Have you checked the ticket prices at amusement parks lately? A one-day adult ticket for Disneyland is up to $99! At that price, it’s $396 for a family of four plus $17 for parking, or $413 just to get through the turnstile.
Fortunately, there are some ways to save money while visiting your favorite amusement parks. Check these tips out before your next outing:
Search for ticket discounts. The easiest way to get a discount off the full price of an amusement park ticket is to buy it online. You’ll probably save around $10 per ticket, depending on the amusement park you want to visit. But if you plan ahead a little bit, you might be able to save more. AAA members should always check to see if their local branch offers discounts – in Southern California, you can save on tickets to Disneyland, Legoland, Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld, and more. Sometimes banks, credit unions, and even your local supermarket will offer discounted tickets.
Buy more than one day. If you buy a ticket that’s valid for two or more days, you’ll pay less per day than you would for just one day. In fact, if you buy a five-day ticket to Disneyland, you’ll pay just $55 per day compared to $99 for one day! Just keep in mind that some multi-day tickets have restrictions on when or how they can be used subsequently. For example, Universal Studios Hollywood offers “buy one day, get the rest of the year free” tickets, but the blackout dates for subsequent visits include most of the summer, weekends, and holidays.
Sign up for email newsletters and follow your favorite park on social media. Spur of the moment and exclusive discounts are often publicized via email and social media.
Bring your own food and drinks if allowed. Many parks allow you to bring in your own food and beverages, which can save you a lot of money because amusement park food is so overpriced. (Some parks will allow you to bring water but not food, so you should check the rules and regulations of your specific destination.) If you don’t want to carry much around, leave a filled cooler in your car and go back as necessary to replenish. One space-saving item is a collapsible water bottle, which you can fill at water fountains as needed.
If you want to buy your food and beverages inside the park, be sure to study your options and plan ahead. Many parks have huge portions, so you can save by splitting a meal between two or three people. A Google search for the cheapest food options at your park of choice can also help you figure out how to get the most bang for your buck.
Be prepared. You don’t want to have to buy overpriced emergency items at the amusement park, so be sure to plan ahead and pack what you might need. If the weather forecast calls for rain, bring ponchos, umbrellas, and/or boots. If it’s going to be sunny and hot, make sure you have sunscreen, fans, and spray bottles. Amusement parks do offer first aid services, but rather than spending time getting to their first aid station, you might want to bring some bandages, painkillers, and allergy medicine.
Limit souvenirs. Before you enter the park, set a budget for souvenirs, or better yet, agree not to buy any at all. Then you can avoid temptation by not entering any of the souvenir shops and walking right past all of the souvenir carts without browsing.
If possible, go on off-peak days at off-peak times. Generally, this means a weekday rather than a weekend, and preferably on a school day. However, if your children are in school and the only time you can go is on the weekend or during a vacation, check to see if your amusement park of choice offers discounted tickets for late afternoon or evening, and do a Google search to see if any particular day of the week tends to be less crowded than other days.