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Amusement Parks at a Discount
Last Post 06/24/2012 4:28 PM by admin. 1 Replies.
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admin Senior Member Senior Member Posts:5170
04/09/2010 9:10 AM  

Deal of the Day by Elizabeth Trotta (Author Archive)

Amusement Parks at a Discount

There’s no such thing as a free ride – but with business sagging at the country’s amusement parks, there are some deals to be had.

For Easter weekend, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, an amusement park in Ocean City, N.J., was selling half-price tickets. Through April 11, Playland’s Castaway Cove, nearby on the Jersey Shore, is offering some tickets at half price.

What gives? In a word: business. Last year, theme park industry revenue fell 8.6%, as consumers stayed home, according to IBIS World, a market research firm. To get guests back in the rollercoaster, parks are putting together a variety of offers.

The biggest push is to rope customers in for a weekend and turn last summer’s “daycation” into a bonafide getaway. While the offers can be generous, some are still more than you would spend if you just went for a day (especially if the half-price ticket deals continue through the summer). And as the season wears on, other offers could be in the making: The parks believe the economy still has a way to go, so you don’t have to worry about them returning to premium pricing at this point, says Robert Niles, editor of

Here are the types of offers theme parks are promoting now.

Combo Savings
Savvy consumers know that a ticket is only the very beginning of the true cost of going to an amusement park. This summer, to combat that perception, parks are offering discount packages, and including more costs upfront, from tickets and hotels to meal plans. “The idea is that by putting together a package, you can hopefully convince people that it’s a good deal, and get them to commit to it,” says Niles.

Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Point Amusement Park/Resort, for example, is offering its resort guests 37% off one-day tickets, and 50% off tickets for after 5 p.m. – those come out to $29 and $14.99, respectively, after the discount. If guests buy one-day Ride & Slide tickets – dual passes to amusement and water parks they save or $37.98, or 50%; if they buy a three day pass, they save $143.95, or 63%.

But do the math before you book: Rooms at Cedar’s various hotels and resorts start at $72 a night and can go up to more than $300, depending on the type of room you want, so even with 63% off a three-day pass, the cost of those days add up.

Multiday and Season Passes
Season passes generally cost less than twice the single admission, so it’s a good deal if you plan to return to the park more than two times, says Paul Ruben, North American Editor for Park World Magazine. And a lot of the regional theme parks have passes that are good at multiple parks, which could come in handy if you’re traveling. If you are going more than three or four times, go premium, he says. Premium passes will allow for additional people, merchandise discounts and parking.

There are exceptions, of course. Take the “Disney Premier Passport.” The annual pass covers admission for one at both Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney World in Orlando, but costs $700. If you’re a hardcore Disney fan, it could be a good deal, says Niles. But, otherwise, “it’s more a conversation piece than a consumer option.”

Social Media
Monitor your social-networking sites. Six Flags and others have Twitter accounts, MySpace and Facebook pages where customers can find park promotions and deals. Most have a limited time frame, so you need to check regularly. Last summer, for example, Six Flags ran a Twitter promotion, offering $10 tickets to theme parks, and posted a link that expired within hours. It also ran a similar promotion on Twitter for $15 tickets. On Tuesday of this week, Cedar Point tweeted “Don't forget - you can still save $10 per Platinum Pass when you purchase 4 at the same time … ”

Other promotions
This year, some regional parks are also teaming up with local grocery chains, says Ruben. Price Chopper in the Kansas City metro area, for example, is running a promotion for dual season passes to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun for $99.99. The price covers entrance to both parks and parking for the 2010 season. The key is to look for these types of promotions and to buy your ticket before you go to the park, says Ruben. You can do better than just driving up and presenting your credit card, but a lot of people still do it, says Ruben. “A little planning can save you significantly.”

Tips for saving in the park
On that note, plan accordingly, and bring sunscreen, ponchos or any other weather-related item, so you don’t have to buy them in the park, where prices can be high.

Also look online. You might check out retailers like, and at times, the parks themselves. For instance, Disney is currently running a spring sale of up to 50% off of certain items on the Disney Store web site. And if you have kids who will want to buy things there, tell them ahead of time how much money each one will be able to spend, so there’s no negotiating in the park, Niles says.

The No. 1 thing Niles tells people to do to save money: Split meals. “Most of the time, you end up taking half of it home anyway, and if you’re on vacation, you can’t take it home, you’re on the road. You save a lot of money – and calories – and if it turns out that you’re super hungry, you can always order more.”

Read more: Amusement Parks at a Discount (Page all of 2) at
admin Senior Member Senior Member Posts:5170
06/24/2012 4:28 PM  
9 ways to have thrifty theme park thrills

By Lora Shinn •

Check any theme park's website to scout out seasonal coupons and half-off entry fees.
Make the most of your money by arriving when the theme park gates open.
Little extras can add up to an extra $100 per day or more.

Every year, the kids clamor to head to a theme park, water park or Disney property, and if all that noise doesn't give you a headache, the prices just might.

After paying entry fees, it can feel like you're being blindsided by little extras that can add up to an extra $100 per day or more.

Forgot sunglasses? That will cost you! Along with food, drinks, snacks, souvenirs, emergency apparel and other items. Bankrate has outlined nine ways to save on your theme park escape, whether you're headed down on a water slide or up on a roller coaster.

Start your homework early. Check the attraction's website in advance to scout out information on seasonal coupons, half-off entry fees (often at the end of the day) and annual passes.

Do a little digging for discounts on heftily priced theme park tickets, and don't forget to check in unusual places for deals. Your workplace, bank, credit union, airline (if you're flying to the destination), grocery store chains or discount club may reveal surprising deals.

For example, Costco offers discount passes to LegoLand, and Lego magazine often includes coupons, according to Debbie Dubrow, the well-traveled family blogger at

Subscribe to online newsletters. Julia Rudden, a Seattle-based mother of two girls and frequent theme park visitor, subscribes to official and unofficial newsletters about the destination she's visiting. For example, before heading to Disneyland, she subscribed to the MouseSavers newsletter, which gave her tips on advance tickets, shows going on in the park, ride closures, current deals inside the park's restaurants and special rates. Be warned: Not all destinations are covered.

"Ideally, subscribe two months before you go to allow time to prepare yourself, but last-minute works, too," she says.

Arrive early. Make the most of your money by arriving when the theme park gates open. "Go early in the day to take advantage of smaller crowds and the ability to see and do more," says Nancy Bobby, Disney travel agent at Destinations in Florida Travel. "You want to be able to get the most value out of time spent on site."

"With shorter morning lines, you'll be able to go on more rides. Late evening can also offer the same experience, if you don't mind waiting," Bobby says. Also, some parks offer discounted hours in the evenings.

Drink up. Dubrow suggests bringing an empty water bottle to fill from drinking fountains around the park throughout the day. Dubrow also offers a clever additional tip that turns a blah drink into something special. Pack powdered drink mixes, which you can add to water for a flavor boost.

"At $3 to $6 each, drink costs can really add up, so this saves a bundle over the course of a day," Dubrow says.

Pack your own snacks. "Disney does allow you to bring food items, and you are permitted a backpack or small, soft-side cooler," Bobby says. "If you don't want to carry it around all day, the parks all have lockers where you can store it till ready!"

Put together protein-rich trail mix, your favorite sliced-and-diced fruits and other great grub. Each theme park has different rules. Some water parks and theme parks do not allow any outside food or beverages or have restrictions about glass containers or the size of coolers. Check the park's Web page or call before you go.

Skip the kids' meals. If you want to eat at least one meal in an on-site restaurant, you may be able to order one big burger and fries and split it with your child or park companion. Look at other diners' portions before ordering full plates for everyone, Bobby says.

"Most food portions are quite large. If you have kids, you can definitely save money by splitting meals," she says. However, watch for split-plate charges in restaurants, which will show up in the fine print on the menu. Or, ask your server to be sure.

Save on souvenirs. "Look for inexpensive souvenir items that everyone will find fun, but won't break the bank," Bobby says. "Pressed pennies are great for this and pins can be as well as long as you set a budget and stick to it."

Or, "tell each child that they will be able to select one thing and have them plan in advance what it will be," Dubrow says. "That way, you won't be dragged through every store or be sucked into buying one toy after another."

Go frugal on Disney bling. Disney properties are well-known for their stores of kid and parent friendly bounty. If you want to participate in Disney's pin-trading tradition on the cheap, pick up inexpensive trading pins on eBay before your trip, Bobby says. "Then, bring them with you and trade with cast members," rather than purchasing them on site, she says.

Dubrow says you can also pre-purchase those princess- or mouse-themed gifts at a local store. "Either give the gifts as you enter the park or promise that a gift will be on their pillow when they return to the room," Bobby says.

Prep to avoid urgent purchases. "Make sure you are well-stocked with essentials before leaving home," Bobby says. "Things like ponchos, first-aid items and sunscreen are a lot cheaper where you live."

At water parks, don't let the purchase of expensive goggles and nose plugs drown your wallet, and don't allow theme parks to charge you an astronomical cost for sunglasses and other "oops I forgot" items.

Read more: 9 Ways To Have Thrifty Theme Park Thrills |
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