By Beth J. Harpaz -- AP Travel Editor
NEW YORK (AP) — Visiting an amusement park for the day with a family of four can add up. But there are ways to cut costs, from discounts on admission to strategies for keeping food spending down.
Look for Internet specials and coupons in newspapers, on products, and at gas stations and fast food chains. Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., gives $10 off admission if you buy your ticket online, and coupons printed on Coke cans give two-for-one weekday admission to the park or $15 off weekend tickets.
"Also if you plan to visit more than once, a season pass pays for itself in less than two visits," says Six Flags Great Adventure spokesman Angel Aristone. That's true of season passes at some other parks as well.
If you live near a small regional park or old-fashioned seaside park, these can be considerably cheaper than big theme parks, with much shorter lines. Instead of charging a per-person fee at the gate, parks like those in New York's Coney Island, Old Orchard Beach in Maine, and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in California allow you to buy tickets for individual rides, with options for discount ticket packages or unlimited-ride wristbands.
You could hit the Cyclone coaster at Coney Island for $8 and the nearby Wonder Wheel for $6, and spend the rest of the day at the beach for free. At Santa Cruz and Old Orchard, all the rides are under $5.
Some parks have discounts for locals. For Southern California residents, the Summer Fun Pass at Disneyland offers three days admission for $99 between June 1-Aug. 23.
Your employer may also have a corporate discount rate for local parks.
AAA offers many theme park and attraction discounts and benefits when tickets are purchased in advance through AAA. Details at http://www.aaa.com/save. One example for Orlando: Purchase an adult and child (ages 3-9) attraction ticket combination for two days or longer at Disney, Universal or SeaWorld and get a "Kids Eat Free" card good that allows kids 3-9 to dine free at over 100 restaurants in the Orlando area when accompanied by an adult who purchases a meal. The offer is good through June 30.