7.11.2012

How to Save Money at the Fair or Amusement Park

Since it’s summer, I thought this post would be appropriate. Whether you are heading to the water park, Disneyland, amusement park, fair, or other fun place where they sell really expensive stuff and overpriced admission tickets, then this post was written for and is dedicated to YOU!

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Last week, we went to the fair and to the Safari Park. We’re going to Disneyland and California Adventure on Friday so I wanted to share my tips as well as keep this as a reminder for future reference.

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PLAN AHEAD! Bet you didn’t see that one coming huh? I am obviously a huge planner.

Tickets:

If you walk right up to the front gate of any amusement park, the price is at sticker price. Sometimes they have discounts like if you are in the military, but most of the time the deeper discounted rates are not available.
For the fair, we bought our tickets at Albertson’s. The prices were cheaper of course! I also saw some package deals that included admission tickets as well as a parking pass and ride tickets at Costco (but they were sold out already once we wanted to buy ‘em).
If you’re going with a huge group, I’m sure that there is always an opportunity to get a group discount.
The internet is your friend. Be careful to find only legit sites that sell tickets, or mention deals. If you have to, check out Craigslist, but again be careful.
Check with friends and family! My co-worker’s friend works at a radio station so they always get free tickets, and my other co-worker’s daughter works at Pepsi so they have extra tickets to hand out sometimes. It doesn’t hurt to ask right?
We actually got our Safari Park tickets for free (a savings of over $100 total) since we mentioned it to the BF’s mom. She went there recently with her friends, so she had free guest tickets. She also had a free parking pass!

Parking:

They usually get you with parking. Scope out the parking situation beforehand, if possible. I’d say $10 for all day parking is usually “cheap” but in some cases I have seen $25/per day or if parking fill ups, the neighboring lots will usually be much more expensive. If needed, you can also park in nearby neighborhoods for free.

Clothes:

I’m not sure about you, but I always bring extra clothes with me. If you don’t feel like carrying an extra pair, bring some in your car. You never know when you’ll want to change out of your walking shoes into flip-flops or vice versa.
You never know if you dressed inappropriately for the weather and suddenly want to buy a tank top instead of dying in the heat with that t-shirt you wore (true story, this happened last Saturday and I almost bought a $22 tank top with a Safari Park logo on it).
You might get wet if you ride on some wet rides or you might get caught in a torrential downpour of rain. Just bring some extra clothes so you don’t feel like splurging at the gift shops if you come across that situation.
While you’re at it, bring some sunscreen, an umbrella, sunglasses, and whatever else you might need. Everything is always much more expensive inside these amusement parks.

Food:

I know most amusement parks and fairs I’ve been to actually allow outside food and water. Even if they aren’t allowed, I’m that person that always tries to bring some in (except at airports, I know the rules and I don’t bring bottled water).
We’ve saved a ton of money just by bringing our own water, candy, granola bars, and other snacks to munch on.
The only place that I don’t mind spending on food is at the fair. They have a lot of really good food vendors and this year they even had a bunch of food trucks there. Unless you are going somewhere for the food, most food at these places are overpriced. Slurpees at the Safari Park were $10! Burgers (crappy ones) were $10. It’s ridiculous.
You can also research and look for coupons before you get there, and try to find anything that will save you on food. In addition, if you buy a big lunch, try saving your leftovers and eating the rest later when you get hungry again after riding all those rides.

Memories:

Bring your own camera! Or use your camera phone. There are a ton of people that try to take professional photos of you and then add a little kitschy frame around it. These usually end up costing a lot vs. if you just printed out your own photos yourself.

Souvenirs:

Just like regular shopping, remember to think twice before buying souvenirs. Actually, think long and hard and ask yourself if you really, really need it. Could you buy it somewhere else? A lot of Disneyland souvenirs can be purchased elsewhere.
If it’s something that cannot be duplicated or replaced, like one of those cartoon artwork pictures of yourself…then maybe it is worth it!


Do you have any other tricks or tips for saving money at an amusement park? 

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