Theme Parks on a Budget: It Can Be Done!

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Posted on 05/20/2009

You don’t have to be a millionaire to hang with Mickey. And you don’t need to pick up a part-time job to afford a trip to the theme parks this summer. You and your family can visit a theme park on a budget. Here are some tips for saving money and getting the most fun out of your funds.

Get More Fun for Your Money
There’s no denying that just getting into the park can be pricey. But try picking a day where you’ll get more out of your ticket. For instance, at Universal Studios Orlando visit the park during the summer concert series and you’ll get a free show from Jordin Sparks, LL Cool J or Natasha Bedingfield included in the price of admission.

Go On Your Birthday
In 2009, Disney is letting everyone celebrate their birthday by giving them a great gift– free admission to their theme parks! You have to go on your actual birthday and they will ask for proof.

Buy a Package Deal
There are plenty of package deals that will save you some serious cash. One example is the Southern California CityPass. You can visit five parks with one pass and save $106 off the combined entrance prices. This pass gets you in to Disneyland, California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld San Diego and either the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.

Get Tickets Online
You can save big bucks by purchasing tickets online rather than at the admission gate. Universal Orlando says they cut $30 off each ticket when you purchase online. For Universal Hollywood, buying tickets online gets you two days for the price of one. The deals at Six Flags vary depending on which location you’re headed to, but buying tickets online can save you at least $10. And at Busch Gardens, they’ve got online-exclusive deals including adult tickets for the price of a child’s admission.

Take Advantage of Being a Resident
Live in California or Florida? You’re in luck. Some of the best deals go to nearby residents. In California, enjoy two Disney parks for the price of one. In Florida you’ll save $50 off the gate ticket price at Universal Orlando.

Consider a Season Pass
Season passes may sound a little extreme, but most of the time if you plan on going to the park twice you’ll make your money back. Six Flags, for example, offers a season pass that’s just $20 more than the daily ticket. Plus you get up to five free tickets for friends and over $300 in discounts on food and fun.

Search Your Grocery Store
As summer approaches, theme park deals and coupons start making appearances in local super markets. Check frozen foods, soda cans and the cereal aisle for money-saving discounts at theme parks.

Make a Food Plan
Inside the parks, food can be expensive. One option is to bring a backpack stocked with snacks and water. If you don’t want to lug that around, search for food deals like the All You Can Eat Pass at Universal. It’s about $20 for adults when you buy it online and gets you all the food you want. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include beverages.

Print Coupons
Some parks offer online printable coupons. Do a quick search and you may find them for the park you’re interested in. Here’s a $10 off coupon for Legoland that can be used for up to six tickets. That savings adds up quickly for the average family.

By Alison Storm

Adidas - Comfy shoes for the family are a must, since you'll be on your feet all day. Use coupon code MEMDAY to cut up $15 off orders over $80, $20 off $100, or $30 off $130. Coupon expires 05/26/2009.

Drugstore.com - Do not, we repeat, do NOT, forget sunscreen and bug repellent before heading out on your trip! Be sure to check out the Drugstore.com summer sale for steals & deals up to 50% off regular prices. Sale ending unknown.

Six Flags - Use coupon code WOMANSDAY to buy a 1-day admission ticket on regular operating days & get a Kid's ticket free. Expires 06/30/2009.

* Hot deals expire quickly. This deal may no longer be valid.

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