It seems we are smack in the middle of amusement park season. I've heard from readers heading to Cedar Point, Holiday World, Disney, Universal and of course, Six Flags.
But trips to theme parks can be hard on the family budget. Here are some tips for saving money at amusement parks from Family Vacation Critic.
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 web sites 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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