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A Guide to Orange County Theme Parks

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Southern California is dotted with amusement parks, five of which are based in Orange County. While amusement parks are obviously a tourist attraction, they are also a fun family activity, especially during the Summer months. Here’s a list of amusement parks in the OC.

Disneyland

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That's right folks, "The happiest place on earth" is located in the Orange County city of Anaheim. Disneyland, Walt Disney's original theme park, is a place to explore all the whimsy and fantasy of Disney tradition. The best time to avoid the huge crowds is during the week or in the off-seasons Winter and Fall months. However, it's during the holiday season or the warmer summer and spring months that the biggest and best special events take place. Check out this guide about how to avoid spending your whole Disney trip standing in line.

Disney’s California Adventure

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Located just across from Disneyland, Disney's California Adventure creates a Disney vision the Golden State, Hollywood Backlot, and Paradise Pier. With many of the attractions are part of the Disney-Pixar partnership and a focus on the more modern Disney movies, you can absolutely expect a different experience at Disney's California Adventure. Check out this guide for more information on making the most of your visit.

Knott’s Berry Farm

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Another popular SoCal amusement park, Knott’s Berry Farm is the oldest theme park in the U.S. with a hybrid Western and Charlie Brown theme. Nearly 200 rides, including thrilling roller coasters and Camp Snoopy rides for the little ones, make Knott’s a theme park truly designed with the entire family in mind. While Knott’s is open all year, one of the most popular (and most crowded) times to visit is during the Halloween season, when Knott’s Berry Farm is transformed into Knott’s Scary Farm. Summer is also fun, but hot and crowded, and even at the hieght of the Summer season, it’s possible to have a great time (especially if you go early or skip the rides with the longest lines).

Knott’s Soak City

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Soak City is the Knott’s Berry Farm water park. With lush landscaping, cabana rentals and plenty of rides, Soak City is a great way to have some splashing fun in the sun. The park opens with limited hours during the Spring, goes into full swing in the Summer and then returns to limited hours until it shuts down in mid-September.

Wild Rivers

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This is the original Orange County water park, located in Irvine, adjacent to Irvine Meadows. With 40 rides, Wild Rivers is arguably the best water park in Southern California. There isn’t much shade to speak of, and during peek Summer season, you could spend up to an hour standing in line for some of the park’s most popular rides. On the other hand, those lines are avoidable by arriving early and riding the most popular rides first. Wild Rivers is opens late May through late September with limited hours during the Spring and Fall months. (Note: Wild Rivers was unable to renew its lease with the Irvine Company and is closing down at the end of the 2011 Summer season)

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