Sunday, November 29, 2009

Garland, Garland Everywhere

The Christmas Holiday season can be, all at once, the very best and very worst time to visit the parks. Crowds are offset by fabulous holiday decorations; long queue lines are mitigated by the sight of large families spending time together; overfilled buses are made easier to bear when an eight-year old is asleep in your arms.

Needless to say, the parks need to raise it up a notch during the November and December months and the annual holiday decorations on Main Street USA are worth a few extra minutes of observation as you leave the Magic Kingdom at this time of year. As you leave the through the cattle chute there are a few extra items to consider on your way home.

The holiday garland will immediately capture your eyes as it's absolutely everywhere on Main Street. Not satisfied with trimming the second story sightlines alone, garland is strung across the two sides of the street at intervals of what appears to be every one hundred feet.

This shot of the Emporium, above, shows the bells which hang from the "side to side" garland. Unique to the two US Parks, only Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom features the candles within the center circle in the middle of the garland; alternatively, Disneyland's Magic Kingdom features a tri-circle Mickey at the center of the "side to side" garlands.

The PTFP staff have heard lots of numbers thrown about in terms of just how much garland is found within the WDW Resort at this time of year with 11 miles the most quoted number. That's quite a bit of garland but when you consider all of the WDW properties not only is it probable, it's amazing there's not more.

As you work your way to the Main Street Train Station, the focal point becomes the Magic Kingdom Christmas tree. There are many, many Christmas trees featured at the Resort but this one probably endures more negative comments than any other for the sheer fact it blocks the standard, or traditional, photograph of Cinderella's Castle as seen from the park entrance.

The decorations at the entrance itself are a bit more subdued but quite enjoyable. City Hall retains most of its regal bearing during the holidays with a touch of garland at the second story and wreaths hung from the arches of its first story columns.

And, finally, the least decorated of the large buildings from an exterior perspective is the Town Square Exposition Hall with a few pieces of garland. Readers with eagle eyes will notice the large Goofy sculpture seated on the left-hand side park bench; this may (or may not) bring back a memory to some.

These photographs were taken by the author in November, 2004. Click the interactive map below to see where these photographs were taken and to learn more about previous posts.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Court de Anges

No doubt a feature that Walt especially enjoyed for its focus on detail and storytelling component, Court de Anges (the Court of Angels) is indicative of the lavish attention New Orleans Square received in its design and construction of this area in Disneyland Park.

This enclave within New Orleans Square at the intersection of Royal and Orleans Streets has been the location of many portrait sittings and staircase photographs over the years (especially during the Christmas holidays) and recently became the meet and greet for 'The Princess and the Frog' characters. Last year this space was the subject of complaints from many traditionalists (PTFP included) when it featured Christmas merchandise. (Thank you to MiceChat.)

This normally quiet and enchanting space is truly magical when first discovered and is a 'plus' unlike many others in the park. The area features a staircase, fountain, and two small signs. The first displays the area name, Court de Anges, and the second is a plaque memorializing Sally McWhirter. (More information on Sally, here.)

The fountain burbles quietly in the background and quite often visitors will find various planters on the stairs and brick floor. Mid-way up the stairs a cherub sits in an alcove. This space is also functional as the stairs lead to a CM only area that serves as an entry into Club 33.

Suffice to say, Court de Anges is a wonderful place to capture some snapshots and is often deserted at night, especially during Fantasmic! when these images were taken. If at all possible, bring a tripod and set the camera for long exposure times to capture some amazing photographs, like this wonderful shot by Andy Castro of MiceAge and MiceChat fame.

These photographs were taken by the author in February, 2009.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fantasy Faire Gifts

Located at a great spot across from "it's a small world", on the way into Mickey's Toontown, and right at a major junction in the parade route, Fantasy Faire Gifts is housed in a wonderful outdoor vending cart. An excellent place to purchase film and batteries, Fantasy Faire Gifts also offers postcards and Fantasyland specific merchandise.

By day, this location doesn't offer much to the photo enthusiast. There are plenty of stark white and pastel snapshots in photo albums across the world. Night time, however, is a bit more exciting due to the signage and interior lights. The PFTP staff especially enjoys the roll down shades visible in the photo above.

This photo was taken by the author in February, 2009.