Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter Google Plus Email Newsletter

I live in central Florida; what attractions in Southern California should I visit and which ones should I skip?

I know Disneyland is a must, but what about the rest?

From Daniel Etcheberry
Posted July 3, 2011 at 7:38 PM
Remember that I don't do coasters and I'm in a wheelchair.

I will have a Legoland soon in Florida.

Sea World San Diego must be the same thing.

Universal looks similar with the exception of the studio tour (is it worth paying the expensive park entrance just for the tour?) Maybe when UH gets transformers will make the park more attractive.

What about a day trip to San Diego? Is the zoo worth it?

I already have been to the Chinese Theater, so that attraction is checked :) I loved what Robin Williams wrote on the pavement "carpe diem" I loved that movie.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Nick Markham
Posted July 3, 2011 at 7:46 PM
Universal Studios Hollywood I would suggest, simply for the Studio Tour. You will be able to ride it, and it is one of Universal's greatest creations, something you will never forget.

From Robert Niles
Posted July 4, 2011 at 11:01 PM
[Update (see below) - this is meant as general advice to any visitor, not specific to Daniel's situation.] Taking Legoland off the table, here's what's worth doing at the SoCal theme parks which you can't find in Orlando or aren't as good in Florida:

SeaWorld San Diego: Shipwreck Rapids ride. Free Skytower and Bayside Skyride. Much better Cirque de la Mer. Sea otters.

Knott's Berry Farm: Your standard Cedar Fair iron park. Wait a couple years to see what Matt Ouimet can do with it.

California Adventure: Must see, especially once Cars Land opens. Tower of Terror is different (most say not as good), but Midway Mania is even better when it is on, well, a midway. World of Color and Aladdin are can't miss. Also exclusive here and worth doing: Monsters, Inc: Mike and Sulley to the Rescue. California Screamin'. Mickey's Silly Symphony Swings.

Disneyland: Indiana Jones. Original Tiki Room. Better Pirates. Better Fantasmic! Sailing Ship Columbia. Matterhorn. Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Storybook Land. Better Small World. Roger Rabbit's Car-Toon Spin. Better Space Mountain. Finding Nemo. Monte Cristo sandwich. The only Disney park Walt ever walked through.

Universal Studios Hollywood: The Studio Tour, especially King Kong 360/3D. Wetter Jurassic Park. Universal's House of Horrors (a year-round Horror Nights-style haunted house.) Next year: Transformers.

Six Flags Magic Mountain: Coaster Mecca. Tatsu, X2, Apocalypse, Superman and The Riddler's Revenge are the best of the bunch, IMHO.

From Daniel Etcheberry
Posted July 5, 2011 at 1:12 PM
Robert,

Thank you very much for the detailed recommendations (even better than Frommers) but you ignored some of what I said like "I don't do coasters" which would pretty much eliminate Magic Mountain from my to do list. Also I said that I'm in a wheelchair so there are rides that are impossible for me to get in like Finding Nemo or too difficult to transfer like the rapids at Sea World.

By the way, thanks for the sandwich tip. I would have never realize that it even exists had you not told me. I googled it and I'm drooling.

From Rob P
Posted July 5, 2011 at 10:00 AM
San Diego Zoo is definitely worth it. I think they even do a nightime visit now to view all the nocturnal animals.
If you're not limiting yourself to theme park attractions why not take a trip out to the Palm Springs Tramway taking you up into the San Jacinto mountains for a spectacular view. The cable cars revolve and are handicap accessible. Well worth it.

From Nick Markham
Posted July 5, 2011 at 10:19 AM
Domenic, yes you should go to both DL and USH. Transformers will definitely be an awesome attraction, but I think you will be surprised by the Studio Tour. It is the signature ride of the park, no matter what new rides the park will get in the future.

And you don't even need Cars Land as a reason to go to the best single theme park on earth (Disneyland), but it sure helps.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted July 5, 2011 at 8:11 PM
Yeah, I agree, USH is an actual real movie studios, something USO and DHS wish they were!

I would catch Disneyland just because its the first! As for Disneyland, I am not sure how you feel about accesability on attractions, but Indy is good (if you can do Dinosaur, you can do this) and Pirates of the Carribean is good too.

From Robert Niles
Posted July 5, 2011 at 9:07 PM
I know Daniel, should have mentioned that I was writing for the general audience, and not for you specifically. This is one of those frequently asked questions that deserves a thorough answer, since so many people have the same Orlando vs. LA question.

From Lisa Jacobs
Posted July 5, 2011 at 9:15 PM
As a former long time resident of So. Cal., I felt I must respond. I don't know very much about FL to compare, but I have my opinions about the must dos in So Cal. area. I haven't been in a few years, but here goes. Good advice about Disneyland, it is charming and intimate, and you feel the presence of Walt. Try to go on the least crowded day you can, which in the summer is impossible. A lovely fall day when the crowds are thin is ideal. The smaller size of the park, and the large population of the surrounding area make crowding a big issue. Especially for someone on 4 wheels. I have done it in the past when I had some temporary disability issues, and it can be hard to navigate through the masses of people. California Adventure isn't as crowded, usually.

I feel Knotts is a must do also. I don't like roller coasters either, and Knotts is packed with them. But just walking through is a nice experience, there are cute shops and eateries, especially the chicken dinner restaurant, which you don't need to pay admission for.

Consider going to one or both of the Getty museums. They are so well done, and beautiful. No admission price, only pay for parking (which I think you still need to make reservations for).

If you are going to Universal in the summertime, be prepared for very hot temps. The valley (where I'm from) is much hotter than Los Angeles or the beach areas in the summer.

Also, try to get to the Farmer's Market, the original one in West Hollywood. And if possible, try to take a studio tour. Not sure which studio is better for that. Venice beach is fun for people watching, there is a nice walking path that is accessible. Do some ethnic restaurants, there are fabulous eateries from all over the world. If you want to shop or feel the need for a mall, Century City is pretty and open air, with a great food court.

Oh, how I miss Los Angeles. But not the traffic. Did I mention the traffic? You are better off doing all of your driving at 2 a.m. if you want to avoid it.

From Robert Niles
Posted July 5, 2011 at 11:22 PM
I should do a front-page post on info about all the studios tours available in LA. Gimme a day or two to pull that together.

This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.

Theme Park Insider: Orlando 2014

Theme Park Insider: Orlando 2014

Get all of Theme Park Insider's reader ratings, tips, and advice for planning a trip to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, or SeaWorld, in our new 2014 Orlando guidebook! It's more than 200 pages of well-tested, insider information that will help you get the most from your vacation.
Order now: Kindle | iBooks | Paperback | Kindle (UK)