Surviving the Amusement Park: Family Friendly Tips to Save Money This Summer

Guest writer, Hilary Smith

It seems that kids wait impatiently all year in school for that final bell that signals the beginning of the summer vacation. For many children, they dream of going to places like Disneyland, which may be the happiest place on earth, but it’s also one of the most expensive. Even when taking advantage of coupon codes and other discounts, families can still expect to average around $200 a day per person for this pricey adventure.

There’s many other ways to visit amusement parks for much less, not to mention local state and county fairs. Here are some ways we can save some serious cash without disappointing the kids:


Many theme parks offer some generous off-peak savings when it comes to attending the park during times that are less visited. Not only will the venue be much less crowded, you’ll save big at the same time. Take the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for example, the summer of 2015 offers:

      On Mondays and Tuesdays after 5:00 p.m., Pepsi ® is sponsoring Retro Nights where the price of their drinks, the amusement rides, cotton candy and hot dogs are all reduced to only a buck each.

      After 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, bring an empty Pepsi ® can to the park and get unlimited rides for only $12.95 plus tax.

They also offer a number of other events that are inexpensive or no cost, like their free movies on the beach and live bands, both on Friday nights. Search for these kinds of special deals in your area and during off-peak times, enjoy less people and more fun with your family.


If you’re suggesting a trip to your local county fair for some family fun but your kids are complaining they’ve already been there “a billion times,” research other counties in your area that have similar festivities at an unfamiliar location. The same goes for off-peak discounts, often these can be  available at these venues as well. Look for other nearby, inexpensive, fun family activities like water parks, rodeos, sporting events, wildlife parks and other amusing locations.



Instead of a standard to-do list, don’t forget your “bring-it” list to avoid buying these items at insanely expensive prices once you’ve arrived at your destination. They include necessities like:

     Sunscreen, sunglasses and hats
     Aspirin or other type of pain reliever
     Plenty of water in a reusable bottle


Almost all theme parks will disallow outside food on the premises in order to force you into purchasing their over-priced and often unhealthy meals. This doesn’t mean that a clever Mom can’t slip a few healthy snacks like granola bars into her purse or bag. There’s also the option of loading up an ice chest with some pre-made meals and beverages that are better tasting and good for younger appetites when compared to park food.

With a little planning and research, just like kids doing their homework, you’ll get an A+ passing grade on your amusement park getaway.

Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.


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