CA’s Best Local Amusement and Theme Parks Top Ranking–Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm & Six Flags

Growing up within biking distance of a theme park, we saw the area change from fields to trains and a world of magic that emerged as we would sit on our back fence brick walls to watch Disney’s fireworks. So, if I seem biased for my state Theme Parks, it could be because I grew up with these parks.

#1 The number one Theme Park, of course, is Disneyland Anaheim located at Harbor Blvd and the 5 freeway. Do I need to explain Disneyland, “The Happiest Place On Earth”? If you have actually never gone, it is a do-not-miss experience. The Mickey Mouse and characters entourage is still wonderful year after year though the newer characters including some of my favorites like Cruella or Belle are worth picture moments. We found Cruella in California Adventure and she was so photo-worthy for even preteen boys. We celebrated my sons’ birthdays there each year and we have years of happy memories. We usually had the annual passes which I recommend, if you live locally. Being able to enjoy both parks is wonderful. We could go from the bone shaking of their Twilight Zone themed Tower of Terror hotel then across to Disneyland to check out Haunted House. The first time my sons listened to the birthday phone and got the sticker that meant Disney cast would be wishing them a special day all day long was awesome. Having the Disney family wish them happy birthdays just was so much fun; they are really nice to share our special days with. Since my sons entered their 20s, their friends who work in the park began having mini-young adult birthday parties instead of it being our family celebration and hence the fun continues. Pricing on tickets vary whether you choose to visit Disneyland only or park hop over to California Adventure, as well. Or, if you wish to explore CA Adventure for the first time but do not have time for Disneyland, they offer information on that pricing, too. This site is also great resident ticket savings. If you plan to visit the area, check out travel packages. Special offers are available, too. My out of state family came and said the Disney packages were wonderful. Each year they came, they went into a different hotel area to check out that unique experience. Depending on your group, the parades are worth seeing. Being frequent visitors, we usually focused more on our favorite rides. The do-not-miss experience though is their nightly fireworks. They really captured the magical quality fireworks can have; it is unique to Disneyland how they do this.

#2 My next favorite place is Knott’s Berry Farm. While I remember back when Mrs. Knott still baked those delicious pies and the joy my parents had eating a slice of it, we watched this place become the great theme park it is, today. I enjoy this place for the authentic western history Mr. Knott had imported. I still remember the huge transport it came on and we, of course, wondered why someone would want to bring old looking buildings into town! What a world away it is now with not only that but the fun of their wonderful “kit” coasters. My neighbor was a physics guy who helped design and test the Old Mining Ride and some memories I will always treasure is when I worked there as a guide for Physics tours where we would ride that and the many roller coasters later purchased for the park. Hey, riding coasters can be educational! If you have the chance to get your school group there, the tour guides, like I was, are sassy, knowledgeable, and funny. Of course, tour guides are humble and shy (but working to break out of that shell!). We also have cast-iron stomachs, too, (or not). For the Physics tour, request Sharon Mayer; she is my favorite. Though there are many great rides in this place, my favorite ride is the Silver Bullet. It is really tough to find a seat on that one that is not fresh and wonderful to experience. I could go on about how terrific the educational and scouting tours are but check it out for your particular interests from homeschooling to public school to scouting groups . No matter what you choose to do, make sure you grab a bite of Mrs. Knott’s fried chicken for a taste of what I grew up with. Tickets cost (winter special) $33.99 for ages 12 to 61 and $22.99 for ages 3-to 11 featuring special online discount prices. Ages under three years old are free.

#3. Six Flags Magic Mountain still continues to be the place for teens and young adults They still hold the monopoly on the most creative, potent roller coasters though they rank third in my list because the ambiance of the other parks are so strong. Their online ticket price though is great: $34.99 which is the kids price everyday. Kids are defined as such being shorter than 48″. And the usual ticket price is $59.99 for people over 48″ tall. Ages two and under are free.

#4. We also have a smaller (four acre) park for those with children under age ten. While older kids can have fun on the multi park area, it is sheer magic for children. Whether you are a local wanting something different to do with your kids or a visitor wanting an awesome place to eat your picnic lunch, Atlantis Play Center is very special. It features five playgrounds. One of the reasons I loved it is for its dragon slide that slithers down the side of a mountain. It was fabulous when I was little and continued to be wonderful with my own kids. This surprise gem situated next to the 22 freeway in Orange County, CA, is $1 per person. Children under two years old are free. Their Christmas time sledding down on imported snow hills were something my family greatly enjoyed. We usually finished off a Cub Scout year with a pizza party we brought into the cozy picnic areas. Then the boys could romp throughout the place letting off steam from a fun and fabulous year.