The new Fantasyland area has been open - albeit unofficially - for several weeks now, off and on, and I wanted to get some shots of the new Little Mermaid building and the Be Our Guest restaurant - not to mention Cinderella's castle with all its icy Christmas lights. (SO. PRETTY.)
With my aversion to trams it took us a while to walk in to the TTC - of *course* they parked us at the farthest possible lot - but I did Ok on the ferry. So long as it's not too crowded or hectic, the ferry is open enough that I don't feel penned in.
(And thanks again to those of you who pointed out I can walk in to the park from the Contemporary - we've done so just once so far, but it's a relief knowing I have a back-up plan if my anxiety flares up in the future!)
Finally - FINALLY - we were in my favorite park, and we had about two hours of daylight left to wander and snap pics sans tripod.
It was gray and overcast, but hey, any day at Disney...
The Emporium has their animated Christmas Carol windows up:
And the Candy Shop displays never disappoint:
(I think those springy bits are made with fuzzy pipe cleaners. Possible DIY project? Eh?)
I intended to make a beeline straight for Fantasyland, but the Dapper Dans were out, so cue the Jen fangirl squealing:
Oh, and I realized why I love the Dans so much yesterday, too (you know, besides the awesome music) - their puns!! They rattled off a ton of holiday-themed puns that had everyone groaning, and at least one girl whooping with glee.
"What do you call a wreath made of hundred dollar bills?"
"A wreath a' Franklins!"
Also, their rendition of Christmas in Kilarney is gorgeous. Be sure to request it if you see them before January.
I spent forever looking for the best rose for this shot. Have I mentioned John has the patience of a saint?
Moving on, we finally made it to new Fantasyland. We were there too late in the day to see the restaurant, sadly (lunch ends at 2:30, and you can't go inside during dinner hours unless you have a reservation), but I took some pics outside and on the bridge:
Further along we discovered Gaston out posing for pictures. We ended up stopping to watch for a few minutes, because it turns out Gaston is freaking HILARIOUS.
John didn't know that the Little Mermaid ride was already open and running, so he was pretty excited when we made it over to the jaw-dropping ride exterior:
See the "E" in the window? Must be Eric's room.
Once you round the corner, you're treated to this stunning view:
Then you weave through that rock work:
Until you end up inside the caves:
Inside the caves it's quite dark - a lot of these details you couldn't see in real life - and with the crowds it felt a little cramped further in. There were so many fun things to look at, though, along with interactive virtual crabs, if you can believe it, spaced throughout the queue:
The crabs are projections, so you can only see the white outline of the little guy in the glass here. They would busily stack items in piles, and you're supposed to point at the item if it doesn't belong, which will make the crab discard it.
There are a few skylights open to the outside, which makes for some dramatic lighting and shadows.
The next room was the most uncomfortable for me, since it has no view of the outside and is more densely packed with people:
In here the only distraction is an animatronic Scuttle the seagull, who you can see as a bright white blur in the middle. Fortunately this part of the line moved pretty fast, though, and we zipped through the room in about five minutes. (Although not before I mentioned to John that *maybe* they shouldn't have hung those two ball lights in a pair - and made one of them blue. John said I've been writing Cake Wrecks too long. Very true.)
Once you leave that room there's a nifty transition area where you leave the caves behind and enter the castle itself:
We passed this beautiful section of queue not in use:
Just another few steps, and you're in the loading area.
(Sorry for the terrible pics; it's really dark in there!)
There's a lovely mural on the back wall featuring Ariel and Eric's ship, and the ride cars are the same clam shells used on the Finding Nemo ride:
After the last room of the queue I was feeling a little jittery, so when I noticed that the ride kept stopping (I think to load wheelchairs, but I'm not sure) I told John I'd just meet him outside. He rode through and recorded the whole thing on his phone for me, though:
There's nothing too groundbreaking here, but the animatronics are fantastic. Look at Ariel's arm movements around 2:20 - plus she blinks and moves her mouth! It's so natural looking, I almost didn't notice. And I love the rowboat scene. Probably because that's John's and my favorite song from the movie. We like to sing it together, with John doing a great Sebastion impression & me filling in the "Ya YAH Yaaaa!!"s. :D
By the time we emerged it was dark out, so then the real photography fun began. We broke out the tripod and got to work:
I'm dabbling with HDR photos, as some of you can probably tell from this one. It's a struggle for me, and I really have no idea what I'm doing, so I just play with the settings in PhotoMatrix until I like the look.
To give you some base of reference, here's a traditional, non-HDR shot:
And this is what the building actually looked like:
Now here's an HDR shot of it:
I'm on the fence with this HDR thing, since I can't seem to make my shots look good - or at least look good to me. There's so much gorgeous HDR stuff out there, though, that I know I'm just not doing it right. I'll keep trying!
Well, I've been working on this post & pics for over 6 hours now, so I'm going to end here and put the rest of our night shots in a later post. I hope you've all enjoyed your virtual tour so far!