Friday, May 28, 2010

Soarin' Queue - Living Landscapes PlayZone

Soarin', the very popular import from Disneyland's California Adventure, continues to please visitors in Epcot's Future World west. Located in The Land pavilion, Soarin's popularity translates into consistently long stand-by lines and keeping people entertained while waiting for their chance to soar can be tough.

When the attraction first opened, the attraction's queue leading to the staging area seemed to offer less entertainment than any other attraction within the WDW Resort. The PFTP staff can personally attest there were times we would have gone completely nuts while waiting in this queue if it hadn't have been for My Pal Mickey's litany of bad jokes, multiple re-readings of our Passporter, or some other method to distract us.

In 2007, the Imagineers and PlayMotion revealed a new way to entertain guests in line for Soarin': the Living Landscapes PlayZone. This queue entertainment features five 11ft. by 25ft. projection screens and utilizes IR technology to translate body motion into action on screen. Now, instead of fumbling to make conversation with other guests in line, visitors can experience a cooperative, interactive series of motion games while waiting. Check out PlayMotion's promotional video site for a glimpse of the screens in action.

In addition to the 5 minute games, the screens show a series of 'Living Landscapes'. The CM at the second checkpoint controls the game portion of the queue (the first checkpoint being at the stand-by entrance), and depending upon how long your wait is you'll see a combination of landscapes and games.

The landscapes evoke the the style of Eyvind Earle and are accompanied by a very nice score. Here's a selection of those landscapes.

If you checked out the video link above, you might think there's an application for this all over the Walt Disney World Resort and you're on the right track: the same concept is now in use in the Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain attraction.

Long story short, if you must go stand-by, there's at least something to keep your attention from waning and your brain from fading at Soarin'.

These photographs were taken by the author in May, 2010.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

WDW Weenies 101: Part 1 - Spaceship Earth

A concept not unique to Disney is the visual anchor, or 'weenie'. Within the Walt Disney World Resort these include the very familiar landmarks of Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, DHS Water Tower / Sorcerer's Hat, and the Tree of Life. (More on DHS on another post.) These weenies, a core element of Walt's good show beliefs, draw visitors into the parks and, as a result, are the subject of many photos. We've all seen typical photos of these icons; you can probably see them in your head as you read this post. Many are standard snapshots with the weenie taking up a small part of the image due to the physical distance between the photographer and the subject. Unfortunately, these snapshots don't tell much of a story but it's easy to add some zing to these photos.

There's any easy way to improve a standard Spaceship Earth photo while still making it the focal point of a regular daytime image. The technique involves emphasizing the depth of field. A large depth of field is where everything appears to be in focus and a small depth of field focuses on one area of the image with other areas less in focus. Most Spaceship Earth snapshots have a large depth of field as they're taken when people enter Epcot and first see the geodesic dome. In order to take a snapshot with a small depth of field you need another element in your picture and the trees that line the area leading to Spaceship Earth are a great choice.

There's quite a bit of choice to be made here as you can either focus on the geodesic dome or the trees; either is a good choice.

Other options abound. If you're leaving the park, there are ubiquitous palms at the left and right of the attraction. These provide additional focal points and add a nice touch to your snapshot. If you're in Future World West, there are some fun shots available at the entrance of the Coral Reef restaurant and The Living Seas pavilion.

Beware of the image that makes itself available to you from Showcase Plaza. This is a lot like the image at the entrance to Epcot and doesn't do a lot most of the time. That said, inch closer and try to capture some of the water from Epcot Fountains in your composition. Don't be afraid to take some chances; you'll be happy if you do.

These photographs were taken by the author in May, 2010. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't Throw Me In That There Brier Patch

Stilted English aside, whatever you do, please, please don't send me there. Photos from the Parks will be on a research trip this week. See you later!

This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2008.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In Praise of Research (and Better Cameras)

Photos from the Parks has been conspicuously absent from said Parks as of late. We're not sure exactly why: it may be the result of our altercation with security in Disneyland; it may our preoccupation with geo-tagging this and that; our fondness for attraction posters, the original Tiki Room, Odyssey Center, Guest Relations, International Gateway, and/or Tom Sawyer Island; or, it might be lack of quality photographs, which is what this whole thing was originally about.

Whatever the reason, the research department here has made it abundantly clear the vault is nearly empty and it's time for new source material. As such, the team is headed out to fill the coffers with new photographs and looks forward to sharing them with you in the weeks and months ahead.

To rectify the predominant problem, the staff have been outfitted with improved equipment so we can stop running articles with photos like this and that. (Yikes!) Is there anything you'd like to see from WDW? Leave us a message in the comment section below and we'll do our best to make you smile like today's photo suggests.

This photograph was taken by the author in November, 2008.