Oftentimes, theme parks have discount codes offered online, and sometimes you can save money by purchasing a season pass or annual pass instead of single day admissions if you plan to visit an amusement park more than once during your trip. You can also get the benefits of being a pass holder, which most of the time includes free parking and discounts on food/merchandise saving you even more money. Also, purchasing passes that help cut your wait time in half time (ex. Fast pass, Quick Queue, Fast Lane) in advance will help because they usually sell out, especially during spring break (March) and summer months (June-August).
As for lodging planning, your preferred hotels or similar accommodations, such as Airbnbs, may be fully booked if you don’t make reservations early enough in advance during peak seasons. Booking ahead of time also allows you more flexibility and potential to find promotions to save money. Consider bundling by purchasing vacation packages that include travel, lodging, theme parks, and other entertainment to save even more money.
Visiting the park in the off-season is ideal. There are fewer crowds and lines are shorter. Be aware though, some parks do change to a seasonal calendar. They may reduce the hours they are open or choose to be completely closed on some days, which usually runs the months of October-February. The winter months, while cold at the majority of the parks, do offer the shortest lines plus you have the bonus of the beautiful holiday lights & scenery.
One of a park’s biggest sources of revenue is its merchandise and guests have their pick of multiple items to choose from. Some of them specialize in items themed to their rides and then some parks have the majority of the items themed to just a general parkwide theme. For an inexpensive option, we recommend a magnet, it is easy to pack in a suitcase and doesn’t take up much space if you wish to show it off at home. If you are looking to splurge, we love the idea of the Nanocoaster or Coaster Cutout, both of which are fun & easy to assemble and make great pieces to display.
The holidays can be a very exciting time to be at a theme park. The two major holidays that are celebrated are Halloween and Christmas. With the first theme park Halloween event being started in 1973, it has spawned countless other parks to take on their vision. The majority of events consist of haunted houses, inspired by in-house ideas or taken from films/movies, scare zones, spooky ambiance & usually live shows. Some form of express pass is a must as the popularity of these events is very high, they often sell out, and it is also recommended to purchase this in advance for the same reason.
The average family of four can spend upwards of $200 on casual meals for their day. If you’re looking to save you can start at the easiest place first, water! Water is usually free when you ask for a cup, and not only will you save money, you will combat dehydration especially on the hot days. Prefer soft drinks? Then purchase a refillable cup, which is usually good all season long and you can grab unlimited refills. Typically the more you buy, the better the deal is. Also, if you are spending the whole day at the park, consider purchasing a meal deal (usually a benefit for the full day) if offered which includes a combination of entrées, snacks, & drinks. This is a great option if you will be spending all day there. It can be a major money saver.
Hotels and the benefits of onsite vs offsite
Staying at a park’s onsite hotel has its advantages and disadvantages. The great part is most of them are usually steps away from the entrances or if not, offer complimentary transportation from park open to close if needed. They offer extended hours before the park opens and after park closings so that you can experience shorter waits on rides and fewer crowds. If they are known for a certain theme, such as a movie or character, your room reflects this and also, they have specialty dining. Some of the setbacks include higher price points compared to an offsite accommodation, not only for your room but for parking also. There are also fewer inexpensive food options, so you may be stuck paying more or forced to travel offsite.
Getting the most out of your travel
Most people have always known the best way to save money on airfare, lodging and car rentals is to book ahead. However, a great day to search for airfare is Tuesday. Most airlines post their best rates during that day. Plus, it’s best to travel during the week when possible. Not only is airfare cheaper traditionally, but lines are often shorter at the parks too. You can also set a price alert through a booking site or an airline’s website for convenience and a little peace of mind. If you are booking a rental car, consider the gas mileage efficiency of the car, truck, van, and SUV options available to save at the pump. Be aware that rental companies push their optional insurance coverage as an additional fee on their customers to increase their revenue per rental. Often it is unnecessary for customers that already have adequate auto insurance coverage from their own vehicle policies and even select credit cards. Check with your auto insurance and credit card companies for your coverage details before traveling or accepting the additional insurance coverage. Similar to Airbnb is an app called Turo which allows private car owners to rent out their vehicles to the public. The prices can be significantly less at times from Turo compared to the major rental companies, plus you may be able to find vehicle brands, such as Tesla, Porsche, and Ferrari, that are typically not offered at most rental companies.
All in all, millions of people visit theme parks every year. While it may be hard to plan every last detail, the more you are prepared, the better. Whatever you do, have a great time, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!