There are four large theme parks in Los Angeles within driving distance from downtown LA. Scroll down to get some quick information on each park.
There are two theme parks in Anaheim, CA, a little over an hour from downtown Los Angeles - Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure.
Buy a ticket to one park or a multi-day ticket to enjoy both. Residents of Southern California get a discounted rate. Remember that there are two steps to planning your visit:
Purchase the theme park ticket
Make the required theme park reservations (choose the date)
The Disneyland Park's current attraction is the Star Wars: Galaxy Edge. The Avengers Campus is in the California Adventure Park. Park hours are usually 8 AM - 10 PM but guests staying at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels get early admission. I personally like the Disney Genie + service and would strongly consider getting it for access to Lightning Lanes. I would also recommend making dinner reservations way in advance as those fill up quickly!
Hollywood-based Universal Studios has a ton of rides and attractions. The most popular ones are Jurassic Park and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey! The Universal Studios one day pass is slightly more expensive than the Disney one day pass but not by much.
My favorite aspect of this theme park is the World Famous Studio Tour! It runs about 60 minutes and is part of your park admission ticket. The flash flood gets me every time! Spanish tours are also offered on select days.
Universal Studios offers VIP access to sets and rides for those willing to shell out a bit more.
If you have little kids and want to avoid the craziness of huge theme parks, Knott's Berry Farm is a great alternative. There are two parts to this park:
Knott's Berry Farm has four themed areas - Ghost Town, Fiesta Village, Boardwalk and Camp Snoopy. The Ghost Rider rollercoaster is a popular thing to do!
Knott's Soak City Waterpark - this is a separate gated 15-acre park right next to Knott's Berry Farm. It has water slides, family rafting, tidal wave pool, lazy river and beach house with water fun. It is only open mid May through early September and you need a different set of tickets to enter
Knott's Berry Farm park is open 10 AM - 6 PM and is located in Buena Park, CA.
Located in Valencia, CA, this theme park is a great option for those seeking thrill and adventure! Most folks love the X2 4D coaster, the Tatsu flying coaster (OMG), the Riddlers Revenge (Would you like to stand and freak out? Not me!) and the free falling Drop of Doom.
Before you go, be sure to check height requirements and also when the park is closed. During winter, there are fewer people, summers are crazy! Buy your tickets in advance and travel light.
Want something low key?
Visit the Santa Monica pier and enjoy a Ferris wheel ride at Pacific Park. The wheel is called the Pacific Wheel and it is the world's only solar-powered Ferris wheel. There are a 10-12 more rides on the pier too, it's fun to do with kids. You can buy an 'Unlimited' wristband or a single ride card.
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