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A Guide to Southern California’s Major Theme Parks

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A Guide to Southern California's Major Theme ParksNo visit to Southern California is complete without a visit to one of its famous theme parks, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Everyone’s heard of Disneyland, but do you know which other parks deserve a visit?

Depending on your taste in rides and amusement, there are plenty of fun-filled options to choose from in the Los Angeles area. Here is a list of some of the most popular Southland amusement parks.

Knott’s Berry Farm opened its doors in 1940, making it Southern California’s first amusement park. Just as its name proclaims, the park was originally a berry farm operated by the Knott family. Today the 160-acre park has more than 40 rides including family-friendly fare as well as exhilarating roller coasters. Here Snoopy and his Peanuts pals rule the roost: Camp Snoopy is a dedicated kid’s land that includes child-sized amusements for the younger tots, as well as a replica Ghost Town. The park transforms into “Knott’s Scary Farm” in October, complete with ghoulish scare zones and haunted houses.

Universal Studios made its debut in 1964 when the park was opened as a means of promoting the nation’s fixation with the movie industry. During the early days of the park visitors had access to studio dressing rooms and could catch a sneak peek as movies were being filmed. Later, the famous studio added staged features to the standard tour, and by 1965 physical attractions were a part of the tour experience. Modern visitors enjoy a tour hosted by Jimmy Fallon, as well as thrilling, movie-based attractions including ‘Jurassic Park: The Ride,’ ‘Transformers: The Ride’, and ‘Waterworld.’ The adjacent CityWalk is home to a plethora of shops, clubs, restaurants, and live music venues.

If thrills and chills are more your thing travel a bit north of L.A. to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia. With nearly 20 roller coasters, the park is the world-record holder for having the most coasters of any theme park. Here you’ll find the “Great American Revolution,” the first permanent 360-degree loop steel roller coaster that’s credited with starting the modern roller coaster craze. Dramamine, anyone?

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Just south of L.A, in Carlsbad, is LEGOLAND California. The park debuted in 1999 and is dedicated to, you guessed it, the iconic toy building bricks! Rides at the park are geared toward the younger set, with no major thrill rides to speak of. But you don’t have to be a kid to be captivated by the park’s offerings: we’re all just kids at heart, right? There are tons of fascinating and intricate LEGOS models to check out, as well as the amazingly detailed Miniland, U.S.A., a model depiction of numerous U.S. cities.

The list wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Disneyland in Anaheim is the original Disney theme park, boasting eight themed lands on 85 acres. The Mouse House is simply the ultimate theme park, with something special waiting to be discovered by everyone, whether they’re age one or 91!

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