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Disney California Adventure's now Cars Land offers acres of fun with a Radiator Springs theme.
by Mimi Slawoff
SoCal’s major theme parks, which all debuted new attractions this summer. As the tourist season begins to wind down (soon), now may be a good time to check them out.
Before you go, check park websites for schedules and online discounts.
At Disney California Adventure Park, renovations to Buena Vista Street, which pays homage to 1920s California (when Walt Disney arrived with $40 in a cardboard suitcase), cement its role as the park’s main street. Ride the bright Red Trolley reminiscent of L.A.’s historic Pacific Electric Red Car Line, and peruse nine new shops and eight new eateries, including the elegant Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge representing the theater where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1937. New action-packed shows “Five & Dime” and “Red Car News Boys” fill the street through the day.
Based on the Disney Pixar movie Cars, the park’s new 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, which spins guests around in trailers.
At night, large animated neon signs reminiscent of the ’50s era of cross-country travel along Route 66 light up. 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.
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. Based on the popular movie franchise, 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, undulate 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. There’s a scene that takes place above skyscrapers with wind blowing; suddenly it feels like you’re spiraling rapidly downward.
$80.99, $72.99 for those under 48 inches tall, www.universalstudioshollywood.com.
Knott’s Berry Farm
New menu items, shows and characters add flavor to Knott’s this summer. 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.
If you haven’t yet soared on WindSeeker, be sure to make this a priority. Enjoy panoramic city views at 300 feet high as you swing around for 60 seconds at a speed of 30 miles per hour.
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, www.knotts.com.
Pirate Reef takes the park’s water rides to new heights with a 20-person boat that plunges 25 feet between two 40-foot long pirate ships. Expect to get wet! People standing on the two massive ships – each 20 feet high - will be blasting you with water from canons before you even splash down at ride’s end.
Pirate Reef also features a splash bridge (sure to leave guests soaked), a pirate themed brick-building play area and more than 30 pirate themed LEGO models including Captain Red Brick, Captain Blue Brick, pirates, monkeys and parrots.
$72 adults, $62 ages 3-12, www.legoland.com.
Dive into the world of manta rays at this five-acre attraction featuring a 100,000-gallon aquarium and a manta-shaped coaster that zips around a 30-foot rock formation with a Southern Asian island theme. The aquarium is filled with three species of rays and hundreds of fish native to the California coast. The reef-themed aquarium includes eight viewing windows and a shallow above-ground pool where you can touch and feed California bat rays.
Manta also features two new eateries: Manta Ray’s (wraps, sandwiches, and fruit), and Fusion Smoothies.
$73 ages 10 and older, $65 ages 3-9, www.seaworldsandiego.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 for those under 48 inches, www.sixflags.com/magicmountain.
Veteran theme park fans, Let’s Go columnist Mimi Slawoff and her three kids never tire of researching new attractions. (Cars Land gets a thumb’s up.) Follow Mimi on twitter @mimitravelz.
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