Theme parks are often selected for family days out by parents since they usually appeal to all members of the family. Such trips can be devastating to the family bank balance however – the cost of entry tickets, parking, food and drinks, souvenirs and amusements could total more than $200 for a family of four!
It does not have to be this way however. Heed the following advice to take your own children to amusement parks without burning such a big hole in your pocket…
Use BOGO Vouchers for Park Entry
I am always amazed at the number of people that I see paying the full admission price when visiting a theme park despite the fact that BOGO (or; buy one get one free) vouchers are nearly always available. Many newspapers and confectionary brands often print these vouchers but if you are unable to locate one yourself, theme park coupons are forever showing up on the likes of eBay (and are likely to cost you less than a dollar!) I have also sourced some printable coupons in the past by simply completing a search in Google with the query “buy one get one free [name of theme park].”
Other vouchers which might prove useful are those that allow one kid to “go free” with every full paying adult.
Take a Packed Lunch
Treating the kids to a day out at an amusement park might see you taking advantage of one of the fast food restaurants that are located on-site but if you are trying to save yourself money then this really is not a good idea. This is especially true because fast food eateries located in amusements parks are much more expensive than usual – with meals around 35% dearer you really do pay for the convenience!
Bringing a packed lunch really is the cheapest solution for theme park hunger – just be sure to pack items which do not need refrigeration/could inadvertently explode in your rucksack (yogurts might be one example). Very few theme parks have the rule of ‘no outside food’ but if your selected park does comprise this rule, be sure to choose a quiet spot in which your family can chow down on their sandwiches and fruit.
Give Each Child a Fixed Amount of Money
You might think that issuing your children with their own money for your family day out at the theme park isn’t a way to save money but believe me; it is! Pester power could see parents agreeing to pay out whenever one of their kids asks for an iced treat, a souvenir ride-photograph or to have a go at winning themselves a prize on one of the many amusement stalls which litter the park. These purchases soon add up and so it is a wiser idea to give each of your children an amount (I recommend around $12) each to spend on sweets and/or memorabilia throughout the day.
This will not only teach young children about the value of money but the added responsibility – and resulting nod towards their maturity – should see them spend the day well behaved. It is imperative not to give your children any further money once they have spent their day’s pocket money.
Car vs Train: Do the Math!
People often forget about the additional cost charged for car parking by some theme parks. Leaving the car at home might be one way to avoid this charge but travelling by public transport could actually turn out to be more expensive than petrol and parking combined (especially if you’re travelling during peak times).
The simplest way to figure out which of the options will be cheaper for you is to check out train fares in advance online. Booking train tickets online can see you save a significant amount too – the further in advance you book; the larger the fare saving is likely to be. Compare the total rail (or alternative public transport) fare for your family to the estimated fuel and parking cost and your best option should become clear.