If you could save money at amusement parks, would you go more often?
Despite the naysayers, it’s not impossible to save money at amusement parks. In Part I of this article, I suggested ways to purchase discounted tickets. Here are a few ideas on ways to save cash once you’re actually inside the park… or at least in the parking lot.
Speaking of Parking…
Amusement parks are masters at extracting every possible dollar from you, so expect to be socked for parking if you drive yourself. It’s easy to spend $10-15 for a single day. Well, there are a few ways to get around this.
First: if you’re going to a big park, like one of the Disney or Universal jobs, consider staying at their onsite hotel. Often they’re literally in walking distance of the park, or will have a free shuttle service via bus or boat or monorail, depending. Sometimes you can even skip the lines on most attractions!
Even if you’re not staying in the park’s hotel, many hotels nearby will offer a shuttle service you can catch to the park entrance. Take advantage of this perk!
Inside the Park
Don’t buy anything inside the park when you can buy it outside… unless it’s an emergency, or you don’t mind spending a premium for it. Anything you really need – diapers, sunscreen, aspirin, snacks, even drinks – you should try to bring in with you. Nothing inside the park will be cheap.
Insofar as you can, schedule meals for before and after visits, too, because they’re especially expensive. If you must buy food, try to limit what you purchase, and share full meals between family members. That ought to tide you over until you can get back to the real world, which is expensive enough.
So How About Souvenirs?
Souvenirs are a special case. To some, they’re not such a big deal, especially since you can so easily capture the fun on camera these days. But to others, they’re a must. Most folks want to be able to prove that they visited the park, and a souvenir is also a great way to remind you of good times later on.
With souvenirs, you’ve got two options if you want to save money: you can either limit your souvenir purchases inside, or you can (possibly) buy souvenirs outside the park for less. The latter may seem cheesy, but what would you rather do: buy a $20 keychain inside Disneyland, or the same one for $10 outside?
Just think: if you save on souvenirs, you can buy an extra funnel cake or two… and hey, saving money at amusement parks always helps you pay your electric bill when you get home.