Advice about Amusement Parks

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Nut Tree amusement park in Vacaville

Jan 2009

Has anyone ever been to Nut Tree amusement park in Vacaville? My 3-yr-old is dying to drive a bumper car and it is much cheaper and smaller than Great America. Would my 7-yr-old be totally bored there or is there enough to keep her entertained for a few hours as well? Karen

I have been to Nut Tree several times. Most of the rides are for the 5 and under crowd. There is no cost to get in, but you buy tickets to ride all the attractions--and the money goes fast! There are bumper cars. You will probably have to be in the car with your 3-year old. There is a video game arcade that would amuse a so-inclined 7-year old. There's one roller coaster that might amuse a 7 year old. been there, done that

My 7yo loves the Nut Tree. We usually make a shorter stop (on the way to or from the Tahoe area) but there's definitely plenty to keep a kid that age entertained for several hours -- not just the bumper cars, roller coaster and so on, but also the huge chessboard with 3-foot-tall chess pieces out in the shopping center (there's a sort of ''park'' in the middle of the parking lot). And of course ice cream! Holly

We've been to the Nut Tree a couple of times, and we like it very much, mostly because it's TINY. There are maybe 10 rides, if much. It has a nice merry-go-round and a train. It's definitely inexpensive and very quiet. It's nice for toddlers/preschoolers, since it has a couple of rides geared to that age group, and no long lines. Been to Nut Tree and love it

Small World Park - Pittsburg

Jan 2009

I'm interested in finding out any information about Small World Park in Pittsburg. I've looked online and it looks adorable, but would prefer to have input from those who have actually been. (Basically, is it a sweet little gem or a sad little run-down park?) My main issues are: #1 Is it appropriate for 5 & 6 year olds? #2 Is there enough to keep kids occupied for about 2-3 hours, including a 30 min lunch break? #3 Is it clean & well-staffed? I'm happy to go check it out, but Pittsburg is no quick trek from Berkeley. Thanks, in advance, to those of you who have been and can share your thoughts! Paula

I have taken my 3 year old son to Small Work park three times. He loves it, but I think it may be a bit ''small'' for a 5-6 year old. There are only three rides: a small train ride, a merry-go-round, and then an amusement park-type ride, but it is only for very small/short children - they have a height cut-off. We went during the summer, when I thought it would be crowded, but it never was, which was nice. It is a bit worn down, but that didn't bother us. My son loved the rides, they have a swing and a boat structure that the kids can climb on, and if you bring a picnic lunch, you can make a nice afternoon out of it. The rides actually shut down for an hour or so during lunch, so you would want to time things appropriately. Small World Fan

Six Flags vs. Great America for young children

June 2007

We've never been to Six Flags in Vallejo, or Great America in Santa Clara before. Any recommendations/preferences for either one? Some online reviews make me want to stay away - are they worth the trip? We have a 2-1/2 year old and a 4 year old that love rides and have enjoyed Disneyland and the boardwalk at Santa Cruz. thanks

I haven't been to Great America since I was a kid, but I went to Six Flags last year, and was turned off, at least for taking a kid my daughter's age (5 at the time). It seems really much more suited to the 10 and older crowd. However, I can really recommend checking out Gilroy Gardens (used to be Bonfante Gardens). We didn't get there last year, but went the year before and it was perfect for my daughter (then 4). She could go on almost all the rides, and there were beautiful gardens. It's much more suited for the younger crowd. Warning: Don't go during the Gilroy Garlic Festival! Traffic will be murder. Mimi

Hi, We have been buying season passes for Marine World (aka Discovery Kingdom) for the past 3 years and we love it! Our children are now 3 and 6 years old and they really enjoy going there. Because the children are still young, we don't go there for the entire day. Honestly, I don't think that WE could make it! Since we have the season passes, we just go for a couple of hours. Every time we go (maybe once a month on average) we have a completely different experience. One of the areas for younger children has a Looney Tunes theme. The rides are wonderful and you can join the really young ones on some of them. Last year they opened Tava's Jungleland, which is a new area for the younger children with great rides, like a ''Jeep'' train, swings, water fountain coming out of the ground, etc. It also has an area where you can feed birds who come and eat out of a cup out of your hand. A complete thrill for the kids. We always visit at least one show (just so that we can sit down for a bit) and that has never been disappointing. We have seen the dolphin and whale shows several times. One time we caught the tiger show where the tiger actually swam and dove to the bottom in a huge pool. It was fascinating. They are opening a Thomas the Train area any day now. It is fun, safe and clean. I highly recommend it. JOJ

Amusement Parks for 4-year-old

June 2001

I wouldn't mind visiting an amusement park with my daughter, now 4 1/2, but I'm not sure I want to shell out the money not knowing if there were a decent number of rides we could go on. Anybody gone to Marine World, Great America, Santa Cruz or any of the water parks with your 3-6 year old? Thanks, Beth

Fairyland in Oakland is one-of-a-kind and is really getting shined up. Young kids love it and it's reasonably priced. The puppet shows are usually good too. There are a few rides. Lissa

There were a lot of rides my 2 year old and 4 year old could go on at the Oakland Zoo . I think it's a great place for the under 6 set. Daphne

For under age 5, I recommend Pixieland out in Concord. It is fairly close, and makes a good half day event. It has rides geared for kids (train ride, carousel, round and round rides on boats, cars, and planes). It's been a while since I was out there, so I'd call the City of Concord Park and Rec to make sure it is still open. It was very reasonably tickets or a day pass (I think it was $5, definitely less than $10). The kids love it.

Santa Cruz has rides for kids and adults. You have the option to pay as you go or buy a day pass. (Sometimes, if we are passing by, we stop in just to ride the Big Dipper!)There's also the beach and indoor miniature golf, etc. It is a pretty long drive to get there, especially if you are just going for the kids. Lissa

We just took a 4 yr old and 2 six year old girls to Waterworld in Concord. They have a great kiddie zone,in fact two of them. One can satisfy the 6 year olds a little more. But great for a four year old with adult assistance. The river ride ( float in moving water - 3 ft deep with a tube) went well with the 4 yr old. Our 4 yr old loved the wave pool as did one of the 6yr olds. The waves were too much for one six year old, so it depends on your kid. We stayed 4-5 hours and could have spent more. If you are 48 inches you can go on most slides as did one 6 year old. If you are 42 inches and willing you can go on two of the raft slides. -Lynn