Huge theme park/zoo fan here. I would love to across the country and parts of the world visiting theme parks and zoos.
I love both DL and Universal. DL has always been a part of my life since I was a toddler and I feel lucky to have lived so close to the park for so long. It would be one of the big things I would miss if I moved far away.
I enjoy Universal, but the traffic between Universal and SE L.A. County can be daunting. It's great that Universal is still a working studio and production facility.
The San Diego Zoo and Sea World are tops on my list too. I would be a zoo member and an AP to Sea World if I lived closer.
As for Knott's-well I am more than just a fan. :)
Disneyland (and Disney parks, in general) bring out a special feeling that other themed parks don't. But I've always enjoyed Universal Studios Hollywood. I always loved the tram ride and thought that bringing Hollywood to life in the way they did was just great. And the fact it was a working studio made it even cooler.
Disney does have more of a hold on me than other parks. I could go into DLR everyday even if it was only to go on a couple things- if I lived closer. Other parks I'm ok with just little trips here and there. Disney also brings out more of the kid in me :)
I feel Knotts is an overrated park, so many Disney fans love the place. I just dont get it. Its got a few themed elements but for the most part its a Six Flag style park.
When I came back to So Cal after living up north for a few years, I lived in a building literally right next door to the Cahuenga West entrance for Universal for about a year while I looked for a house. I would say it was walking distance, but that long uphill entrance road isn't designed for pedestrians even if you did want to walk it, so call it a 3 minute drive. Anyway, of course I bought annual passes and we would go there very often. It's nice park for what it is, but it's just not in the same league as Disneyland or even Knotts. It is not even fair to compare them. Of course once the Potter thing is built that dynamic will change a bit.
I do like Universal as well. But my problem with Universal (as well as my kids problem with Universal) is that it is pretty much the same from year to year - so we stopped going until there is something new and interesting. Sure, many could say the same for Disneyland - but for us there is a huge and important difference. Disneyland has more detail and small extra attention to the theme, location, or object. Every little nook and cranny of Disneyland has "place" for lack of a better descriptor and is reinforced for us by layers and layers of memories.
Universal as a park is more bland and lacking of the non-essential details that are so essential to Disneyland. We couldn't go to Universal twice in one year, but we could go to Disneyland as often as time, money, and circumstance permits.
And Regions - I agree with you about Knotts!
I'm a fan of Knott's, too. Not for its connection to Disney, but because I enjoy my time there.
I have to say that the Knott's of the 70s really wasn't so bad. I found the Roaring 20s section pretty cool, to be honest. The old Motorcycle Chase and the Corkscrew. The Flying Machine and Propeller Spin were carnival like rides, but still the overall theme of the area worked. Even the Cloud Nine ballroom and the Good Time Theater. Knott's Beary Tales and the bumper cars were even a neat addition to the area. I even remember a door you would walk up to that was supposed to be reminiscent of a speakeasy. You knock on the door or ring the bell and the little window would slide open and someone would say something to you.
The Ghost Town area was always a great place to hang out too and the Fiesta Village had its own commentary on California history, including the mission walkway.
I feel that the more white knuckle-like the rides became, the more it felt like a regular amusement park where the thematic elements get a bit lost in the shuffle.
Knott's didn't quite have the same magical feeling that Disneyland did, but there was still something commendable about it.
Magic Mountain was just an amusement park.
Universal, with its studio elements, had something unique that I found enjoyable. But in a different way from Disneyland.
The one that grabbed the most and always will though is Disneyland.
Nothing like it. Walt did good.
I've been to Disneyland countless times and I can't wait to go again.
I went to Knotts once when I was 6 or 7. We left early and I never had the urge to go back.
I went to Six Flags twice with my friends when I was a teenager. I had fun, and if I was right there, and it was somehow free or very cheap to get in, I would go. But I don't think I'd plan a whole trip to go there, like with Disneyland. I immediately noticed all kinds of "They'd never do that at Disneyland" stuff, like having a Marvin the Martian cutout...in the High Sierra themed area, or being able to see backstage areas from the queue of the Yosemite Sam rafting ride, or being able to see through the windows of a facade to the hill on the other side, or all the TVs showing random Warner Bros. stuff everywhere...but yeah, cool coasters :).
Never been to USH, but when they open Harry Potter, I think I'm going to have to go to that. But we once went to the IMAX Theater at Universal CityWalk, and left with a very bad impression. The guy at the concession stand provided the single worst customer service experience I've ever had in my life. Then, in the elevator back to the parking lot, we talked to two guys who had just been to the park and we asked them how it was. "I guess it was OK," one said. "I dunno. We're REALLY hung over!" Now, it's entirely unfair to judge the park based on that, but I can't image someone coming out of Disneyland and saying that :).
Disney fans railed against Disney when they added rides like the Maliboomer, yet those same fans get excited when Knotts adds that type of crap. I just do not get it. To each their own, I just never understood the passion for the place.
I don't get excited about more roller coasters: such doesn't interest me - I am excited and glad they've improved and refurbished Ghost Town in recent years, rebuilt classic structures and kept the vibe of the place, even adding classic things back which don't add any capacity, just are there for ambiance - the catawampus, refurbishing the old California Mission models, for instance. I won't ride the new kind of carnival rides either being added at the rear of the park, but certainly accept new garden-like landscaping and picturesque water features are better to look at than barren concrete (which it has been back there for 15 years). So, stating those who enjoy Knott's 'get excited about themeless coasters being added' is a bit of a misrepresentation of what folks saying they enjoy Knott's are expressing- some of course do love roller coasters, which is their right, as they are fun to ride in many cases. But things have only improved in dedication to the parts of the park that are historical or decidedly not just long strings of metal coasters in the past two years or so.
I don't care about the coasters and don't ride them. I care about Ghost Town (there since the 1940's), and the fact the current owners genuinely seem dedicated to keeping it around and maintaining it to a high standard of upkeep, quirkiness and details intact, and I care about the Chicken Dinner Restaurant (still going strong), and about Haunt (which the park is unquestionably dedicated to.) So, yes, I overlook the coasters and carnival type games and dull crap, in that, I literally don't even go over and look at it if visiting the park on a normal day.