Save Money At Amusement Parks

By glblguy

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1 Timothy 4:4-5 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it. We may receive it gladly, with thankful hearts. For we know it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

During the summer, one of our more favorite things to do is head down to the local amusement/theme park for the day. While I enjoy riding the rides with the kids, I really enjoy just hanging out and lounging at the water park while the kids play.

Of course, visiting an amusement park can be a very costly adventure, especially when you have 6 kids. So here’s a few things you can do to save money on your next trip:

Buy a season pass

Paying general admission prices multiple times during the summer just isn’t in our budget, so we purchase season passes. If you are going to visit a park more than once a year, a season pass is the only way to go.

At our local park, general admission is $49.95 per person. A season pass is $79.95 per person. So for the price of 2 visits, you can visit the park all summer long as often as you would like.

If you are buying for a family of 4 or more, they get discounted even further. The price is reduced to $69.95 per pass.

One tip on Season passes: If you purchase them for the next year at the close-out of the current year, you can get them at a substantial discount. The longer you wait, the more expensive they become. So check the theme parks web-site and watch for when next years passes go on-sale. You’ll get the best deal.

Save on Parking

Many parks also offer parking passes for season pass holders. Parking is $8 per car per day; however a parking pass is a one time fee of $35.00. For the pass to pay for itself, you really have to visit at least 5 times. At our park you also get the advantage of being able to park much closer to the main gates due to a special parking pass parking lot. This is great, especially when you might be eating at your car…

Bring your own food

We bring our own food. We pack a cooler with sandwiches, snacks, and drinks. Amusement park food isn’t generally the best tasting in the world, but it just might be the most expensive! As an example, a 20oz bottle of Coke is around $5.00 !!

When the kids get hungry, we head to the car and tailgate for a bit. The food is better, healthier, and cheap. Here’s where the advantage to the parking pass comes in. It’s nice to be close to the gates for the frequent food/drink breaks.

If you aren’t the sandwich type, you can still leave the park. Just get your hand stamped so you can return, and head outside the park. Every park I have ever been to is surrounded by various fast food and sit-down restaurants. Trust me, it’s much cheaper to go this route and it gives you a nice break from the heat and crowd.

Bring your own drinks

For drinks while in the park, we bring bottled water bottles and Crystal Light On The Go Packs(affiliate link). We use the water fountains at the park to fill up, then the crystal light to flavor it.

A number of parks won’t let you bring soda or other drinks, but most will let you bring water. If we want soda or other type drinks, we just leave them in the cooler in the car and get them on the lunch break.

Don’t give in to the marketing machine

Theme parks are the king of marketing. Ours is partnered with Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon, so the marketing machine is at work all around you all the time. Don’t give in though, as it will cost you an arm and a leg.

There are hats, shirts, cups, misting fans, glowing gizmos for nigh time, Sponge Bob this, and Dora the Explorer that. You name it, they have it. And guess what? It’s expensive…real expensive. Just say no.

If you find you really like something, go home and do a quick internet search. I’ll almost guarantee you’ll find the same item online for half the price.

Quick parenting tip, tell your children up front (before you to to the park) that you aren’t going to purchase anything AND when you get to the park, if they start to ask and press you to buy stuff you’ll leave. They may try you the first time, but if you stick to your word and leave, I guarantee they will take you seriously the next time.

Don’t play the games

Folks, the games are rigged. I know, I know, I am spoiling all the fun, but they are. My best friend in high-school and college worked at our local park running the games. They are rigged in favor of the park. Does it mean you won’t win? Of course not, people win all the time, but they are rigged so that in general the people playing them pay alot more for the prizes than they actually cost…way more.

Just avoid the games altogether. The teenagers running them and the games are all set-up to make you spend more and more money. Again, just say no.

Use Amusement Park Discount Coupons

Most large theme parks are partnered with one or more major food, restaurant or beverage companies and will offer discounts through these partners. For example, Wendy’s often has coupons as well as our local grocery food chains. These discounts can offer $5-$10 dollars off each ticket.

Other promotions include bringing 5 cans of Coke for a $5 discount, or even proof of purchase from various food products. Do a little digging, and I guarantee you will find these offers. They can add up to a big savings for just buying products you would normally purchase anyway.

Use your employee discount program

My employer has an employee discount program and offers theme park tickets at 50% off. Talking with many friends and neighbors, other companies provide the same benefits. So logon to your HR intranet site or call your HR department and see if your company has discounts. At 50% off, you have nothing to lose.

If your company doesn’t offer this, ask your friends and neighbors to buy the tickets for you. We do this for friends of ours often.

Of course these aren’t the only ways to save money, but they are the main things we focus on. Our goal when visiting is to not spend any cash. We frequently don’t even bring cash, just to help us avoid spending it. We have been pretty successful, and seldom spend any.

What tips do you have? Do you purchase season passes? Add a comment!


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