Five things you didn’t know about amusement parks

Graphic by Nina Potischman

I recently visited Universal Studios Hollywood, and while my inner child was delighted by the snowy Hogsmeade Village and towering Hogwarts castle, the broke college student in me was horrified by the price of a measly hot dog (over $11!).

I refused to shell out that much money for some processed meat on a paper plate, so I went the whole day without eating. I do not recommend doing this.

I do, however, recommend taking advantage of the 5Cs’ proximity to some of the world’s best amusement parks. Not every college student gets to live a quick Uber away from Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain. Here are some fun facts about the parks that are close enough for us lucky Claremont students to enjoy.

1) A little rain never hurt anyone.

I know that for most Southern Californians, a bit of rain means breaking out ponchos or waiting indoors for the apocalypse to pass. A rainy day, however, is one of the best times to visit an amusement park, because the lines will likely be incredibly short.

It’s also a good time to hop on one of the water rides at Disneyland — who cares about getting wet on Splash Mountain or Grizzly River Run when you’re already soaked? I also know from personal experience that when it rains at Universal Studios Hollywood, some vendors give out free hot chocolate.

2) Magic Mountain is truly one of a kind.

With 19 roller coasters, Magic Mountain has the most rides out of all the world’s theme parks. Impressively, this isn’t the only record it holds: It’s also home to the very first 4D roller coaster. Built in 2002, the ride X2 allows riders to rotate 360 degrees at any moment, independent of the track’s orientation.

Other record-breaking rides that the park hosts include Crazanity, the world’s tallest pendulum ride; the New Revolution, the first looping roller coaster; and Full Throttle, both the tallest and the fastest looping coaster.

3) You want to save money…

Amusement parks live up to their reputation of being stupidly overpriced, but there are easy ways to save money. Pomona College, Pitzer College and Claremont McKenna College students can get discounts to Universal Studios Hollywood — using your student email, you can save $35 for a season pass and up to $45 for a day pass. As I learned, bring your own food and water to avoid spending astronomical amounts of money at the parks. Disneyland and Universal Studios both allow guests to bring in bottled water and snacks.

4) …but some things are worth it!

You should be wary about spending too much at parks, but there are just some things you have to splurge on. As you can guess, Knott’s Berry Farm began by selling, well, berries. When lines for berries (and fried chicken, their other speciality) got too long, rides and attractions were added to occupy waiting guests. While visitors now wait for the rides instead, delicious berry treats — like their famous boysenberry pie — are still available and certainly worth the hype.

5) Celebrities abound even someone with a 5C connection

There’s a reason that, as a Pomona student, I’m naturally drawn to Disneyland. The first Disneyland ticket was actually bought for $1 in 1955 by Roy O. Disney, Walt Disney’s brother and the father of Pomona alum Roy E. Disney.

Meanwhile, the first studio tours given at Universal Studios Hollywood were conducted by famous filmmakers or relatives of celebrities — director of “Saturday Night Fever” John Badham, for example, was one of the first tour guides. Of course, celebrities can still be sighted at the parks today. Eddie Redmayne, Dick Van Dyke and Hilary Duff are among the stars to have visited Universal Studios Hollywood within the past four months.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for record-breaking roller coasters, or someone content to enjoy the sights while indulging in boysenberry pie, Southern California’s amusement parks can treat you to a study break that’s unique, nearby and incredibly fun.

Mady Colantes PO ’22 is from Seattle. When not in shock over the lack of rain in Claremont, she enjoys reading and getting too excited over small things.

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