Part 6 -- Disneyland Grand Finale (Aerial Views, Fireworks, and Fantasmic!) Friday, September 14, 2018
At last, the final day at Disneyland awaits! Our four-day trip to the original Mouse House was coming to a close. And yep, that means I'm finally finishing up the never-ending string of Photo TRs from Anaheim!
Early in the planning stages of the trip, we were just going to do three days, intending to skip out on Friday entirely. I'm glad we decided to do four days instead, as it provided more time for photography, and an easier pace on Thursday and Friday. We pretty much got through everything we wanted to, and I got a whole bunch of good pictures -- including a final batch from the last day which I'll be sharing here. Of course, the biggest reason to stay for Friday is that the fireworks (Remember Dreams Come True) and Fantasmic are only performed on Fri-Sat-Sun during the offseason.
So, here's how the day began. While some of the family slept in, I headed over to California Adventure in the morning to do some photography.
This was an interesting photo set for me because I treated it like a traditional amusement park set -- lots of action shots of the coasters, aerial views from the Ferris wheel, and so on. Disney parks are very much about atmosphere and theming, but it was fun to do more of my typical style of photography too.
I rode a few things -- including the Incredicoaster and the swinging side of the Pixar wheel -- and then we headed over to Disneyland for lunch at Rancho Del Zocalo. They were all out of their special Halloween Horchata, and that was not the first time on this trip that I'd been to a restaurant that was out of the holiday specialty item. That was a bit disappointing.
After lunch, we checked out a few attractions we'd missed on the first few days -- Tom Sawyer Island, Tarzan's Treehouse -- and then did re-rides on Big Thunder, Haunted Mansion, and Pirates. In the late afternoon, we made one final trip over to California Adventure for a ride on the Monsters After Dark version of Guardians, and one final spin on the incredible Incredicoaster. Oh, and while some of the family went shopping, I hopped on the Red Car Trolley for absolutely no apparent reason. It's a good time-killer if you've got nothing else to do!
That was about it for rides, as we headed back to an increasingly-crowded Disneyland for the fireworks and Fantasmic. We set up just off the hub on the right side, with a partially tree-obstructed view of the castle, but a perfect view of the fireworks. I had some fun setting up my mini-tripod on a fire hydrant, which actually ended up working out pretty nicely! Sometimes you have to work with the tools you've got, and photography is all about improvising. As soon as the fireworks ended, we headed over to the second showing of Fantasmic, for which we'd already acquired Fast Passes. I would charitably describe the process of entering the Fantasmic viewing area as a horrifying mess of a stampede, and didn't particularly enjoy that part of the experience. It all worked out -- I ended up second row, a bit right of center, with a clear view of all the action. I've seen the Disney World version, but this one was different enough to keep my interest!
Once Fantasmic was over, so was our time at Disneyland. I'm not sure when my return to Disneyland will be -- it's probably more likely I'll be back at Disney World in the coming few years -- but it was great to experience it for the first time with my family, and to have enough time to do just about everything we wanted to do.
Finally, that wraps up this segment of the report. Things get a little more varied from here on out!
Starting my last morning at California Adventure over at Pixar Pier. This is a view I could get used to.
Let's discuss the Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats. These may have been more popular than the Dole Whip over at Disneyland. Every time I walked by the place, the line was 20-40 people long!
How do you avoid the waits? Easy -- get there at 9:30 in the morning when there's literally nobody else in line! It's never too early for lemon-flavored soft serve!
The army men were out and about.
Love this detail on one of the shops. It's like an old-school Helter Skelter, and I like to think of Knoebels' sky slide.
Oh, and there's a coaster over here too. Goofy's got his own pilot's school.
I have some questions about his operating license...
Control panel shot for the nerds!
Only at Hersheypark have I seen a mouse operated with this kind of efficiency. Sure, it's not a great ride, but I'll at least give them credit for running it well!
Lesson 2: don't do what he's doing.
Fun with framing devices.
Fun with laterals!
Everybody at TPR can relate to the wonderful experience of the last little drop on a mouse...
...and the even more wonderful experience of hitting the brake run.
This early in the morning, the swings were only running at half capacity.
The Mickey figure at the top is conducting quite the symphony.
The swings and the Golden Zephyr look pretty close from a certain angle.
Fun fact: the swings might have been my grandmother's favorite ride at Disneyland.
Also, there's a tornado painted on the ride, so it's got a claim for being one of my favorites too!
Love the Coco decorations!
And now, a closer look at the Incredicoaster.
A very conveniently-placed palm tree.
Heading into a big corner.
Rounding the lower curve at the west end of the coaster.
The red trains look great against the white structure.
They're really nice looking trains, but I just wish the design was a bit more open.
Uphill from here.
Underneath the wheel.
So, speaking of the wheel...
Time to pal-a-round!
I rode the non-swinging side on Thursday, and the swinging side on Friday. These pictures are a mix from both days.
I also rode the swinging wheel at Deno's in Coney Island, so I knew what to expect going in.
Take your seat in one of the many-colorful cabins.
A look up at the wheel.
A look down at the wheel's reflection in the lagoon.
Another control panel picture!
My one complaint -- and it's a big one -- the cages are /very/ unfriendly to photography. I did the best I could, mainly with the zoom lens, which helped me to focus past the metal bars.
First, a view west at the Paradise Pier hotel. Guest appearance by the Incredicoaster.
Goofy's still teaching his sky school.
The Zephyr keeps spinning around.
A straight-on shot of the Zephyr in action.
A wide view over the Little Mermaid dark ride, with some of Disneyland's mountains spiking up above the trees.
King Triton below the trees and mountains.
Starting with Grizzly Peak, which looks great from any angle.
From up above, it's backed by some of the tourist hotels in the distance.
Big Thunder Mountain, behind the Grand Californian, with regular buildings behind it. You get some interesting perspectives from up high -- it completely shatters the forced perspective you get from ground level!
The new Star Wars rock work, dwarfed by the real mountains in the background.
A closer view of the Star Wars stuff.
The big parking garage, with the prominent western peaks of the San Gabriel Mountains behind it.
That one is Mount Wilson, which has an observatory up top, and is a bit of a Los Angeles area landmark.
Looking down at the Matterhorn.
Mountains: real and imaginary. The one in the background is Mount San Antonio, aka Mount Baldy.
This isn't the first time Mount Baldy has appeared in this trip report, and it won't be the last.
Another mountainous comparison. I could do this all day.
But, I'll move on, with some views of California Adventure.
The Guardians tower is quite a piece of work.
The wharf and the bridge to Pixar Pier.
The Lamplight Lounge, with Cars Land behind it.
It's so weird to break the illusion of the whole Cars Land mountain range from this high up.
The Cadillac Range in all its tail-finned glory.
Here's one with Angel Stadium back behind Cars Land.
Tail fins and construction cranes.
The convention center, a big roller coaster, and a carousel under construction.
Incredicoaster down below.
Another two-train shot. Not hard to do, with Disney's excellent operations.
A really odd side view of the Incredicoaster loop!
One more Incredicoaster shot.
Looking down at the stage they had set up for their cast member party on Thursday night.
The shadow of the wheel.
World of Color, all broken and under repair.
Nozzles and pipes and wires everywhere.
Lots of work left to do.
Alright, that ends this excellent update on World of Color's dry spell. Also, that ends the aerial photographs.
One last walk through Cars Land!
The Halloween decorations are so great!
The former Bug's Land is behind this gate, now being converted into a Marvel-themed area.
Disneyland -- The Actual, Satisfactual Grand Finale! For Real!
So, just two items of business left to attend to. First up -- fireworks.
See the fire hydrant at the bottom right of this picture? That would be my tripod stand for the fireworks, and it worked out pretty well. Oh, and the umbrella at the left side of the picture? We moved it out of the way. Don't tell anybody!
It's going to be hard to caption a whole bunch of fireworks photos, so I'll keep it pretty simple and just enjoy the show.
Explosions are awesome.
This is probably my favorite photo of the batch -- such a nice mix of colors, and a long-exposure Tinkerbell trail to cap it all off.
Fireworks and spotlights.
Red and yellow.
X marks the spot.
Oh, and the weird green things at the bottom of the pictures? Those were crowd control cast members waving their lighted batons. Nothing I could do to get them out of the frame.
One more Tinkerbell trail.
A huge finale! That was a really good fireworks show, and I love how it was themed to the various attractions at Disneyland.
Hanging out by the Rivers of America, waiting for Fantasmic to begin. This was my spot to see the show, and I did this one long-exposure picture of the stage area before it started.
The show has started!
Lots of lights and water features.
A big scene with the Columbia, which has been turned into a pirate ship.
Fights on the main deck.
Bright blue and green lights.
The skull and crossbones tells the story!
Photography during Fantasmic is not easy, but if you catch the spotlights and the fog just right, you can get some cool effects.
A romantic scene.
First, we dance.
Then, we light absolutely everything on fire.
The dragon was awesome.
The big finale with all the Disney characters on the Mark Twain.
The monochromatic "Steamboat Willie" Mickey is a nice touch.
More fun with spotlights.
Everyone waves things around in the air.
We have chipmunks!
Buzz almost seems out of place on a historic steamboat.
Canobie Coaster wrote:How did you get shots without the bars on the Pixar Pal Around/Mickey's Fun Wheel or whatever they call it? I remember them being very obtrusive and difficult to fit a zoom lens through for photos.
Big lens, zoomed all the way to 250mm, and just trying to hold the center of the lens at the holes in the bars as much as that was possible. Not easy, especially while moving!
ytterbiumanalyst wrote:These are remarkable photos. Even the action shots are clear. Well done.
Whole lot of 1/1000 stuff. Thanks!
Nrthwnd wrote:Also, that shot of the wheel reflected in the water, is a really cool one.
Thanks, that was one of my favorites too!
PKI Jizzman wrote:I will definitely be revisiting this report a couple times a year. Love all of the photos and notes. Thanks Andy!
Awesome stuff Zach, and your 2018 visit to Disneyland was something I referenced before my trip.
bert425 wrote:this has been a great report, with some fantastic photos.
thanks so much for sharing with us, Andy!
If time permits, I'm hoping to continue this trip report with other stuff I did in California (including the zoos/parks in San Diego) but we'll see how things go with prepping for my 2019 travel plans.
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