Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saving Money at Theme Parks

I enjoy going to a theme park. This past weekend, we had a chance to go to Cedar Point and everyone had a blast. Of course, one of the big challenges can be going to a theme park on a budget. You don't go all the time, but you don't want to break the bank when you go either. But, you can balance a good time with not overspending.

Tickets: Typically there are discounts available on tickets. From my experience, there are usually local stores that will offer the tickets to the theme parks when you purchase from them. There typically is a special rate available to AAA members. Sometimes you can find package deals that will help save you money on admission and more. I know that during the summer, we see admission offers on cans of soda. Don't be afraid to ask the park if there is a discount.

Souvenirs: Either set a limit or agree to no souvenirs. If your children are like mine, they will see a hundred things that they have to have if we wander anywhere near a gift store. Generally, we don't buy souvenirs at an amusement park, but when we go to Disney this summer, we likely will allow them to get something, but plan on setting a limit.

Food: Food and drink can be one of the more expensive portions of the day. We generally eat an early lunch outside of the park before we arrive. An alternate is to pack a picnic style lunch and eat in the parking lot before you go in. You could also consider a picnic dinner, some parks even have picnic groves where you can leave your picnic basket and return later to enjoy your packed meal. Check your park's policy, many will allow you to bring in small snack items. When I had a stroller it was easy, this year I carried a "mom" bag and used it to hold a refillable water bottle and a handful of granola bars and crackers for snacking. Consider taking other durable snacks, like dried fruit, raisins, or even apples. Also, check out meal offers that are available on their website before you go. Sometimes you can buy as part of your ticket package or can print a coupon to get a good deal. When dining at the park, consider buying a whole pizza and sharing - this is generally a better value and often they have it paired with sides or beverages as part of a meal offer. Consider an all-you-can-eat place. Their costs are higher, but if you can eat one meal instead of two you could save money. Also, consider if you can wait until the park closes to have dinner. Not always an option, but it could save you money if a snack can hold you over until then.

Going to a theme park can be fun on a budget, you just sometimes have to plan ahead.

This post shared at Works For Me Wednesday.