”. That sign was lost somewhere along the way of growing up and I miss it, but this sign that marks the entrance to the frontiers of America reminds me of it and all the time I spent imagining I was like Davy Crockett, king of my wild frontier… or the backyard anyway.
These love birds sit atop a fountain at the Rancho del Zocalo restaurant in Frontierland, beneath some of the most beautiful lights I’ve seen. I am amazed at how an artist can evoke the feelings of love through something like sculpted birds. It inspires me that the possibility exists for someone to grasp depths of feeling and translate it into a visual language, universally understood. It’s a lofty form of communication that causes one to stop and think and hopefully to appreciate life a little more than prior to that moment. Disneyland is not a museum but its treasures could easily fill one… or a dozen. It will never be finished as long as there is imagination left in the world. Imagination that artists use to create and evoke. Imagination that lovers use to see the world through rose colored lenses. Imagination that suggests we wish upon a star.
As our One More Disney Day drew to a close with the rising sun, we took the opportunity to spend time at the Rivers of America. We had missed the opportunity the prior morning with ABC’s Modern Family filming right where I took this picture from. There’s something really special about early morning at a river, even one that’s not “real”. It’s so serene as light floods the dawn sky. The water is placid. Even the ducks seem to know how peaceful it all is.
Walking through Frontierland one evening I noticed smoke billowing from the stack atop Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s queue. The sun was setting and hitting the side of the mountain, creating a beautiful vibrant backdrop. The sky was full of amazing colors and interesting clouds catching the last light of a long day. It’s not hard to picture yourself out on the frontier in a moment like that.
I grew up in the desert. My childhood was filled with searching out interesting rocks, watching sunsets in the big, open sky and make believe that I was a rootin’ tootin’ cowboy. One of my most frequent imaginings was finding a mine with all sorts of rich stuff and valuables, not realizing that all along, what was truly valuable was the incredible beauty that surrounded me. There’s nothing quite like a desert sunset or the way sand glows around dusk and dawn. It’s as if the earth was made of gold.
These are the kinds of rabbit hole thoughts I find myself diving into at Disneyland. Sights and sounds ignite memories in a meaningful, tangible way. This is the treasure we constantly find at the Park, to be grateful for good things.
There’s nothing quite like surrounding yourself with wood. Sometimes that’s exactly what a man needs. This passage between the Plaza Gardens and Rancho del Zocalo is a quiet transition into Frontierland. At night, with the beautiful lights of the restaurante glowing at the end, it’s pure magic.
You know what I love about Disneyland? I love the fact that I can have the experience of riding a runaway mine train and walk away with the urge to do it again. It’s even better when you share that pseudo-near-death experience with friends. The handsome gentleman in front of me for this picture is our good friend Ryan Graves. We always have a blast when he comes out to visit.