Six Flags Magic Mountain

SixFlags.jpg

Six Flags Magic Mountain (SFMM) is a 260-acre theme park located north of Los Angeles at the Magic Mountain Parkway exit off Interstate 5 in Valencia. From Ventura County, you can get there by taking either the 101 or 118 to the 405 North then to the 5 North, or you can take the backroads route via the 126. In fact, coming from Ventura, Ojai, Oxnard, Santa Paula and Fillmore, the 126 is probably the best way to go.

SFMM originally opened on Memorial Day weekend on May 30, 1971 and was purchased by Six Flags in 1979 for you trivia buffs. The park has over 100 rides, games and attractions and boasts 18 world-class roller coasters, apparently more than any other theme park in the world!

Among the park’s world-class roller coasters and thrill rides are X2, the world’s only 5th dimensional roller coaster, Tatsu, the tallest, fastest and longest flying coaster, Scream, Southern California’s first floorless coaster, Déjà Vu, a looping, boomerang coaster, Goliath, the giant among coasters, Batman The Ride, The Riddler’s Revenge and more.

SixFlagsSign.JPG

There's an entire kids rides section called Bugs Bunny World that has 9 kiddie rides. There's about 16 "family" type rides that are for all ages. There are shows all the time and plenty of Looney Tunes characters around the park. This is a complete no brainer of a place to bring a group of kids for birthday parties. I took my stepson here with his pals at age 12 and of course they loved it.

On a personal note, I actually worked at SFMM one summer during my high school years. I'll even admit to what I did. I was a Park Service Attendant (PSA), which is a glorified title for cleaning crew.

Visit www.sixflags.com/magicMountain to learn more about SFMM and to purchase tickets. Speaking of tickets though, the Auto Club usually offers discounted tickets, so check that out if you're a member. 

magicmountain.JPG

Disneyland Park in Anaheim

Everyone knows about Disneyland Park (originally called just Disneyland) in Anaheim, so here in this post we will summarize some key tidbits about this amusement park.

Disneyland Park and sister theme park Disneyland California Adventure together form Disneyland Resort, along with three hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel) and Downtown Disney, an outdoor shopping and restaurant area connecting the theme parks and hotels.

Disneyland Park Sections (or "Lands")

Disneyland is divided into the following "lands," or themed sections: Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Frontierland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Mickey's Toontown and Tomorrowland.  Ground breaking for a new section, "Star Wars Land," began in April 2016. Star Wars Land will encompass 14 acres when completed at a future date.

The eight existing lands occupy 85 acres. The original lands when Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955 were Main Street U.S.A, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Later on came New Orleans Square (1966), Bear Country (later changed to Critter Country) in 1972 and Mickey's Toontown in 1993.

The "lost" land is Holidayland, which opened in 1957, a 9 acre area with a circus and baseball diamond, that closed in 1961. (Good to know this, trivia buffs!)

Disneyland Park Attractions by Land

Visit touringplans.com/disneyland-resort/closures for updates on rides that are closed for renovation.

Main Street U.S.A: The Disney Gallery, The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Main Street Cinema and Main Street Vehicles (turn of the 20th century vehicles)

Adventureland: Enchanted Tiki Room, Indiana Jones Adventure, Jungle Cruise, Tarzan's Treehouse

Critter Country: Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Splash Mountain (NOTE: As of October 2016, all attractions closed for refurbishment)

Frontierland: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Frontierland Shootin' Expedition, Mark Twain Riverboat, Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, Sailing Ship Columbia

Fantasyland: Alice in Wonderland, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, King Arthur Carrousel (yes, it is spelled with two r's), Mad Tea Party, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Peter Pan's Flight, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Storybook Land Canal Boats, it's a small world

Mickey's Toontown: Chip 'n Dale Treehouse, Donald's Boat, Gadget's Go Coaster, Goofy's Playhouse, Mickey's House and Meet Mickey, Minnie's House, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

New Orleans Square: Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean

Tomorrowland: Astro Orbitor, Autopia, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Disneyland Monorail, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, Star Tours - The Adventures Continue, Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Wars: Path of the Jedi

Various Areas: Disneyland Railroad (closed for refurbishment; to re-open Summer 2017)

Character Experiences and Live Entertainment

There are various opportunities to meet Disney characters throughout the park. Visit disneyland.disney.go.com/entertainment/#/character-experiences for details. And for live entertainment opportunities, visit disneyland.disney.go.com/entertainment.

Pricing

Retail pricing is as follows as of mid-November 2016 and of course is subject to change for 

  • 1-Day, 1 Park: Varies from $95 (Value) to $105 (Regular) to $119 (Peak) (For Ages 10+; Ages 3 to 9 are about $6 less per ticket)
  • 2-Day, 1 Park Per Day: $195 or Park Hopper $235
  • 3-Day, 1 Park Per day: $255 or Park Hopper $295
  • 4-Day, 1 Park Per Day: $280 or Park Hopper $320
  • 5-Day, 1 Park Per Day: $295 or Park Hopper $335
  • Annual Passports: There are 5 to choose from and they vary from $329 to $1,049 per year. The $1,049 Disney Signature Plus Passport gets you in to both park every day of the year.
  • One Day Parking: $18

Learn more at disneyland.disney.go.com.

Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park

Knott's Berry Farm is a 160 acre amusement park in Buena Park that originally opened in 1940, 15 years prior to the grand opening of Disneyland (the parks are about 7 miles apart). I like Knott's because it is low key and has a fun combination of old time Western motif with modern amusement park rides. This overview of Knott's is current as of March 2012 and of course subject to change.

The areas of the park include, Ghost Town, with over 50 themed shops, eateries and attractions, Indian Trails, Camp Snoopy, Fiesta Village and Boardwalk.

Knott's Resort Hotel is a 320 room hotel with 16 Snoopy-themed rooms adjacent to the park and California Marketplace, just outside of the park entrance, has over a dozen shops and restaurants outside of the main park that include Pink's Famous Hot Dogs, TGI Friday's and other businesses.

Higher intensity roller coasters at Knotts include Boomerang, GhostRider, Jaguar, Montezooma's Revenge, Pony Express, Sierra Sidewinder, Silver Bullet, Timberline Twister and Xcelerator.

Thrill rides include La Revolucion, Rip Tide, Screamin' Swing, Supreme Scream and WindSeeker.

Family rides include Butterfield Stagecoach, Calico Mine Ride, Calico Railroad, Dragon Swing, Hat Dance, High Sierra Ferris Wheel, Merry Go Round, Sky Cabin, Waveswinger, Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars and Wipeout.

Camp Snoopy has about a dozen rides geared towards kids.

Water rides include Bigfoot Rapids, Perilous Plunge and Timber Mountain Log Ride.

Live shows and entertainment include a Wild West Stunt Show, Mystery Lodge, Calico Saloon Show, Native American Dancers, Peanuts Character Show and Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang.

Visit www.knotts.com or call 714.220.5200 to learn more. Knotts is located at 8039 Beach Boulevard, Buena Park.

LEGOLAND Park in Carlsbad

LEGOLAND® California in Carlsbad is a 128-acre park geared towards kids ages two through 12. With over 60 family rides, "hands-on" attractions and shows, LEGOLAND California provides education, adventure and fun in this first park of its kind in the United States (the 150-acre LEGOLAND Florida, 45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa, opened on October 15, 2011). LEGOLAND is only a 2 1/2 hour drive from the Conejo Valley.

There are over 15,000 LEGO® models in the park created from more than 35 million LEGO bricks. These models range from a Brontosaurus named Bronte (made of more than 2 million LEGO bricks) to a tiny rabbit in a magician’s hat in Miniland Las Vegas made of just four bricks.

The park is divided into various sections in a full circle, with the amazing Miniland USA in the middle. Sections going clockwise from the front gate are The Beginning, Dino Island, DUPLO® Village, Fun Town, Pirate Shores, Castle Hill, Land of Adventure and Imagination Zone. My family's favorite treat are Granny's Apple Fries in the Castle Hill section. Apple fries with whipped cream and milk (or coffee in my case). Mmmmm.

This is a no-brainer for anyone with young children. My kids are thrilled with this park up to at least ages 8 to 10. There are rides and activities for all ages and while geared towards kids, the park is certainly amazing for adults to experience too. Learn all about LEGOLAND California at california.legoland.com.

Plan ahead and get discounts on your tickets. Currently AAA has discounts (either in advance or in person) as well as Metrolink Rewards.

In addition to LEGOLAND, the world's first LEGOLAND Water Park opened on May 28, 2010. It is located at the north end of LEGOLAND® California adjacent to Fun Town. The entrance is located between the Factory Tour and the Adventurer’s Club. There is a 45 foot tall water tall with 4 slides and all sorts of fun water play. Only a $12 upgrade (as of October 2011) to LEGOLAND admission.

Additionally, the SEA LIFE Carlsbad Aquarium opened adjacent to LEGOLAND. I walked through quickly with the family. Pretty cool though not nearly as substantial as the Aquarium of the Pacific. Gotta see it though if you go to LEGOLAND. You can buy a park hopper pass or a separate ticket.  More info at www.visitsealife.com/California.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood includes a full-day, movie-based theme park and Studio Tour, the CityWalk entertainment, shopping and dining complex, the Universal CityWalk Cinemas and the Gibson Amphitheatre concert and special event venue.

The theme park features such groundbreaking attractions as "Revenge of the Mummy The Ride," "Shrek 4-D™," "Jurassic Park® The Ride" and the world-renowned Studio Tour, which takes guests behind-the-scenes of such landmark TV and movie locations and sets as Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds."

There is an upper and lower lot at Universal Studios. The upper lot is where to catch the Studio Tour, Simpsons Ride, Shrek 4D, Curious George water park, Special Effects Stage, WaterWorld, Animal Actors, Terminator 2: 3D, House of Horrors and more. The lower lot is a long series of escalators down to the Jurassic Park water ride and Revenge of the Mummy ride.

Universal Studios is great. However, I will say that my 5 and 8 year olds seemed to get antsy here quickly, even with characters like Shrek, Spongebob, Curious George, The Simpsons and Scooby Doo in abundance. The rides are not particularly geared towards young kids. And while the Studio Tour is awesome, but even with the fun sights and narration (and of course Jaws, King Kong, earthquake and othe spectacular effects), at 45 minutes, the ride for some little ones may be a bit long. Just wanted to get that out there...not that you'll necessarily have the same experience as me!

Universal CityWalk features 65 entertainment-themed restaurants, nightclubs, shops and dynamic entertainment options. CityWalk alone is plenty of entertainment for the better part of a day. There are 19 theaters, including an 8-story IMAX®. There's indoor skydiving with iFLY Hollywood, Jillian's Hi Life Lanes (bowling and games), Jon Lovitz Comedy Club and more.

One thing we did was to purchase a 2 day pass, which allowed us to stay half a day at the park and then hang out on Citywalk. One other word of caution. We visited on December 31, 2010. Big M-I-S-T-A-K-E! It was horrendously crowded and the lines were crazy and packed with out of towners here for the Rose Bowl. So I'd advice against that if you are a local. But our return trip in April was perfectly fine. Lines were not bad at all :> Visit www.universalstudioshollywood.com for more information.

The Simpsons' Krustyland Virtual Coaster RideThe Flintstones BBQ CafeCurious George Kids' Water Park AreaOne of many long escalators from lower to upper lotGetting a bit wet at the end of the Jurassic Park ride

The Simpsons Family as popular as ever!