September Disneyland Weekend Trip Report

I just booked a surprise trip for my daughter’s 10th birthday Sept. 21-24. It will be me, my husband, my daughter, and my 11 year old son. We are staying at the Grand Californian club level for the first time (at any Disney resort), and will try to maximize 2.5 days as best we can (unfortunately without any Boogie Bash tickets). I will try to keep folks up to date here with what works and doesn’t! We are regular (although I wouldn’t go as far to say “veteran” Disneyland visitors) with still a lot to learn from our mistakes!

So far, here’s the tentative plans:

  • Arrive Thurs, Sept. 21 evening. Craftsman Bar Dinner at 8:00

  • Fri, Sept. 22 - Disneyland Park Reservations (CL 6) - Will do EE and plan on park hopping late afternoon, Lamplight Lounge reservations for 7:25 PM.

  • Sat, Sept. 23 - California Adventure Park Reservations (CL5), Will do EE. Lamplight Lounge Brunch Reservations at 11:50 (can you tell we love Lamplight Lounge?) May get some pool time/rest in the afternoon, and try to catch fireworks at Disneyland in the evening from the Club Lounge.

  • Sun, Sept. 24 - Disneyland Park Reservations (DL6) - Will do EE and hit up our favorites before having to head to the airport around 4:00.

Finger’s crossed TP’s crowd-levels are accurate!


Amazing surprise! Following.


Love everything about these plans but especially both


We do too! Some of the best food & ambiance in DLR. I hope it’s every bit as magical & that you enjoy all the fun dining and the beautiful GCH.

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Updates from our trip with daily break downs!

First, arrival day Thursday, September 21

Change of plans! I modified our dining reservation for the Craftsman Bar to Goofy’s Kitchen. While my husband and I love Craftsman Bar, about a week before our trip, my kids mentioned it had been a long time since they’d been to Goofy’s and how much they loved going there. Since I think the years left of them asking for character meals are likely growing short, I changed our reservation. And I am so glad I did!

Unsolicited parent tip (only because I’m glad I learned it myself): Going to Goofy’s was something I assumed they wouldn’t every want to do again now that the kids are 10 and 11. But I was so very wrong. I think that when kids reach those “tween” years the “grown up” side of their little changing personalities stands out a lot as they navigate getting older immersed in a combination of peer pressure and media influences that push kids to act older than they really feel/want to be. As their mom, I know deep down they still sleep with their favorite ‘lovie’ and want a hug and kiss goodnight from mom and dad when they get tucked into bed, but I also know they are being pulled (in a good way) toward more independence and grown up interests. It really is an in-between struggle pulling on them every day. Along those lines, I heard a podcast recently about taking tweens and teens to Disney parks and how freeing that can sometimes be because they can relax and go back to their kid self without judgment or concern. I took that to heart this trip, and I really noticed how free they were that night with them at Goofy’s. I played along with them about how crazy peanut butter and jelly pizza was and how I was worried about eating anything made by Goofy as my daughter promised me it was Minnie who made the desserts and my son brought back plates of “silly” combos of things Goofy told him mom and dad “must try.” They loved interacting with the characters, and we all laughed hard when Chip and Dale got into a fight because my daughter had a Dale stuffed animal with her. TAKEWAY - the food wasn’t great, but the spicy watermelon margarita was delicious, and getting to spend quality time seeing a little pressure lifted off their shoulders was worth every penny. I forget how hard it is to be that age!


Hotel info:

I was texted our room number as soon as we landed, which was great. We stayed club level and got a premium view room. We ended up in room 6006 and this was our view! It was absolutely lovely. We could hear the sounds of California Adventure in the distance (including Oogie Boogie Bash) but it wasn’t loud. I personally liked sitting on the balcony and listening to the live music from Craftsman Bar. Check in was a breeze - there was someone there to greet us as we pulled up so we didn’t have to go to the front desk - and the concierge crew was very kind and helpful.

I will update with below with my thoughts about club level below, but honestly, the first night with this view was absolutely stunning. I couldn’t imagine a better way to start of the trip.


Friday, September 22 - Disneyland Start

Disneyland Predicted CL 6 - Actual CL 4 and DCA Predicted CL 5 - Actual CL 4

I’m not sure if I agree with the actual crowd levels reported! Disneyland actually felt quite crowded/busy this day, but maybe it was because I was out of practice?

The Club Level lounge opened at 6:30 and we arrived there right when it opened to grab some coffee and quick morning bites before heading down to the Downtown Disney security entrance. I think we arrived there around 6:40 and we were about the 5th or 6th family in line to get through security. They opened up right at 7:00, and there was a kind security guard who was walking up and down the line of folks waiting with oranges and bananas to hand out beforehand, which was lovely. We were able to get a spot at the front of the entrance gate, no problem and they started letting everyone into the park at 7:15.

That’s when we hit our first snag of the trip! My husband is in the military, and in an epic miscommunication between the two of us, we both showed up at the gate without our military IDs! (We always have one of us leave one in the room and bring the other just in case). Without that, we couldn’t get scanned in, so my husband got a little PFT in first thing and ran to the room and back to grab his. The kids were worried, but as it turns out, we scanned in a little before 7:30 and walked right onto everything in Fantasyland during Early Entry except for Peter Pan (of course). I’m grateful my kids have learned to pack their “patience pants” for Disney trips! I will say I was a bit surprised when the ticket taker seemed so relieved when she told us and we both simply said “oh no! we are so sorry!” and quickly got out of the way - She honestly looked like she was gearing up for battle when she had to relay the news that we messed up. I cannot imagine the crazy stories some cast members may have.

This ended up being a great day. We did use Genie+ and we were able to get in everything in Disneyland (including Rise of the Resistance) except for Pirates and Runaway Railway. We hopped over to DCA around 1:30 and had a late lunch at Carthay Circle (outside on the patio), which was lovely. Service there was amazing.

Afterward I took my daughter to Animation Academy while my husband and son rode Incredicoasters and then we got to explore Avenger’s campus and relax a bit at the hotel before heading to Lamplight Lounge for dinner.

Unfortunately the service at Lamplight Lounge that night was terrible. Our reservation was for 7:30. After sitting down and waiting 20 minutes with no server and now water, we finally had to flag someone down. Then it took another 20 minutes for anyone to come back and get our orders. The food took another 30 minutes to arrive, and by then everyone had to stuff their face in time to get to World of Color (I’d snagged a virtual que spot). We had to get up and find someone every time we needed something (including the check). That has NOT been my experience there before, but I’ve never been there for dinner, so maybe that’s the issue? Not sure…

Overall, however, it was a great (and very full) day!

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I was there they 25th, 26th and 27th… it was really busy all those days too. I was told this Halloween season has been much busier than anticipated.


Wow! How was your trip?

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It was quick, but fun!

We even got to go to a baseball game.