Here Comes the Christmas 2012 Grand Finale!


If the Christmas season were a fireworks show, we’d be nearing the grand finale. The presents are wrapped, the food is prepared, and one of our smaller family gatherings just concluded, leaving the house empty and quiet for the rest of the night. Of course, tomorrow morning the “grand finale” will occur, in the form of Christmas morning. I no longer have the sense of anticipation for Christmas morning that I did as a child–Sarah and I don’t do much in the way of gifts for one another and we don’t yet have kids to vicariously experience the joy of Christmas gifting–but it’s still a great day for spending time with family and enjoying festivities.

It might be a tortured analogy, but I think firework shows have some parallels. Just before the grand finale is the “late Christmas eve” portion of the show, where everything quiets down to build anticipation and make the grand finale all the more poignant. The grand finale is like a series of glorious, explosive presents. Fireworks themselves are festivities. As for the family part of the analogy…well, uhh…like I said, it’s a tortured analogy.

In real life, I love this quiet time. It’s a great time to just sit around, eat a couple a few dozen cookies, and watch Christmas movies with the family. In the world of fireworks…well, who likes a “tranquil” fireworks show? Only communists. To that end, here’s a photo from the grand finale of Holiday Wishes, when the perimeter bursts, incredibly bright streaming fireworks, and Cinderella Castle Dreamlights all erase the tranquility from the night sky over Walt Disney World.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Please click the photo above to view it large.

Technical details: shot with a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 Lens. See our guide for more photography equipment recommendations.

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Not A Creature Was Stirring, Not Even…

Not only is Disneyland Paris’ Main Street the most beautiful and detailed Main Street I’ve ever seen, but it’s also the most beautiful Main Street at Christmas. This is in large part to the Christmas tree (which I’m told dates back to 1992 and is due to be replaced next year, but has aged quite well), but is also due to the whole Town Square area, which is filled with small pine trees and fake snow (or fake and real snow, depending upon when you visit). It also doesn’t hurt that Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant looks even more resplendent with its icicle lights than it normally does, and that other decorative touches are added up and down Main Street. Besides Main Street and the north corner of Frontierland, the Christmas decorations are fairly subdued, but it definitely feels like Christmas on Main Street in Disneyland Paris.

This is my favorite view of Disneyland Paris at Christmas; I could have stood up here for hours just gazing out at the park (definitely make sure to click the photo to view it large). For some more of my photos of Disneyland Paris at Christmas, check out this post on the Disney Parks Blog yesterday. (more…)

Illuminations: Peace on Earth Photo

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth with the Peace on Earth tag is one of my favorite aspects of Christmas at Walt Disney World. One of my other favorite aspects is the Osborne Lights. Unfortunately, we only had one night last weekend to try to see both. Disney’s Hollywood Studios closed at 8 pm and Epcot closed at 9:30 pm. Perfect, I thought. Unfortunately, we hung around Disney’s Hollywood Studios for “just one more song” and “just one more photo” until 9 pm (I didn’t realize they kept the music running after the park closed…I thought it was just the lights.

Anyone know when this changed?), at which time I literally had to RUN from Disney’s Hollywood Studios to get to Epcot in time for the fireworks. I made it just in time, and didn’t even bother trying to find a better spot along the World Showcase Lagoon to view the show. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see much or, more importantly, hear much from here, but it actually wasn’t too bad of a view and I could hear the show perfectly. Walt Cronkite’s narration always gives me chills. (more…)

Cinderella Castle Dream Lights: Reflections of Christmas

At Christmas-time, Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom is enhanced with the “Castle Dream Lights,” which give the Castle a resplendent glow. This look is amplified in the rain, when the lights from Cinderella Castle and all around Main Street glisten off the pavement.

Sarah and I took a quick trip to Walt Disney World this weekend to enjoy our favorite time of year at Walt Disney World: Christmas. Our plan with taking the trip was to book a cheap flight to Florida to earn the miles necessary to book a free flight (which otherwise would have cost $600+ each) to Disneyland for New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, by the time our credits from the flights registered, the awards flights were sold out. Oh well, it was a great weekend, nonetheless, and even though we were only there for less than two full days, it felt like a lot longer. We crammed as much as we could into the trip, even closing out three different parks on Saturday night! (more…)

Disneyland Paris Christmas Bokeh

This photo is what photographers describe as a happy accident (assuming you like it…if not, then I suppose it’s just an accident!). I was way at the end of Main Street, swinging around my bulky Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (security would have thought I were the paparazzi if it weren’t for the fact that no other guests were braving the cold to remain in the park) trying to find a perspective that would enable me to capture a photo similar to this photo that I took last Christmas at Disneyland. I had tried to capture this photo at the end of the previous night from the other side of the Christmas tree without success, and until I saw this photo today on my photo monitor, I had considered this shot a failure. What happened here was that some of the small pine trees with blue and white lights that are beyond the main Christmas tree got between me, the Christmas tree, and Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant as I adjusted my tripod, raising it above my head as I tried to get it above these small trees. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to move and recompose, as it was clearly time to head out even before I started taking this photo…so I just snapped away, hoping I might end up with something worthwhile. When I saw my LCD screen, I thought it was trash. The next night, I ended up getting exactly the photo I wanted by trying yet another perspective. However, the more I look at this photo, the more I like it. Sometimes mistakes turn out to be our best photos of all… (more…)