Amusement Parks In Southern California: A Huffington Post Travel Guide

08/17/2011 05:21 pm ET | Updated Oct 09, 2011

Amusement parks in Southern California offer a mind-boggling array of options for visitors. From the world-renowned and local treasures to thrill rides and sea creatures, there are parks that cater to every age, interest and level of cost-consciousness. As part of a Huffington Post Travel series on family-fun parks, here is our guide to all the key information visitors need to know about Southern California's amusement parks.

Disneyland Park Anaheim

Disneyland Park is the quintessential amusement park that, historically, has set the standards for amusement parks worldwide. From the much-loved standards of Main Street USA and Fantasyland to the strolling characters who bring visitors' favorite movies to life, Disneyland Park truly lives up to its billing as the "happiest place on earth."

A Train Through The Desert

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has long been a staple at Disneyland Park. Based on the natural beauty of Bryce Canyon, Utah, Thunder Mountain takes guests on an adrenaline-pumping ride aboard a runaway mine train through desert canyons, creaking mine shafts and pitch-black caverns overrun with screeching bats. Just when riders think the excitement is over, another thrill is waiting over the last hill.

New World

Disneyland Park has eight distinct themed areas, all of which may seem familiar to park guests. Fantasyland is home to the heroes and villains of Disney movies, as well as the beloved and timeless ride, Its A Small World. Tomorrowland takes guests to the outer reaches of the universe on the thrilling Space Mountain, and to the depths of the sea on rides like Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. With six more themed areas to choose from, the fun is practically endless.

An Array Of Dining Options

Disneyland Park offers an amazing variety of dining options for every taste and every budget , from all-you-care-to-eat buffets, to dining with Disney characters, to world-class fare at the Napa Rose and Steakhouse 55 restaurants. More crowd favorites like burgers, pizza and ice cream carts are scattered throughout the park.

Safety Record

Our research revealed no notable news reports of accidents or safety issues at Disneyland. Guests interested in specific information regarding Disneyland safety practices can view details of their Safety Report on the Disney website.

Address: 1313 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, CA 92802
Price: 714-781-4400 or 714-781-4565
Hours: Hours vary depending on the day and time of year, but during the peak times of June through August, Christmas and Spring Break, the park is usually open from 8 a.m. to midnight. Additionally, guests registered at a Disneyland Resort or holding special Disneyland Resort tickets may take advantage of early park admission on days offering Magic Morning Hours. Call or check online for park hours on the day of your visit.
Price: Ticket prices at Disneyland Park vary widely from the current offer of $183 for a promotional 3-Day Park Hopper Bonus Ticket for children ages 3 to 9; to $199 for ages 10 and up; to $216 or $236 for a 6-Day Park Hopper Bonus Ticket. Additionally, there are numerous package discounts, special offers and annual pass options. Contact the park or visit online to compare prices and packages.

Knott's Berry Farm

Billed as America's first theme park, Knott's Berry Farm is conveniently located just 30 minutes from both John Wayne/Orange County Airport and downtown Los Angeles. It offers nine world-class roller coasters, plus numerous thrill, family and kiddie rides. An added attraction is the Perilous Plunge, a thrilling waterfall-like ride just 34 feet shorter than Niagara Falls.

Head-Spinning Rides

Turning riders head-over-heels a breath-taking six times in less than one minute, the Boomerang is a roller coaster designed for the bravest of adrenaline junkies. And just when you think the excitement is over, the Boomerang takes you through it all again -- backwards.

Endless Loops

Knott's Berry Farm offers a long list of thrill rides that include nine world-class roller coasters such as Montezooma's Revenge, which blasts riders through seven-story loops and goes from 0 to 55 m.p.h. in just three seconds. In addition, with a wide variety of kiddie rides like the Balloon Race and Charlie Brown's Speedway, as well as numerous family and water rides, Knott's Berry Farm has something for every age and every level of thrill-seeker.

Traditional Amusement Park Fare

Knott's Berry Farm offers traditional amusement park fare, such as burgers, fries and pizza, in both sit-down and food-to-go settings. The park's most interesting food option is its sampling of Native American foods, including Navajo tacos and Indian fry bread.

Safety Record

According to the Theme Park Insider, injuries at Knott's Berry Farm have been few but range from minor injuries on the Pony Express in 2010, to two deaths in 2001 involving the Perilous Plunge and Montezooma's Revenge.

Address: 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, CA 90620
Phone: 714-220-5200
Hours: Hours vary depending on the day and time of year. During the peak times of June through August, Knott's Berry Farm is typically open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call or check online for park hours on the day of your visit.
Price: Ticket prices range from $38.99 for a single-day, adult admission ticket purchased online or at the park for $56.99, to season passes that range from $59.99 to $84.99. There are also discounts for California residents, seniors and members of AAA. Contact the park or visit online for detailed information or to compare price options.

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