disney dark ride


This is so cool! I would love to have a random behind the scenes look like this one day! I love the Haunted Mansion. It is my favorite attraction at the Magic Kingdom.

Today comes the front Facade for Jolly Holiday. For those that aren’t familiar with my ongoing project, it’s intended to be placed at the rear of the U.K. Pavillion. This is my initial concept for the entrance - probably the image for this attraction I’ve had the least idea what I wanted to do. might do another one someday down the road cause I’d like it to be just a tad more whimsical and make the sugar advertisement/pun smaller (and idk how but find more reference images of Edwardian London) but overall I’m pretty happy.

Also this is the first time I’ve substantially used digital in a piece like this.

As I’m writing this I’m thinking of how cool it would be to project dancing chimney sweep silhouettes on the roof at night.


Splash Mountain at Night by Joe Penniston

A lesson on Flash Photography on dark rides

Okay, so I recently reblogged a photo that I was disgusted by here on tumblr and I’ve been thinking about it all day long.
It was a flash photo from inside the Haunted Mansion and it has made me so angry that even a day later it’s been plaguing my mind and I finally decided to sit down and write a post about it. I don’t even know who is going to bother to read it but I just need to get this off my chest.

DON’T TAKE FLASH PHOTOS ON DARK RIDES. DON’T. It’s not only rude to guests around you but also rude to the people who crafted the attraction. And here’s the reasons why:

1. It’s rude to guests around you
People save up their whole lives to go to Disney World. People are so incredibly excited to finally achieve their dream of going to that happy place and experience all the magic that happens there. They’ve been dreaming about these wonderful attractions and characters to meet and possibly spent years dreaming about what it would be like to ride certain things such as the Haunted Mansion or Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Imagine looking forward to something like that for so long and then you finally, FINALLY, get there just to be stuck sitting next to someone who is taking flash photos the entire time. It’s not only distracting but also ruins the magic of being transported to another time/place. How can you focus on Ariel when there’s a blinding light every two seconds? And the “ruining the magic” bit comes into play with my next point in that…

2. It’s insulting to the cast members who designed the ride

Imagineers and other cast members take great pride in their work. They spend a lot of time making sure whatever they envision is set properly and moves properly and is lit properly. What you see when you go on these attractions is exactly set up to be what they want you to see. What you may not think is purposeful, as a matter of fact is. The attention to detail is incredible at Disney World and cast members make sure everything is set to truly take you into their imagination and believe what you are seeing. They set the lighting for how bright or how dark it should be, and by taking a flash photo (even in bright areas of the attraction), you’re completely off-setting how the Imagineers wanted you to view it as. It’s slapping the creators in the face and completely insulting the art of what they’ve done. 

To the people who say, “But I just wanted to remember everything on my trip!”, no. Screw that. Photos are wonderful and amazing but they also have a time and a place. Of course I want you to take photos in front of the castle. Of course you should take photos when you meet characters or perhaps even get a photo with a cast member that you bonded with during a merchandise transaction and such… but attractions are different. You’re meant to experience them. It’s like going to a musical or play and instead of watching it you’re video taping it the whole time. Sure, you’ll have the memory forever of it but you wont be seeing it the way the creators wanted you to. The sound will be different, the lighting will be different, etc. The video wont be the same beauty that it would have been in person.

To the people who say, “But I just wanted to see all the detail that you wouldn’t normally see in the dark!” That may be true, but again, you’re not meant to. The detail is amazing, yes, and it is neat to see what all the hidden things are, but you’re ruining the magic. If you want to see the detail that badly, just ride the attraction over and over again. I promise you’ll pick up things you never saw before. I’ve visited the Haunted Mansion plenty of times in my years of going to Disney World as well as working there and I still pick up things every time I go on. Just enjoy it. Your memories of the actual experience are far more important than some silly photo that doesn’t even show the true environment.



The Entrance to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye by Eddison Esteban
Via Flickr:
I love the jungle feel and lush vegetation found in Adventureland. The grounds around Indiana Jones Adventure is no different with much greenery everywhere you look. Disneyland, CA


Frozen Ever After low light ride-through in Norway Pavilion at Epcot.

I like to call it ‘unthemed hallways and basic rehashes of all the music from the movie’, after one viewing. Disappointing, but I was not expecting otherwise.

Marshmallow is the best part, but it barely moves. The queue might well have the best detailing of all. Anna and Elsa just look….weird, with the glowing faces, and them together at the end singing just - I like the effort to have scene with them together, but a comparatively weak song and their facial animation/glow involved takes me right out of it. I’ll take a fully sculpted face and knowing the limitations of that, how best to apply it, thank you. I wish they did better both by the former attraction space and what was there, and the characters.

I miss you, three-headed proper troll.


Frozen Ever After ride-through at Epoct’s Norway Pavilion

My spoiler-free quick take: I think Disney *just* missed the mark with this one. In fact, there’s only ONE really bad element – used repeatedly – that if replaced, might make this ride a real winner.

Now my spoiler-filled long take:

The cheap ‘portraits’ of Kristoff and Sven at the beginning are embarrassingly bad. They are LITERALLY just the same two promo pics that have been used on damned near every piece of marketing and merchandising since day one! Couldn’t Disney commission something new?

The village queue is WONDERFUL! Even the small video screen of Oaken is perfectly done, and I’m quickly losing patience with Disney’s (and Universal’s) over-use of screens on their rides.

The Olaf animatronics are lovely. Simple, but smartly designed. They don’t do a helluva lot, but what they do is timed/staged perfectly enough that it comes across as a beautiful bit of ‘dark ride’ magic.

The trolls, too. They were probably my least favorite characters in the movie, but here they are a charming aside…again REAL ANIMATRONICS.

Anna and Kristoff, though? WHAT IS UP WITH THOSE PROJECTION SCREEN FACES?!?! They didn’t look good on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and they don’t look any better here. In fact, they may look…worse? That said, the simple animatronic Sven is PERFECT!

The little Elsa and Elsa’s ice castle are oddly charming. Tiny Elsa (lower-case ‘e’ elsa?) sorta reminded me of the tiny Bride at the end of Haunted Mansion.

The whole Elsa/Let It Go portion feels super cheap. Again, the projection face makes her look like she needs a make-up tutorial STAT. I’d prefer limited mouth movements over corpse-like skin-tones any day of the week. And the special effects for the rides show-stopper? More projections!!

Marshmallow and the Snowgies are – again – so simple, yet so charming. None of them move all that much, but it doesn’t matter. They look so cute, it works in an it’s a small world sort of way.

Elsa and Anna singing together features the worst projection faces yet. And that’s saying something. Once again, a simply designed Olaf animatronic makes you wonder why they just didn’t add no-frills robot heads to the human characters.

All in all? Really good parts and really not good parts. It’s possibly the most uneven ride at a Disney theme park. While I’d never say it sucks, a quick re-do of Elsa, Anna and Kristoff’s heads would raise this ride at least two letter grades.

What do you think?