The longtime Hollywood -centric alternative to Disneyland  is the Universal Studios Hollywood (100 Universal City Plaza, Los Angeles, www.universalstudios.com , daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m., adults $64, children under 48 inches $54, parking $11) theme park. Kids adore this park, which puts them right into the action of their old favorite movies.
Flee the carnivorous dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, take a rafting adventure on the pseudo-set of Waterworld, or quiver in terror of an ancient curse in Revenge of the Mummy.
If you’re the parent rather than the child, you may find some of the effects on the rides pretty cheesy. On the other hand, you may be thrown back to your childhood with memories of your favorite shows and movies. KIT from Knight Rider still talks to visitors, and one of the major rides re-creates the nightmare world of Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
If you’re more interested in how the movies are made than the rides made from them, take the Studio Tour. You’ll get an extreme close-up of the sets of major blockbuster films like War of the Worlds, though the King Kong set (along with the famed New York set and a number of others) was destroyed in an accidental fire in 2008.
Better yet, you can get tickets to be part of the studio audience of TV shows currently taping at the Audiences Unlimited Ticket Booth. If you’re a serious movie buff, consider getting a VIP pass — you’ll get a 6-hour tour that takes you onto working sound stages, into the current prop warehouse, and through a variety of working build shops that service films and programs currently filming.
You can enjoy a meal, store your heavier things in a locker, and buy a near-infinite number of souvenirs at Universal Studios. If you need a little help getting yourself or your child around, rent a wheelchair or stroller. Pretty much every ride and show is wheelchair accessible — ask at the ticket booth for more information about how to get around easily or if you need assisted listening devices and TTD phones.