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Top 10 Southern California theme parks for this summer

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This story is sponsored by Get Away Today Vacations. Learn more about Get Away Today Vacations.


Summer is synonymous with theme parks and Southern California is a mecca for theme park going families. If you are planning a trip down south, here is a list of the top 10 Southern California parks for families.

1. Disneyland Park

It is the quintessential theme park with classic attractions that parents and children can enjoy together. What's new: Fantasy Faire, Frozen inspired float beginning Mickey's Soundsational Parade, meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen and re-imagined Big Thunder Mountain. Favorite classics: Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, the Jungle Cruise.

Travel tip: When you pre-purchase a 3-day or longer ticket, you get a Magic Morning early entry that allows you access to the park an hour before it opens to the public on select days. It's a great way to ride the attractions in Fantasyland before the crowds come. See travel deals.

2. Disney California Adventure Park

Although it may once have been known as the sister park to Disneyland, it has earned theme park status of its own with a major expansion completed in 2012. What's new:Cars Land, up to three showings of World of Color nightly, Mad T Party. Favorite classics: Soarin' Over California, California Screamin'.

Travel tip: Use the FASTPASS System to avoid long lines. Grab a FASTPASS for Radiator Springs Racers first thing in the morning because they go quickly. See travel deals.

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3. Universal Studios Hollywood

Just 40 minutes north of the Disneyland Resort, Universal Studios is known as the Entertainment Capital of Los Angeles. What's new: Minion Mayhem - a new 4D Despicable Me attraction and Super Silly Fun Land - a Minion carnival themed play area for kids. Favorite classics: Studio Tour, Jurassic Park: The Ride, WaterWorld, Transformers 4D: The Ride.

Travel Tip: You can upgrade to a Front-of-the-Line Pass to skip the lines at each attraction. See travel deals.

4. SeaWorld San Diego

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, SeaWorld is offering park guests a "Sea of Surprises" with exclusive animal interactions, behind-the-scenes tours and more.What's new: Explorer's Reef, Manta roller coaster, SeaWorld Summer Nights with extended hours, nighttime shows and fireworks over Mission Bay. Favorite classics:Shark Encounter, Sea Lions LIVE, One Ocean, Turtle Reef. See travel deals.

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5. Aquatica

Sea World San Diego opened a water park just last summer. This unique water park has exciting water slides, a lazy river and pools. Plus, it's home to flamingoes and turtles. What's new: Everything! The water park is excited for its second year, but recently opened Taumata Racer, a high-speed 375-foot water slide. See travel deals.

6. Knott's Berry Farm

America's First theme park was made famous by boysenberries and fried chicken. Now, it is home to thrilling attractions for every age. What's new: Camp Snoopy has just had a complete renovation and is all spruced up. Also, the Calico Mine Ride, the original park ride, has also completed a refurbishment. Favorite classics: Ghostrider, Xcellerator, the Log Ride.

Travel Tip: If you're staying in the Disneyland Resort area, your ART shuttle passes also include transportation to Knott's Berry Farm - you'll save a ton on parking. See travel deals.

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7. Knott's Soak City Water Park

Located near Knott's Berry Farm, Soak City offers something for thrill and sun seekers of all ages. A wave pool, lazy river, kid play areas and intense water slides offer hours of fun in the sun.

Travel Tip: While you're in the area, head over to Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant for some famous fried chicken and boysenberry pie. It's located near the entrance to Knott's Theme Park. See travel deals.

8. LEGOLAND

With over 60 LEGO-themed rides, shows and attractions, it's no surprise that LEGOLAND was named the number one theme park by Parents Magazine. What's new: The LEGOLAND California Resort has completed a major expansion and now features the full theme park, SEA LIFE Aquarium, water park and hotel. The LEGO Movie Experience just opened inside the park. Favorite classics: Miniland USA and Star Wars Miniland, Imagination Zone, Land of Adventure.

Travel Tip: Stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel next door and you'll get early entry each day of your stay! See travel deals.

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9. LEGOLAND Water Park

LEGOLAND California Resort is the ONLY LEGO themed Water Park in the world!What's new: LEGO Legends of Chima Water Park featuring a wave pool, kid play area and more. Favorite classics:

LEGO Build-a-Raft River, Kid Creek, Splash Zoo, Pirate Reef. See travel deals.

10. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Located about 30 minutes from San Diego, this sprawling park lets you get up-close-and-personal with animals from around the globe. What's new: Tiger Trails. Favorite classics: Africa Tram Safari, Cheetah Run.

Travel Tip: The animals are most active early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Try to catch one of the first or last tram tours of the day. Also, the Cheetah Run happens only once a day - don't miss it! See travel deals.

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If you're looking for the most affordable way to visit the attractions, the Southern California City Pass is a great choice. Each Southern California City Pass includes a 3-Day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper Ticket, 1-day at Universal Studios Hollywood and 1-day at SeaWorld San Diego.

The Get Away Today reservation staff visits the theme parks on a regular basis to give their customers personalized assistance. Their specials and tickets can also easily be booked at www.getawaytoday.com or 855-GET-AWAY.