California Park Choice

I might be going on a trip to California this summer with my wife and my 12 year old daughter. We definitely plan to go to Disneyland for a few days. If I had one more day to visit a park and was going to choose between Knott's, Universal, and Six Flags Magic Mountain, which would you suggest that I choose?

They all look like they have their interesting points and I would like to visit one, but I know that visiting all is not going to happen because we would like to spend time also visiting other places and relatives. My daughter likes roller coasters but isn't in to real extreme ones. So far we can't get her on any ride that involves dangling feet. My wife will ride pretty much anything that doesn't go around in circles. Anyway, just curious what your suggestions would be and why. Thanks for your help.

If it makes any difference, Knott's and Universal are a lot closer. SFMM is quite a drive, all the way up to Valencia.
I'd go to any of them. And you're right, they're all good and you could find something for everybody at each of them.

D_vo's avatar

Depends what you're looking for I think. If you want to hit a lot of high-intensity thrill rides, SFMM is definitely the choice. However, Knott's is quickly becoming one of my favorite parks. They have a good ride selection, and the park is very clean, and has a great feel to it. Can't go wrong with the ghost town section.

I call Cedar Point my home park even though I live in the Chicago Suburbs.

echoing the other comments. If you're already going to be in Anaheim, then Knott's is the convenient choice. If you've already done Universal in Orlando, you may not feel that USH is different enough for you to get your money's worth. (yes, there are some differences, but it's smaller than USF, and with the ongoing construction this year, there may be other overriding negatives.)

As mentioned, USH and Magic Mountain are not "close" in driving time terms to Anaheim. USH is at least 1.5 hours during rush hour, and MM could be as much as 2.5 depending on route (with current construction on the I-5 north of Buena Park) perhaps mitigated by your ability to use the car pool lanes.

Knott's is a good value, and if you're basing out of Anaheim it's an easy 15 min commute using surface streets that won't stress you out if you're unfamiliar with big metropolis traffic. It's a great smaller park, with a lot of stuff crammed in there.

Another fair warning: Many people visit SFMM and come away with less than fantastic impressions. There are a ton of coasters, but to me (both before and after I moved here) it just seems like something doesn't gel there. It might be the perceived lack of flat rides, or that while they have almost every "type" of coaster, none of them "excel" (my opinion). However, they have really amped up the thrills in the last 4 years with Superman, Luthor, Full Throttle, and Green Lantern. Your mileage will vary, but take that into consideration.

Last edited by CreditWh0re,

Personally, I enjoyed USH more than Knott's even though I've been to the parks in Florida. But it is further away and if you're not much interested in the studio tour and you've already done Transformers in Florida I don't know if it's worth it.

Knott's is very easy to get to from Disney. You can even catch an ART shuttle for around $3 each way to Knott's. It stops at Disney at a few other places throughout the area. I wasn't in love with the place, but it may be your best option.

I loved Knott's. Especially since it was a free get-in with my CF platinum pass!
I enjoyed the rides and I had about twelve jars of that seedless boysenberry jam shipped back home, too.

I liked USH too, especially for what I thought was a superior CityWalk (it was a few years ago now), and I also thought the difference between there and Florida was a real novelty. Plus it's the original. CreditWhOre makes a good point about the construction.

If I was going to go to SFMM I'd probably allow two days. One, for travel time, and two, just to make sure I got everything in at least once, and twice if I wanted. But I'm like that.

Ok, I've decided. Those things, the variety in attractions, and the close proximity to DL make me say Knott's.

Last edited by RCMAC,
Tommytheduck's avatar

Where do you live? That might influence my choice if it were me. For example, if I lived near a Six Flags park, I might go to SFMM, spend the extra couple bucks for a season pass, and enjoy a year of riding closer to home. If nothing else, it gives you rationalization for that weekend trip you've always wanted to take, but never seem to get around to.

SF season passes, I believe, are not much more expensive than a coupon-less one day ticket. (Haven't had one in 5 yrs) Cedar Fair passes are considerably more, especially since you would need the Platinum Pass to use it at any other park than KBF.

Have you considered Lego Land? Probably the same drive that SFMM would be. Look around and you can easily find a coupon for one free child ticket with one full price adult purchase. If you have 2 kids, just have each parent do a separate transaction. LegoLand is an amazing park, and might be exactly what your family is looking for.

And I haven't stayed there, but the new LegoLand hotel is supposed to be a great experience as well.

Last edited by Tommytheduck,

I would think a 12 year old daughter, who will ride some coasters, but not a B&M invert, would be bored silly at Legoland.

That park's target age range tops out at 10-11, and that's being VERY generous. It's a beautiful park, and I was impressed with it. However, a 12 year old will be put off by the number of attractions for 3-7 year olds. I would do some serious research before you choose that option.

It's also about an hour south of Disneyland, depending on traffic, so it matches up with the USH commute.

Thank you for everyone for your comments. It looks like we are going to go with Knott's Berry Farms. Actually, after looking at lodging options, I think that we may stay at the Knott's Hotel for our visit. They have a free shuttle to Disneyland so we can use that as our base of operation for a lot cheaper than we could stay at one of the Disney Hotels. I'm even thinking of splurging and getting a Peanuts Themed Room. My daughter might be 12, but she loves Snoopy and my wife and I love the thought of the look on her face when Snoopy comes in to say goodnight.

CreditWh0re said:

while they have almost every "type" of coaster, none of them "excel" (my opinion).

Ok it's your opinion, so I'm curious to know which flying coaster you think is better than Tatsu, and which stand-up is better than Riddler's? Also X2 is pretty unique . As far as coasters go, Knott's has nothing unique/better. Ghostrider has seen better days.

My views of Knotts are colored by the fact that I have only visited there in the fall when I spend the evening at their Halloween Haunt after a day in the "normal" park but I rather enjoyed it. Silver Bullet is great, I dont understand the hate for it, and Xcelerator is pure fun. Ghostrider is rather rough, but fun in a ride it only 1-2 times during the day way. Where Knott's really excels is in the other rides/attraction category, Ghost Town is a lot of fun to explore, and if you are a history nut realize that this is not a fake Ghost Town, Mr. Knott actually moved a real Ghost Town to his property. The western shows staged daily (especially the stunt show) are hokey fun that makes you feel like your back in the 50s, and the Calico Log Flume and Mine Ride are attractions you will not find anywhere else. Its also really easy to access from Anaheim, as mentioned above.

I have yet to visit SFMM or USH, for reasons mentioned above (USH is too much like USO which has everything but the studio tour and more in FL and SFMM is the sterotypical SF park.) Especially if your visit is going to be including the Disney Parks, I just can not see going from theme park mecca to a SF park and having a favorable experience.

2022 Trips: WDW, Sea World San Diego & Orlando, CP, KI, BGW, Bay Beach, Canobie Lake, Universal Orlando

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