I suppose I should apologize once again for the lack of Blogging here; this past weekend was spent on a whirlwind roadtrip across the state with the rest of the family, where we gathered over in Pullman to meet my new niece Isla for the first time and to witness her baby blessing. As always, it was nice to be able to get (almost) the entire family together for the event, although when you cram sixteen people (five being young children, and at least one of them potentially contagious with something) into an apartment designed for about four or so, things start getting a bit, shall we say, interesting after a while. The trip also involved spending roughly nine hours in the car in both directions, which probably could have been used for some blogging if not for the fact that I was busy being bored (oh yeah, and I also didn’t have much of an Internet connection to work with either.) Oh, and I nearly got suffocated by an overchlorinated hot tub at the hotel, but that’s another story entirely.
Anyway, with Autumn settling rapidly upon the land, and Winter being just around the corner, it’s starting to become pretty clear that Winter is on the way. And the current climatological predictions for the coming Winter seem to be pointing suspiciously in the cold-and-wet direction, suggesting that La Nina isn’t quite done with us yet after this year’s unusually cold and excessively rainy Spring and early Summer. Naturally, this is the type of weather forecast that can send even the most diehard of Seattleites scrambling to Expedia to go look at flights to somewhere nice and sunny. Fortunately, I’ve already got one midwinter bug-out planned already (given this past year’s travel history, you can probably guess on that one), but it’s times like this that having a convenient excuse to sneak away a weekend or two certainly can’t hurt. As you may recall from back in September when I was busy traveling all over the place (sort of,) somewhere in the process of those multiple trips I managed to end up getting an Annual Pass to Disneyland. At the time, it was a combination of various circumstances that led me to get an annual pass (making two different trips to California in one month, as well as planning ahead for another trip after the big California Adventure overhaul is finished sometime next Summer,) but now that I have it, I’m finding that it comes with the side benefit of having a built-in excuse to sneak down to California a time or two over the next few months. Given some of the long-range forecasts for the Winter season around here, there’s a good chance I might need one of those. Sure, it looks like Southern California may be in line for some of the same assorted meteorological crud we’re expected to get here, but there’s no way it can be any worse than here, right?
But it’s not just the ability to go basically whenever you want (blackout dates notwithstanding, although I opted for the Premium pass which doesn’t have that problem) that changes the way you spend time in the parks. One thing I found from my second trip (after the coastal cruise) was that having the annual pass all but eliminates the invisible timer that seems to hang over your head on a typical Disney trip, telling you that you’ve got only six hours of Disney time remaining. As you might know from some of the previous posts I’ve written here, I’ve found that a multi-day trip to a Disney park is one of the least relaxing ways I have found to spend a vacation (at least one which doesn’t involve active participation in risky extreme sports.) A typical day at Disney involves miles of walking (when I took a pedometer into the parks during my trip last May, I came up with a number somewhere between 10-12 miles a day,) hours of standing in line, and there’s a good chance you’ll be eating mostly junkfood along the way. By the time you’ve been through three or four days of that routine, you’ll probably be more than a little wiped out, but given the cost of a 3-day Parkhopper, you almost need to go through this exhausting routine to get your money’s worth out of it. With the annual pass, a great deal of the pressure to do things is eliminated. It opens the door for things like spending just a few hours in the evening in the parks instead of all day, going in and riding just a few rides (or in some cases, perhaps even none at all,) and basically taking a much more casual approach than you would be able to otherwise.
Naturally there’s a catch to all this, mostly in the fact that this approach is really only feasible in a situation where disposable income is relatively abundant and ongoing commitments are relatively sparse. There are cheaper options for annual passes if you’re a Southern California resident, but those ones are loaded with blackout dates, and unless you’re going on your own you’ll probably need to buy more than one for it to be of much use. Of course, living 1,200 miles from the parks does mean that I can’t exactly just pop in at will, but like I said earlier, it makes for a convenient excuse to grab a cheap airfare and head down for a couple of days. And if the weather we’re expecting around here for the next few months is any indication, any excuse to get away is a good one, right?