Disney blog postings
|Earliest: May 30, 2003||Latest: April 24, 2017||Total: 83|
|May 9, 2016|
Join Kermit, Miss Piggy and the entire Muppets gang for a spectacular presentation in 3D.
Muppet*Vision 3D features many of the same characters from the popular 70's television program, The Muppet Show. The show gave rise to 12 motion pictures and many television specials, and even won an Emmy(R) Award.
The current attraction, which puts you in the center of the Muppet madness, was a special collaboration between Jim Henson Productions and Walt Disney Imagineering. It was the last major project the Jim Henson worked on before he suddenly death in 1990. It first premiered at Walt Disney World on the anniversary of Henson's death on May 16, 1991.
You'll see the following characters at some point during the show: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, Scooter, Sam Eagle, Swedish Chef, Waldorf and Statler, Sweetums, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Beaker, and Bean Bunny.
2016 Park Updates
Florida - Muppet's 3D is safe from all the constructions going on at Hollywood Studios! You'll still be able to enjoy the show after Star Wars land and Toy Story Land is completed.
California - The Muppet Vision 3D show has been removed from California Adventure. The attraction's final day of operation was November 1, 2014. The remaining attraction in that vicinity, MuppetVision 3D, is now listed on park guide maps as being located in the renamed Muppets Courtyard.
Tips about the Attraction
Its a good idea to arrive extra early since the preshow is funny. They put a lot of work in the video portion. Pay attention to some of the props around the room. Most times the wait isn't going to be more than 20 minutes.
When you arrive, don't wait by curtains. Instead, get close to the monitors and watch the pre-show show. People that are lined up by the curtains will be sitting stage right.
The best seats to get the 3D special effects is sitting center stage about 10 rows from the back. (At least that has been my experience.)
Sitting front row stage left is where you can encounter Waldo, he won't give high fives.
If you should end up on the front row, watch the penguins during the 'Flight of the Bumblebee' song. Watch how they interact with the screen.
The sheet music that the penguins are looking at during the show is actually for "The Rainbow Connection."
This is a theater attraction. Like most Disney shows, when the new audience enters the auditorium they are asked to move all the way down the entire row and fill up every available seat. If you should encounter people stopping mid-row, kindly ask them to move.
Towards the end of the show, if you listen carefully you can hear the Muppets sing "It's a Small World."
The Fire Truck that enters when then the theater explodes is a Disney Fire Truck and you can see a castle on the license plate.
At the end of the show, as you walk out, look back at the theater, you can see the next audience coming in.
Plan to watch a couple of shows. At the second show, pay attention to the background. There a lot of things going that isn't the central point in the picture. For example, When Kermit says there will be a little show from Miss Piggy, she pops out of her dressing room and says, "Little?" To the right of her is a fire pull station. If you look carefully, it is pulled.
Outside the theater is a fountain featuring the muppet characters. Gonzo is balancing on an inflatable toy who's head looks just like Mickey, except the eyes are bulging a bit (but so would yours if Gonzo had his left foot in your back!).
|May 2, 2016|
The Crystal Palace is a restaurant that serves Breakfast and Lunch with several Hundred Acres Woods Characters. The restaurant is located at the Magic Kingdom near the First Aid Center.
While you are enjoying your meal, You will see Pooh Bear, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore come by and visit your table.
Some notes on this location based on personal experiences:
- This isn't the only place to get pictures of the Hundred Acres Woods Characters. You can see them near the Pooh ride in Fantasyland. They no longer are at Animal Kingdom. (May 7th 2014 was their last appearance.)
- The Crystal Palace serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Breakfast is the cheaper of the three meals. This is a self serve buffet style restaurant.
- We recommend starting your day at the Magic Kingdom at the Crystal Palace. Get a "Before the Park" open reservation. That way you can get to walk down Main Street USA and get a picture with the castle and Main Street with very little crowds.
- The best place to sit is along the windows on the left side of the restaurant. You'll get a nice view of the castle. You may not always have a choice, but it doesn't hurt to ask when making reservations.
- When making reservations make sure to mention any allergies that you may have. This way you hostess will know so they can make your dining experience even better.
- If you get a reservation before the park opens, get to the gate at least 15 minutes before your reservations. When you arrive at the park entrance go to the far left turnstile (nearest the monorail) to get in to the park. You will just need to give the Cast Member your name and reservation time. Look for the Cast Member holding an iPad and check in with them.
- Disney Photo Cast Members will be walking around Main Street to take your pictures before the park opens.
- When you get to the Crystal Palace, go to the window next to the double doors entrance to check in. There might be a 5 to 10 minute wait, even if you have reservations. You may be given a beeper. There is some lemon flavor water near the entrance. Can you can spot the hidden Mickey?
- There's great photo opportunities of the castle from the Crystal Palace waiting area. The bridge to Adventureland is a great place to take group photos.
Inside the Palace
- Once inside, you can hear some of the Hundred Acres music in the background.
- Typically you will get one shot at seeing the characters. They do a loop around the restaurant and only make it to your table once during your visit.
- When you get to your table, you will have a few minutes before the characters appear. The person that seats you will let you know how much time you have.
- A cast member will give you a quick warning that your table is next.
- Make sure to have the cameras and autographs ready before the Character comes to your table. You don?t want to miss your child first view of the Characters.
Interacting with the Charaters
- It's best that any children in highchairs are sitting closest to the isle. This will make it easier for the characters to give hugs. It will make it easier to take pictures.
- Its very rare to get a picture with multiple characters together. In other words, don't expect to get pictures of Tigger and Eeyore in one shot.
- The characters will be at your table for a brief time, just enough to take pictures and sign autographs.
- Every so often there is a "Pooh-rade." This is where young children can march along with Pooh bear around a section of the restaurant. There is a brief announcement before the parade starts.
Buffett and Service
- At the buffet section, there is a Pooh's Corner, Children's Buffet where kids can pick up some delicious goods. At breakfast time, you can get the Mickey Waffles and the Winnie the Pooh's Puffed French Toast. (I highly recommend the Puffed French Toast!)
- Fruit tends to go quickly at the Buffett.
- Service is very well here, if you need a refill or plates removed it typically happens faster than most restaurants.
- When leaving, look of the flower display in the center of the restaurant. Yup, all your favorite Hundred Acres Woods friends are there. It's a good picture spot.
- The bathrooms are nice and clean and typically not busy. It's a good idea to get clean up before venturing out for a fun day at the Magic Kingdom.
|April 25, 2016|
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid ride
If Disney was to ever change the Haunted Mansion to some more modern animatronic it would be something like the Under the Sea ride. The animatronic and special effects are very cool. Instead of riding in a Doom buggy, you ride in a clamshell vehicle.
The Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid ride is part of the New Fantasyland that officially opened on December 6, 2012. (Disney started previewing attractions on November 19.) Other attractions opened during the first phase of the New Fantasyland include Be Our Guest Restaurant, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Ariels Grotto, Gaston Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts.
The ride takes you through the journey of Arial from Mermaid to Wife. It's slightly different than the 1989 movie as it doesn't go through much of the struggle that Arial had an encounter with Ursula and her father. Basically, the ride keeps the story upbeat.
Total actual ride time: 6 minutes.
Some of my notes on this ride:
This is a very popular ride, with daytime wait times around 35-40 minutes. You should certainly include it as part of any early Fast Pass reservations.
The ride wait queue has some entertaining effects with an electronic crab. Basically, you wave you hand in front of a monitor when you want the crab to do something, such as fetch a hat. It's quick to learn and the crab will make people laugh. So when you hear laughter in line, you know it probably has to do with the crab.
Fast Pass users will miss this part of the electronic crab. The crab "wait queue" entertainment is worth checking out when the wait is at least 30 minutes. Shorter wait times means that you walk by the entertainment section and won't get to appreciate the humor the Imagineers put in the "wait queue."
There are shells strategically placed in the waiting queue. Look carefully there are several intentionally placed to form a hidden Mickey.
Arial animatronic is a bit weird looking when you experience the ride than in pictures. For some reason, all the pictures that I have taken of Arial have a weird scary look. (In particular the animatronic in the 'Part of Your World' room.)
The area where Arial sings 'Part of Your World' has some interesting gizmos and gadgets. Sebastian pops his head out from one of the treasure chests every once in a while.
There is a "Magdalene with the Smoking Flame" picture in Arial's collection. This is an oil-on-canvas depiction of Mary Magdalene by French Baroque painter Georges de La Tour, painted in 1640.
You may be able to see a book with the initials 'MM.' Perhaps for Mermaid or is it Mary Magdalene? Note that an oil lamp separates the frame picture from the book. (Similar to the painting.)
When you enter the "Under the Sea" song area check out the eyes on the lobsters, just below Sebastian. The fifth lobster eyes look different than the others. This is the only place where the lobster eyes don't match up. (Could it be a hint to look someplace else?)
Your half way through the ride when you see the green fish blowing the saxophone. This happens just as you leave the "Under the Sea" area.
The "Kiss the Girl" scene looks very familiar. I don't know if its to reference the Pirates of the Caribbean ride going by the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland.
|April 18, 2016|
One Man's Dream (Hollywood Studios)
One of my favorite things that I like see at Disney World Hollywood Studios is the "One Man, One Dream" in particular I like looking at the working office Walt Disney once used.
The office looks exactly the same way as he last left it. Visitors have a time capsule view of what a CEO office looked like in the 1960s. You can see all sorts of pictures and things that inspired the great imagineer.
The whole "One Man's Dream" came about as part of the "100 Years of Magic" which started on October 1st, 2001. It took guests on a journey through the life of Disney, who was born on December 5, 1901, and included rare artifacts.
Other exhibits at the One Man's Dream include:
- Walt Disney's 2nd-grade school desk
- Audio and film clips that contain previously unseen footage and interviews with Walt Disney
- Vintage Disney toys and merchandise
- "Granny Kincaid's Cabin," Walt's first attempt at a 3D miniature environment
- "The Dancing Man," Walt's first animated figure and precursor to the Audio-Animatronics technology he would soon pioneer
- The original Audio-Animatronics Abraham Lincoln figure from the 1964 New York World's Fair
- Mickey Mouse Club props and costumes
- The model of Main Street, U.S.A. from Disneyland Resort
- Jungle Cruise and Spaceship Earth models
- Mary Poppins costumes
- Peter Pan's Flight ride vehicle models
- The planning model for Disney's California Adventure theme park
- Scaled replicas of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Resort and Disneyland Paris Resort
- The Tree of Life model from Disney's Animal Kingdom park
Due to expansion at Hollywood Studios, the "One Man, One Dream" has been closed. This is make room for additional attractions for the Toy Story Land.
The desk has been moved to the Walk Disney family museum in San Francisco:
The Walt Disney Family Museum
104 Montgomery Street in the Presidio
San Francisco, CA 94129
I can't wait to go back to San Francisco to see the desk to see how well they put everything back in the same place.
"You never know where going until you know where you been. " - English Proverb/Old Saying
|April 11, 2016|
It's A Small World
It's a world of laughter, a world of tears. It's a world of hopes, and a world of fears. -It's A Small World
Along with Carousel of Progress, the "Its a small World" ride made its premiere at the 1964 World Fair. After the fair was over the ride was re-assembled at Disneyland.
The "It's a small world" is an attraction that people have a love-hate relationship with. When you visit Disney you feel obligated to go on the ride, and then you spend the rest of the trip hating the ride because you keep singing the theme song over and over again.
Here are some notable facts about this ride:
- This is the only water ride in DisneyWorld where you won't get wet.
- In Walt Disney World the power for It's a Small World and Haunted Mansion is from the same source. So if there is a power issue at one ride, it will impact the other ride.
- The exterior design are different between the two parks. In Disneyland, the clock display is very visible to people walking around Fantasyland. In DisneyWorld, you can't see the clock display unless you're in the inside waiting area.
- The display gets a Christmas seasonal makeover, which causes the attraction to be closed. When the Christmas season is over, the ride is shut down for a couple of days to change the The ride is also closed when Disney has to take down the display.
- Disney spends a lot of effort on the clock, plan your ride so that you can see the hourly time show.
- After you get on the boat, be sure to wave at the security people. They are always waving and making sure everyone is sitting before the boat moves.
- You can buy an "It's a Small World" boat toy at the Emporium Shop on Main Street USA. Simply ask a cast member for it. It's a perfect tub toy for any preschool.
- At Disneyland, the turrets and gold colored ornaments on the outside of the Small World Ride are an actual 22K gold leaf. Normal gold tone paint had been used early on when the ride first opened but the paint would oxidize very quickly and need to be replaced on a continual basis. While initially expensive to gold leaf, the gold is actually more cost effective in the long run.
- At the end of It's a Small World, there are signs with the word "Goodbye" in different languages from all over the world. However the sign that supposedly represents Japan is the Japanese word "Arigato" meaning "Thank You".
- In "It's a Small World" in Disneyland, there is a clown holding a "Help Me!" sign. The clown holding it is the only character in the whole ride that is not smiling - he has a little frown. The sign is just to keep him in character.
- There are no American Small World scenes in Walt Disney World's the Magic Kingdom. There's one in Disneyland Paris.
- All seven princesses are someplace on the ride. This is a fun thing for little ones to search for. Tip: Expect them to be in the lands where the character appears in.
- Total uninterrupted ride time is 10:30, this tends to be slightly longer when it's extremely busy as the boats bump into each other as the waiting queue causes a backup.
- Listen closely during the grand finale of the Muppet Show when all the soldiers come out carrying the different countries flags. At one point you can hear them softly singing "It's A Small World!"
|April 4, 2016|
Carousel of Progress
One of the oldest continuing attentions in Disney World is the Carousel of Progress which made its original debut at the 1964 World Fair. After the fair, it was moved to Tomorrowland Disneyland and stayed there until 1974. In 1975, it premiered in Walt Disney World.
The Carousel of Progress offers Disney guests a unique opportunity to sit in a moving theater and learn about how technology in the 20th Century has improved the American Family.
The entire show is just about 20 minutes long, which makes this a great place for little ones to rest for a bit. My 4-year-old daughter enjoyed sitting through the show and listening to the music.
The Carousel of Progress is a great place to head to when a sudden afternoon rain storm hits. Much of the waiting area is under cover and you won't have to wait too long to get in. If it's still raining after the ride, you can use the People Mover as cover to get something to eat or shopping.
Just about every seat in the theater is a good seat. I have found that the center seats in the back two rows to offer the best vantage point to see everything going on. If you want to look at the details sit in front row.
Photography and videotaping are not permitted during the show. I have been to a couple of shows where I got distracted because of the rear camera screen or the occasional flash photography. If you plan to film the show, please do it in the back row and learn how to take pictures without a flash.
Despite the no video recording policy, Disney Guest still managed to get some good quality videos on Youtube.
Here are some things to pay attention to on your next show:
- In the first Act, "Turn of the Century" there is a calendar on the back wall - near the clock. Check out the month and year. (You may need to sit in the front row to the far right for this one.)
- In the first Act a little girl is introduced helping the mother with the laundry but then is never mentioned again. What happened to her?
- In the 2nd Act look at the fathers shoes, it looks like that he has on two left shoes.
- There is a cat in every Act. You do have to look hard in some Act, but there is a cat showplace.
- The original Imagineers created the dog on the Carousel of Progress to look exactly like Walt Disney's Dog. It's the same dog you see on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, holding the key the prisoners want.
- In every Act there is a well placed hidden Mickey. In the final Act, you can see at least three; include one very well place Mickey Mouse stuff figure by the presents under the tree. Look around the room for other "Hidden Mickey."
- In the last scene, if you look at the billboard you will see a note which says - "Marty called - he wants changes!" This is certainly a poke at Walt Disney Imagineering President Marty Skylar, who always made last minute changes.
- Can you guess where in the United States the Carousel of Progress family actually lives? Hint: It's not California or Florida! Look for clues throughout the show!
Walt Disney was a fan of the Carousel of Progress and told many people that it was his favorite attraction. He did a lot of work for the 1964 World Fair, but he spent most of his time making sure that the Carousel of Progress came out just right.
A really cool thing that Disney did was to add a date to the Carousel of Progress sign in Tomorrowland. This allowed guests the opportunity to take pictures of the sign with a dated milestone of their trip. A few years ago the date was removed from the sign. It's not clear why Disney did this. Currently, there's no milestone landmark that guest can take as a traditional souvenir photo.
|March 28, 2016|
Disney's Magical Express
In 2005, Disney made staying on the property a lot easier with the Disney Magical Express from the Orlando International airport to the Resorts in Disney World. This service will pick up your luggage and deliver it safely to your room. Traveler that stay on Disney property no longer has to plan for transportation cost from the airport to their resort and vice versa.
Getting to the Magical Express Bus in the airport terminal can be a bit tricky. Orlando International airport is huge. The signs at the airport can be hard to read with all the visual distractions.
So here are some clear instructions on getting to the loading area:
The Disney Magical Express bus is located in the Main Terminal on side B at the Ground Transportation Level. When you get off the airplane at a Gate terminal, you will need to take the train to the main terminal. Once you are in the main terminal, head to Side B and then to the Ground Transportation area. (Referrer to the map on how to get to the Disney Magical Express location.) You should be looking for the "Disney Airport Welcome Center."
Travelers Tip: The Main terminal area is big, simply look for the Gares 30-49 (United) then take the stairs need the trains to the Ground Transportation.
Here are some important things to know:
- Plan to take your bathroom break before you arrive at the "Disney Airport Welcome Center." Tip: Use the ones in the Main Terminal area and not the ones near the Bus area.
- Car seats are not permitted on the motor coaches and must be stowed underneath the motorcoach.
- Once you arrive at the bus area find your resort name at one of the waiting lines and someone will come up to you and check you in.
- Reminder: Don't pack your magic bands in your suitcase, you will need them to confirm your reservation and get in your hotel room.
- Your luggage may take up to 3 hours to be delivered to your room after you arrive at your Resort hotel.
- As you travel to your hotel, you will watch a short video on your Disney Magical Express experience. Your bus may make as many as four stops before you arrive at your resort. Your driver will let you know the various stops they will make.
- It should take about 30 minutes to get from the airport to the Walt Disney World area.
- Bus drivers accept tips if you feel that they have done an exceptional job and made your journey awesome. Consider $1 a bag, or $2 if your bag is exception heavy. (Bonus: Consider having your child give the tip to the driver.)
|March 21, 2016|
Quietest Place in the Magic Kingdom
There's no question about it, Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom in Disney World is a fun place to bring kids. That's the whole reason the Walt Disney built the park. It's a fun place for the whole family.
There is a problem when the littlest one needs a fairly quiet place to take a nap. As many people may encounter, there is no real quiet place in the Magic Kingdom.
One would think the area between the railroad station in fantasyland and Space Mountain would be the perfect spot. Unfortunately, it's pretty busy because its the only legal smoking area in the Magic Kingdom. A smoking area isn't a good nap spot for kids.
The rest of the park is tough because of sounds from attractions and the crowds walking around. In addition, Disney likes to add music any place it can to liven up the mood.
Where is the perfect napping spot?
The perfect napping spot we have found is the Tomorrowland terrace. This is located between Main Street and Tomorrowland, near the Plaza Restaurant. Simply take a right after the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and follow
During the past few visits we found the place to be empty and fairly quiet. The metal chairs do make some noise when people move them to sit down. Otherwise, the only sound you do hear is the music which we found to be quieter than the rest of the park.
We have found this to be a great location when a sudden rainstorm occurs and you need a place to stay dry for a bit. There's plenty of room for everyone. You don?t feel trap and the bathrooms are nearby.
Since this isn't a very busy area, we have found that the bathrooms at the top of the terrace are not kept up to other areas of the park. It is certainly not what I would expect from Disney, where they do very good job paying attention to details. Your nearest clean bathrooms would be next to the Plaza Restaurant .
What about the Baby Care Centers?
The Baby Center does have some quiet rooms where Moms and babies can sit and relax. The problem is that you have to take the baby out of the stroller - which isn't good if they are already napping. In addition, there's limited seating and there is a chance of other babies crying and waking up your child.
I think your best bet is to check out the Tomorrowland Terrence.
Got any Disney ideas that you wish to share? Let me know, and I'll be happy to post it.
|February 7, 2016|
Haunted Mansion Light Shadow Box
Disneyland Haunted Mansion The Three Hitch Hiking Ghosts Olszewski Gallery Of Light Shadow Box
Instead of buying cheap souvenirs on your next Disney vacation, consider getting something practical or valuable to help you remember your trip. Yes, you're better off spending more than throwing away your money on a cheap item.
I have found that in most cases, cheap souvenirs will get used for a couple of weeks, after the vacation, and then loose its appeal. Eventually it will be put aside in a bin to be donated or put in a yard sale.
Disney has a great premium souvenirs selection available at selected stored on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom and in several stores in Downtown Disney. On our last trip to Disneyworld, we stopped at the The Art of Disney in downtown Disney. The store sells all sorts of unique artwork featuring various Disney characters.
The Haunted Mansion Light Up Box
Among all the art displays, I found a really cool Haunted Mansion light up box that I had to have. It's a small 4x4 inch box and inside is the Hitch Hiking Ghost scene from the Haunted Mansion ride. I instantly thought it would be perfect on my home desk. So we purchased it for $99 and had it ship home. (No chance that I was going to risk a bag handler break this item)
It took a week for the package to arrive home and I was very excited to see it again. The box is sitting on my desk at a perfect height so that I can turn it on and see the Haunted Mansion. It a very cool souvenir that I like to show anyone coming over to our house. I feel it was worth the money and I do remember the trip every time I turn the box on.
I got another Haunted Mansion light up box for my birthday. This one features Madam Leota and the various music items that are in the room with her in the Haunted Mansion. Both of these look really cool next to each other.
So on your next trip, try to come up with some type of practical souvenir that you can use every day. Consider your desk at home or at work and what unique item that you can put on your desk. One side note to this blog posting:
The Fake Ice Cream Story
If you should visit the ?Ben and Jerry?s? store in Vermont in your travels, don?t get the fake spilled ice cream in the container for the office. I purchased this last year and thought it would look really cool on my desk. However, the people who clean the office didn?t get the joke and threw it away the same day I placed it.
Someone from the cleaning crew picked up the cup and threw it away. I guess it was too real looking for them to realized that it was fake. It was that event that I decided that it wasn?t worth bringing anything nice on my desk at work. An expensive $12 lesson.
This isn?t the only thing that the cleaning crew threw away. Last year when Coke ran a promotion when they had names on the bottle. My college roommate found two bottles with my name and gave them to me. The cleaning crew assumed it was trash and threw those away too. (or at least probably returned the containers to get the deposit refund.)
|January 9, 2016|
Best Haunted Mansion Night Shots
Here are three things that you need to have a successful experience taking photos of the Walt Disney World Haunted Mansion at night. Disney does a great job with lighting up the mansion and taking pictures of it at night can be very tricky.
A Good Camera
While you can try to take a picture of the Haunted Mansion with an iPhone 6s Plus, you are much better using a camera that has a low relative aperture or f-number.
Cameras such as the Nikon DF, Olympus E-M5, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EOS 7D and Olympus XZ-2 iHS have taken phenomenal night shots of the Haunted Mansion. You don't need to spend a lot of money on a camera, just look for one that has a small Sensor size and has the ability to shoot in low light conditions.
Make sure to buy the camera long before you head to the Magic Kingdom. You can learn how to use the camera by challenging yourself to take pictures of different surroundings and with different lighting. Go outside and take pictures of public buildings that are light up. College Buildings and Downtowns would be good practice settings.
Yes, you can use your smart phone to take pictures. You'll get really good results when you look at the picture on your phone. I have found that that same awesome picture on my phone looks very blurry on my computer or on paper. You will get a slightly darker picture than if you use a regular camera.
You can still bring a tripod into the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. Disney knows that a lot of people like to take pictures around the park at night. Any photo expert will tell you that the best night pictures are taken using a tripod.
You can use any standard travel tripod. Don't spend too much on anything very fancy. You just need one that will support your camera and lens. You can bring the tripod to the park and leave it in the lockers just off Main Street until you need it.
You dont need to bring a full size tripod, mini tripods will work just fine. There are plenty of places to put a Joby GripTight tripod, Ravelli Tripod or a Manfrotto Mini Tripod.
A tripod is key to having a nice steady shot.
Location, Location, Location
The key thing to remember when your taking night photos that there are special effects going on at the Mansion. Every four minutes, inside the mansion there will be a person that appears to be walking in the conservatory. If you are using a camera timer setting you should be away of the sudden light change as it may impact your time-lapse picture.
The best location for night photos is near the Fast Pass checking entrance. Just beyond where the cast members are standing to check for Fast Pass is the perfect location of the Mansion and the hearse. Just tell the cast members that you want to take some pictures and they will let you in. If you have a mini tripod you can ask to place it on the cast member stand for a few minutes, if they are not busy they will let you have your fun.
If you have a Joby GripTight you can wrap it around one of the gates in the garden just by the hearse. (See the red arrows in the above picture) You'll also find that some of the post around the hearse are perfect for mini-tripods, perhaps they were put there for that reason. Theres a trash can position at the entrance of the hearse gate that in a perfect position for holding your camera. Make sure to stand in the way from anyone trying to use the trash.
In front of the hearse gate is a circle on the ground. (See the yellow arrow in the above picture) This is a perfect spot to set up your tripod. You can get a great few of the mansion and the hearse from this spot. The circle spot is perfectly level to make the tripod balance the shot.
If you have a good lens on your camera you should head down past Liberty Square and get a picture at Frontier land. A good spot is just across away from the Diamond Horseshoe. You can position your mini-tripod on the wall and get a good distance view of the mansion. This is a tricky shot location because of the lights from other attractions can make it hard to see the lights on the mansion.