Amusement parks are a favorite form of entertainment for our family during the summer. We like to go to parks throughout the country to experience the rides and shows that the different parks offer. It can get expensive quickly, with tickets, meals, souvenirs, and games. We do our best to keep our expenses in check, so here are my top ten ways that we save money at an amusement park.
- Free Water – Most parks will provide ice water free of charge. I usually bring along an old souvenir cup from a previous year (because the handle on these cups make them easy to carry or attach to a stroller) and fill it at the first food stand I see without a line. If you don’t want to lug around a cup, most parks and food stands will give you a small cup. Doable, but many refills may be needed.
- Kids Meals / Share Meals – If the park allows food to be brought in, we typically bring quick and easy snacks, and then fill in the gaps with purchasing kids meals or sharing a meal at the food stands. If there are picnic tables outside the park, sometimes in a parking lot or picnic grove, plan to leave and relax a bit during lunch and dinner. Pack a cooler with sandwiches and leave it in the car.
- Games – Have a plan beforehand for how many games you will allow your children to play. Decide if a game value pack would be beneficial to you, and if so, pre-purchase it. If you have a season pass, see if there is a discount for games.
- Stuffed Animals / Souvenirs – Plan ahead of time, and purchase stuffed animals or other souvenirs at a local discount store. Present them to your children before entering the park, and they are less likely to ask to purchase expensive souvenirs.
- Discount tickets – Almost all parks have some kind of discount ticket offering. Best places to check are your local township/borough office, grocery stores in the area, Groupon, Facebook pages, park websites, local Boy Scout troops, kid’s activity discount books, and local coupon magazines.
- Upcharge Attractions – Know which attractions in the park are up-charges (usually GoKarts, Sky Coasters, Paddle Boats, etc.) and have a plan for them or avoid them.
- Parking / Carpool – See if your ticket can be bundled to include parking. Carpool when possible, as parking fees tend to increase every year.
- Late Season – Take advantage of trips outside the summer months that may have cheaper ticket prices, cooler weather, and less crowds. Early season events in the Spring tend to be busy because everyone is excited to get back into the parks after a long winter, but Fall and Winter events can often be fun (Trick or Treating or Holiday decorations), less expensive and less crowded.
- Rain Policy – Know the rain policy of the park you are visiting, and ask for a return ticket if the weather warrants it.
- Preview plans – Some parks allow tickets to be previewed, and some don’t even need to be used on consecutive days. Know the park’s policy and if they allow it, take advantage of extra time in the park the evening before. It’s a good time to learn the park’s layout and ride the more popular rides that may have shorter lines near closing.
Bonus Tip: If you have people in your group that will not be riding any rides, you can choose a park that doesn’t have an admission fee to save money. Examples of these types of parks would be DelGrosso’s Amusement Park (dry rides side only) and Knoebels. Seniors also may qualify for a significant discount at many parks.
Have a great 2017 amusement park season!