Guest post by: Traci L. Suppa
Don’t think of Anaheim as a day trip from Los Angeles. This small city—along with neighboring cities Buena Park and Santa Ana—is worthy of a dedicated visit. Of course, Anaheim is home to two Disney theme parks, and it’s also less than 45 minutes from the Pacific Ocean coast. But in addition to those huge attributes, there’s plenty for families to do in this destination graced by 280 sunny days a year. Here are five can’t-miss local attractions.
The original Disneyland Park just capped its 60th anniversary celebration, but there’s always something new to enjoy somewhere among the eight distinct sections, which include Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland and Tomorrowland. You’ll find a reimagined Peter Pan’s Flight, the new Star Wars Launch Bay in the old Innoventions building, new cars in Autotopia, and the “Paint the Night” parade using more than 1.5 million LED lights. Of course, the classics—like the Matterhorn Bobsleds, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, the Enchanted Tiki Room, and “it’s a small world”—are still as popular as ever. An entirely new Star Wars-themed land is now under construction.
Disney California Adventure
Yes, this is a separate park necessitating its own ticket. And it’s worth dedicating a full day to experience the themed sections, including Hollywood Land, Pacific Wharf, Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peak, Cars Land and “a bug’s land.” Younger children will love the feeling of being small as bugs walking around the larger-than-life props—like the ten-foot tall watermelon rind archway—and riding the pint-sized rides like Flik’s Flyers. Older thrill-seekers will love the California Screamin’ high-speed coaster, Grizzly River Run, and Soarin’ Around the World. The new Frozen-Live at the Hyperion show is worth arriving early to secure Fast Passes to see. This musical stage show based on the blockbuster movie has all the superlative production values and acting talent you would expect from Disney.
Knott’s Berry Farm
What began as an actual berry farm in Buena Park is now an affordable, well-themed park with areas such as Ghost Town, Camp Snoopy, Fiesta Village, and the Boardwalk. Roller coaster fans have plenty of options, like the inverted Silver Bullet coaster, the spinning Sierra Sidewinder, and Montezooma’s Revenge that accelerates from 0 to 55 mph in three seconds. There are several frequent live shows daily, such as the Wild West Stunt Show in Ghost Town and “Blockbuster Beagle on Ice” in the Charles M. Schulz Theatre. If you’ve got pre-schoolers in tow, Camp Snoopy is a must for age-appropriate rides and photo ops with the Peanuts characters.
Discovery Cube Orange County
This kid-focused science museum in Santa Ana contains more than 100 hands-on exhibits across several sections, including Dino Quest, Rocket Lab, Air & Space, Eco Challenge, Dynamic Earth, and Quake Zone. Your day should include trying the Mission Control touchscreen console to design and operate a Martian rover, taking a virtual helicopter ride, walking inside the two-story tall Argentinosaurus, and cooking in the Petersonville Healthy Kitchen.
There are two great options in Buena Park for dinner (or even lunch) theater that will entertain the entire family. You may have experienced the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament in another North American city, so you may even know which knight you’ll route for. Guests sit facing the Grand Ceremonial Arena, feast on a four-course banquet (sans silverware), and watch horse-mounted knights compete in medieval games of skill, sword fights and jousting tournaments. You can switch it up with a pirate show instead just down the road, at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. Here, the action takes place aboard an 18th century Spanish galleon, with actors performing impressive swordplay and aerial stunts.
From her home office in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley, guest contributor Traci L. Suppa writes about travel, tourism, and hospitality. Wordscapesny.com