Other Attractions in Southern California
Disneyland is a great vacation destination, but unlike WDW in Florida, it isn't
so expansive that it can keep a guest busy for a full week. That can actually be
an advantage, though, since it leaves time to visit some of the non-Disney
attractions in the area. Some of my personal favorites are:
Knott's Berry Farm (Buena Park): The original Orange County amusement park is
located just a few miles (in Buena Park) from
Disneyland. An evening visit to the shopping area and for a chicken
dinner at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Restaurant is great (and you don't have to
pay park admission to enjoy the restaurant),
even if you don't have a full day to dedicate to seeing "Mystery
Lodge" and the other attractions in the park itself. Knott's has
it's own website, if you want to do
Universal Studios Hollywood (Universal City): Universal is the original movie studio tour.
Since it's beginnings in the 19teens, the tour has grown to include many
special effects (such as Earthquake and a Kong-frontation) and a theme park
area which includes the "Back to the Future" simulator attraction
and a new incarnation of "Jurassic Park" (necessary since the
original park on Isla Nublar had to be abandoned due to technical
difficulties.) USH is well worth a day. There's tons of information in
MousePlanet's Universal Studios Information Guide,
if you want to read more.
The San Diego Zoo: This is among the most respected of zoological parks in the
United States. The realistic display of the animals, the educational value
of the presentations, and the wonderful maintenance of the facilities made
this the prototype park that Disney's Animal Kingdom Park in Florida was
designed to beat. The zoo has it's own
site, which is worth checking out.
Wild Animal Park (San Diego): Wild Animal Park is similar, but
larger than, the Africa area of Disney's Animal Kingdom, featuring the
Kilimanjaro Safari attraction, at Walt Disney World. A whole park has
been built around it, but there isn't as much to see or do here as there is
at the main zoo. Wild Animal Park is operated by the San Diego Zoo,
which has it's own site.
Sea World (San Diego): Sea World in San Diego is very similar to
Sea World in Orlando, but has fewer attractions (like Atlantis) that are not
directly associated with sea life. The
World Information Guide is an extensive guide covering the four
Sea World parks.
Legoland (Carlesbad): Legoland is a park, oriented toward the
younger children (under 12), with attractions that are built of and/or based
on the familiar building block toys. MousePlant's own Legoland
Information Guide has more information
if you want even more ideas about what to do in the area, Chris Jepson's
MousePlanet section, Exploring Anaheim & Orange County,
can provide more ideas.
Frank Hagan (email@example.com), provided the following post to the Usenet, which
I've included with his permission:
"Knott's Berry Farm is located close to Disneyland in Buena Park, CA.
I've always preferred Disneyland to Knott's, of course, but wanted to post a
short "trip report" for those wishing a diversion when in Southern
"My company holds an annual picnic for all employees, and the last few
years it has been at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA. Because of
location and employee preference, the company moved the picnic to Knott's
Berry Farm this year. The food and facilities for the company picnic was much
better at Knott's, and the park is more family orientated.
"It has been several years since I last visited Knott's Berry Farm,
and I must admit I was disappointed. The park now seems to be a mish-mash of
the quaint old park atmosphere and new theme park/carnival rides. It doesn't
quite measure up in the thrill ride category with the likes of the Six Flags
parks, and it has lost much of the charm it once had as a theme park. Still,
there is quite a bit at Knott's that is worthwhile.
"Bless their hearts, they have tried theming some queues. The new
Jaguar roller coaster has an Aztec temple theme for the queue, although it is
hot and stuffy inside (very weak air conditioning and not enough air blowing
through the place.) The ride itself is mild, so that a child that can handle
Big Thunder at DL would be able to ride this one without any fear. The cars
are very cramped, and the seats somewhat uncomfortable (hint: push your lower
back against the hard plastic seat back to prevent strain.) For smaller folks
than my average 5' 10" frame, you'll be fine.
"I also rode a carnival type ride called the Tumbler. Fun ride, but
the loading was pretty slow. It may have been aggravated by the fact that one
set of cars was out of commission. The ride operator had to balance the load
on the other cars by asking people to move to different cars; I don't know if
that was due to the set of cars out of commission or not, but it added about 5
minutes to the loading process.
"Knott's has added several thrill rides in the past few years. One,
Windjammer, is their newest coaster, which features parallel tracks, a loop
and a race between cars on the two tracks. The queue area is just a line, but
the ride loads fairly fast. Breaking my basic rule about the age I've attained
... which is, I am too old to have my butt higher than my head ... I ventured
to ride this thing. My wife and I have never ridden a looping coaster before.
So there was some apprehension, but the loop ... which appears in the very
beginning of the ride ... wasn't that bad at all. The remainder of the coaster
is fairly mild, but it does jostle you around a bit like the Matterhorn at DL
"I didn't ride any of the other thrill coasters, but friends there
told me they are generally milder than the monsters at the Six Flags parks.
"Knott's has a few shows that are worthwhile too; Mystery Lodge is a
Native American themed storytelling show, with the stereotypical native
American older person telling stories about his culture. They present this
material in a unique way that, if revealed, would be a major spoiler. But
suffice it to say that if you disliked the "PC" aspects of Pocahontas,
you won't like the subject matter here. If you would like to hear a story from
the perspective of at least one native American tribe from the American
northwest, you'll like it. But the special effects are done very nicely, and
worth a look.
"Food seems to be a bit more reasonable at some of the sit-down restaurants,
although we didn't sample any of it. Fast food is as expensive, or more so,
than at DL: churros were $2, small bottled water was $2, soft drinks were in
the $2.25 range if I remember correctly.
"The thrill ride Knott's has taken over the area of the
"Reflections" lake too much, and that area has lost its charm. Its
almost as if the folks planning Knott's are cramming things in without regard
to the way the visual elements work together.
"The Ghost Town area also suffers visually from seeing too many
elements of the outside world (like big looping coasters) above the buildings.
There are a variety of shops presenting attractive and noteworthy merchandise,
including bearded old guys doing things like making horseshoes, cutting coins
into sculptures, etc. And you can still pan for gold there.
"My take on Knott's for the visitor to So CA ... if its a choice
between DL and Knott's, DL wins hands down. But, if you have more than a
couple of days, a third day at Knott's might be worthwhile, especially if you
have a family member that likes moderate coasters."