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Exploring the world outside of the park
Adventure City, California

By Kevin Yee

Have you ever been to Hobby City, a collection of shops and museums that cater to various hobbys and enthusiasts? Located just a few miles from Knott's Berry Farm, you will find themed shops for model building, dollhouses, stamps, coins, rocks, teddy bears, antiques, sports memorabilia, seashells, reptiles (live, of course), gems, Indian crafts, and a store with dual focus on cowboys of the Wild West and their antique guns.


The Indian crafts store at Hobby City

If it's been years-or even decades-since your last visit to Hobby City, you may not know about Adventure City, a very small theme park right in the middle of Hobby City. Billed as an "all-in-one pocket-sized park," Adventure City is really meant for families with small children. Although it's probably about the same size as Disneyland's Toontown in terms of acreage, with 17 rides, it's much more dense in terms of attractions.


The Adventure City Bus Company ride

These are themed attractions, not just undecorated ones, but as you might expect the theming is a bit less complete than you find at a Disney park. This is not to say that Adventure City lacks charm! Glancing about, you'll find something of an Autopia-type attraction, themed to rescue vehicles gunning automatically down a track. Or you could ride in "kiddie carnival" type rides like giant balloons, kid-powered go-carts, barnstorming prop-planes (Dumbo, anyone?), and other such diversions.


"Rescue Ride" at Adventure City

Though the attractions are all themed (some minimally), there is no overarching theme to the place, such as Toontown's conceit of being the real home to cartoons. The hodgepodge of themes may actually contribute to its charm, however. They even decorate their lampposts seasonally, just like Disneyland!


Holiday lampposts at Adventure City

A big draw, of course, is the relatively small petting zoo. Sheep and goats practically attack you for the food, available for $1, and in fact one sheep kept jumping on us like a dog. A most odd sight, and one to remember if you are bringing very small children. There are also rabbits and guinea pigs around, not to mention some colorful and entertaining chickens.


Hungry Hungry Sheep!

Children of all ages will enjoy the the miniature electric train that "steams" around the perimeter of the park, carrying passengers past flat, painted scenery and props, through tunnels, and even alongside a waterfall finale. Anyone who yearned to ride on Walt's backyard miniature train in Holmby Hills will appreciate this touch.


The relaxing miniature train navigates the perimenter of the park.

There are two more energetic rides as well. The Bumper to Bumper coaster is similar to Gadget's Go-Coaster in length and scope, but its layout is much more wild. With steep and unpredictable banks, it jostles the riders quite a bit more than Gadget does. For me, this made the ride that much more enjoyable - but you might want to skip this one if you have back problems.


Bumper to Bumper does jerk you around - but it's fun!

The newest addition to the park is Treetop Racers, the wild mouse roller coaster. Like Mulholland Madness at Disney's California Adventure theme park in Anaheim, Treetop Racers eschews outright speed in favor of largely flat switchbacks, generating some significant lateral G-forces that make you feel like you'll fly out of your seat, or even like your car might fly off the tracks. That said, this coaster is not as wild as you might imagine. It's a good deal wilder-and thus more fun-than Mulholland Madness, at least in its current incarnation. Although original version of Mulholland was a good deal more wild, it was toned down after the first few months of operation. Treetop Racers falls somewhere in between Mulholland Madness's two incarnations.


Adventure City's wild mouse - just as themed as Mulholland Madness?


The food at Adventure City is fairly limited. With one central restaurant the size of Stagedoor Café (or perhaps even smaller) at Disneyland's Frontierland, you might even find lines here. Expect to munch on hot dogs, turkey sandwiches, or decadent chili nachos with jalepenos - but also expect to pay very reasonable prices. An assortment of outdoor vending carts also sell snacks and desserts throughout the area, also for decent prices.

The prices, in fact, constitute perhaps one of the most compelling reasons to visit Adventure City. Admission for adults and children ages 1 and over is $11.95, and there is a AAA discount of $2 off. Infants under 12 months are free. Admission includes unlimited rides on everything except the rock-climbing wall, which is an additional $3. At these prices, a family of four could visit this park for the bargain price of one adult admission at Disneyland or Knott's Berry Farm, a fact the Adventure City advertising is quick to point out. The children can find plenty to keep them busy, and you might also find it rewarding to wander through the various shops of Hobby City while you visit; you can always get a hand stamp and re-enter the park later.

The park features a party center near the video game arcade. Having just been to a child's birthday part at a Chuck E. Cheese, I feel qualified to state that Adventure City makes for a palatable alternative, and likely one within the same financial parameters.

Adventure City is open on weekends during the off season (generally, whenever school is in session) and open daily during the summer. Typically, the park is open only during daylight hours, so exact times vary by season. For exact information, including its address (well, OK, it's on Beach between Ball and Cerritos), can be found at http://www.adventurecity.com.

Even without children, you may find it worth your time and money. There is little to complain about in this park, excepting perhaps the lack of sufficient parking in the Hobby City complex, much of which is reserved for store-specific slots. Once inside, your wait times range from zero seconds to two minutes for any given ride - not bad at all! You may not spend your entire day there, especially since there are no crowds, but then again, you may not need to. Not at these prices!

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN ORANGE COUNTY:

Knott's Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park

This is the nation's oldest theme park. It includes 165 attractions in multiple themed areas such as Calico Ghost Town, Mexican Village, Indian Trails, The Boardwalk and Camp Snoopy. (714) 220-5200


Hard Rock Cafe
451 Newport Center Dr., Newport Beach

One in a chain of 104 Hard Rock Cafes around the world. You are paying for the honor of sitting under the autographs of rock stars. The highlight of the decor is the garish suit worn by Prince in the film "Purple Rain." (714) 640-8844


Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
7662 Beach Blvd., Buena Park

Watch "knights" engage in jousting and other forms of mortal combat while you eat dinner. Paper crowns (a la Burger King) included. (714) 521-4740


Movieland Wax Museum
7711 Beach Blvd., Buena Park

An elaborate collection of movie and TV memorabilia, including authentic costumes and sets and more than 200 lifelike replicas of famous stars. Open Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission $6.95-$12.95. (949) 522-1154 or visit Movieland Wax Museum online.


Rainforest Cafe
3333 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa (In the Sears wing of South Coast Plaza)

A themed restaurant with a jungle motif. Includes animatronic creatures, indoor thundershowers, live parrots, talking trees and a large saltwater aquarium. (714) 424-9200


Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum
7850 Beach Blvd., Buena Park

"The odd, the unusual and bizarre from nature and man." Open Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission $5.25-$8.95. (714) 522-7045 or visit Ripley's online.


Wild Bill's Wild West Dinner Extravaganza
7600 Beach Blvd., Buena Park

Watch dancing Indians, lariat-twirling "cowboys" and singing cowgirls while you eat dinner. (714) 522-6414


Wild Rivers Water Park
8770 Irvine Center Dr., Irvine

A water theme park with over 40 water rides and attractions, on the site of the late lamented Lion Country Safari. (949) 768-9453


Intrigued by this abbreviated list? Click here to visit Douglas's more complete list of significant locations in Anaheim, including including HISTORICAL SITES, MUSEUMS, SEASIDE ATTRACTIONS, GARDENS, SHOPPING, JUST FOR KIDS, and MISCELLANEOUS FUN categories.

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