Our family loves amusement parks! We love roller coasters, thrill rides, and all the fun a trip to a theme park brings! However with 5 of us a day at the park can get pretty pricey! Here’s how we save money at amusement parks!
Last summer on vacation we spent a great day at Cedar Point, and on a recent trip to Florida we had a fun filled 3 days at Universal Studios. My love for amusement parks started when I was young, and made it a point to ride every roller coaster I could. As I’ve grown it’s been fun to introduce our boys to the thrill of theme park rides, even super hubby who is afraid of heights loves a great roller coaster!
One of the things I don’t love so much about them is the cost. I mean seriously, when we started to plan out trip to Universal and I looked at ticket prices I was shocked. Now I’m a self-confessed cheap ass so there’s that, and I also had never been to Disney, Universal or other super large parks… so that contributed to my surprise!
Now if the cost of tickets was the only thing I’d be ok, however with 3 boys, two who are teenagers, it can be crazy expensive to eat at an amusement park! Then there’s the little one who loves a souvenir… the costs can add up.
I like to save money where I can, and I’ve learned several ways to save big time on your trip to the amusement park, you can have a ton of fun without breaking the bank!
#1- Get Deals on Admission-
Tickets- You can score some pretty good deals on tickets if you know where to look! If it’s a more local amusement park look for coupons, or find out if they offer discount tickets through local grocery stores. For our trip to Universal I got our tickets through Undercover Tourist. I saved almost $200 of the price on the Universal website.
Deals & Special Days- A huge perk to the deal we got through Undercover Tourist was that Universal was offering a buy 2 days get 2 days free deal. It was an awesome deal and even though we were planning just 2 days at the park we went ahead and did another one since we got a great deal. It was good for a few months so it’s a good idea to ask for things like that! Another thing to look for is special discount days. If you’re military, there are often discounts or special days. There are even special days at some parks for homeschoolers. So you can plan your trip around those days!
Go Later in the Day– A couple of years ago we visited Cedar Point and they had late day passes. The price was a fraction of the full ticket price but we still got like 6 hours at the park! Many amusement parks have deals like this so if it’s just a day trip or part of a bigger vacation then a later day might be your best bet!
Look for Deals with Hotels– Many times hotels offer great deals on tickets to attractions! Sometimes you can even get tickets for free! When you start to plan your trip look at onsite hotels, or local hotels that are partners with the amusement parks you want to visit. Sometimes onsite hotels are more expensive but if there is a killer deal on admission tickets you can still end up saving money!
#2- Save on Food-
Take Your Own- Many parks allow you to bring your own food and drinks in with you! You have to check the rules before you go, but packing snacks, water, even a light lunch can save you lots of money. Even just bottles of water packed in your bag is a huge savings, not to mention you won’t load up on soda throughout the day! If you’re staying all day even one meal that you don’t pay for in the park is a huge savings.
Leave the Park to Eat- Most parks allow re-entry in the same day, so leaving the park to eat can be a great idea! If you go in the morning and plan to stay til closing, ducking out to eat isn’t too much time away and you can get food for far less than it is available in the park.
Plan Ahead for in Park Food– If you want to stay in the park it’s a great idea to plan ahead a little bit. If you get online and check out what is available you can take a look at what park restaurants are and what they have to offer. On our trip to Universal we knew we wanted to eat in Harry Potter world. There is so much to choose from so I wanted to make sure that where ever we ate was reasonably priced, had nice portion sizes and food that we would all want. Not all park food is created equal there are some places to eat that have excellent selection and good value. So planning ahead where you want to eat can keep you from just popping in the nearest place when you get hungry.
Let Your kids know how many treats they can have – There are so so many goodies to be had at amusement parks, Ice cream, candy, butter beer, hot pretzels… so much deliciousness. If your kids are anything like mine they love treats and would eat all of them! If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on treats make it clear how many they can have or how much they can spend. That way they make sure to choose what they really want and you don’t end up with a bunch of half eaten treats that you spent way too much money on.
Look into meal plans– Many parks offer meal plans as part of a package, or to purchase separately. If you know you want to stay at the park to eat, and are going to be there all day, a meal plan can be a big money saver. Most parks have their meal plan details available on their website to help you find the one that is right for you!
Set a Budget or a Number- There are so many things to spend money on at theme parks, and souvenirs can be a big one! Just like treats it’s best to let your kids get something. It’s best to set expectations before you go and let your kids know how much they can spend or how many items they can get.
Even better let them take their own money! Daniel got money for Christmas and I had him set it aside knowing that he’d want a ton of things on our Florida vacation. That allowed him to get what he wanted!
By tweaking a little spending here and there you can have an awesome trip without blowing your budget! With a little planning and a little creativity you can save money and have a great time!
What are your favorite tips for saving at an amusement park? What are your favorite parks to visit?