SeaWorld San Diego
Shamu, the world-famous whale, dolphins, sharks and many more marine creatures make their home at SeaWorld. Toddlers and preschoolers will love the new Sesame Street themed attractions, such as gentle rides, a 4-D movie, live musical production starring Big Bird and other characters, as well as an Elmo character breakfast.
The interactive rides at this theme park in Carlsbad are hit especially with kids between ages 4 and 8. But there's something for everyone here--from toddler play areas and water rides to roller coasters and fun live shows. New this year is the Land of Adventure, with four attractions, including the park’s first “dark ride”: Lost Kingdom Adventure puts guests inside desert jeeps and takes them on a journey to recover stolen treasure, laser blasting targets along the way.
Set to open this summer is Sea Life at Legoland California Resort. This is the world’s largest aquarium brand, formerly only found in Europe. The two-story, 36,000-square-foot attraction will have separate admission and focus on teaching young children about the ocean with play zones, fun facts and quiz trails.
San Diego Zoo
This world-renowned zoo in downtown San Diego celebrated its 90th anniversary last year. The latest additions are a panda cub and spotted hyenas.
San Diego Wild Animal Park
This animal park is affiliated with, but not adjacent to, the San Diego Zoo. It’s actually 35 miles north of San Diego, east of Escondido. Last year the park introduced the Journey into Africa safari-themed tour, and new animals this year include seven lion clubs and a baby elephant.
Six Flags Magic Mountain & Hurricane Harbor
Get your thrills on wild coasters, tamer toddler rides or on humongous water slides and rides at these theme parks just outside Los Angeles in Valencia. The newest Magic Mountain attraction is a children’s play area, Thomas Town, based on the beloved Thomas the Tank Engine character. Also, a new $10 million “sight and sound experience” has enhanced the state-of-the-art coaster “X,” which is now called “X-squared.”
Universal Studios Hollywood
At this working movie studio and theme park, the newest characters to stroll the grounds are Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, as well as Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson. The “Revenge of the Mummy” ride received recent enhancements that make it even scarier than ever.
Disneyland & California Adventure Park
At California Adventure, watch the new “Pixar Play Parade” with your preschoolers’ favorite characters from Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Cars and The Incredibles. At “Playhouse Disney Live on Stage” dance along with characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Little Einsteins.