When I was young, I spent countless hours playing with my Star Wars action figures, re-enacting my favorite scenes from the movies. Back then, I couldn’t have imagined what it would be like to come face to face with Darth Vader in a light saber battle or to meet C3PO and R2D2.
On the opening days of this year’s Star Wars Weekends, some of our guests took one step closer to putting themselves in the movies by visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios in elaborate costumes and meeting their favorite characters. From family-made pieces to professionally-finished gear and make-up, guests played a starring role in the festivities, too.
I had never pictured Darth Vader in a green tutu, but I think it works. Which is your favorite?
Since I started working at Disney, I have wanted to make a photo featuring one of our space-themed attractions in the foreground and a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral 60 miles away in the background. Well, all of the planets aligned for me this morning as I was able to capture the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching to the International Space Station in front of Mission: SPACE at Epcot. That red streak in the sky is the flame from the rocket engines over a 64-second exposure as it arced into orbit. If all goes as planned for SpaceX, this will be the first commercial launch to the International Space Station when the capsule docks in two days and brings supplies to the astronauts on board.
Last week, when walking around the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, the zen garden and “Cars 2” topiaries in Japan Pavilion captured my attention. As Lightning McQueen and Mater sat surrounding the rock garden and a gardener raked the gravel into wave-like patterns, I imagined Mater yelling out, “Hey! You done good. You got all the leaves!” just like he did in “Cars 2” before eating the bad pistachio ice cream.
When he was done raking, I was able to talk to our zen gardener, Ben Taveras. Ben is a cast member with the Horticulture team and takes care of the Japan Pavillion area for the festival.
Early each morning, the gravel is raked into different patterns, he told me, based on the gardener’s state of mind — wavy and whimsical when he is happy and straight and simple if things aren’t going so great.
“I don’t think I’ve ever raked them straight,” he said smiling.
The topiaries and zen garden will be on display until May 20.
“Every topiary has a story to tell,” says Ben, “and sharing that story with guests is the best part of my day.”
Can’t get enough of the sights at Epcot? See the posts below for more:
Not too long ago, I was asked to take some photographs of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival preparations being made at the Walt Disney World Nursery. I wanted to highlight all of the hard work that goes into all of the amazing topiaries and have a little fun with it as well.
Tick-Tock and his pearly whites, Cinderella and her perfectly coiffed hair and a tuned-up Mater can be seen around the festival through May 20.
I was recently able to check off one of my long term travel goals when I visited my 31st state, sailing on the Disney Wonder on its inaugural cruise to Alaska.
During the trip, I thought it might be fun to make a time-lapse movie on the sailing and had originally planned to shoot just part of the journey into the Tracy Arm fjord. After seeing the majestic snow-covered mountains, dramatic narrow passages, and historic port cities I knew I would need to expand the project. More than 10,000 still photographs were captured, edited and sequenced into the final movie.
We sailed past the panoramic Vancouver skyline, under the Lions Gate Bridge, along Alaska’s Inside Passage, around icebergs in the Tracy Arm and to the ports of call of Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan.
I hope this gives you a small taste of some of the awesome sights on the Disney Cruise Line itinerary – a weeklong cruise condensed into less than two minutes.
Did you spot Minnie and Goofy in their special Alaska gear on the photo boat, or the helicopter used to capture these great photos in Tracy Arm?
I always love walking around Epcot during the International Flower & Garden Festival. The extraordinary topiaries are always a highlight, especially when combined with trees and flowers at peak bloom. Near the France Pavilion, the life-sized Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip are surrounded by blooming pink trumpet trees. To give what was a static scene a sense of movement, I used a neutral density filter to blur the blossoms and branches into swirls of color.