I love the innocence captured in Dumbo’s expression. It’s the perfect tone to set in a land intended for the young and the young at heart. It’s also part of what makes Disneyland so wonderful—that we can remember our unblemished selves and return to more joyous and hopeful living.
Seeing the Mark Twain round the final bend of the Rivers of America as it returns to the Frontierland dock is one of my favorite sights in Disneyland. It’s such a charming, immersive perspective. It always makes me want to hop aboard for a ride.
This photo is one that I processed for our HDR Tutorial. It’s a single RAW file processed as a HDR as opposed to a bracket of 3 images. Sometimes, you only have one shot to go with but I think it turned out pretty nice.
I honestly can’t even recall taking this picture. There are a few like that in my library and it bothers me. I don’t like that I experienced something that moved me to take a photograph but the memory of it is beyond my mind’s reach. It is, however, one of the greatest things about photography. No matter what my mind decides to file as important or throw like chaff to wind, I have the images I’ve taken to capture moments, feelings.
I can’t recall what it made me feel then but I know what it makes me feel now. The calming of a storm at the end of what appears to have been a tempestuous day balances beautifully with the warm light on Walt and Mickey. In a single, still image, the story is simple – the warmth of friendship can carry you through a storm.
Philosophical? You better believe it.
What is the point of art, if not to feel, reflect and express in tangible form the chaos bubbling inside us? To get art out of oneself is to silence the turbulent clamor within for a while. It’s not so very different from the storm clouds. Thoughts, ideas, emotions all take shape but so many of them fade before we can identify their form.
Art can be a friend. It will listen to you no matter what you have to say. It will teach you things about yourself you didn’t know. It will challenge you to grow. It will never judge or leave you. It will simply wait on you with a warm embrace to help you through an inner storm.
Can I get an amen?
How do elephants fly?
Well, it begins with a magic feather and ends with belief in one’s self.
Fantasyland is a land built upon the idea of making the impossible possible through the power of imagination. The feather that made Dumbo fly didn’t posses any magic at all; it was Dumbo’s imagination and will to believe that gave the feather its magic. By the end of the film, Dumbo transferred that belief to himself.
What is it about imagination that makes it so powerful?
The notion that anything is possible is present in many of Disney’s animated and live action films. It was a notion that Walt Disney seemed to live by and that he set as the tone for Disneyland and future Disney parks.
If you stop and reflect for a moment with me, every manmade thing that exists, exists because someone believed they could do it and they did. That makes it sound a whole lot more simple than the reality of it. Imagination is strikingly similar to pregnancy; an idea is conceived, grows over time and is only brought into this world through labor. But when someone sees an idea through to fruition, the result can change the world.
Imagination is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. At Disneyland, we are reminded of the many wonders that can be achieved and the pleasure it can bring when we believe in ourselves. We are surrounded by works of art and feats of engineering and architecture. We can be swallowed by a whale, fly through London in a pirate ship, narrowly escape hell, become a real boy, defeat an evil queen and have a cup of tea, all the while knowing we could within mere steps of each other.
What makes imagination so powerful is that it has no limits. Dreaming with no boundaries can make elephants fly and when elephants fly, we all win.
Maybe it’s weird, but I really like the California Screamin’ station. When I was a teenager I was really into roller coasters and used to go to Six Flags Magic Mountain a lot. The lack of theming there to me was a little depressing compared to Disneyland because Disneyland keeps you interested in the environment around you. Six Flags doesn’t really, so you stand in line with little shade and little to look at other than the chains marking the queue and concrete.
There’s a unique feeling when you finally get into the station and see the trains loading. Boredom and fatigue turn into excitement and anticipation as the promise of racing through wood or steel becomes real once more. The wait becomes worth it as you go from a low low to a high high in an instant.
As simple as the Screamin’ station is, it reminds me of those times and makes me feel that way again.
One of the best times to catch a ride aboard the Disneyland Railroad is after dark. The steam from the engine is much easier to see against shadows and a dark night sky and it’s simply magical to travel around the park that way.
Getting a picture like this is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while but the timing never really seemed to work out. We haven’t spent many evenings at the park lately and when we have, we usually find ourselves too tired to wait. Not all of the engines are positioned like this above the tunnel. Not only do you have to wait for a train to arrive at the station, you have to wait for the right one, which is what I finally did for this picture. Then I stood my ground like a rock against the current as people left Disneyland, wondering what in the world I was doing.
So what do you say? Are you ready for a nighttime excursion aboard the Disneyland Railroad?
The spirit of adventure is to feel the pressure of limited possibility and push back.
If it were easy, it wouldn’t be called adventure. Whether one steps out the door in search of it or stumbles upon it purely by accident, you can hardly know the outcome. Challenge and mystery are at the very heart of adventure and the desire to test perceived limitations at the heart of every adventurer.
Adventure is about finding courage to do what most people would not. There was a time when the “civilized” world would not sail too far for fear of falling off the planet. It sounds funny now, but only because adventurers taught us to laugh at the notion of a flat Earth by challenging conventional wisdom of the day.
Adventure is about taking risks. Even though you don’t know the outcome, there is something out there worth pursuing. Risk and reward have long been regarded as proportionate to each other. Walt Disney certainly didn’t have success at first, but he took opportunities to learn and used every success he earned to build momentum to undertake new risks. Failing only turns into failure when you decide to give up.
Adventure is about blazing new trails. Google can’t tell you how to do everything because everything has yet to be done. Someone has to be the one staring out at uncharted territory, tasked with making the map. Just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean that it can’t be. Remember, there was a time before space travel, airplanes, automobiles and wheels. One does not simply walk into Mordor, but as tiny people with fuzzy feet have taught us, there’s more than one way to the fires of Mount Doom.
Most of all, adventure is about self discovery. You will never truly know yourself until you’ve known obstacles and opposition. How you handle some situations can’t be hypothesized. You have to encounter them to know. Finding out who you are and what you’re made of is one of adventure’s greatest rewards.
Most people would agree that Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the best Disney attractions ever built. The theming is so elaborate that no matter how many times you’ve ridden it, you never know what you might find. As they say, there be plundering pirates lurking in every cove.
One of my favorite areas of Pirates of the Caribbean is the Blue Bayou. No, not the restaurant (though crab cakes do sound mighty good right now), but the bayou itself, aglow with lanterns, fireflies and twilight.
I always whip my head around in search of any detail I’ve missed in the painted backdrop whenever I go seeking adventure and salty old pirates, but the best discovery I’ve made in the greater Blue Bayou area is this secret section of the Pirates exit. I bet this is the landing that Laffite* uses when the line gets long, you know, since Pirates doesn’t have a Fastpass and even if it did, he would be too cool to use one.
I suppose this section isn’t all that secret. You just have to look around and not let your crew mates hurry you out into New Orleans Square before you’ve had a chance to explore.
I could probably stand in this spot all day watching boats launch from the dock and fireflies dancing over the water.
*Side note: Anyone ever notice that the sign over the loading area is spelled Laffite while the sign at the anchor by the Rivers of America is spelled Lafitte?