Huge photo gallery update

The Theme Parks gallery has been updated with a batch of photos from Lost Island Themepark in Iowa:

The Other Places gallery has also received a huge update, adding photos taken as far back as 2015 from events and places in Iowa, Texas, Illinois and more.

These include:

  • Amana Colonies – including Wurst Fest 2023
  • Living History Farms – including Christmas
  • Jolly Holiday Lights
  • Blank Park Zoo “Wild Lights” Asian lantern festival
  • Trek Fest in Riverside, Iowa
  • Texas Pinball Festival
  • Galloping Ghosts Arcade near Chicago
  • Pella Tulip Time
  • …and probably more.

There are still dozens of galleries to be sorted and added, but this is at least progress.

Universal Orlando’s video recording policy.

I have seen so many videos taken at Universal Orlando Resort on attractions that specifically forbid photos or video recording. I wondered if there was some kind of exception for video bloggers, so I asked…

 Please know that Universal Orlando Resort does not condone the behavior you described of these YouTube vloggers. For the safety of our Guests, as well as show quality when applicable, we do not allow filming, flash photography, or Go-Pro style mounted cameras on our attractions. 

Universal Orlando Resort Guest Communications

So, yeah. I guess all the signs that say don’t do it actually are there because you aren’t supposed to do it.

Universal Orlando Garden Walk maps

I created some Google Maps layers that show the walking path (called “Garden Walk”) between the on-site hotels and the park entrances. It includes markers for the boat docks, bus dropoffs and security checkpoints, as well. You can enable just the items you want to see. (For example, you only care about the walking route from Aventura to Universal Studios Florida.)

West Side – Cabana Bay, Sapphire Falls, Royal Pacific

East Side – Hard Rock, Portofino Bay

Enable the “Legend” to see the different layers you can turn on.

Please comment if you find any mistakes, or if you have items that should be added.

Haunted Mansion product placement

Haunted Mansion, not to be confused with The Haunted Mansion (2003), opened in theaters today. Since most of the movie is set in the mansion, product placement was not as easy to do. Watch for verbal references to:

  • Zillow – there really is a Zillow listing for this mansion, a very clever movie tie in.
  • Amazon – though perhaps just a joke…
  • CVS – This one was blatant. The medium brings out a notepad and says that she got it at CVS.
  • COSTCO – I forget where this was mentioned.
  • Burger King – a Burger King fry bag is passed around in a car, and references are made to its contents.

What others did you notice? Please leave a comment and I will update the list.

Disneyland’s Oogie Boogie Bash 2023 sells out in 10 hours

After an initial attempt to sell tickets on July 6th, ticket sells resumed on July 11th. A short time before the selling queue opened at 9 a.m. PST, folks were able to join a holding queue which was (so we are told) going to randomly insert us in the actual ticket queue.

I was there before 9 a.m., and remained in the queue until just after 8 p.m. PST when all tickets were sold out.

During the day, the screen would update as certain days became “limited” or sold out. I took screenshots every time I noticed a change, and if there is interest, I’ll write a post that shows which dates sold out first.

It was quite the waste of a day. And this, my friends, is the same company that folks are saying is in financial trouble because Indy is only the 12th highest grossing film in the world, currently.

Until next time…

Branson, Missouri’s tourist trap attractions – introduction

My grandparents took me to Branson, Missouri back in 1984. That Branson was a very different place than the Branson that exists today. Although the amusement park Silver Dollar City did exist, Branson was mostly focused on live entertainment – music venues, stage shows and such. Many big name country stars had theaters there, or would have later.

Today, most of the big name celebrities that were once there have passed on. While there are a few namesake theaters (Dick Clark has one), others have been torn down. No more Mickey Gilley, no more Jim Stafford.

BUT, the tourist traps are alive and well. We recently drove down to Branson and took a look at some of them. Over 2300 photos will be added to my “Other Places” photo gallery, covering spots such as…

  • Beyond the Lens – a mish-mash of photo ops (selfie spots), odd displays (Bigfoot and the JFK assasination?), freeplay games, and VR. It also featured the FlyRide which was such a ripodd of Disney’s Soarin’ over California that it even used yellow straps on the seatbelts, and the movie contained scenes with hot air baloons, hang gliders, an animal jumping in to the water and a number of scenes copied from the Disney original.
  • Butterfly Palace – larger zoos have places like this, but I had never been to one that let me “feed” the butterflies. There was also a 3-D movie, a small animal display, a rope/forest and, for some reason, a mirror maze.
  • Dolly Parton’s Stampede – No longer called the Dixie Stampede, this dinner show was in its 29th season (I believe). Dinner was served while you watched a horse/comedy/stunt show. The show was great, but there were some things that really seemed bad for an entity that’s been doing this for almost three decades.
  • Fantastic Caverns – not actually in Branson, but about an hour away. This drive-through cavern experience was one of the best entertainment things I have ever done. It was brilliantly done and operated.
  • Hollywood Was Museum – An excellent was museum. The last time I visited one (in Dallas), you looked at the figures from behind ropes. This one had them on the floor and you could stand next to them to get photos. They even had props you could use (such as putting on a red silk robe or bunny earts to lay in bed next to Hugh Hefner). This place also had the Castle of Chaos which was a moving seat 3-D shooter game, and Hanna’s Maze of Mirrors which was an evolution of mirror mazes that surprised me – it even had a storyline.
  • Retromania – An 80’s-themed bar/cafe on one side, then an attraction on the other. While it is mostly just 80’s stuff on display on walls, there were some arcade games on freeplay, some cimena seats where you could sit and watch an 80s movie, a small 80’s-themed haunted house, an 80’s music blacklight minigolf course, and several escape rooms. Paying to do an escape room allowed access to all the rest.
  • Ripley’s Believe it or Not – I have visited Ripley’s locations in Dallas and Wisconsin Dells, so it was nice to see another variation.
  • Titanic Museum – even though it may look like a tourist trap from the outside, with a building that looks like the Titanic hitting an ice berg, inside was a serious and well-done museum. Truly one of the most enjoyable museum experiences I have ever had.
  • …and side trips to restaurants like Starvin’ Marvins, Crazy Craigs Treehouse and the “original” Outback Steak and Oyster Bar (with signs everywhere explaining it has nothing to do with the Outback many of us have down the street back home).

As time permits, I’ll share some photo essays on the experience, with pros and cons of doing a weekend at Branson versus a theme park trip to an expensive Disney or Universal park.

Until then…

Universal and SeaWorld to get their own photo section

When I got my first digital camera in 1996, I never could have imagined there would be a time when I’d be updating photo galleries with over 150,000 photos in them. Initially, all my theme park photos were able to fit in one master “DisneyFans Photos” gallery. Today, the number of files in that gallery far exceed what my web host account can allow. Because of that, I had to split the gallery up in to multiple accounts – Disneyland, Disney World and non-Disney Theme Parks.

Due to how much time it takes to update the non-Disney gallery each time I return from Universal and SeaWorld (due to having to go through all the other theme park photos), I am finally going to split off Universal Studios (Hollywood and Orlando) and SeaWorld in to their own sub-gallery.

This will group photos as follows:

  • Disneyland
  • Walt Disney World
  • Universal Studios & SeaWorld
  • …other Theme Parks

I am in the process up creating the new US/SW gallery (over 31,000 photos just from those parks) and will begin uploading it later tonight. I will then redo the Theme Parks gallery to remove Universal and SeaWorld. Hopefully folks will find them at their new location.

As one of the longest running theme park sites on the Internet (from my pre-domain days back in 1996, to the days and now this site), I hate to make big changes like this. Apologies in advance for the links that will be broken…

More updates soon…

Disney Skyliner, Aventura Hotel, Mardi Gras and more…

A few of the upcoming topics for this site will likely include:

  • Walt Disney World’s Skyliner.
  • Skyliner resort exploration.
  • Universal’s Aventura Hotel.
  • Unviersal’s food festival and Mardi Gras.
  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland versus Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • And how to save 35% on Universal Studios food……..

Universal Mardi Gras and Disney World photos coming soon…

Over 4200 new photos will be added to the gallery in coming weeks. They include photos along the Disney World Skyliner route (the resorts and area with stations), a half day visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and a trip to Universal Orlando for this year’s Mardi Gras event.

We also visited the Universal Great Escape Back to the Future experience, which was a cool technical achievement. Actually, the higher end bar there is worth a look if you partake in adult beverages.

Blog posts coming, as soon as things are caught up…

How often do I use my camera’s zoom? I wrote a script to find out.

While picking up a camera lens cleaner today, the camera shop guy showed me a better camera than the old one I use. It could take better pictures, including low light, and use interchangeable lenses so a super zoom could be added.

But, zooming was manual. Right hand holding the camera, left hand controlling the manual zoom on the lens. Plus, you had to remove the lens cap and manually extend the lens before you could even take a shot.

As nice as it would be to have a better camera, the way I take photos (often with my camera in my right hand, while my left hand has a beverage or video camera), the thought of doing the extra work every time I wanted to snap a photo is not desirable.

Most of the time, my camera is off, with the built-in lens cover protecting it. I power it on, the cover opens and lens extends and I am ready to take a shot within a second or two. How many photos would I miss out on if I had to do more work every time I wanted to take a picture?

As to the zoom, I created (with help of ChatGPT) a script to scan through my photos and tell me how many unique zooms it found. If I rarely zoomed, the number would be low. If I often zoomed, it would be high.

Unique Focal Lengths Found: 76 in 2204 photos

In a specific folder of photos form one visit to California Adventure, I had 76 different zoom levels. But, this isn’t truly what I want to know. For instance, if 99% of the time I turned on the camera and zoomed in maximum, and the other 1% of the time I just turned it on and did nothing, it would show 2 zoom levels — even though I actually used the zoom 99% of the time.

More work on this script needs to be done. A few interacting with ChatGPT later, and now I have one that shows me a formatted listing, from most-used to least-used focal lengths, along with their percentages:

Scanning photos in 'CaliforniaAdventure2022'...
2204 photos scanned.
Unique Focal Lengths Found: 76
        44/5:  1858 ( 84.30%)
       184/5:   104 (  4.72%)
    9069/500:    28 (  1.27%)
  14549/1000:    16 (  0.73%)
    2693/100:     8 (  0.36%)
   10541/500:     7 (  0.32%)
    5873/200:     7 (  0.32%)
  12103/1000:     7 (  0.32%)
  16583/1000:     6 (  0.27%)
    5839/250:     6 (  0.27%)
    6381/500:     6 (  0.27%)
   13693/500:     5 (  0.23%)
  24453/1000:     5 (  0.23%)
    9189/500:     5 (  0.23%)
   10693/500:     5 (  0.23%)
    3289/100:     5 (  0.23%)
  25639/1000:     5 (  0.23%)
  10051/1000:     4 (  0.18%)
   15229/500:     4 (  0.18%)
  20211/1000:     4 (  0.18%)
  19393/1000:     4 (  0.18%)
      983/50:     4 (  0.18%)
    2479/250:     4 (  0.18%)
  13319/1000:     4 (  0.18%)
  27857/1000:     3 (  0.14%)
    6711/200:     3 (  0.14%)
  26487/1000:     3 (  0.14%)
    3163/100:     3 (  0.14%)
  10317/1000:     3 (  0.14%)
    3401/200:     3 (  0.14%)
    2877/200:     3 (  0.14%)
  25233/1000:     3 (  0.14%)
  23713/1000:     3 (  0.14%)
  22669/1000:     3 (  0.14%)
    6449/500:     3 (  0.14%)
  22013/1000:     3 (  0.14%)
  17671/1000:     3 (  0.14%)
    5797/500:     3 (  0.14%)
    7709/500:     3 (  0.14%)
    1579/100:     2 (  0.09%)
   10393/500:     2 (  0.09%)
    3679/250:     2 (  0.09%)
    2167/200:     2 (  0.09%)
  22337/1000:     2 (  0.09%)
    2099/125:     2 (  0.09%)
  19131/1000:     2 (  0.09%)
    6977/200:     2 (  0.09%)
    7801/500:     2 (  0.09%)
    4099/200:     2 (  0.09%)
    2037/200:     2 (  0.09%)
   12419/500:     1 (  0.05%)
       151/8:     1 (  0.05%)
   12039/500:     1 (  0.05%)
      753/50:     1 (  0.05%)
  15983/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
    2328/125:     1 (  0.05%)
  15237/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
   14951/500:     1 (  0.05%)
  26057/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
  16379/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
    1739/125:     1 (  0.05%)
    1778/125:     1 (  0.05%)
  11847/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
  16179/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
    2876/125:     1 (  0.05%)
   9499/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
    4983/250:     1 (  0.05%)
      241/25:     1 (  0.05%)
      293/25:     1 (  0.05%)
  13037/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
    7443/500:     1 (  0.05%)
    2712/125:     1 (  0.05%)
  28343/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
  12363/1000:     1 (  0.05%)
    1361/100:     1 (  0.05%)
  12627/1000:     1 (  0.05%)

I’m guessing that the 84% is the time I just turn on the camera and take a photo. This tells me that 16% of the time, I mess with zoom.

It does seem like going to a camera with manual zoom is not something I want to do, since I do use the feature enough for that to be a step back.


I’ll be adding this script to my GitHub with other photo scripts I’ve been working on, shortly. You can find work-in-progress ones here: