Disneyland lifts my spirits. My visits are the highlight of my year. Something about the park, makes me fall in love more and more with each visit. Just glancing over these incredible shots makes me want to pack my bags and hop on the plane right now.
The photos we have collected below all come from Mike Billick, just one of the photographers who contributed to our Disneyland Secrets wall calendar.
Without further ado, here are ten Disneyland photos that will make you want to visit right now.
10. Ariel’s Undersea Adventure on a bright sunny day.
Located on the edge of the glittering Paradise Pier area, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure takes you under the sea and through the story of the Little Mermaid. This is a great attraction, with AIR CONDITIONING, that is almost always less than a five minute line. Save this for the afternoon, and enjoy the beautifully upgraded attraction.
9. Shoot For the Stars in Tomorrowland
The kinetic movement of the Tomorrowland Orbitron draws you into the land. This is one of the beautifully designed “weenies” featured in the Disney theme park. You can read the full story on what a weenie is, how they came to be named this, and what the weenies throughout the park are in our new book : Disneyland Secrets: A Grand Tour of Disneyland’s Hidden Details.
8. All Aboard the Disneyland Railroad
The Disneyland Main Street Station is the first thing and the last thing that you see during any trip into Disneyland Park. This beautiful station serves as a beacon drawing excited guests farther into the magical land. I recently rode around the park inside the Ernest S Marsch engine, and the train lover in me went crazy.
7. Get Soaked on Grizzly River Rapids
Nothing feels better than a ride on Grizzly River Rapids on a hot day. In fact, my favorite time to ride is in the cold season or at nighttime when I can just ride around and around multiple times without any wait. Of course I pack my poncho and put plastic bags from the store at the exit to the attraction over my shoes before I get on.
6. Join the Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed in It’s a Small World
It’s a Small World and the accompanying theme song is one of the most iconic pieces of every Disney theme park. This “happiest cruise that ever sailed” provides an incredible journey around the “world” past hundreds of cute singing dolls. I love the shot below that really brings the nighttime attraction facade to life.
5. Go Pilfering With the Pirates of the Caribbean
For the first twenty times I rode the Pirates of the Caribbean, I tried to take photos of the incredible sets and fast moving figures. But, every one turned out too dark or blurry. Instead of taking the incredible dark ride photo tips from our friend Tom Bricker, I have decided to settle for the better photos that others take of the attraction.
4. Gaze at the sunset over Sleeping Beauty Castle.
There is no time that I like more than dusk in Disneyland. I love to take photos of my own during this time, in fact that’s when I took the iconic photo of the top of Pirates of the Caribbean that now serves as our podcast cover art. This shot of the castle perfectly captures the time when the sun is still shining but the lights have come on around the park.
3. Adore the Snow Wishing Well and Grotto.
The Snow White Wishing Well is one of my favorite areas of the park. In the late afternoon, when the trees are perfectly providing shade for the area, I love to sit and gaze at this beautiful scene. There is a great story behind the origins of the marble statues, that you can read here.
2. Take a Spin on the Mad Tea Party Spinning Teacups.
The Mad Tea Party teacups are one of my dad’s favorite attractions. On almost every visit we jump in one of the tea cups and go for a whirl.
1. Why not DROP into the Tower of Terror on this beautiful California day.
The Hollywood Tower Hotel, with all of the greatest glitzy and glamor of the Hollywood golden age is one of the best themed attractions in Disney California Adventure, aside from Cars Land.
This post is the second in a series themed “Disney Never Wanted You to See Disneyland This Way.” So far we have just covered the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, but if you continue to share and like the articles, we will keep posting more photos.
Disney uses Audio-Animatronics throughout their most classic attractions to present the stories, whether it be in a spooky old house or deep in the heart of the Caribbean. In these photos, you have the rare chance to see the inner-workings of the Audio-Animatronics and backstage in one of Disney’s most classic attractions, Pirates of the Caribbean.
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The boats have a special room of their own.
In every attraction that uses individual ride cars (any attraction that doesn’t use the Haunted Mansion Omnimover system) has a route that connects two areas of the ride. The cars or boats that aren’t being used in the ride are stored in this area. When the line begins to get long, or Disney wants to increase the capacity they will pull in more boats from this area and when they decrease the capacity, boats are pulled into the front end of this bypass.
Comparison: Backstage v. On Ride
On the left is how the animatronic appears when you are riding the attraction, and on the right is the way that it is seen from backstage.
Those pirates have been in the cage for quite some time
They have changed these scenes since these photos were taken.
Note the mechanics that cause the pirates to pop their heads above the gunnel of the boat and the cannons to function. It’s amazing the difference between what the guest sees on the attraction, and what the rest of the animatronic looks like.
What you see on the right is the inner workings of the fat pirate that is sitting on the barrel in front of Captain Jack Sparrow.
All of the animatronics have three costumes that are routinely switched out for repairs. With all of the repetitive moments that each character goes through, the costumes are constantly enduring wear and tears. It is common in certain places like joints or wrists of the characters.
The pirate below is waiting to be dressed in his new costume while the one he was wearing was taken off for repairs.
More cameras and monitors than Fort Knox.
The security system has been much improved since this photo was taken. A Cast Member sits in this control room to monitor all parts of the attraction. In the past, guests have been caught jumping ship in the treasure room attempting to fill their pockets with “gold.” These escaping guests often have had a little bit to drink and are escorted off of Disneyland property if the situation suggests it.
(Here’s a hilarious story about a young couple who didn’t know that there were cameras watching their every move.)
Sir, we put that dust there for a reason
Spider webs and dust are added to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction during the major refurbishments to keep everything looking as old as possible. It looks brand spanking old!
Relaxing with the only real skull left in Disneyland
The backstage photos come from this gallery. All other photos are copyright Disney.
The Pirates of the Caribbean is the last attraction that Walt Disney ever worked on at Disneyland. He passed away months before it’s completion. Some say that it was the best attraction to ever be built by the Walt Disney Imagineers. Perhaps that’s why more than 300 million people have enjoyed the attraction since it opened in 1967.
For most Disneyland fans, there is a lot of joy in finding hidden secrets about the park that we all love to visit. Today I present to you a very interesting fact about the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in Disneyland. The skull that sits above the bed in the treasure room near the beginning of the ride is actually real.
This has been a rumor for quite some time, so I decided to verify it. After getting off of Pirates of the Caribbean, I headed to the nearest Cast Member asking for the truth. Here is what they said:
I was very surprised that they were so open about it, but I guess the rumor is true. For more rumor busting and interesting Disney factoids, sign up for our newsletter and see our other articles.
Before everyone goes jumping to conclusions, think about how lucky the person who’s skull that is. They are forever immortalized in Disneyland.
We spend almost every Saturday either at a stadium or in front of a TV watching football. Yeah, besides being a Disney guy, I’m also a sports guy, mostly football and baseball but you can throw in some basketball and hockey once playoff time rolls around. As I watch the games I think about the 100 yard field football is played on. It’s really not all that big of a plot of land when you come to think of it.
When my wife and I make our trips to Disneyland we have several favorite ways to start our Disney day. Probably our most favorite way is to get on the train at the Main St. Station, make the complete “grand circle tour” around the park, then stay on the train for an extra stop and finally get off in New Orleans Square. And there’s where the magic begins – about a hundred yards of pure Disneyland magic.
Splash Mountain Entrance
The magic is all lined up for you in a neat little row – from left to right – looking toward the entrances – The Jungle Cruise Indiana Jones Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain. How great is that? Entrances to 5 of Disneyland’s most iconic attractions and they pretty much all sit side by side within a span of about 100 yards. Extend the boundaries a bit and you can pull in Winnie the Pooh (and I confess to being one of the few Disneyland regulars who actually enjoys Pooh) and the Enchanted Tiki Room as well.
Here is what we generally do though order can change from visit to visit. Get off the train at New Orleans Square, get a fast pass for Indiana Jones, head up to Splash Mountain, after Splash jump on Pooh (usually little to no line), head down to the Haunted Mansion, then to Pirates, then the Jungle Cruise, and if your timing is good, you should be about in your Indiana Jones fast pass window providing you are going through this ritual first thing in the morning. And after Indiana Jones, I would probably go get on Pirates again simply because it is the best ride in the park.
Again, providing you are doing this first thing in the morning, you don’t need to race from attraction to attraction. An easy walk soaking up the park atmosphere will do nicely. Besides racing, especially in the crowded Adventureland bottle neck would not be recommended. Somewhere there is a stroller with your name on it ready to ram you if you are not careful. If you played your cards right, you’ve done all this before lunch. Guess what? You are probably in the best area of Disneyland for dining choices. There’s the upscale Blue Bayou (reservations always recommended), the scenic Cafe Orleans with both indoor and outdoor seating, and the cafeteria style counter service French Market. No hesitation about recommending any of them. If you want some peace and quiet (usually unless you are there during the lunch time rush), head back up to the Hungry Bear with dining patios overlooking the Rivers of America.
One of the interesting of facets of Disneyland, and its really ingenious when you stop to think about it, is its brilliant use of space. How they cram so many rides and attractions into such a small piece of real estate throughout the park is amazing and a bit of illusion. Of the 5 major attractions in our 100 yard walk that starts at the Jungle Cruise and end with Splash Mountain, 3 of them don’t even exist within the Disneyland park boundaries. The show buildings for Indiana Jones Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion all exist outside of the park with only their entrances, and in the case of Pirates, its ride loading and unloading occurring within the park boundaries. The bulk of the attractions are “outside the berm” as they say.
When I think about that one area of the park, I don’t even think that the 5 attraction reside in 3 different “lands”. Disney screwed up the theming of the “lands” years ago that it really just doesn’t matter that much to me anymore. Yes, The Jungle Cruise and Indiana Jones are in Adventureland and Pirates and the Haunted Mansion are in New Orleans Square and Splash Mountain is in something ridiculously called Critter Country but they all in that one magical corridor. As strange as it might sound, its almost worth the price of admission just cruising up and this down this hundred yards of pure Disney magic.
Below is an opinion piece on Disneyland in January from one of our bloggers. You can see all of the information on every month of the year at Disneyland and when to visit in our when to visit Disneyland 2017 crowd calendar.
Editor’s Note: We have been to Disneyland many times in January. While it is an odd experience because of the mix of Christmas decorations and regular park entertainment, the month may also be one of the best times to visit because of the lack of crowds and the ability to ride lots of attractions.
Well we’ve turned into the month of January and started a new year. January is one of two months I have never taken a trip to Disneyland (the other being August). After the the first weekend in January and the official holiday season comes to a close, things settle down and the crowd levels shrink to some of the lowest of the year at the Disneyland Resort. You would think that would make Disneyland an attractive target for those looking for something to do in January but two things conspire against making it a tantalizing trip. The first is the weather. For those who think Southern California is all palm trees and warm temperatures – guess again.
Disneyland in January
Oh, you can get a 7o degree day in January at Disneyland but don’t count on it. It can get quite chilly. And then there is rain. You will hear from countless people that say “I love Disneyland when it rains because it keeps the crowds down”. Quite true. But in Disneyland, there is rain, and there is RAIN. Disneyland in the rain is one thing because the crowds stay away and the attractions that normally require lengthy wait time become virtual walk-ons. Disneyland in the RAIN is a different story. The place just doesn’t handle downpours of length very well and you will find many of the rides, especially if there is any exposure to the elements, begin to shut down. Luckily, you can probably count the number of hard rain days in the course of a year on one hand, maybe two in some years.
The second reason why park fans tend to avoid January, especially for extended trips, is closures. In January, the Haunted Mansion and it’s a small world always close down to remove their holiday overlays (though usually not at the same time). It takes about 3 weeks to get each of them back to their normal modes of operation. It’s also the reason why the Magic Kingdom in WDW doesn’t do holiday overlays. There is no desire by Disney to take 2 popular attraction down for about 6 weeks out of a year to install and remove overlays.
So two E-Ticket attractions are automatically removed from your visit in January. You can debate whether it’s a small world is an E-Ticket attraction or not. In my book it is simply because of its size and length (about 14 minutes). January is also the month where if there are any major refurbishments for big rides, you might as well begin it in a month when the fewest number of people are affected. This year it’s Big Thunder Mountain railroad which is shutting down for 9 months. Now you have 3 E-Ticket attractions shutting down in January, not to mention smaller refurbishments of a few days to a few weeks. Uh-Oh.
January is also the month that if refurbishment is needed to a water ride, you might as well do it in a month when the desire to get soaking wet is at its lowest. Splash Mountain and/or DCA’s Grizzly River Run also present attractive targets for closure. And I’m perfectly fine with it knowing full well what its like to get soaked from head to toe in about sub 50 degree weather. “Look, no line” – there’s a reason for it.
For fans of Fantasmic, after the first weekend in January, you can pretty much forget about it as the popular nighttime attraction goes dark until maybe President’s Birthday week February (at which time it normally just comes back on weekends till spring break). In some years, Fantasmic can stay dark all way till spring. Speaking of nighttime, I should mention that January also brings some of the shortest operating hours of the year to Disneyland. 8 am till midnight? Nope. Not even on a weekend.
Fantasmic in January Goes Dark
So there seems to be a cumulative effect going on here. Maybe your favorite ride isn’t going to close but your total pool of rides to chose from may shrink considerably. For some who have experienced this, a trip to Disneyland, while still something that is a lot of fun, just seems to have something missing. You pay dearly to get the full Disney experience and in January you can feel like you got short changed (which is why it is also the best time to perhaps get some kind of discount on a package).
Entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean – my trip deal breaker
I can’t say that I would never make a trip to Disneyland in January. If time and opportunity are just right, then sure – why not. Weather is a factor for sure but the closures of the rides and attractions mentioned above would not be considered trip deal breakers for one of my trips. There are only two closures that would force me into looking for another time to go. One is Pirates of the Caribbean, probably Walt Disney’s greatest conceptual park attraction and a ride that was under construction at the time of Walt’s death (the Haunted Mansion, a Walt idea, was still in the early stages of development).
I’ve been to Disneyland during a Pirates closure. I couldn’t walk by the walled up entrance without grumbling something to myself or anyone else within earshot. A trip to Disneyland would not be the same if I couldn’t get on Pirates multiple times. It is that special. Once during a particular December rainstorm, my wife and I got on Pirates of the Caribbean and had a boat all to ourselves.
Now that is a special Disneyland moment (well, actually about 15 minutes – the length of the ride). Closing Pirates the ride also usually means the closing of the Blue Bayou Restaurant which sits inside the ride. While most will claim the food, which is probably the best prepared in Disneyland park, is not worth the price, it is a a memorable dining experience especially with a table by the water. Another reason why closing Pirates of the Caribbean is a deal breaker in my book.
The Disneyland Railroad – a surprising trip deal breaker
The second closure that would make me second guess a trip to Disneyland may be a bit of a surprise – the Disneyland Railroad. It’s not even really a ride so much as it is mode of transportation and just part of the atmosphere. I love the railroad. Sometimes I’ll make back to back “grand circle tours” killing the better part of an hour riding the rails. Making its way around the park riding the train just allows me to soak up as much of the atmosphere as the day can bring. And while that Grand Canyon Primeval World diorama can get a bit tiresome after a while, riding the train is never a time waster. And when you have come to the end of your Disney Day and you have just gotten off a ride like it’s a small world and your feet are dog tired, hearing that train whistle feels like a life saver.
For those heading to Disneyland over the next few weeks – don’t think too much about what’s not open and available or how cold you might be. I’m just jealous that you still will hear the magic words of “All aboard…..” and “Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirates life for me”.
Disney recently announced that they would be looking into a pilot series for Big Thunder Mountain, the popular Disney Parks rollercoaster. Many Disney attractions have been turned into movies before such as Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, but never into a TV series. The current backstory of the attraction is that an ancient curse was set on the gold by Native Americans that stops those who try to remove it. Guest aboard this wildest ride in the wilderness barely escape. Nothing has been said whether the same plot will continue with the attraction. The other possibility is that Disney will be changing the plot line for Big Thunder Mountain all together. Today the Disney Parks Blog released a portrait by the Walt Disney Imagineers saying that it would be for an upcoming Walt Disney World project. They also said that, “His obsession with gold will ultimately lead him to ruin.”
Many people who commented agreed with me and said that Big Thunder Mountain was probably the place for this portrait. Many even said that it resembled famed Disney Imagineer, Tony Baxter.
Nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of Simi Valley, California, just 80 miles from Disneyland and 30 minutes from the Pacific Ocean, is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. This 100 acre site has over 100,000 square feet of museum galleries including Reagan’s actual Air Force One aircraft. It is in itself an amazing tourist attraction. Now add a display of 90 years of Disney history to that and you have yourself a must see Southern California Attraction.
In conjunction with the Reagan Library, D23, the official Disney Fan Club, presents to the public the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archive. This 12,000 square foot, 2 level exhibit includes over 500 artifacts, 50% of which have never been seen by the general public.
The exhibit is divided up into two sections. The first area covers Walt’s early life which includes some truly impressive items such as the original script for “Steamboat Willie” that Walt kept in his desk his entire career. Walt’s whole office, which was formerly on display at Disneyland, was also recreated for this exhibit. The original busts that were used to design the animatronic Hall of Presidents at WDW are also on display, as well as the first-day of issue Disney stamp. It would be easy to spend an hour alone examining all the detail and artifacts in the first part of this exhibit.
The downstairs section is full of costumes and set pieces from some of Disney’s most recent, and biggest hits, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Enchanted, Tron and Alice in Wonderland. There is a section dedicated to Marvel which includes Tony Starks race car from Iron Man 2 and one of his original Iron Man suits. If you attended the D23 Convention in Anaheim in 2011, you will recognize much of the downstairs display.
My favorite part of the exhibit was the vintage Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean display. This small display includes the original 3 hitchhiking ghosts, tombstones, the original attic bride, a retro Pirates poster and an animatronic pirate straight from the ride itself. This section made me feel very nostalgic for “old school Disneyland” from my childhood years. I may even have shed a tear or two.
One of the reasons this location was chosen for this exhibit is because of the friendship and business relationship between these 2 astonishing men, which dates back to Reagan’s acting years. Reagan, then host of the TV show “General Electric Theater”, attended the opening ceremonies for Disneyland on July 17,1955. As the governor of California he made many trips to Disneyland with his family and even petitioned the United States postmaster to issue a Walt Disney stamp. Reagan’s first public event after leaving the White House was a trip to Disneyland, where he inaugurated the park’s 35th anniversary celebration. In addition, Walt Disney was a huge supporter of Reagan during his presidency.
An exact replica of Walt Disneys office
Your admission price includes not just admission to the Disney Archive but also to the Reagan Library. In my opinion, by itself either of these galleries is worth the price of admission.There aren’t any other places that I can think of where you can see a chunk of the Berlin Wall and a replica of the Oval Office as it was when Reagan was in office. The fact that both of these exhibits are offered at one price is a super deal. The museum also offers a gift shop with a wide assortment of Disney, D23 and Treasures of the Archives souvenirs as well as souvenirs for the library.
The Treasure of the Walt Disney Archive are on display until April 30, 2013. The museum is open daily from 10am – 5pm. General Admission price is $21.00, seniors 62+ are $18.00, Youth Admission (11-17) is $15.00, Child Admission (3-10) is $6.00, children 2 and under are free and active military are free with valid military ID. To buy tickets to this fantastic exhibit visit the museum site.
According to legend Captain Jack Sparrow is looking for a crew and he decided not to head to Tortuga to look for it, he decided he could find even more pirates at the Disneyland Resort.
The Pirates League, the popular experience that transforms guests into pirates, will be moving into Disneyland. Previously the experience could only be found in Walt Disney World or recently the Disney Fantasy.
This September the Pirates League will be taking up residence in the Court of Angles in New Orleans Square in the Disneyland Park.
At the Pirate League guests ages three and up will receive “their own pirate look and name, training them to swashbuckle and teaching them the official Pirate League Oath”
The three different packages available are Jake and the Never Land Pirates(modeled after the popular Disney Junior show), First Mate and Empress, designed specifically for young pirate princesses. Packages will range in price from $29.95 to $34.95.
The Pirate League will only be in Disneyland for a limited time starting in September, but guests can call (714) 781-STYLE beginning August 7 to make reservations for this makeover fit for a landlubber.