Ranking of Southern California theme parks with young kids

April 30, 2015, 12:31 PM

Hello! I'm planning a trip to Southern California with the family (including a 6-year old and a 3-year old) in July/August. We really like WDW and we look forward to our visit to Disneyland (I've been there in 1992 so it has been a while).

My question for TPI folks is how would you rank the parks in the region with young kids? Disneyland, California Adventure, USH, Legoland, SeaWorld, any other park worth considering? How many days would you spend at Disney (3, 4 or 5 days)?


Replies (7)

Edited: April 30, 2015, 1:31 PM

Legoland > Disneyland > Sea World > San Diego Zoo > California Adventure > Knotts Berry Farm > Universal Hollywood > Magic Mountain

That order for kids in that age range.

Edited: April 30, 2015, 1:56 PM

The Disneyland Resort and LEGOLAND California will be your best options. Which is better depends mainly on your kids. If you've been to Walt Disney World, you've probably got a pretty good idea of what Disneyland is like. Disneyland Park is more kid-friendly than Disney California Adventure, but both have plenty of attractions the entire family can enjoy together. LEGOLAND is themed to the Lego products and features less detailed but more interactive attractions. After those parks, SeaWorld San Diego is the next best option, though your 3-year old may find it boring if they don't like animals. I would avoid Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain, as both have very limited opportunities for young children. If your 6-year old is tall for their age (48" or taller), Knott's Berry Farm would be a good option, but if not I'd skip that one as well. Lastly, like Court E mentioned, the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park are excellent if your kids like animals, but aren't really theme parks.

For the Disneyland Resort, I'd probably recommend three days. Disneyland requires about a day and a half to do everything and Disney California Adventure requires between a half day and a full day depending on crowds, so unless you plan to spend two full open-to-close days at the parks you'll need three to see it all. If your visit falls on a weekend or holiday and/or you plan to take it extremely slowly you might want four days, but in general three days is about right for the resort.

April 30, 2015, 5:21 PM

I think Legoland is perfect for children ages 4-9. After that, Disneyland's a classic - take three days to enjoy it - then I'd go with SeaWorld as the next option if the kids are into animals. Knott's has some nice attractions for children with the refurbished Camp Snoopy, the Calico Mine Ride, Timber Mountain Log Ride and Mystery Lodge.

Universal and Six Flags Magic Mountain skew older than 3-6 years old, so I'd save those for future visits.

May 4, 2015, 1:11 PM

Thank you for the responses!

May 4, 2015, 2:42 PM

I went to south California in 2012 (when my kids were 3 and 1,5 ) and in 2013 (when they were 4 and 2,5). I bought the southern California city pass, which includes 3 days at Disney, one at Universal studios one, at Sea World and one at San Diego Zoo or San Diego Safari park. I also went to Legoland. On 2013 I bought an extra day at Disneyland Resort.

I would say that my kids’ preference would be: Disneyland > California Adventure> Legoland> Sea World > San Diego Zoo >Universal Studios. I do not recommend San Diego Safari park, especially during summer.

May 9, 2015, 4:51 PM

1. Disneyland (If you come to So Cal, no matter the age, you must hit Disneyland)
2. Legoland (Growing up in So Cal, I came here just as much as Disneyland when I was 3)
3. SeaWorld (You won't be going on any rides)
4. San Diego Zoo
5. Safari Park
6. California Adventure (Doesn't have any great kid rides besides Toy Story Mania)
7. Knott's Berry Farm (Most rides are thrill rides, only Camp Snoopy will be enjoyable)
8. Universal Studios (All the rides have high height limits)
9. Magic Mountain (Thrill capital of the world- no place for kids)

May 9, 2015, 8:14 PM

California Adventure has Little Mermaid ride, FROZEN Sing Along, Bug's Land (4 kiddie rides), carousel, Monsters ride, and tractor spinner in Cars land. Radiator Springs Ride could be ridden by 5 year olds if at height requirement.

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