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Travel: Roller-coaster mania in California theme parks

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Bargain alert » Save up to $40 per ticket when you buy a Park Hopper ticket. Includes one Magic Morning early admission.

Details » 1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim. 800-854-3104, 714-781-7290 for guest relations, http://disneyland.disney.go.com.

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What’s new » Last year’s huge new expansion, Cars Land, is still the biggest thing going at this companion theme park. This season, after hanging out with the Radiator Springs gang, preschoolers can sing, dance and play along at "Disney Junior: Live on Stage!" a new show with characters from the Disney Junior TV programs "Doc McStuffins" and "Sofia the First."

Bargain alert » Save up to $40 per ticket when you buy a Park Hopper ticket. Includes one Magic Morning early admission.

Details » Open daily. 1313 S. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim. 800-854-3104, 714-781-7290 for guest relations, http://disneyland.disney.go.com.


What’s new » Why, it just wouldn’t be a new season at Six Flags without a new thrill ride. Nationally, Six Flags is king of the coasters, with 17 now and 18 when Full Throttle joins the roster. This new roller coaster will hurtle passengers both on the inside and the outside of what’s being called the world’s tallest vertical loop, at 160 feet. Look for a summer opening; no date has been announced. Full Throttle replaces the Log Jammer, one of the original rides when this Southern California park opened in 1971.

Bargain alert » Save $25 per ticket when you buy online -- note, you must do this at least three days before your visit -- and print at home.

Details » Open for the season. 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia. 661-255-4111; www.sixflags.com.

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What’s new » This Orange County theme park is building out its Boardwalk Bay Area with three new attractions, including the Coast Rider, a 1,339-foot-long track designed to mimic the California coast -- only with harrowing twists and turns. This will be a "wild mouse"-style coaster with small cars that race sharply into curves, giving riders the feeling that they’re going to hurtle over the edge. (Sounds like parts of Highway 1, all right.) On another new attraction, Surfside Gliders, riders will pilot their way in two-person aircraft 28 feet above the ground. The third new ride, Pacific Scrambler, is designed to evoke traditional boardwalk fun.

Bargain alert » Knott’s is the most reasonably priced of the SoCal parks. Online single-day tickets can be had for as low as $26.99 (kids/seniors) and $36.99 general admission.

Details » Open daily. 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park; 714-220-5200; www.knotts.com.


What’s new » Last year’s blockbuster, Transformers: The Ride 3-D, and a VIP Experience behind-the-scenes tour will reign at Universal Studios Hollywood as the park constructs its next big thing, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, a movie-based motion simulation ride scheduled to open in 2014. On the back-lot Studio Tour, tram riders will encounter King Kong 360 3-D, a Peter Jackson-made screen creature 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide. Late this summer, construction is set to start on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Bargain alert » Buy a one-day ticket for $80 and get the rest of 2013 free. Note that some blackout dates (holidays, some weekends) apply at this price. But you can upgrade to add a visit on a blackout date or buy a no-blackout pass.

Details » Open daily. 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. 800-864-8377; www.universalstudioshollywood.com.


What’s new » Kids can now eat, sleep and dream bricks at this San Diego County park. In April, Legoland opened a three-story, 250-room themed hotel with restaurants adjacent to the amusement park. About 3 million Lego bricks were used to create the 3,422 Lego models found on-site, as well as the 400,000-brick dragon that stands sentry at the hotel’s entrance.

Bargain alert » Get five days at three parks — Legoland California, Legoland Water Park and SeaLife Carlsbad Aquarium — for the price of one resort-hopper ticket. Or, save $15 and get a second day for free when you book seven days in advance.

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