Few things are more fun to do as a family than visiting a theme park together. The roller coasters, games, rides and attractions give you a mini-vacation to remember. Unfortunately, your wallet is not likely to forget either.
Theme parks can be extremely expensive and a family trip can literally wipe out your entire summer budget if you are not smart about it. A large part of that is knowing what to avoid buying. Theme parks are expensive, but you can offset a great deal of the costs by picking and choosing what you participate in. Here are things to avoid purchasing at a theme park to have the most impact on your budget:
Right off the bat you can save money by buying your tickets ahead of time. Theme parks offer all kinds of discounts at retail stores, convenience stores, online sites and through the mail. If you know you are going to be heading to a theme park, start looking for advanced sale tickets and coupons months in advance. This alone will save you a fortune off of buying the tickets at the gate.
This is the most notorious item and they can make it kind of tough to avoid. Check ahead to see if they allow you to bring a cooler on site. If so, it is well worth your time to make a light cooler of food and drinks to bring along. That, or you could pay 5 bucks per soda all day long and cry about it. Pocket snacks like granola bars and other things that won’t melt also help to avoid the food expenses.
Photo Booth Pictures
These are terribly cute but a digital camera can kind of do the same thing. They commonly charge far too much for a simple picture and yet people seem to be drawn to it. If you want a picture that shows that you were there, get creative and shoot pictures of yourself all over the park. There are no shortage of options out there.
Do you really need that bobble head character for your dashboard? How about that foam finger that ends up buried in the garage and eventually sold at a yard sale for a quarter? Resist the urge to buy expensive souvenirs and instead focus that money on a second trip to the park at another time. That is great motivation for both you and your kids to focus on. Never buy those little trinkets. If you must buy something, get some postcards. This will keep costs low but still give you a token to collect each trip.
This is a catch all category that encompasses all rides, games and other things that cost extra at a theme park. Nothing angers a consumer more than to pay a high cost of admittance and then find out you have to pay extra for anything ride related. This is essentially extortion for parents with kids that want to ride everything. Stand up to the powers that be and pass on those rides. When you do, the company will eventually get the picture and provide that along with the price of admission. It might be a bit of a dream, but if enough people do it they will change the policy. Most of your better theme parks have already moved towards this as a policy.
Buying things at a theme park is simply not good business in general. Paying your money to get in should cover your costs in an ideal world. Until that is the case everywhere, you will have to pick and choose smartly where to put your dollars. These five items are a great place to start to save some vacation dollars.
What are some items you purchased at a theme park that you regret doing? Forgotten Items? Impulse buys?