What are you planning to visit this summer in Southern California?

May 27, 2019, 6:45 PM · It's Star Wars week here on Theme Park Insider as we prepare for the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland later this week. We will have plenty of coverage from the media event for you starting Wednesday night. But what if you don't have a reservation for the land's first three-plus weeks, aren't looking forward to the crowds after that, or maybe just want to wait until Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance is open before visiting?

Or, like a true Theme Park Insider, you're totally hitting up Galaxy's Edge but you are looking for even more to do this summer, too?

No worries. Let's recap everything else that's opening at (or returning to) Southern California's major theme parks this summer in addition to Galaxy's Edge.

Also at Disneyland, the Disneyland Forever fireworks are returning June 7, lighting up the park with an encore run of the show that wowed fans at the park's 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration a few years back. Hyperspace Mountain is taking over Space Mountain for a limited time, too.

Meanwhile, over at Disney California Adventure, Disney is hoping to entice you to cross the esplanade for part of your visit with the west coast debut of Mickey's PhilharMagic, the return of Soarin' Over California, a new Lion King show, and the refurbished and rethemed Jessie's Critter Carousel in Pixar Pier.

And later this summer, California Adventure will add the final element to Pixar Pier with the opening of Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind.

Up the 5 at Universal Studios Hollywood, the Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle castle projection and drone show returns on June 22 for its summer run.

Then, at an as-yet-unannounced date, Universal will welcome the newly-plussed Jurassic World - The Ride.

If you can't wait to get wet, the rethemed Calico River Rapids is open right now at Knott's Berry Farm.

For a change of pace, you will stay completely dry on SeaWorld San Diego's new ride for 2019, Tidal Twister. But you will get some nice zero-G airtime and hangtime moments on this new figure-8 "coaster" ride.

And sometime, though we don't yet know when, Six Flags Magic Mountain will open its new coaster for 2019, West Coast Racers.

What are you planning to visit this summer in Southern California?

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Replies (4)

May 27, 2019 at 8:20 PM

Looks good overall. My mom was just at Universal last month with grandkids and had a fun time so nice to see much more abounding for everyone's tastes.

May 28, 2019 at 9:52 AM

We're planning a comprehensive SoCal vacation this summer, but there's no secret that Galaxy's Edge was the impetus for the trip. We're deliberately planning the trip in late July/early August to trip to allow for as many opening quirks to be ironed out and to get a full feel for how the entire Disneyland Resort will react before we arrive. Since we haven't been to the area since 2013 (when our son wasn't tall enough for most of the rides), this trip will feature a lot of new additions beyond just Galaxy's Edge.

I was hoping that Soarin' Over California might stay through our trip, but it's not to be, though getting to see the Dark Arts show at USH will be a nice addition since we've been to UO multiple times and having something new to see in the Wizarding World will be a plus. I know Disney has their hands full with the debut of Galaxy's Edge, but it would be helpful to know when Emotional Whirlwind will open and some general idea as to when RotR will debut (we're assuming it won't be ready).

It doesn't look like West Coast Racers will be ready in time for our trip, but there will be plenty of new rides for us with Twisted Colossus, Full Throttle, and all of the coasters that my son couldn't ride the last time we were at SFMM (most notably X2). The same goes for Knott's, where I'm looking forward to my first ride on Voyage to the Iron Reef and how it compares to Wonder Mountain's Guardian at Canada's Wonderland. The biggest trick is trying to figure out if we might need multiple days at these two parks and how to arrange our overall 15-day schedule, which will include a few days in San Diego.

May 30, 2019 at 2:39 PM

Hey Russell, I live in SD, so maybe I can help. I’d recommend only one day for knotts, in my experience (without crowds), it’s only a half day park, so if it’s busy a full day should be enough. Maybe 2 for SFMM just because of the lines. If you’re able to do some kind of express pass you could probably fit everything in one day, which is what I’d recommend doing if you can. Also if you need any recommendations for things to do in SD let me know, I love playing tour guide! As for me, I’m gonna try to wait till after summer for all the parks, and might avoid Disney even longer than that as much as it kills me! I’ll probably get the season pass for SFMM this year, and gonna try to hit up knotts and SeaWorld at some point.

May 31, 2019 at 12:41 PM

We're pretty familiar with both SFMM and Knott's (the only "new" park for us on this trip will be Legoland), and have Platinum Passes for Cedar Fair and Gold Passes for Six Flags. This will be our 4th trip to Southern California over the past 20 years, but the first with our son since he's crossed most of the height restriction thresholds (just past 52", so probably will miss out on the 54" rides at SFMM and Knott's). He's a ride junkie, so I expect having to oblige his need to re-ride the best of the bunch (I'm predicting he's going to want to ride X2 more than a couple of times), while still getting to experience the rides that he's still not tall enough to ride, most notably Full Throttle, which was still under construction on our last trip.

I HATE paying extra for skip-the-line privileges, so that's why we are considering more than a day for each park, and might just play it by ear based on crowds since we can always come back for another day with our season passes (going a second day, even for a few hours doesn't cost us a penny, and at Six Flags we have the Season Dining Plan so it means getting free meals too). We'll be in SoCal for 15 days with quite a bit of flexibility in our schedule with only the Disneyland/DCA portion of our trip truly "locked in" - we've already booked a hotel within walking distance of the parks, and likely a Saturday brunch at the Magic Castle (probably coupled with a Dodgers game) because of the limited availability for that experience.

We currently have 3 full days set aside for San Diego with a day each for Legoland, Sea World, and the Zoo. We also are planning to go to the Padres/Orioles game at Petco Park (probably the day we're at Sea World - also "free" for us with our Platinum Passes from BGW), and I'd like to visit Ballast Point one afternoon/evening, so our schedule there is already pretty full.

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