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What are the Best Places for Kids to Play in a Theme Park?

August 31, 2015, 1:53 PM · Among many who are not fans, theme parks have a reputation of being aimed primarily at kids.

We know that parks offer plenty for adults to enjoy, too, and we even know that theme parks can sometimes frustrate small children. Most attractions involve sitting quietly and looking at something — which isn't exactly the top thing that little kids want to do on vacation. Then there's the waiting. Let's face it — a visit to a popular theme park requires a fair amount of patience, which is something else that excited children don't always have to spare.

So how can parents help make a theme park visit with young children a get-away that the kids will love as much as their parents do? It's easy. When the little ones' patience runs low, smart parents head for the attractions where their young children can burn off that excess energy... and run around until they drop.

Tom Sawyer Island
The best place to play at Disneyland

In my Orange County Register column this week, I list 10 such attractions in Southern California — my old go-to places where I took my children back in the days when they needed a mid-day nap. Even for kids beyond napping age, these attractions provide much-welcomed active alternatives to rides and shows where you just sit and watch.

Take a look.

What are your favorite theme park attractions — not just in Southern California but around the world — that allow more active playtime?

Replies (6)

August 31, 2015 at 2:11 PM · I like SeaWorld San Diego as a park for younger children in general. When I take younger relatives, I can let them go wild watching the shows, seeing the animals and riding kiddie rides. I can just watch them play at Sesame Street or ride riptide rescue or better yet, leave them with another family member while I ride Manta and Journey to Atlantis
August 31, 2015 at 5:45 PM · Kids and lines do not go together, which is why I highly tout Fastpass at Disneyland and FP+ at Disney World. Skip the lines. They love short waits. Kids are energizer bunnies. They need to exhaust themselves. Playgrounds gives them immediate satisfaction without long waits. Always go on classic rides with short waits. The rides with short waits could be exciting for them. Legoland is fun for kids throughout the park. No need to parse out the kids areas there.
August 31, 2015 at 7:51 PM · When I was a kid, I always loved the Hideaways at Legoland California. It's one of the best playgrounds out there, with tons of slides and obstacles.
August 31, 2015 at 7:54 PM · My GF and I aren't kids but we love to play in Camp Jurassic (IOA) & Tom Sawyer Island (MK). And I bet kids love it even more.
August 31, 2015 at 8:36 PM · Not one Bugs Bunny World reference from Six Flags Magic Mountain? At least the Looney Tunes Lodge deserves a mention! So many balls!
September 1, 2015 at 8:06 AM · I love how LegoLand parks include areas in many of their queues that have big tables filled with Lego bricks for kids to play with while the adults stay in the queue. The parents and kids can keep a visual check on each other, but the kids get to entertain themselves while the adults keep up with the line.

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