Top 5 Theme Park Experiences for Adults in Southern California

July 17, 2012 1:00 PM

dca carthay circle theatre lounge header Top 5 Theme Park Experiences for Adults in Southern California

Carthay Circle Theatre Lounge at Disney California Adventure (credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Before we get started let’s address the elephant in the title: Adults. The use of such language only serves to gain the attention of the intended audience for this post, and that is people of a certain age (you know who you are) that are looking for theme park fun with their peers and not their children or those borne of other people. This is not about Las Vegas or to suggest that the term “adult” implies behavior not appropriate for younger people — it only means that grown-ups can have fun, too.

That said, let’s get down to business (being adults and all). There are five major theme parks in the greater Los Angeles area (Disney California Adventure, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Universal Studios Hollywood). Here is an experience from each (in alphabetical order by park) that should not be missed by anyone old enough to vote:

carthay circle theatre list photo Top 5 Theme Park Experiences for Adults in Southern California

(credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

Combine Disney movie-making magic with a menu created by award-winning Executive Chef Andrew Sutton (Napa Rose) and surround them with elegant, warm aesthetics, and you’ve got a wonderful dining experience at the new Carthay Circle Theatre in Disney California Adventure Park. And let’s not forget the lounge (pictured above)! It is the perfect place to enjoy the finer side of theme parks.

disneyland tour Top 5 Theme Park Experiences for Adults in Southern California

(credit: Scott Brinegar/Disneyland)

The one thing I was determined to include on this list was the big band/swing dancing that has taken place most Saturday nights since Walt’s day (he tore it up) at the Carnations Gardens Plaza, but the swing recently swung into Downtown Disney, which is still fun, but excludes it from being listed here. That said, there is still plenty of adult fun at Disneyland.

Speaking of Walt Disney’s feet (see, dancing), the Disneyland tour “A Walk in Walt’s Footsteps” is an amazing guided trip through the vision, determination, and creativity that brought Disneyland to life. There are a number of tours available including “Cultivating the Magic” which tells the story of Disneyland Park lands through impressive horticulture, plus the seasonal “Disney’s Happiest Haunts” and “Holiday Time at Disneyland.” Tours should be booked up to one month in advance by calling (714) 781-4565.

knotts silver bullet Top 5 Theme Park Experiences for Adults in Southern California


Silver Bullet (nothing to do with beer cans and/or werewolves) is a suspended roller coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm that sends brave riders to a height of 146 feet and then, via a series of spirals, corkscrews, and cobra rolls (that’s coaster speak), drops them back down again. It’s a great way to get out all of that screaming you’ve been meaning to do. Nobody will judge you.

six flags lex luthor list Top 5 Theme Park Experiences for Adults in Southern California


Lex Luthor: Drop of Doom was recently added to the existing Superman: Escape from Krypton Tower to forever bind the two foes in an epic battle for your thrills and attention. Literally, it is attached to the sides of the Superman ride. The “drop” in the new ride is a world-record 400 feet, and chances are you will scream accordingly. While you are at Magic Mountain check out the world’s largest collection of roller coasters!

universal studios hollywood house of horrors Top 5 Theme Park Experiences for Adults in Southern California


Frankenstein’s monster, Wolf Man, Chucky, and a cast of your favorite nightmares are waiting at Universal’s House of Horrors, which is a dark and windy maze of terror. Sounds fun, right? Where fun = terrifying. If your adult day at a theme park is of the date variety then scary things are highly recommended. That’s Dating 101, on the house.

Of course, all of the parks mentioned above have a ton of attractions, dining, and entertainment for adults (also, kids), so don’t be afraid to find your own path. That’s a very grown-up thing to do.

The courts ruled that Whit Honea became an adult on his 18th birthday. He tries to prove them wrong at Honea Express.

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