Show your family a screaming good vacation at Disney, Universal, or one of these other gravity-defying destinations.
By Ellen Parlapiano
Disneyland is smaller and more manageable than its Florida counterpart, but still has plenty for tweensters. Allow at least two days to explore it and neighboring California Adventure park. Save line time by obtaining free FastPass tickets for selected attractions; monitor waits with a smartphone app like Mobile Magic (for Verizon) and Mouse Wait and Disneyland CA Planner (for iPhones).
Thrill: In Disneyland, careen across snowy slopes on the Matterhorn Bobsleds; conquer Space, Splash, and Big Thunder Mountains; and narrowly escape snakes and boulders on Indiana Jones Adventure. Michael Jackson fans will love Captain EO, a 3-D movie featuring the King of Pop at his peak. Be sure to catch the new nighttime World of Color show in California Adventure, where Disney and Disney-Pixar movie scenes are projected on giant mist screens created by nearly 1,200 fountains. Disneyland.disney.go.com; one day/one park, $72, ages 3-9 $62; park hopper tickets start at $97; ages 3-9 $87.
Chill: Disney's centrally located onsite resorts are close to gates, eateries, and shops. An added perk: Early park entry on designated days. Disneyland.disney.go.com; special rates for two-night minimum stay range from $169 per night for Paradise Pier and Disneyland Hotels to $213 for Grand Californian Hotel & Spa; 714-956-6425 or 866-60-DISNEY. Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel—Anaheim Resort is a quick walk away, and has a splashy water park and pool. All rooms have a fridge and free WiFi; deluxe and premium rooms also include a microwave. Hojoanaheim.com; nightly rates start at $119 per night; 714-776-6120.