As Disneyland prepares for perhaps its most dominant summer since Walt Disney first welcomed people to that happy place, other Southern California theme parks have reason for a new hope.
Star Wars overflow.
Disneyland officials are taking steps to limit attendance when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens on May 31. It’s the park’s most highly anticipated addition in recent memory. So much so that some Disney fans will put off their visits until the Star Wars crowds die down.
Maybe this is the summer to take a break from Disney and explore one of the other Southern California theme parks. They’re ready with rampaging dinosaurs, masked bandits and rail-riding racers.
Here’s what Southern California theme parks are offering for summer 2019.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Disneyland isn't the only park with something new. Check out these southern California theme parks.
Nicole Schaub, Arizona Republic
Tyrannosaurus rex is no longer the big lizard in town when Universal opens Jurassic World: The Ride.
The much-needed update of Jurassic Park: The Ride includes improved visual effects and a bigger, better, more dangerous dinosaur that appears just before riders plunge down an 84-foot waterfall. Jurassic World will open sometime this summer, according to Universal.
Also new is “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle,” a nighttime show in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Projections light up Hogwarts castle, but it’s the drone-based choreography at the end that sets the performance apart from others.
Knott’s Berry Farm
Universal isn’t the only park investing in a ride update. Knott’s Berry Farm is transforming Bigfoot Rapids into Calico River Rapids, featuring a new story overlay, additional animatronics and show scenes. Don’t worry, Bigfoot still makes an appearance, though he may be a bit angry over the loss of his title role. Calico River Rapids will open May 17.
The Calico Mine Ride is an extensive dark ride at Knott's Berry Farm. (Photo: Sean Teegarden Photography/Knott's Berry Farm)
Ghost Town Alive returns, but with a new story and pistol-packing villains. Guests strolling through Ghost Town are invited to interact with the bandits and cowboys, involving themselves as much (or as little) as they’d like. Visitors may also completely ignore the residents, as they would in regular towns.
Tickets: $49 online; $84 at the gate.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
The roller-coaster capital of the West Coast doesn’t disappoint with West Coast Racers, the first launch-based racing coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Tatsu is one of the many coasters at Six Flags Magic Mountain. (Photo: Craig T. Mathew/Mathew Imaging)
The side-by-side tracks swerve and loop around each other, crossing over 14 times. At one point, coasters loop close enough that riders can nearly high-five their competitors. Park officials have not announced an opening date.
Six Flags also is losing a ride. It recently closed Green Lantern: First Flight, a coaster that spun riders on an axis. When it shut down in March, few people lamented its demise. “Pain” and “torture” often were referenced in descriptions of the ride on Twitter. Six Flags said a new coaster would take its place, offering no timeline.
SeaWorld San Diego
Welcome to Tidal Twister, a ride that has fans debating whether it’s a roller coaster.
Tidal Twister, which opens May 24, features a 300-foot-long figure-8 track with two trains that load at either end. The trains are linked together so that they whip along the track maintaining the same speed and distance.
Tidal Twister features two trains that whisk by one another on a figure-8 track at SeaWorld San Diego. (Photo: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment)
Coaster enthusiasts argue Tidal Twister is more of a looping carnival ride since the cars don’t coast. But others insist that since Tidal Twister rolls on a track, it’s a roller coaster.
Yes, this is an actual point of contention. Many people take their rides that seriously. Maybe too seriously.
Tickets: $92, $87 for ages 3-9.
The theme park built upon the popularity of interlocking blocks celebrates its 20th birthday, roughly four times the age of its target demographic. The result is a summer-long series of dance parties that are both parentally approved and not too loud.
Furious action at the Fun Town Police and Fire Academy at Legoland. (Photo: Legoland)
Children 12 and younger get in free on their birthdays all year. A valid ID is required (birth certificate or passport) rather than a card from Grandma.
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