We like to think of our visits to the theme parks as big-time FUN and quality time for the whole family. So when we head out to a park we have never visited before, we want to make sure that the whole family will enjoy it. We know you do too. Now, allow me to let you in on a little secret. All of the Southern California theme parks offer a little something for everyone.
That said, some theme parks in California are better suited for toddlers and younger children, while others are better suited for teenagers, moms and dads, and grandma and grandpa. You get the picture. If you have ever wondered, "Would this theme park be appropriate for my _____________ ?" then this post is for you! We're breaking down the Southern California theme parks by age group.
Best Southern California Theme Parks for Toddlers
Best: Disneyland - The place where all of the magic began, Disneyland Park is home to the childhood classics Dumbo, Peter Pan's Flight and "it's a small world." It's also the only theme park in California where you can hug a Pooh bear and high-five Mickey.
Other good theme parks in California for toddlers:
Disney California Adventure - Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Disneyland, Disney California Adventure offers tots the pint-sized "Bug Land," where everything is viewed from a bug's perspective and larger than life!
SeaWorld San Diego - At Sesame Street's Bay of Play, little ones can go for a ride on Abby's Sea Star Spin and Elmo's Flying Fish plus meet their favorite Sesame Street friends!
Best Southern California Theme Parks for Elementary Age
Best: LEGOLAND California - Every single ride within the park is geared toward ages 2-12, making it the perfect park for elementary school children. LEGOLAND also boasts of only "pink-knuckle rides," so there are plenty of kicks but no super-scary thrills.
Other good theme parks in California for elementary kids:
Disneyland Park - The perfect mix of incredible theming and daring adventure can be found in Walt's back yard. I'm looking at you, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones Adventure!
SeaWorld San Diego - With its mix of moderate thrill rides, animal shows and hands-on animal encounters (hello, rays!), SeaWorld San Diego is great for kids of all ages, but especially elementary children.
Best Southern California Theme Parks for Tweens
Best: Disney California Adventure - The biggest thrill rides at Disney California Adventure — Radiator Springs Racers, Grizzly River Run and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission — BREAKOUT! — are perfect for the tween set. Plus, there are plenty of character encounters and Disney fun!
Other good theme parks in California for tweens:
Disneyland Park - Next to Disney California Adventure, Disneyland Park has a great range of rides — like Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Star Tours — The Adventures Continue — geared for tweens.
Knott's Berry Farm - America's first theme park offers a mix of fun and thrill rides like Wipeout, Ghost Rider and Boomerang, perfect for the tween set.
Best Southern California Theme Parks for Teens
Best: Six Flags Magic Mountain - Teen-age thrill-seekers will find plenty of action at Six Flags Magic Mountain, which boasts more roller coasters than any other theme park in the world!
Other good theme parks in California for teens:
Knott's Berry Farm - By its own categorization, Knott's is home to eight "aggressive thrill" rides like the 82-mile-per-hour Xcelerator roller coaster.
Disney California Adventure - Combine the 55-mph California Screamin' and the toadally fun drops on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission — BREAKOUT! , and you've got the making of teen fun!
Best Southern California Theme Parks for Adults
Best: Universal Studios Hollywood While Universal Studios Hollywood continues to add more kid-friendly attractions, the heart of this theme park — the Studio Tour through the back lot of the working Universal studio — has high appeal to movie buffs. Muggles and Wizards alike flock to this park for their Butterbeer fix in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Other good theme parks in California for adults:
Disneyland - There is no better place in the world to channel your inner child than Disneyland, with its heavy dose of nostalgia and whimsy.
SeaWorld San Diego - With its family-friendly shows, animal exhibits and thrill rides like Journey to Atlantis and Manta, this park offers plenty to wonder at and enjoy.
Best Southern California Theme Parks for Seniors
Best: Universal Studios Hollywood - This theme park that sprang up — literally — around a real-life, working movie studio offers fantastic shows and the world-famous Studio Tour through the Lower Lot. Make sure not to miss WaterWorld. While the movie was a flop, the show offers some of best pyrotechnics and stunts that side of the Mississippi.
Other good theme parks in California for seniors:
SeaWorld San Diego - This magnificently landscaped park is home to incredible animal exhibits and aquariums. The Bay Side Sky Ride and Sky Tower offer beautiful views of San Diego Bay and the surrounding area.
Disneyland Park - Walt's vision for a place where families could come together remains in place at the Happiest Place on Earth. Pull up a chair at the Jolly Holiday Bakery and people watch with Sleeping Beauty Castle as the backdrop!
So for those of you Southern California theme park experts, what do you think? Agree with my choices? What are your favorite Southern California theme parks by age group? Share in comments below.