Travel Guide to California

2017 Travel Guide to California

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32 2 0 1 7 T R A V E L G U I D E T O C A L I F O R N I A Not Just for Kids There's nothing but fun at California's theme parks BY MATT VILLANO Diversions are as plentiful as sunshine in California. One of the most popular outlets: original theme parks. These attrac- tions are meccas to amusement, each focusing rides and exhibits around dif- ferent 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 produc- tion. 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. The official studio tour commemorated its 50 th anniver- sary in 2015 with the opening of a new grand finale dubbed Fast & Furious: Supercharged. The rest of the park is divided into two areas connected by escalator: the Upper and Lower lots. Transformers: The Ride 3-D is a fan-favorite on the Lower Lot. On the Upper Lot, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, a 3-D simulator ride, and Super Silly Fun Land, an outdoor family-friendly play- ground, both opened in April 2014. Children's Fairyland Believe it or not, the first theme park in the U.S. to cater to families with young kids was Children's Fairyland, a blink-and-you'll- miss-it theme park on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland. The place opened in AMUSEMENT PARKS 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. DAVID SPRAGUE/UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD. OPPOSITE: CDRIN/SHUTTERSTOCK ; CARLOS/CREATIVE COMMONS/FLICKR ; THE WORLD IN HDR/SHUTTERSTOCK THEME PARKS

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