Summer may be the busiest season but with fewer crowds and cooler temperatures fall is a better time to see all the new attractions at Southern California amusement parks. Here is what’s new at the parks from San Diego to Los Angeles. Before you go, check park websites for schedules and online discounts.
Sea World San Diego
Dive into the world of manta rays at the five-acre attraction featuring a 100,000 gallon aquarium and a manta-shaped coaster that zips around a 30-foot rock formation designed with a Southern Asian island theme. The aquarium is filled with three species of rays and hundreds of fish native to California coast. The reef-theme aquarium includes eight viewing windows and a shallow above-ground pool where you can touch and feed California bat rays. New eateries include: Manta Ray’s (wraps, sandwiches, and fruit), and Fusion Smoothies.
$73 ages 10 and older, $65 ages 3 – 9. www.seaworldsandiego.com.
Pirate Reef takes the park’s water rides to new heights onboard a 20-person boat that plunges 25 feet between two 40-foot long pirate ships. Pirate Reef also features a splash bridge, a pirate themed brick-building play area and more than 30 pirate themed LEGO® models.
$72 adults, $62 ages 3 – 12. For more information, visit www.legoland.com.
Disney California Adventure Park is bigger and better than ever with renovations to Buena Vista Street and the addition of Cars Land. The amped up Buena Vista Street cements its role as the park’s main street. Ride the bright Red Trolley along Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Boulevard to The Twilight Zone™ Tower of Terror. Also new: nine shops and eight eateries, including the elegant Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge. New action-packed street shows “Five & Dime” and the “Red Car News Boys” perform through the day.
Based on the Disney Pixar movie “Cars,” the 12-acre Cars Land is a re-creation of Radiator Springs complete with themed shops, eateries and three innovative rides. The four-minute long Radiator Springs Racers – one of Disney’s most elaborate attractions and a definite “E-ticket ride” – cruises through scenic Cadillac Mountain Range before suddenly switching gears and transforming into a racing roller coaster side-by-side with another vehicle! More subdued but fun are Luigi’s Flying Tires (think fancy bumper cars) and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. New for the “World of Color” show: Glow with the Show Ear hats ($25 each), interactive versions of the famous Mickey Ear hats featuring iridescent lights that change to complement imagery and beat of shows.
Single park ticket: $87 ages 10 and older, $81 ages 3 – 7 www.disneyland.disney.go.com.
Knott’s Berry Farm
New menu items, shows and characters add flavor to Knott’s line-up. The “Happiness is….Snoopy” ice show spotlights Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang as they share the simple joys of life with the help of world-class ice skaters at the Charles M. Schulz Theatre. At Knott’s Ghost Town, new characters Sherriff Jebedeiah Smith, Beau Regard the Saloon owner, the delightful Sweet Adeline and others bring to life the 1890s.
“Hooray for Hollywood” tells the story of the Peanuts® Gang as they try to make it big in Tinseltown. More new shows include a Peruvian wind and percussion ensemble in Fiesta Plaza, a juggling unicyclist on the Boardwalk Midway, and the Ghost Town Miners interactive country, blue grass quartet at Spurs Restaurant. Satisfy hunger pangs with new food items offered throughout the park including the BBQ Flank Steak sandwich, Slow Cooked BBQ Ribs, and the Big Foot Broiler Kebab sandwich.
$57.99 ages 12 – 61; $29.99 ages 3 – 11 and seniors. $20 discount online. For information, visit www.knotts.com or call 714-220-5200.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Slip on 3-D glasses and prepare for battle on the four-minute long Transformers: The Ride-3D, a multi-sensory ride infused with HD 3-D media and flight simulation technology. The attraction is built with a multi-level ride-track, visceral special effects, 14 projection screens that tower over 60 feet tall and massive Transformer characters. Autobot vehicles pivot, roll, pitch, and vibrate within a 360-degree rotation as you come face to face with Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee and other characters. You’ll ride through scenes where you feel water, wind, heat and smoke.
$80.99, $72.99 those under 48 inches tall. www.universalstudioshollywood.com.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
You won’t have time to catch your breath on LEX LUTHOR: Drop of Doom, the world’s tallest vertical drop ride. Named after one of DC Comics’ most dangerously intelligent super-villains and Superman’s greatest enemy, the ride is attached to two vertical tracks flanking the SUPERMAN: Escape from Krypton tower. Seated inside floorless gondolas, you’re pulled to the top of the tower at 400 feet and experience a brief pause before being dropped at speeds of up to 85 miles-per-hour.
$61, $36 under 48 inches. http://www.sixflags.com/magicmountain.
Mimi Slawoff writes a monthly family travel column in L.A. Parent magazine and writes for the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. Follow Mimi on Twitter @mimitravelz.