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Trip Report Disneyland Drive-By (it's a long story)

Hello Intrepid WDWMagic patrons and welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. Well, at least that's what it felt like at various points along the way. Here's what you are in for... a Disneyland Trip Report that will most likely take more posts in the process of getting there than posts for the actual Disney portion.

I know, that sounds crazy. But, perhaps in the past week you have seen the news at some point. Southwest Airlines thing... yeah, smack dab in the middle of it. But now, we're past it and that means it is time for some therapy via trip report.

Before we get into the action, let's take a look back at the plans. As I mentioned there will be a bit more to this trip report than our two days at Disneyland and I'm sorry to anyone who was just expecting all Disney all the time!!

Day 0 - December 23rd - myself and @MeffysMom teach a half day of school (yes, our district had school on 12/23) and then come home and get packed.
Day 1 - December 24th - fly to Sacramento via Dallas. Christmas Eve with family in Chico, CA.
Day 2-3-4 - December 25th-27th - family time in Chico. A dinner at Sierra Nevada Brewery at some point in there!
Day 5 - December 28th - a little more family time and then late evening flight to Santa Ana Airport and to a hotel by DL
Day 6 - December 29th - Disneyland!! Morning at California Adventure with lots of Avengers Campus, then over to Disneyland for Fantasyland time, and back to California Adventure for World of Color
Day 7 - December 30th - Disneyland!! Exact flip of the Day 1, with Disneyland in the morning, California Adventure in the afternoon, and finish with fireworks at Disneyland.
Day 8 - December 31st - early morning drive to LAX and fly home.

So, 2 of those days went somewhat according to plan and that's a somewhat positive way to look at things.
 

brifraz

Marching along...
Premium Member
Original Poster
First in!
And we too had a fun Southwest adventure from...SACRAMENTO!!
Got back to Pittsburgh 2 days late via Minnesota!
Can't wait to hear about your adventures.

You will have to share your adventure as well!! Thanks for following along.
 

brifraz

Marching along...
Premium Member
Original Poster
I feel like it's somewhat mean on NYE to leave everyone without anything, so let's recap day zero. Actually, it starts a little before. We live about 45-60 minutes north/northwest of Baltimore and were expecting a significant ice storm overnight from 12/22 to 12/23.

Monday 12/19 we started watching flights and forecasts with a pretty religious dedication. Things went back and forth between looking pretty good and pretty bad a number of times. Almost rebooked a couple times. Cursed the fact that our school system still had school on 12/23 more than a couple times. But, it started looking like Friday, 12/23 was going to be really bad and our flight on 12/24 would be just fine.

Thursday evening, 12/22 our school system decided to cancel school for Friday, 12/23 out of concern over ice. Even with this news, we thought that pushing our travels up to 12/23 would not be better than waiting for 12/24. In hindsight, perhaps a bit of a mistake. But it was pretty nice on Friday, 12/23 to be able to take our time and get everything packed well and relax a little bit. So that's exactly what we did. Fire in the fireplace, getting everything packed and ready to go. It was a very nice day. Heard and read a few things about some flights being cancelled, but ours kept showing up as still on time and good to go. Set the alarm for 4am to drive the airport and everything was ready for a great trip.

And, now... I'll leave you hanging all the way until next year.
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
I’m in.

I thought of you the other day when I was reading an article in our newspapers which described how antiquated the IT systems for getting a substitute teacher are here and that mostly they rely on paper lists and making phone calls at 6 am. The result often being if one cannot be found then classes are just canceled - particularly for the older kids/grades which may require more specific skills than the elementary school classes. Like with Southwest the article alluded to substitutes being available but that it is difficult to determine where they should be sent.
 

BuckyMom

Well-Known Member
Here. We too had a bit of SW issue , but for the good. The oldest couldn't get back to Houston so we got an extra week with him. No weather issue here, none in Houston, but such is flying in today's world. Much sympathy to those that were stuck in hotels or without luggage... or worse poor Buffalo. That was crazy snow.
 

Back!Elbow!Shoulders!

Omnia mutantur, nihil interit
Premium Member
I’m in!
happy oh yeah GIF by Rosanna Pansino
 

RememberWhen

Well-Known Member
Here! Our kids also were supposed to have a half day on the 23rd, but didn’t go as they tested positive for Covid on the 20th. If they had to miss school for Covid it may as well be the few days before December break. We didn’t have any travel plans this winter, thank goodness, so no scrambling to change flights and hotels.

Can’t wait to hear the rest of your adventures!
 

brifraz

Marching along...
Premium Member
Original Poster
Day 1 - Christmas Eve. As always with me, up a couple minutes before the alarm - even when it is a ways pre-dawn. Soon as we were both up and moving, we got going and headed to the airport. Our local is BWI, which is one of the hubs (even though they don't call them hubs) for Southwest Airlines, so there are always a ton of Southwest flights going in and out. Got to the airport and even at 5:15am, there was a decent line to get baggage checked. No worries, we had built in a pretty decent sized time buffer and... oh, look - our flight is slightly delayed (about 15 minutes). Not a problem.

Got the bags checked, headed to security. My wife has TSA Pre-check, so she takes the bags while I just head to the line with all the other average joes and janes. Didn't take all that long and soon we were at the gate to wait for boarding. With about an hour to spare. And then... about an hour an a half to spare. But, still not a problem. We have 90 minutes for our transfer in Dallas Love Field Airport, so a half hour delay is not going to cause an issue.

Finally got boarded, and took to the air to head to Dallas. Listened to some music, read a little bit. Generally a decent flight with just a bit of turbulence. Landed in Dallas and looking at Southwest app, it looks like our second flight is a little delayed (about 15 minutes), so we are back up over an hour in the airport which makes life pretty easy. Since we had never been to Love Field, we decided to go to our gate first to see where it was, then go grab a bite to eat. Being Christmas Eve, the airport was pretty packed but we've flown during the holidays before so nothing to worry about. Grabbed a mediocre (at best) airport pizza and then back to the gate. Not to belabor the point, but for the next 5 hours we sit and wait as our flight keeps getting delayed by another 5-10 minutes. After about the first hour, they come on the intercom to let us all know that the issue is that they are missing cabin crew, but have some coming and we will be heading out soon. To give credit where it is due, Southwest did get someone to visit with the kids who were stuck in the airport (and it was quite fun to watch some of the exchanges with excited kids on Christmas Eve).
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Not being a person who can just sit and do nothing, I am taking regular walks around the airport. Each time I go by the big Departure/Arrival board, there are more and more delayed and cancelled flights. About 5pm (our flight was supposed to leave at noon), they announce that our flight is cancelled. We both immediately start trying to re-book through the app (which is what they announced everyone should do), except that in the app it won't allow you to rebook - just keeps coming up with an error message. I immediately get in line for customer service to re-book and we both try to call the Southwest 800 number. She gets through and is then on hold on the phone. Both of us are checking available flights out of Love Field and out of Dallas Fort Worth and coming up pretty empty. I took note of the big board (have the text I sent her from the line) - over 2/3 of the arrivals are cancelled and about half the departures are cancelled and of 72 flights on the board, only 6 appear to actual be departing on time (it actually got worse later, but I didn't notice the exact numbers). This picture is NOT the worst that it got, but a decent visual of what it was like in there. By about 7pm, it definitely felt like Epcot on New Years Eve.
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At about 8pm a second line for customer service appeared. People in my line (who had been there for 3+ hours now) started getting pretty mad that the desk was taking people from both lines. It got quite heated at times. Eventually we got to the front and pointed out the issue with taking people from a line that had been there for 30 minutes alternating with people who had been there for 4 hours now (yes, it was 9pm). The agent was quite rude in response, but suddenly got much nicer when he saw my wife take down his name. Anyway, we got booked on a flight for 8:30am on Christmas morning, quickly booked ourselves a hotel room, and tried to track down some food (although, since SWA was claiming that the issues were weather-related they would not help with food or hotel costs). Of course, 9pm on Christmas Eve... everything in the airport was closed. Got our Lyft to the hotel at got quickly checked in and then asked at the desk about food. He said there were some places just down the road that should be open. So we quickly set out! Walked about half a mile down the road past 4-5 restaurants that were all closed. Even the McDonald's. Got a couple sodas at a gas station and headed back to the hotel where we knew they had some food in the little convenience area in the lobby. Only the finest for us on Christmas Eve!
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Hey, we could've done worse than frozen pot pies in the microwave... and we will. I failed to mention that we had a nice glow in the room to enjoy our dinner by - coming from the 'exotic cabaret' gentlemen's club next door.
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Please bear in mind that at this point, we should have been with family in Chico, California and I would've been eating some fresh homemade Mexican food and drinking a Sierra Nevada beer (not sure that any other beers are allowed in Chico). But, as it was, we got to sleep somewhat early and were ready for the next morning to be successful.
 

brifraz

Marching along...
Premium Member
Original Poster
Sounds like my worst travel nightmare. I’ve been to love many many times and never seen anything like that! Also I’m pretty sure we’ve stayed in that same hotel in Dallas the night before an early flight(hard to forget that lovely glow). Not the greatest area to be on foot!

We've only just begun this little adventure! By 8pm it was totally nuts - you could barely move. We talked to a lot of people in lines and sitting and waiting and nobody had ever seen it like it was. And, yes, I wouldn't call it a lovely neighborhood to be walking, but certainly not the worst area we've ever walked around! At 9:30pm on Christmas Eve... it was pretty empty everywhere.
 

brifraz

Marching along...
Premium Member
Original Poster
Oh my gosh! I totally forgot the two big positives from our Christmas Eve.

#1 - In line for the customer service, naturally everyone started chatting with each other. I was in line behind a single guy traveling just for fun (didn't have a whole lot invested in getting anywhere) and a young couple with a somewhat little baby hoping to get to family for the holiday. Those two parties definitely became fast friends in the line. Behind me were two different single traveler older women - both trying to get to their kids and grandkids. One of whom also got put on the same flight for the next morning as us and the other had come from Baltimore and had decided to just try to get home. There was also a very young couple (not married yet) who were heading to California and then to North Carolina over the next week for them to each meet each others parents. At one point, the discussion moved to what flights were actually showing as available and where we might all go together. There may have been some suggestions made about Vegas to the younger couple... it was quite fun given that we were standing in line for over 4 hours together.

#2 - I've been to almost every single state in the US, but layovers in airports don't count. Texas was still (somehow) on my never visited list. No more!! Now, I've just gotta get to Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Maine. But hopefully not via messed up flights!!
 

ajrwdwgirl

Premium Member
Your time at the airport sounds like a nightmare, I had a horrible experience in Atlanta and I will do anything to avoid that airport. I also wonder if the gentleman's club would have offered any food, on the show How I Met Your Mother there is an episode where the characters enjoy a Thanksgiving (?) meal there).
 

brifraz

Marching along...
Premium Member
Original Poster
Your time at the airport sounds like a nightmare, I had a horrible experience in Atlanta and I will do anything to avoid that airport. I also wonder if the gentleman's club would have offered any food, on the show How I Met Your Mother there is an episode where the characters enjoy a Thanksgiving (?) meal there).

We actually did consider going into the XTC Cabaret to try and get food. And then quickly stopped considering it. Being the thorough researcher that I am when I write ;), I have recently learned that said club has quite the reputation for violence in Dallas. Glad we didn't know at the time!
 

brifraz

Marching along...
Premium Member
Original Poster
Day 2 - It's Christmas Morning!! Woo-hoo! Sleep in, open some presents, share a nice breakfast with family, relax in front of a Christmas movie or two or maybe some sportsball on the tv. Oh, wait... none of that was in store for us.

Up early to catch some of that awesome 6am hotel breakfast!

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Actually, after the microwave airport pizza and microwave pot pies for Christmas eve, it was a pretty good breakfast. Full of food, we got our Lyft back to the airport and headed in to get ourselves to Sacramento. I did fail to mention that all during the previous day's delays, we had my wife's family in Chico being strung along as well. Plus, our daughter had headed out a few days earlier to spend time with family and friends on the west coast. It's about an hour and a half drive to the airport, so they were trying to make sure somebody was going to be able to head to the airport and get us when/if we showed up.

Got to the airport and things were looking good. Flight was on time for 8:30am. No, wait... a little delay. 9am - no problem. Hey, look, there's one of our friends from the line from the night before! Sadly, she had slept in the airport as she was on standby for her flight and without a boarding pass she would have been stuck outside security if she had left overnight (there seems to be a flaw in the system). Just about 9am and here comes an announcement. Not cancelled, just delayed again - waiting for cabin crew. This is starting to sound very familiar and not in a good way. Same process as the day before, every 15 minutes or so the departure time is pushed back 15 minutes. Same thing with ALL the flights. Really, ALL of them. Nothing is leaving, everything is delayed for lack of crew.

There's crew all over the airport, ready to go. Just not any full crew for any individual flight. We chat with some of the crew folks - they want to go, willing to switch flights, willing to go anywhere. And here's where, to me, there's a pretty large logical disconnect. For the sake of easy math I'm rounding numbers... say there are 20 flights that morning, each needs 6 crew, each has 4 crew. I know it wouldn't work out perfectly, but that would appear to mean that there's enough crew to man 13 flights and get those going?? Or how about 10?? Alright, I think I would have been vaguely happy if 2 or 3 flights had gone out. Yes, it's not that easy. After all the news stories and posts and viral videos of the next 3 days we came to learn that it was an antiquated computer system that couldn't handle swapping out crews (and planes) at such a high volume. How on earth even a 20 year old computer system can't handle flip-flopping crew members (or even planes - almost the entire SWA fleet is the same type of plane) is beyond me.

Okay, enough of that rant. 10:30am and we are cancelled. Luckily we were some of the first to see it on the app, before they announced it, so we were somewhat close to the front of the line. During the hour long wait, we are scanning every single flight from Dallas Love Field or Dallas Fort Worth airports to ANYWHERE in California. There's nothing. Not a single seat on any flight. Zip. Hearing people leaving the desk saying the best they got was 12/28 - three days later. Not an option since that is the day we are flying to Anaheim. So, we make a decision.

And book a car for the 26 hour drive to Sacramento. We get to the desk and fully give up. Cancel our flight, give us back our money, tell us where our luggage is. Responses "okay, you are cancelled... can't give your money back because it's the second half of a two-leg flight you have to call...your luggage might be here but might be in Sacramento already ask downstairs at the luggage desk." Downstairs we go to the luggage desk at about 11:30am. Line appears to be at least an hour. My wife walks through the rows and piles of luggage scattered everywhere searching for our bags to no avail. We ask a manager as they walk by to scan our receipts to see where our luggage is (it's easy, we know they can do it) - he refuses and tells us as well as everyone else, 'your luggage will be at your destination, most of it already left.' I head out to get the rental car while my wife stays in line, hoping for someone who will actually check where our bags are. By the time I get back, she has had zero luck and the line has barely moved so we bail out.

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Our home for the next 26 hours... a fabulous Toyota Carolla. Gotta throw out a positive here - the rental guy at Enterprise was great. He did the normal attempt to upsell me to a nicer car or get 5 different levels of insurance, but wasn't at all pushy about it and did it quickly while getting me processed and into the car. Thank you, Mr. Enterprise guy!

A little background on the Brifraz family before we continue this adventure. We drive. A lot. We do the 900 mile each way drive to Disney World at least once a year and sometimes more. We've driven across the US 2.5 times (the half trip was after we got married we flew to California, loaded up a cargo van with stuff and drove it back to Maryland) and from Maryland to Vancouver and back once. At one point we did over 30 hours straight from our house to the north side of Yellowstone National Park. We enjoy driving and seeing the country. So, the 26 hours from Dallas to Chico is no problem. In fact, let's enjoy it!

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By the time we are really on the road it's about noon and the magical GPS lady is telling us we will arrive at Sacramento airport at 2pm the next day (which is actually noon because we are about to gain 2 hours in time zone changes). A little concern creeps in when just a very short time into the drive we encounter this interchange in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

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And that was just a small portion of the full interchange - I think there were 6 different ramps waiting for completion. Not all that strange in a major construction project, but a bit alarming as you start an unwanted 26 hour drive!! About an hour into things and we realize that we haven't eaten anything since 6am, so we look for a place to stop. Uh-oh. It's Christmas day and there are even fewer places open than on Christmas Eve. Zero fast food places are open along the road. We see a Chinese restaurant with a packed parking lot, but don't want to sit down to eat and definitely don't want to try to do Chinese food while driving. Also see a Golden Corral which is not only full, BUT THERE IS A LARGE LINE OUTSIDE. This scares me a bit in terms of what Americans will wait in line for, but regardless it won't work for us. So, it's whatever we can find at a gas station.

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Christmas lunch it is! I should note that the place we stopped did have heating racks and warmers for cooked food, but nothing there (after all, it's Christmas). I guess, on the good side, it meant that our pit stop was only a minute or two long! Remember how I mentioned that we like driving and seeing the country. Well, the northwestern portion of Texas does not have all that much to see.

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The juxtaposition of oil derricks and windmills seemed very interesting.

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Just seemed to sum up what western Texas is pretty succinctly.

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Woo-hoo! Roadside attractions! A little bit of Hester and Chester's right here in the flesh (or the plastic or metal or whatever).

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Tumbleweeds!! Sadly, we only ever saw a couple tumbling - mostly on the side of the road, but one did in fact tumble across the road in front of our car. We may have had a little party when that happened.

Apologies to anyone on here who might live in northwestern Texas. I'm sure there are some exciting places and interesting things to see, but we sure didn't see any of it along the way from Dallas to Amarillo and I40. If we had some extra time, we were just a few miles from Oklahoma in a couple places and I could've crossed that one off the list as well, but just getting to family was the only priority. I'll be back later as we head into the night across the southwest of the US.
 

cgersic

Well-Known Member
I laughed right out loud at the tumbleweeds!! My grandparents used to live in Dalhart (not too far from Amarillo) and we made the drive many times from Colorado. One of our favorite games was seeing how many seconds we saw a tumbleweed tumble
Laugh Lol GIF by PG Tips

That and the alphabet game were big in my family :joyfull:
 

Loco_driver

Well-Known Member
I laughed right out loud at the tumbleweeds!! My grandparents used to live in Dalhart (not too far from Amarillo) and we made the drive many times from Colorado. One of our favorite games was seeing how many seconds we saw a tumbleweed tumble
Laugh Lol GIF by PG Tips

That and the alphabet game were big in my family :joyfull:
My older brother lived in Amarillo when I was in high school, and any time we visited I would play the same game with tumbleweeds! 🤣
 

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