Theme Park of the Day: Disney's Animal Kingdom

California Trip Help

I need help deciding what park to go to in Southern California.

From Eli Katzman
Posted September 7, 2011 at 6:48 PM
In early November, I am probably going to Southern California, in Anaheim specifically, staying for a weekend. Now, where i am staying is just about 5 minutes away from Disneyland. But, since I am much more drawn to thrills than anything else, I am starting to lean away from that option and thinking about my other possibilities.

Now, I can either go to :

Six Flags Magic Mountain (which i really want to), which is unfortunately 75 minutes away. I really want to go to this park, but sadly it seems like it is too far away, and transportation will be time consuming and expensive. But, I DO get in free with my season pass. Also it is a huge park with hundreds of attractions, which seems like lines will be fairly short, even though they probably wont be. And I am considering buying a gold flash pass.


Knott's Berry farm, which is only 15 minutes away. This park sounds like a blast, but it just doesnt really seem to match up to the hype of SFMM. Still, this park will be open til 10 pm compared to 8 pm of SFMM. I am wondering how long lines will be without being able to cut in line...

Anyway, So which park do you suggest going to? I plan on using greyhound bus transportation if I go to SFMM, and my aunt as a ride to KBF. :D Also, if you think i should definitely go to Disneyland, feel free to share.

Thank you for all the help ahead of time!

From Jeff Elliott
Posted September 9, 2011 at 6:19 AM
It all comes down to personal preference at this point.....

You are right about Magic Mountain, it does have more rides (like 40-50, not a hundred)....and if you don't like roller coasters or have been to two other Six Flags parks, you should probably skip this. Although if you have never been, X2 should definitely be a coaster on your bucket list.

Knotts Berry Farm is one of the very best, but it is also making a choice of wanting to be a thrill park instead of a theme park.....if you just want a fun day, there are plenty of thrills here, but there are also other things to do.

If you have not been to Disney/California Adventure for a while, you may also want to consider this option, if I was really close, I would probably stop by just to experience the new Star Tours while the attendance at the park was relatively low.

But it then becomes a question of what you really want to do.

From James Rao
Posted September 9, 2011 at 1:45 PM
If it was me, Eli, the question would be: "what park should I visit in addition to Disneyland/DCA?" Going to DLR is a no-brainer if for no other reason than to experience the perfect incarnation of Pirates of the Caribbean.

For your other park, based on everything you have said, I would go to Knotts. It has all the rides you like and a large dose of theme park history as well.


From AJ Hummel
Posted September 9, 2011 at 9:34 PM
As someone who lives in the area, here is what I would say.

Six Flags Magic Mountain: If you are into thrills (specifically roller coasters), this would be your best bet. The park has 18 roller coasters, including several unique/best of their types such as X2, Tatsu, Goliath, Apocalypse the Ride, Riddler's Revenge, and Green Lantern: First Flight. Although the park claims to have around 50 rides, other than the coasters and water rides, they are all either kiddie rides or old-style flats. If you are okay with only riding coasters for a day, this would be a good choice.

Knott's Berry Farm: This park has quite a few thrill rides and 9 roller coasters, but also has some well themed attractions. It is much easier to get to from Anaheim, but it would also be more expensive since you would need an admission ticket. Also, other than Xcelerator, most of the rides are not as good as similar rides of their type elsewhere.

Disneyland Resort: I've never been to any other Disney parks, but from what I've heard Disneyland has more unique rides than the the other Magic Kingdoms. Also, DCA does have several thrill rides, including California Screamin', one of California's top five steel coasters (I personally prefer this to many of SFMM's coasters). If you are purely into thrills or have been to other Disney parks, this might not be your best option, but otherwise it is actually the best of the three options.

Now, as for narrowing it down, the first question is: do you have the ability and willingness to rent a car? If you won't be driving yourself, I would strongly advise against SFMM. However, if you can rent a car, it is not that bad of a drive on a weekend. You just get on the 5 freeway and follow it north to the park, and weekends usually aren't that bad traffic-wise. It will take 75 to 90 minutes to get there, but it is worth it. I don't know how the bus transport would work, but most public transit in Southern California is not that great.

Now for crowds. Depending on which day you can go, I'd recommend a different park.

If you go on Saturday, I'd recommend either SFMM or Disney.

If you go on Sunday, I'd recommend either SFMM or KBF.

SFMM has the Flash Pass, but in early November crowds might not require it. Either day, I'd recommend waiting until you are there and know what the crowds are before you purchase one, as they are expensive and you don't want it if you don't need it. When I go Sundays in the offseason, lines are rarely greater than 20 minutes even if one train is running (with the only occasional exception being X2, although that is still usually no more than 30 minutes). Saturdays are more crowded, but you should still be able to do everything without a Flash Pass if you are there open to close. You will likely need one, however, if you want re-rides on a Saturday.

KBF does not have a skip the line pass, at least to my knowledge. However, the park is dead on Sundays (longest line typically around 10 minutes). Saturdays can be a different story, but are not always...sometimes its crowded, sometimes it's not. However, at Disney, Saturdays are often slightly less crowded than Sundays because AP holders cannot visit on Saturday. If you can only visit on Saturday, you may or may not have a better day at Disneyland Resort. Just make sure you get a park hopper ticket so you can visit both parks.

Whatever you end up doing, I'm sure you'll have a great time. None of the parks in Southern California are bad; some are just better than others.

From Nick Markham
Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:55 AM
KBF actually has a Skip-the-Lines Pass which includes a one-time ride on Ghost Rider, Silver Bullet, Sierra Sidewinder, Boomerang, Pony Express, Supreme Scream, Timber Mountain Log Ride, and Screamin' Swing.

I loved SFMM for all of its coasters, but I have visited KBF in California more than any other park, and it is definitely high quality. So whichever decision you make should be good.

But you have to go to Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure nevertheless. Considering DLR has the highest quality attractions possible in California, and it being much more legendary than WDW, you just have to visit. Plus, you said no thills?: Staar Tours II, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Indiana Jones Adventure, California Screamin', Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Grizzly River Run, Goofy's Sky School, etc. Then throw in rides that aren't thrilling but provide an experience even better than thrills and you've got the best theme park in California, if not in the nation. (I'll try to keep away from the WDW-DL arguement right now, though once we get Cars Land, the victory is ours! ;D)

From Eli Katzman
Posted September 10, 2011 at 12:35 PM
Thanks so much guys!! You're the best :D anyway, well, if they were all 10 minutes away i would honestly go to sfmm... but sadly i think it is just too far away to go to. Sorry AJ Im about to turn 16, and even if i could drive yet, you have to be 25 to rent a car nationwide... Like I said SFMM is over an hour away and the only way of getting there would have to be So cal transportation which could get hectic and late and everything. So i sadly have to say thats out of the equation... And Jeff not only was i dying to ride X2 but also tatsu... wanted to ride that for years :D and going off topic I thought that it would be a lot more exhilarating of you did a free fall on Superman instead of a backwards launch for the renovation... was it a good change?

So yeah my highest priority is definitely roller coasters, but other thrill rides/entertaining things to do can also be accounted for.

Now nick, I was barely even considering DL til what you just said... and now I'm starting to actually throw that in as a possibility instead of automatically going for KBF... But, although you say thrills, I would still love to get more than just a few coasters in. And I know the theming there is amazing, but as far as coasters go, its a cool addition, but not a necessity.

Oh and James, I'll probably only get to one park. And it will PROBABLY be on a saturday.

And wont DL be packed on ANY saturday of the year? and as far as convenience goes, There is a shuttle straight from my hotel to take me to DL, and to get to KBF, i would, just like SFMM, have to use So Cal transport.

Well thanks again guys, and i also think i should buy my ticket to Anaheim soon xD

From Nick Markham
Posted September 11, 2011 at 9:04 AM
Wow, I'm glad I was inspiring Eli! Well, if you only have one day to go, buy a 1-Day park hopping ticket for Disneyland Resort. Knott's is fun, but if you are going for the historical features of the park, DL has even more history, and I am pretty sure Kings Dominion (that's pretty close to you am I correct?) can cover KBF on the attractions side. (There isn't anything at KBF you probably haven't ridden, and on an upside, Windseeker will seem more exciting when its brand-new at Kings Dominion)

So, for Disneyland, if you have one day for both parks, here are my suggestions:

-You will want to see Worlds of Color at the end of the day, but one usual has to fast pass in the morning to view it, and you will need your fast pass for other things, so I suggest to book a dine-and-view package with Arial's Grotto (only costs $30 per person), where you can have delicious food and have a reserved seat to see World of Color.

Now that we have this straightened out, here is how you would get the best of both parks in one day. This plan will work even with heavy crowds, but you are going at the best possible time, November, which is pretty much as off-season as DL gets:

-Arrive 30 min to park opening and head directly to Space Mountain, riding that first. Before you ride, though, fastpass Star Tours II. Space Mountain will have about a 10-15 minute line if you do so, but Star Tours will already have a 30-45 minute line after if you don't.

-After Space Mountain, ride Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and the Matterhorn Bobsleds while waiting for Star Tours II.

-Return for your fast pass and ride Star Tours II.

-Head across to Adventureland and Fast PAss Indiana Jones Adventure. Go and ride Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.

-Return and ride Indiana Jones.

-Fast Pass Splash Mountain, ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

-Eat lunch, then return for your ride on Splash Mountain.

-Visit any attractions in Fantasyland or ToonTown (Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin) if interested, or make your way to DCA.

-Upon arriving to Disney's California Adventure, it should be about 3-4 PM if you followed the itinerary (I went to DL on a Saturday in June and did that itinerary I gave you before noon, but I didn't have Indy or a brand-new Star Tours, so I figured out about four more hours).

-This part of the plan will be difficult. Fast Pass Soarin' and ride Grizzly River Run.

-Return for your fast pass and ride Soarin'.

-Fast Pass Little Mermaid (you gotta ride the new addition) and ride Goofy's Sky School and Silly Symphony Swings/or Mickey's Fun Wheel.

-Ride Toy Story Mania, then return to ride Little Mermaid.

-Fast Pass Tower of terror and go for Muppets 3D or It's Tough To Be A Bug, or just anything to use up that hour or so of waiting.

-Return, ride Tower of Terror, then go and ride California Screamin'.

-After that, arrive to Arial's Grotto for reservation, and enjoy Worlds of Color!

whew...out of breath here...Anyway, that is the best plan I could come up with that seems remotely possible, but you are going during arguably the most off month of the year, so you should have some help there.

Any questions?

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