Disneyland Fall 2019 Trip Report (Part 1)

Welcome to our Fall 2019 Disneyland Trip Report! The primary purpose of trip reports is to supplement our existing content to let you know how our strategies are actually working at a given time! This post introduces the trip report and covers booking and our travel to Disneyland Resort!

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About This Trip Report

This trip report covers a four-night visit to Disneyland. Our primary goal for this trip was to ride Haunted Mansion Holiday, but we also fit in a visit to Oogie Boogie Bash. If you’re planning your own trip to Disneyland, you’ll want to start with our Disneyland Trip Planning Guide.

Crowds are clearly inching back up after a very slow summer, and we expect that the holiday season will be busy (as always). The next major change at the resort occurs January 17, 2020 when Rise of the Resistance opens at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. We may or may not be on hand for that opening, but we’ll be visiting sometime shortly after to develop new strategies.

We don’t know exactly how we’ll be breaking up this trip for the purposes of this report, but posts will go up here as we publish them (links open in new tabs):

Booking This Trip

The rest of this post just covers booking and some quick notes on our flight to LAX. If you’re not interested in those, you might want to head to part 2, which gets things rolling with Disney California Adventure.

Our primary reason for this trip was mostly just to ride Haunted Mansion Holiday. The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay on the ride is one of Disney’s most famous ride transformations. This year, the overlay is open from September 6 through January 6.

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We picked the dates just because they worked well for us. The best fare to Los Angeles (LAX) was through Southwest. We wound up paying a hefty $542.56 for two roundtrip tickets.

The hotel situation was a little more complicated. I’m a fan of the low-priced The Anaheim hotel, and if I’m willing to spend a bit more I move up to the Best Western Plus Park Place Inn, which has the shortest walk to the parks gates of any hotel other than Disney’s Grand Californian.

But I also had a batch of points and free nights sitting in my Marriott account. Marriott Bonvoy, the new reward program, has been widely criticized since its creation. Mostly for this reason, I don’t need a bunch of points hanging out in my account. I want to use them to minimize my need to work with the program in the future.

This isn’t to say I’m cutting all ties with Marriott. I still have two Marriott credit cards that I’m undecided on. The Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin are Marriott hotels with fantastic location at Walt Disney World, and I’ve had mostly positive experiences there (including a recent suite upgrade).

My best option wound up being four nights at the Four Points by Sheraton Anaheim. I used 50,000 points for two nights, one free night certificate for one night, and paid $143.02 for one night. More about the hotel to come…

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Travel to Los Angeles

Southwest flies out of Midway International Airport, the smaller of the two major airports in Chicago (the larger is O’Hare). Because of its limited selection of airlines, I rarely fly out of Midway, but I was happy to have a change.

Our loyal reader will recall my last trip report I complained about the difficult transit situation going to O’Hare this week. Well, Midway was significantly better. Leaving my downtown apartment at 7:18AM, I was at the airport’s subway station at 8:05AM and through security by 8:14AM (thanks TSA PreCheck).

Due to being a novice Southwest flyer, I checked in a tragic 10 minutes late the day before, which put us in the beginning of the C boarding group.

I’m thinking I’ll do a full post on flying Southwest, but I have very mixed feelings. I am decidedly not a fan of their “open seating” system which boards people mostly by the order they check in and then allows them to pick any available seat.

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Luckily, we were able to find an aisle and middle at the very last row of the plane (two aisles were also available, but Emily preferred to middle-aisle pair).

A friend was kind enough to pick us up from the airport and drive us to our hotel, The Four Points by Sheraton Anaheim. In the past we’ve used Uber or the Disneyland Resort Express (more on that in an older trip report).

As I noted earlier, Marriott’s reputation has taken a bit of a hit the past year, and my experience accorded with that. I’ll be writing a full review, but suffice to say I won’t be returning to the Four Points.

The room, price, and location were all fine, to be clear. But the service left something to be desired, and there’s no reason to compromise when there are plenty of other hotels in the area (including closer to the parks). That’s all for this travel day!

Next Up in Part 2 — Disney California Adventure!

All Your Other Disneyland Planning Questions Answered

Don't be overwhelmed by Disneyland planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.

Just starting out? Check out our Disneyland Planning Guide. If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars.

When it comes to hotels, we’ve got reviews of all three Disney hotels: Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. As for tickets, check out where to find discount Disneyland tickets.

Know what to ride with our: Disneyland Rides Guide and Disney California Adventure Rides Guide. And just as important, know how to get on the best rides without the wait with our Disneyland and Disney California Adventure FASTPASS and MaxPass Strategy! For the complete guides to a day at the park, we have a One Day Disneyland Itinerary and a One Day Disney California Adventure Itinerary.

We always recommend arriving at the parks early. If you can get access to Extra Magic Hour at Disney California Adventure or Extra Magic Hour and Magic Morning at Disneyland, you’ll have the most time in the parks. Even without those bonus hours, you’ll need to know Rope Drop Strategy at Disneyland and Rope Drop Strategy at Disney California Adventure.

Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.