What started as a countrified little amusement park with a couple of relatively tame roller coasters in 1971 has been transformed by Six Flags into a thrill-a-minute daredevil's paradise. The 18 world-class roller coasters (more than any other place in the world) make it enormously popular with teenagers and young adults, and the children's playland -- Bugs Bunny World -- creates excitement for the pint-size set (kids under 48 in. tall.) Bring an iron constitution; rides with names like Goliath, Déjà Vu, Ninja, Viper, Colossus, and Apocalypse will leave you exiting with queasy expressions. Some rides are themed to action-film characters (such as Superman: Escape From Krypton and the Riddler's Revenge); others are loosely tied to their surroundings, such as the Log Jammer and Swashbuckler. One of the newer thrill rides is Tatsu, a "flying beast" that debuted as the tallest, fastest, and longest flying coaster in the world; Scream!, where riders are strapped into a "flying chair" and raced upside down seven times at 65 mph; and the redesigned X2, where riders rotate 360 degrees forward and backward. Arcade games and summer-only entertainment (stunt shows, animal shows, and parades) round out the park's attractions.

Hurricane Harbor is Six Flags's tropical paradise. It's located right next door to Magic Mountain and is open mid-June through September. You really can't see both in 1 day -- so plan accordingly. Bring your own swimsuit; the park has changing rooms with showers and lockers. Like Magic Mountain, areas have themes like a tropical lagoon or an African river (complete with ancient temple ruins). The primary activities are swimming, going down the 20-plus water slides, rafting, playing volleyball, and lounging; many areas are designed especially for the little "buccaneer."

Note: Be sure to check their website for money-saving discounts on admission tickets -- you could save up to $25 per ticket by buying online. The amusement park is located about 20 to 30 minutes north of Universal Studios.