A visit to an amusement park can feel like a roller coaster, even if you’re not on the rides. While you’re trying to have fun with friends or family, you may also be worrying about how much you’re spending. Theme parks can be a big drain on your wallet. An entrance ticket alone costs between $50 and $80; add food and drink and a souvenir here or there, and you’re looking at one expensive trip.
When you show up at the gate, you usually end up paying top dollar. Avoid this by buying your admission tickets elsewhere. If you’re planning to go in the summer, grocery stores often offer tickets at discounted prices; so do some fast food chains and soda manufacturers. In the days leading up to your trip, keep your eyes peeled for deals advertised in newspapers and on product packaging.
You may be able to score cheap tickets without even leaving the house. Check the website of your theme park of choice: You can sometimes find one-day pass discounts of up to 30 percent available online.
Consider the Timing
As you’re planning the trip, you might want to think about going later in the day: Starlight admission to some parks can be cheaper. During the offseason—any time other than holidays and summer vacation—parks often discount ticket prices. If the trip date is flexible, try going in a month like September, when the weather is still nice and students are back in school. There will be fewer people, too!
Pack it Up
You’ve bought your tickets and picked the date; now, save when you’re finally at the park. Consider bringing a spacious shoulder bag or backpack that will hold what you want to bring (sunscreen, camera, sweater, etc.). That way, you won’t have to shell out for a locker in the park later.
If you’ve got a room in your bag, think about packing a lunch or snacks. Food sold in amusement parks can get pricey, and plus, much of it is unhealthy and won’t sustain you throughout the day. If you do decide to buy food in the park, consider ordering from the cheaper kids’ menu, or split an entrée with a friend—portions tend to be large enough for two.