The Differences Between LA Theme Parks

There is an industry in Los Angeles that goes mostly unacknowledged, but still draws millions of tourists every year. That industry is theme parks.

Now, you might be wondering how that goes unacknowledged. LA is the home of Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Six Flags Magic Mountain, all of which are major amusement parks. Millions of people come from all over the country, and even the world just to visit these places. They will never be forgotten.

What I mean by the fact that they go unacknowledged is the fact that no one ever tells you the difference between each park. And I don’t mean the obvious, each being owned by different companies and centering around their own respective shows and films. I mean their actual core, what you can expect to find attending these parks. For me, having grown up in LA, the difference are obvious. For someone who’s either only visited one or even none of the locations, you might not know the difference.

Well, to put it shortly, the difference are this: Magic Mountain is for rides, Universal is for attractions, and Disneyland is for something in-between. Let me break it down a little more.

Magic Mountain is part of a larger chain or theme parks, with this location in particular being located in Valencia, on the northern end of Los Angeles County. The theme of this park is DC universe, and you will find plenty of rides and areas following that theme (Batman, Riddler’s Revenge, Superman, etc.). The park wastes no time in displaying what it is; a theme park for roller coasters. It doesn’t have really any attractions, more focused on providing an adrenaline rush with various and innovative new rides. They do have a kid section with Loony Toons, but I wouldn’t say it’s a place to bring your children.

Disneyland, on the other hand, has some more leeway. Located in Anaheim, in the heart of Orange County, it’s a place with both attractions and rides, putting more into the combination experience that allows children both young and old. Although, I don’t really see the point of bringing a child under three or four to Disneyland: first, they can’t really go on any rides, and second, they won’t remember anything about the park. Disneyland focuses on different films that it owns the rights to, and builds rides and areas centering around them (Star Wars land, opening 2019, is expected to be one of the largest world expansions to the park). Disneyland wants to provide a more general and rounded experience, which explains why it has both rides and attractions.

Universal, located in Studio City, focuses almost purely on attractions. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have some rides, like Ride of the Hypogriff, Revenge of the Mummy, and Jurassic Park (now being renovated to Jurassic World), the vast majority of its “rides” are actually attractions, using CGI and moving cars to create almost VR experiences. It once again focuses on films that it has the rights to use, even if it doesn’t own the films itself (Harry Potter World and the upcoming Nintendo Land are big ones). This park isn’t very kid-friendly, meant more for teenagers and adults. There are few attractions meant for young kids, especially considering how dark some of the attractions can get. Universal’s take on rides is unique to me, as most other parks don’t invest so much into perfecting the rides in the same way.

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