No more classes, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks. School’s out which means families across America are planning their summer vacations. Considering the current economy, this can be a daunting task for those who feel the urge to get away. Theme parks, for example can be a drain on the summer vacation budget, but with anticipated new attractions opening like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, theme parks may be a leading destination for summer travel. Whether you’re single, married, with kids, or without, budgeting for a theme park vacation can lead to a pleasurable experience without leaving a hole in your pocket.
Purchasing tickets at the front gate, at full price, can cause vacation spending to sky rocket. Plan ahead and save money by exploring the following options:
- You might be a member of AAA to help you in a car crisis, but did you realize that your membership entitles you to travel discounts as well? You can search for discounts via their website or in person, by visiting one of their travel agencies.
- If you are lucky enough to live in a state that has a theme park, you may also be lucky enough to receive residency discounts to entice you to visit! Though savings may vary from park to park, dollar amounts can add up when you are purchasing tickets for an entire family.
- Being an ultra organized planner can work to your benefit. By planning your trip in advance instead of purchasing tickets at the gate, you become eligible for a variety of discounts. Sea World is offering a discount to all U.S. Residents through the end of the year. A child’s ticket can be purchased for $5 for each full price adult ticket purchased. In addition, Sea World will donate the proceeds from the promotion’s child ticket purchases to the wildlife conservation project of your choice.
- Theme parks around the U.S. are saying thank you to those who protect our country, past and present. U.S. Military Veterans, both active and retired, can receive a variety of discounts from theme parks for themselves and family members. A valid military I.D. is needed for purchase.
- Anheuser-Busch theme parks offer the choice of one free day of admission for Veterans and up to three direct dependants.
- Disney offers room discounts as well as 4-day theme park tickets for $99 for up to six family members or friends, including the Veteran.
Choosing the right accommodations can mean the difference between a good and a bad vacation. Shop around, read reviews, and ask questions to make sure you are getting the best deal out there.
- Don’t forget about AAA discounts as mentioned above. You may be able to find deals on theme park’s on-site hotels!
- If possible, look for accommodations that offer free shuttles to and from the theme parks. This can help save money on expensive parking fees that people tend to overlook when budgeting for a vacation.
- An alternative option to a hotel stay is to rent an apartment or condo. Especially for those traveling with a family or a large group, this can mean more space at a lower price. You’ll also be able to prepare and keep some of your own foods to avoid excess food expenses.
A cost that consumers complain about time and time again in regards to theme park travel is the cost of food and drinks in the park. Planning ahead can not only save money, but also offer healthier alternatives to typical theme park offerings.
- Check to see if your accommodations offer a refrigerator in the room. Keeping your own food and drinks on hand can save money on snacks and even breakfast in the room before you start your day. Even if you will be charged a fee for the refrigerator, weigh the amount of the fee against the savings of bringing your own food and use that to determine if the added charge is worthwhile.
- Pack a small bag to bring to the theme park with you. Be sure to include non-perishable snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, and nuts to snack on throughout the day. You’ll save on the high priced snacks, avoid extra lines, and eat healthier!
- Speaking of health, try bringing your own bottled water to the park with you in your bag. You can refill it at water fountains around the park for free. The water will keep you both hydrated and full, so you’re less likely to snack.
Traveling with children can get expensive when parents buy all the souvenirs their children can dream of. Setting an equal budget for each traveler in advance can help deter the excess costs. This won’t work if you don’t stick to your guns, so be firm. Allowing the kids to choose their souvenirs themselves, as long as they stay within budget and your guidelines, can help teach them the value of money; an important tool for all kids to learn young!
Tough economic times don’t have to mean forgoing time away with your family. Visiting a theme park can be a fun and memorable experience for all ages; the key is to plan ahead and research your options.