Disney Alternatives: Smaller, Cheaper Theme Parks

Posted on 07/19/2013

There's no doubt: Disney dominates the theme park market. According to a study from Themed Entertainment, more than half of the 127 million theme park visits were to a Disney-owned property. A one-day ticket to Disney's Magic Kingdom is $95 for anyone over the age of ten. Throw in a park-hopper pass and you'll pay an extra $34 per person. That means a family of four could easily spend about $500 just to get into Disney for a day, not counting the cost of snow cones, hot dogs and souvenir mouse ears. Still want the fun of a theme park without having to apply for a second mortgage? Check out one of these smaller, cheaper Disney alternatives.

CedarPoint: Sandusky, Ohio
CedarPoint may not have Mickey, but it has plenty of other things you want in a theme park experience including the GateKeeper, the tallest, fastest and longest wing roller coaster in the world. Plus daily passes start as low as $44.99, less than half the cost of Disney. Save $10 off the regular gate price when you buy your ticket online at cedarpoint.com.

Knoebels: Elysburg, Pennsylvania
Knoebels is America's largest free-admission park. Parking is free, entertainment is free and so are the picnic facilities. You'll pay as little as $.75 to ride each ride. Or you can by an all-day pass for about $34. Go after 5pm and you'll pay just $20 for unlimited rides.

Busch Gardens: Wiliamsburg, Virginia and Tampa, Florida
Busch Gardens is another very popular theme park. At the Williamsburg location a day-pass for anyone over the age of ten is $70. In Tampa it's $79, or you can pay an extra $10 and enjoy free food all day.

Six Flags: Various Locations
Six Flags is the fifth most popular theme park in the US in terms of attendance. Buy your tickets online in advance and you'll save quite a bit of cash. An online ticket is $46.99, a $17 savings. Buy it at least three days before you come and you'll save an additional $5.

Dollywood: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Dolly Parton knows how to have a good time. Experience the Smoky Mountain Family Adventure known as Dollywood. A one-day ticket to Dollywood is $57, or just $45 for kids 11 and under.

Schlitterbahn Waterpark: Galveston Island, Texas
Make memories while beating the blistering heat at Schlitterbahn Waterpark in Texas. When you buy tickets online one-day admission is $67.97 for people between the ages of 12 and 54. It includes a custom beach towel, souvenir bottle and free fountain drink refills. That's something you won't find at Disney.

By Alison Storm

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Posted on 07.20.13 at 7:23 AM

Who goes to a theme park for just one day? Especially one that's as HUGE as Walt Disney World? For a single day, Walt Disney World is NOT an economical destination, but as soon as you add a second or third day, the value increases meteorically!

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