With everyone going back to amusement parks, how do you have a great time out and still save money?
I've got those tips for you and more in this episode.
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It's the middle of the summer, and everyone is trying to go to an amusement park and have fun. My family recently did the same thing, but it was such a potentially expensive outing. How do you maximize your fun and savings at the same time? We'll discuss that and more coming up. Welcome to the savvy Brown Girl podcast with Wendy Coop. Your number one destination for personal finance and entrepreneurship for savvy women. Welcome to Episode Four, where I will be talking all about amusement parks. But before I get to that, make sure you are subscribed to the podcast and shared with all of your savvy friends and family. I mean it Go Go share it right now. Oh, wait. Now, this past weekend, my husband and I joined some of my family on a trip to Kings Dominion amusement park in Virginia. And while I had a great time with everyone, I couldn't help but think how savvy women can maximize their savings and time when it comes to planning trips like this. And we know we're the ones planning the trips, right? Like that's not a secret. So let's look at seven ways to maximize your next trip to an amusement park. First, let me say cost will vary depending on the size of your family, and whether or not you can find discounts before you arrive. Our costs were based on just me and my husband traveling without children. So tip number one, buy your tickets online in advance. Often the best deals are online via the parks website. But if you're a military family, check with your base recreation office to see if they offer a specially priced tickets if the park doesn't. Be sure to also look for any age related discounts for children or seniors. And even if you are on the parks website, make sure you poke around for that military discount, or just search the parks website for the term discount or special pricing and see what you can come up with just on the parks website before you go hunting anywhere else. And if you're planning on multiple days, going for multiple days, check out a season pass for even more savings. You know, if you live close enough, and you know you're gonna go three four times in a season, the season passes is gonna save you money in the end. Tip number do go during the week. These are often they're often deals for going to the park when it's less busy, which is good for you because it's less busy. Saturdays and holidays are going to be the busiest and everything may cost more during those days. Try to go Monday through Thursday for the best savings. But even if you can't, and you're still going on Sunday or holiday, make sure you look for all the savings possible just like I mentioned in tip number one. Tip number three, purchase the meal plan. Oh, this one might be a little controversial, because some of our family did not purchase the meal plan. But my husband and I chose to purchase it. So for the two of us the premium meal dine premium meal plan was $40 each. And it included a number of different dining options. So we weren't just stuck with pizza or hot dogs and french fries. In fact, I had none of that during my entire state and we were there from pretty much open to close. Also, the park had a number of vegetarian and vegan options for me included in the dining plan that I found just by searching the parks app. The app told me which dining spots had vegetarian and vegan options and it even told me exactly what on the menu was offered. So I knew when I was going there and wouldn't have to guess. Our dining plan also came with a souvenir cup with free refills. We could refill that cup every 15 minutes with delicious Coca Cola products, but including water, and we could use the meal plan every 90 minutes to eat. So once we added up what we would have paid out of pocket for the food and the refills, it was easy to see that we would have spent more than $80 out of pocket if we hadn't bought the meal plans. I think we ate twice and fill up our cups at least four times during during our stay. And I can only imagine how much more we would have saved if we had eaten more or had more people with us on the dining plan. Tip number four. Ditch the photo add on. Yeah, I know everyone wants souvenir photos but it's very tempting because they are professional photos if you're riding the roller coaster You want that nice shot with your arms in the air and your mouth wide open as you're screaming and sheer terror. But it just wasn't worth the extra money for us. One because Wendy doesn't ride roller coaster. And do. My husband just wasn't interested. I know there's going to be employees who will take your family photos for an extra fee. But, you know, you can just ask a kind stranger to take the photos for you. It's it's a thing. It's okay, you can do that. Just Just ask. Just ask. And your phone is free. So it's not like, you know, the last time I went to Kings Dominion in eighth grade, you know, and we were using disposable cameras with film in it. Okay. Yes, that's how old I am. So, use your phone, save the money. Unless you know, it's going to be a really awesome photo. Tip number five is carefully consider souvenir t shirts and other novelty items. It's pretty well known that everything at the park is going to have a hefty markup. So if you really want that particular item, go ahead and buy it. But there's some things that you're going to be able to find online outside of the park. But remember, if you're going to buy gifts, have a preset budget, especially if you're attending with kids, so that you know how much to spend. Another tip you might try with the kids is to limit it to say, one t shirt and one non t shirt like toy item. If you have an idea of how much these things are going to cost, or you can say everybody's going to get a T shirt on this trip or everyone's going to get a cup on this trip or everyone's going to get a key ring or something like that, or whatever thing you normally get from amusement parks make that the thing. But if you don't know souvenirs are going to be a huge budget buster. And five years from now, you'll you may not even have that shirt anymore. And you'll wonder why you even paid $25 for a T shirt. Now that I've thoroughly brought down the room, let's go back to Tip number six, which is buy your parking pass in advance. When we got to the park, there was a long line of people who had not purchased their parking passes in advance. I don't know why it was there. When you bought the tickets online, you it was an offering. It was like they took you through a very methodical process when you bought your tickets online. So you started with the emissions ticket. And then you added on things one at a time you add it on the meal plan, you decided if you wanted the souvenir t shirt, you decided if you wanted the fun pics, professional photo, and then it prompted you to also pay for a parking pass. So if you bought your ticket online, you would have seen this. But waiting in that long line would have been a huge time suck, and it takes away from your time at the park. Not only that, but it might cost more at the gate just like your admission tickets, like regular tickets for Kings Dominion at the gate are $70 we paid a little more than half of that for our military tickets. But for parking we paid $17 I don't even know what it would it would be at the gate. More than 17 I'm sure. And there were two options for parking passes in advance each within $3 of each other depending on how close you want to depart the gate. But if you got there early enough, you would be able to find great parking anyway. So buy your parking pass in advance. Don't wait that long line. And then Tip Number seven is upgrade to the fast passes. Now I know fast passes are a source of bad feelings and controversy for anyone who goes anywhere from Disney World to Kingston Manian to, you know, Knott's Berry Farm or whatever, wherever you go. Around here, we also have six flags in Hershey Park. And people think that it's crazy to buy a fast pass or Fast Lane pass or whatever it's called. at the park you're visiting. Because you should be able to just wait in line I guess, I don't know. But here's the thing. There was a ride called twisted timbers. That was a very popular ride at Kings Dominion. And on a Saturday like you know, we were there on a Saturday, obviously there's going to be a lot of people lines are going to be long. If you did not have a Fast Pass. It was going to take you an hour To get through the line through the two metal detectors, yes, there were metal detectors. And then finally, on to and through the ride in our cut that time, potentially in half with the Fast Pass, it lets you depending on the park, it will let you come in through a separate line, or essentially skip the line or come back at a particular time so that you don't have to wait in line. Because guess what you can do with all that time that you're not waiting in line. You can ride more rides, you can eat more food, you can catch a show at the park, you can sit take a break, you can do a bunch of other things. Rather than just stand and wait in line and who really wants to wait in line for an hour. Just put it in the budget. And this is one of those line items that when I mentioned things may cost more on the weekend. This was definitely one of those things that cost more on the weekend. And there were two versions of the past with a $15 difference. One lets you skip the queue on 10 rides, the other had 13 rides. Whatever you choose is up to you. I didn't get a fast pass because like I said, I don't do rollercoasters, but my husband got a fast lane pass. And it was worth every penny. He totally maximized his writing for that day. And I'm glad I didn't have to wait an hour for him to get on and off twisted timbers. Also, if you're already going to buy a season pass for admission, check to see if there's a season Fast Pass so that you don't have to get it every time you go to the park. I know there was for Kings Dominion. But wherever you're going Disney World Disneyland, great adventure. Wherever you're going, the rules might be different, so make sure you look in advance. Bonus Tip, download the park app, we found that it was a lot easier to navigate the park and fine dining options once I downloaded the app. So I could see which places took our dining plan. what my options were the apps, The app also had wait times listed for each of the rides along with a description of the rides. We could also store our tickets in the app, so I didn't have to print them at home. I printed them anyway for backup, but I really didn't have to everything was scannable in the app. So those are my best tips for saving money at an amusement park. So for the two of us, we paid about $271 for our tickets, parking, food and fast lane pass. Again, I can say we didn't lose money and we save time, hassle and money especially on dining by purchasing in advance and taking the time to plan our trip. I hope your next trip is just as enjoyable for you and your family. Thank you for listening to this week's episode. Be sure to subscribe and leave a review and your review could be featured on a future episode.