7 Ways to Save at Amusement Parks

Blog | July 31st, 2013

7 Ways to Save at Amusement Parks

Kelly Kehoe is a staff writer for Money Street Smart and works with, a site full coupons and coupon codes. 

Summer is the most popular time to visit amusement parks.
The kids are out of school and employees are using their vacation time to visit
exciting destinations such as Disneyland, Disney World, Universal Studios, Six Flags,
Legoland, Sea World and more. Unfortunately, amusement parks have become quite
expensive in recent years and even a single day at one of the aforementioned
parks could cost a family of four well over $500 (not including added costs,
such as transportation or accommodations).

Instead of breaking the bank for a fun day at the amusement
park with your family, you could save a bundle with these tips.

1. Check Online for
Admissions Discounts

As you start planning your vacation, check online for admissions
discounts before purchasing the tickets. Many amusement parks offer discounts
to military members with valid I.D., local residents, AAA members, and children
under three years of age. Some parks, such as Six Flags, also offer discounts
for purchasing tickets online and printing them at home (Six Flags also offers
discounts for tickets bought three or more days in advance).

Most parks offer group discounts for high-quantity ticket
purchases, but smaller groups or individuals can generally avoid paying the
full admission price by simply Googling “theme park ticket discounts.”

For more information on saving at major amusement parks, is a great resource for both
Disney and non-Disney attractions.

2. Go Later in the Day

Some theme parks offer discounts on admission and/or parking
if you arrive later in the day. For example, Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern
California offers discounted admission prices after 4pm. Also, Universal
Studios (both in Hollywood and Orlando) offer discounted parking later in the
afternoon. Although you won’t arrive before the crowds, you’ll be able to save
money at some amusement parks by arriving later.

3. Find Coupons

Some theme parks offer coupons, even during the busy summer
months. Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags generally have partnerships with outside
vendors that offer coupons for
admission to these parks. For major amusement parks (such as Disneyland and Disney
World), coupon opportunities are more rare.

4. Park and Walk

Parking at amusement parks is borderline ridiculous. Most
major parks charge in upwards of $15 or more just for general parking (don’t
get me started on valet or “preferred parking”). If you don’t mind walking or
taking public transportation, you could potentially find free parking offsite
and make your way to the park by foot or pay a low fare for a bus/shuttle that
will drop you off near the entrance.

5. Bring Your Own
Water, Food

Why pay $3+ for a mere bottle of water or soda when you can
bring your own? Amusement parks generally do not allow glass containers, but
you can save big bucks by bringing your own drinks. For best results, wrap them
in foil and put them in the freezer shortly before you leave your
accommodations so they’ll stay cold most of the day.

As for food, many parks charge over $9 or $10 for a simple
meal, but if you don’t mind carrying a heavier load, pack a lunch for yourself
and your friends and family. Protein bars and fruit also make for great snacks
to keep you going throughout the day!

6. Take Your Own Group

Many amusement parks have photographers posted at the main
entrance areas, ready to snap a snazzy photo of your family. While these are
undoubtedly high quality pictures, parks charge a pretty penny for these
precious memories. Unless you don’t mind paying the high prices for these
professional photos, simply bring a camera or smartphone and take pictures this
way. As for ride pictures posted on monitors: some parks forbid you from taking
pictures (not-so-subtly coercing you into paying for them), but others, such as
Disneyland, have open-access monitors where you can snap a quick pic of your
ride photo.

7. Avoid Souvenir

After a long day of rides, shows, and parades, you might
visit a souvenir shop. Amusement parks in touristy areas are notorious for
their high markups on everything from t-shirts to mugs and other souvenir
items, so if you prefer to save money over bringing home a mug or stuffed
animal that’ll eventually find its way to the back of the closet, ditch the overpriced
souvenirs and bring home photos and happy memories instead.