Noth­ing But Fun

Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS -


Euro­peans started the con­cept of amuse­ment parks cen­turies ago with fairs and plea­sure gar­dens cre­ated for peo­ple’s recre­ation. The world’s old­est amuse­ment park is Bakken, just north of Copen­hagen, Den­mark, which opened in 1583. The old­est theme park in the United States is Hol­i­day World & Splashin’ Sa­fari (called Santa Claus Land from its open­ing in 1946 un­til 1984) in Santa Claus, In­di­ana. Cal­i­for­nia’s theme parks date from 1950.

Di­ver­sions are as plen­ti­ful

as sun­shine in Cal­i­for­nia. One of the most pop­u­lar out­lets: orig­i­nal theme parks. These at­trac­tions are mec­cas to amuse­ment, each fo­cus­ing rides and ex­hibits around dif­fer­ent con­cepts such as fairies, film, plas­tic blocks, sea life and an inim­itable mouse. Most of the parks are sit­u­ated in the south­ern part of the state (where the weather is gen­er­ally warmer), but the grand­daddy of them all is up north. Each of the parks is worth a closer look.

Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios Hol­ly­wood

This film-themed park got its for­mal start in the 1960s when walk-throughs of Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios sound­stages and sets were ex­panded to in­clude peeks at ac­tual pro­duc­tion. Over the years, the stu­dio added a tram to shut­tle vis­i­tors through the back lot; this tram re­mains the best way to ex­pe­ri­ence stunt demon­stra­tions and staged events (such as an en­counter with the shark from Jaws).

In 2016 the park opened its most an­tic­i­pated at­trac­tion ever: The Wizard­ing World of Harry Pot­ter, com­plete with a replica of Hog­warts cas­tle and a recre­ation of the shops of Hogsmeade. This new sec­tion is home to two new rides: Harry Pot­ter and the For­bid­den Jour­ney, and Flight of the Hip­pogriff. It also af­fords vis­i­tors the op­por­tu­nity to drink (non-al­co­holic, but­ter­scotch-fla­vored) But­ter­beer in a rus­tic tav­ern named Three Broom­sticks, and to shop for wands and other trin­kets and sou­venirs in Di­agon Al­ley.

The rest of the park is di­vided into two ar­eas con­nected by es­ca­la­tor: the Up­per

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