Amusement parks are undeniably fun. They’re also undeniably expensive. While we understand your reluctance to trek to a park that charges $10 for a hot dog, you really don’t have to forego the fun. The economy has many amusement chains lowering their prices and, lucky for you (and me), even the most high-end theme parks are offering discounts.
In celebration of the summer, MainStreet has found some great deals that will help you and your kids enjoy your vacation.
In general, anyone who is planning to make more than one trip to their local theme park should consider buying a season pass. Take Six Flag Great Adventure’s offer as an example. Play Passes, which are selling for $69.99, give you unlimited visitation rights to all Six Flags theme parks. Considering the fact that general admission at Six Flags Great Adventure costs $49.99 alone, this a great deal. Knott’s Berry Farm sells its season passes for $64.99, whereas general admission is $31.99. Universal Studios actually all has a pretty decent annual pass offer. You can get unlimited yearly access to the park for $229 a person, while single-day admission costs $109.
Both Universal Studios and Walt Disney Theme Parks (Stock Quote: DIS) offer a discount to locals. Universal Studios’ normally costs $139, but a single-day admission for locals is $94.99. Walt Disney World, whose $489 season pass is a bit of an investment, costs Floridians $369. Walt Disney World is also offering a sweet four-day pass for locals to any of its theme parks for just $99. Disneyland sells its Deluxe Season Pass for $315, but it only costs residents of Southern California $170.
If you’re not interested in a season pass, you should at least consider buying tickets online. Doing so at Great Adventure (or any Six Flags theme park, for that matter) saves you $15 a person. Busch Gardens, similarly, offers savings for multi-park admissions when you buy online. As does Universal Studios, Sea World and Dorney Park, a good rule of thumb is to visit your local theme park’s Web site before hitting the road.
You’ll also want to take advantage of any discounts that certain clubs offer as a perk of membership. AAA offers its members up to 40% off on admissions to almost all major theme parks as does AARP. Dollywood offers a 30% discount on admissions when you present a military ID. Hershey Park also offers discounts to military families.
Theme parks recognize that prospective visitors aren’t necessarily staying home because of the price of admission. If entrance to the park costs you an arm, the food will cost you a leg and you’ve still got to pay for parking. Because of this, many theme parks are offering ticket combos.
Six Flags is running two universal combos throughout all of its parks. Its Ticket/Meal Combo for $44.99 includes a daily admission ticket and one meal voucher for an entree, fries and regular soft drink. (The combo will save you $3.48 per person.) Its Ticket/Parking/Meal Combo for $54.99 includes a daily admission ticket, a regular one-day parking pass and one meal voucher for an entree, fries and regular soft drink. (This saves you around $8.48 per person.)
Disney has a two-meal offer that allows vacationers to save on food. If you opt for the Disney Dining Plan, you can get one quick-service meal, one snack and one table-service meal per person, per day of your package stay for everyone in the party age 3 and up. If you opt for the lower-end Disney Quick Service Dining Plan, you can get two quick service meals and two snacks per person, per day of your package stay. The meal deals can save families up to $689 over the course of week’s stay.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg allows you to purchase dining certificates online, which will save you money on park food. You can check out the Web site for a complete list of meal deals.
This season, Dollywood is offering a two-day ticket combo, where patrons who visit the park after 3 p.m. get in the next day for free. The offer is valid now through Oct. 29.
Walt Disney World tourists should take advantage of the “Magic Your Way” tickets. These base tickets allow vacationers to buy day passes in bulk, which can result in up to a 50% discount depending on the length of your trip.
Some vacation packages are a little more exclusive. For example, right now, Universal Studios is offering a promotion in conjunction with the release of its new Harry Potter attraction. Starting on June 18 and running until Dec. 31, vacationers can get a four-day deal that includes hotel accommodations, a three-day base ticket to Universal Studios, free breakfast at Harry Potter-themed eatery The Three Broomsticks and early park admission to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The deal costs $285 per person (around $829 per family.) This deal is great when you consider that a single-day admission to both parks cost $109.
Disneyland has a nice package available for vacationers who are traveling between now through Sept. 26. You can get two additional nights at a Disneyland resort for free when you book a three-day, three-night stay.
Additionally, many major theme parks and resorts have partnerships with local airlines (for example, both Disney and Universal work with AirTran Airways). So check out who’s working with who before booking flights to and from your particular destination.
DISCOUNTS FOR KIDS:
Walt Disney World is offering a vacation package that lets children age 3 through 9 “stay and play” for free when their parents purchase a four-day/five-night Magic Your Way room and ticket package now through Oct. 2. (The average price per adult for this vacation is $530.) Children receive free entry to all theme parks (one per day) every day of the stay.
Hershey Park is running a similar type of promotion where kids 17 and under receive free daily breakfast and free daily park admissions when parents book at room a Hotel Hershey or Hershey Lodge.
Also, keep in mind that almost all amusement parks waive the admission fee for children under a certain age so check out your destination’s Web site to see whether or not your toddler is going to cost you.
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