5 Budget-Friendly Amusement Park Tips for Families

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According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, 60 percent of US respondents plan to visit an amusement park in 2014, with more than a quarter spending more than $1,000 on the visit. For families planning an amusement park trip this summer, Family Vacation Critic shares tips for making the visit budget-friendly–even when purchasing multiple tickets.

"With amusement park prices on the rise each year, families tend to be the group hit the hardest," says Lissa Poirot, editor of Family Vacation Critic. "For a family of three or more, the cost of admission alone can be hundreds of dollars. That doesn't take into account parking, meals, beverages–or a hotel stay, if visiting from out of town. But there are ways to save, and usually some of the largest savings come at the ticket booth--through some research and advance planning."

To save on amusement park admission, Family Vacation Critic suggests these tips:

1. Plan (and purchase) in advance. Rather than purchasing day-of tickets, consider purchasing tickets online. Some parks offer discounted rates if purchased ahead of time, which can save a significant amount on the ticket cost combined. It's also worth checking park websites for flash sales and other discounts, and sometimes purchasing tickets as part of a combined package with other attractions can also save on individual costs.

2. Look beyond park-specific promotions. Coupon sites like RetailMeNot and flash sale sites like Groupon and LivingSocial often post a collection of deals and discounts to amusement parks. Membership groups like AAA and AARP also offer discounts to theme parks, and some credit cards provide special promotions to cardholders–American Express partners with Universal Studios to offer cardmembers special benefits including an American Express lounge, and Discover Card provides its members with a dedicated park entrance and exclusive ride times at Six Flags parks.

3. Don't overlook multi-day passes. For families spending more than one day in the area, or who live within close distance to an amusement park, purchasing a season- or multi-day pass can help save hundreds. In addition to admission, season passes can also provide additional bonuses like exclusive ride times and free or discounted parking. Some parks with more than one location also honor season passes at other locations as well–providing savings close to home and while away on vacation.

4. Spend the night. Many parks partner with nearby hotels to extend special offerings to hotel guests, such as discount tickets, complimentary breakfast, or early park entry. Some packages also include transportation to and from the park to help families save on the cost of parking. For examples of offerings, visit Family Vacation Critic's roundup of stay-and-play packages.

5. Time your visit wisely. Some parks offer discount tickets after a certain hour in the day. If you don't mind a shortened visit, or don't have time to spend an entire day at the park, check to see if there are half-day or evening tickets at a discounted rate. Visitors can sometimes save as much as half-off by taking advantage of off-peak deals.

For more ways to save, Family Vacation Critic's Family Travel Deals highlight hotel deals with discounted rates or added value, such as admission to amusement parks and other attractions.

 

Source: Family Vacation Critic, familyvacationcritic.com