November 15, 2005

Another Year, Another Annual Pass

We quietly passed our one-year anniversary in this house last week. Yesterday, another important milestone came and went: our Disneyland Annual Passports expired!

So on Sunday night, we went over to the park to renew. Thanks to Shelby's being an audience member on the Dr. Phil show back in August, renewing for another year was a no-brainer, as the insane gift bag that everybody in the audience received included two annual-pass vouchers! (It was Dr. Phil's first show of the season; I guess that he wanted to impress everyone with a real blowout.)

As you can see, this year's pass incorporates a spiffy 50th-anniversary design.

After renewing our passes, we walked around the park for a little while. Everything's been decorated for Christmas; I'll have to come back to take some nighttime pictures before we're 'blacked out' for the holiday season. At Shelby's request, we rode the ride that everybody loves to hate, "it's a small world". (Going strong for almost forty years now the e.e. cummings-like lack of caps is the official spelling.) At Christmastime, the ride is transformed into "it's a small world holiday" in addition to the old familiar song, the cherubic dolls representing the children of many nations add "Jingle Bells" to their repertoire, and the ride is lavishly decorated for Christmas. It's very well done, but it's a little disconcerting to see the children of India or deepest Africa enthusiastically celebrating Christmas, singing about dashing through the snow.

On the outside, the facade is completely covered with Christmas lights and every fifteen minutes, they play a new-for-this-year (as far as I know) show: a bizarre-yet-highly entertaining video presentation, where they use the entire surface of the ride building as a projection screen for an increasingly-frenetic series of scenes from Disney holiday movies, intercut with flashes of pure color or patterns. It's set to music; no image lasts for more than a few seconds; the building's facade is divided into all kinds of squares, circles, and triangles, and each little shape gets its own unique image. It's totally mesmerizing, and, while it would undercut Disney's family-friendly image to admit it, rock-solid evidence that someone on Disney's imagineering staff spent a lot of time doing hard drugs. (And probably still does.) The little kid in line in front of us stood transfixed, staring slack-jawed at the show while his family moved fifty feet down the line; they came back and tried to prod him into motion, and had to pry him away from the handrail, screaming and crying.

(If you haven't seen the exterior of IASW before, see a picture here and scroll down for links to pictures taken inside the holiday version of the ride.)

Posted by Kevin at November 15, 2005 10:15 AM

What would an annual pass cost if you had had to pay for it?

I've just read about the gift pack. Completely insane!

Posted by: J at November 16, 2005 08:47 PM

Our level of annual pass costs $149/year/person, plus $49 for parking (which we only carry on one pass, since we almost always go together).

Depending on how many blackout days per year you find acceptable, a pass costs anywhere from $99 (the 'hope you never wanted to go on a weekend' level) to $349 (the 'I want to go every damn day' level).

Considering that a single-day ticket to both Anaheim parks costs $76, plus an extra $10 for parking, an annual pass is easily worth it, if you're local and plan on going more than once per year.

(Yes, yes, $76 is obscene, and no discussion on my uniquely spoiled-American usage of "worth it" in the sentence above, please ...)

Posted by: Kevin at November 17, 2005 08:10 AM

That's definitely a reasonable price.

What do you mean by 'both parks'? Remember, I've been gone for a long time.

Posted by: J at November 26, 2005 02:02 AM

Right, just found it. The California Adventure park is the second. How is that one?

Posted by: J at November 26, 2005 02:04 AM
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