Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Saving Money At The Amusement Park

My kid loves to visit the amusement parks during the summer holidays. This is part of a reward which we promise for his achieving of good grades and no doubt, it is an enjoyable family outing.

However, amusement parks can wreck havoc on the household budget, especially when your kid insists on return trips. Due to my wife's indulgence of our kid's petulance, I have to learn the hard way on saving money at amusement parks, from discounts on admissions to minimizing food expenses.

Saving Money At The Amusement Park
I will start off by researching Internet specials and coupons in newspapers. I may even call the amusement park to ask about special deals if I don't see any on its web site.

Alternatively, you can also check with your employer to see if they have a corporate discount rate for local parks. My former company has such a tie up which turns out to be extremely popular for employees with kids.

There are also special deals at gas stations, fast food chains and products which offer discounts to amusement parks. If you plan to visit more than once, a season pass pays for itself in less than two visits.

I usually avoid the big theme parks, for good reason. Regional amusement parks are cheaper, have much shorter queue lines and more discounts for locals. Some amusement parks forgo gate receipts and allow us to buy tickets for individual rides, unlimited-ride wristbands or discount packages.

The day and time you visit can also affects ticket prices. If you arrive in the late afternoon, you could pay less (or maybe get the next day free for some attractions). If you want to avoid the crowds and the sun, visiting the amusement park in the evening may be a good idea. Most are open on weekends until 10 p.m. or later.

Our family don't like to stay overnight but if you have a good time at the amusement parks and plan to explore further, you should find out if the attractions offer discounts for multi-day visits or when you packaged your accommodations and admission tickets together.

As for saving on food, I must say this is one of the biggest bugbear for a trip to the amusement parks. If the park allows picnicking, bring your own drinks and sandwiches, else it will cost a bomb to eat at the cafes.

Otherwise, you should stake out the amusement park for special food deals like all-day, all-you-can-eat buffets, discount meal plans or perks for an extended stay.

It's also cheaper to purchase a big $10 souvenir plastic cup with unlimited refills (more than 1 person can drink out of it) than to buy $5 sodas for each thirsty kid four times on a hot day. You can bring the souvenir cups back for refills on your next visit, too. Alternatively, just carry a water bottle to refill from drinking fountains, which is what we do.

Individually priced games and attractions inside the park add up. If you're on a tight budget, be firm with the kids: No souvenirs, no games or arcades, no add-on experiences like the $10 Bungee jump.

Tell your kids beforehand that you want to splurge on a day at the park, but you can only afford it if they promise not to ask for extras. This will cut down on whining as well as expenses.


Monroe on a budget said...

I like the "late admission" deals. It's hard to stay 12 hours at the amusement park on a full day pass without taking a break anyway.