Best Los Angeles Theme Parks

The Top Theme Parks to Visit While You're in Southern California

The Los Angeles area has an abundance of theme parks, each with a different personality. What makes a good theme park experience depends on what you are looking for. Theme parks are by definition touristy, so it's just a matter of which type of tourist experience you appreciate.

  • 01 of 09

    Disneyland Park

    Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland California
    ••• Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland California. Andy Castro/Flickr/CC BY-NC

    Disneyland in Anaheim is the number one theme park in Southern California, full of the traditional Disney charm, attention to detail and obsessively perfect "cast" to make sure your visit runs smoothly. Disneyland is more about family fun than big thrills. 3-day admission to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure is included in the Southern California CityPass, the only discount option for Disneyland tickets.

  • 02 of 09

    Disney California Adventure

    Cars Land at Disney California Adventure
    ••• Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. Photo © 2012 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Disney California Adventure shares a common plaza with Disneyland and offers a selection of rides originally themed to California landmarks, but more recently overtaken by movie-themed lands and rides like the totally immersive Cars Land. California Adventure also has plenty of shows, parades and interactive experiences for the whole family. 3-day admission to Disneyland and California Adventure is also included in the Southern California CityPass.

  • 03 of 09

    Universal Studios Hollywood

    Universal Studios Hollywood
    ••• Universal Studios Hollywood Globe at CityWalk. Photo © 2012 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Universal Studios Hollywood is the original movie-themed amusement park located on the grounds of an active film and television studio. In addition to movie-related rides and attractions and the recent addition of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Tram Tour takes you through the back lot and some sound stages of the Universal Studios production studios. The 3 to 7-day Go Los Angeles Card includes weekday admission to Universal Studios.

  • 04 of 09

    Knott's Berry Farm

    Knott's Berry Farm
    ••• Knott's Berry Farm. Photo © 2012 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park is a Snoopy-themed park with a nice combination of rides for younger kids, and high thrill coasters and other more advanced rushes to keep the big kids white-knuckling it. For the quantity of entertainment per dollar, it's the best theme park bargain in town, especially if you get discount tickets. Knott's Berry Farm is included in the Go Los Angeles Card.

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  • 05 of 09

    Six Flags Magic Mountain

    Superman the Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain
    ••• Superman the Escape at Six Flags Magic Mountain. © Getty Images

    Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia is the LA area's most extreme amusement park with the highest concentration of thrill rides. It is a rite of passage for area teens to get up the courage to ride these extreme monsters. Six Flags Magic Mountain is included in the Go Los Angeles Card.

  • 06 of 09

    LEGOLAND California

    LEGOLAND California
    ••• LEGOLAND California. Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California

    LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad is located between Los Angeles and San Diego. This Lego-themed park is designed specifically for kids 2 to 12, and some of the rides have a maximum age and weight limit. The Go Los Angeles Card includes admission to Legoland California.

  • 07 of 09

    Sea World San Diego

    Dolphin Petting Pool at Sea World San Diego
    ••• Dolphin Petting Pool at Sea World San Diego. Jan Butchofsky / Getty Images

    Sea World San Diego is a medium-sized marine park located on the coast at the northern edge of San Diego with rides, an aquarium and dolphin, whale and other marine animal shows, including Shamu, the killer whale. Sea World San Diego tickets are included in the Southern California CityPass.

  • 08 of 09

    Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier

    Santa Monica Pier and Beach Bike Path
    ••• Santa Monica Pier and Beach Bike Path. Photo © 2009 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Pacific Park is a collection of a dozen kid-friendly carnival rides on the Santa Monica Pier, jutting out into the Pacific Ocean. There is no admission fee. You can pay per ride or buy an unlimited ride wrist band. Also on the Santa Monica Pier you'll find a trapeze school, aquarium, food court and restaurants. One day unlimited rides are included on the Go Los angeles Card.

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  • 09 of 09

    Los Angeles Water Parks

    Knott's Soak City Water Park
    ••• Knott's Soak City Water Park. Photo © 2006 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com

    Los Angeles Water Parks are open seasonally, usually starting and ending with weekends May through October and daily through the summer months. Click the headline for details on the four Los Angeles area water parks.