It’s the middle of summer and everyone is trying to go to an amusement park and have fun. My family recently did the same thing. But with such a potentially expensive outing, how do you maximize your fun and savings at the same time?
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This past weekend my husband and I joined some of my family on a trip to the Kings Dominion amusement park in Virginia. While I had a great time with everyone, I couldn’t help but think how savvy women could maximize their savings and time when it comes to planning trips like this. And we know we’re the ones planning the trips, right?
Let’s take a look at 7 ways to save on your next trip to an amusement park.
First, let me say, costs will vary depending on the size of your family and whether or not you can find discounts before you arrive. Our costs were based on just me and my husband traveling without children.
Buy your tickets online in advance.
Often the best deals are online via the park’s website. If you are a military family, check with your base recreation office to see if they offer specially-priced tickets if the park doesn’t. Be sure to also look for any age-related discounts for children or seniors.
Also, if you plan on attending multiple days, check out a season pass for even more savings.
Go during the week.
There are often deals for going during less busy times. Saturdays and holidays are going to be the busiest and everything may cost more during those days. Try to go Monday-Thursday for the best savings.
Purchase the meal plan.
For the two of us, each premium meal plan was $40 and it included a number of different dining options. We weren’t stuck with just pizza or hot dogs. Also, the park had a number of vegetarian and vegan options for me included in the dining plan that I found just by searching the park’s app. Add in the free refills from our souvenir cup provided much-needed savings.
We ate twice and filled up our cups at least 4 times throughout our stay. I can only imagine how much more we would have saved if we had eaten more or had more people with us.
Ditch the photo add-on.
While it’s tempting to add in professional photos, especially if you ride roller coasters, it just wasn’t worth the extra money for us. There will be employees who will take your family photos for an extra fee, or you can just ask a kind stranger to help you.
Carefully consider souvenir t-shirts and other novelty items.
It’s pretty well-known that everything at the park is going to have a hefty markup. So if you really want a particular item, you might be able to find it online, outside of the park. But if you’re going to buy gifts, have a pre-set budget, especially if you’re attending with kids so you know how much to spend.
Buy your parking pass in advance.
When we got to the park there was a long line of people who had not purchased their parking passes in advance. That’s a huge time-suck and takes away from your time at the park. Not only that, but it might cost more at the gate, just like your admissions tickets. For us, there were two options that cost within $3 of each other depending on how close you wanted to park to the gate. But if you get there early enough, you should be able to find great parking.
Upgrade to the fast passes.
This last tip may not save you money, but it will save you time and frustration when it comes to getting on rides and enjoying your time.
These passes are designed to get you into a shorter line, or even skip the queue, so you can get on the rides faster. Typically these passes will include certain rides and will have their own entrance. My husband bought one because he was going to go on more rides than me and he said it was well worth the money.
Be aware that this is something where the cost may vary depending on the day of the week you visit the park. At Kings Dominion, there were two versions of the pass, one included 10 rides, the other 13 rides. Whatever you choose is up to you.
Again, if you’re going to buy a season pass, see if you can also buy a season pass for the fast pass.
Bonus tip: download the park app. We found that it was a lot easier to navigate the park and find dining options once I downloaded the app. I could see which places took our dining plan, what my options were, and the app also had the wait times listed for the rides. We could also store our tickets in the app so I didn’t have to print them at home. I printed them anyway for a backup, but it wasn’t required.
Those are my best tips for saving money at an amusement park. For the two of us, we paid about $271 for our tickets, parking, food, and fast lane pass. Again, I can say we didn’t lose money and saved time, hassle, and money (especially on dining) by purchasing in advance and taking the time to plan our trip.
I hope your next trip is just as enjoyable for you and your family.
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