EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 25, 2014

Tips for saving money on a theme park visit


Some parks partner with stores or products. Look for Six Flags coupons on Coke cans, or enter the promo code “coke” if you’re buying Six Flags tickets on Sixflags.com. Fans of Pennsylvania’s Hersheypark can get coupons this month at participating Burger King, CVS and Subway locations; Giant Food stores in four states sell discount Hersheypark tickets too.

FOOD AND DRINK: Some parks let you bring food and drinks in; others don’t. You can always bring a collapsible water bottle and fill it from a fountain.

If you’re not parked too far away, plan a tailgate picnic at mealtime.

At Walt Disney World in Florida, guests can bring a small cooler — no bigger than 24 inches long by 15 inches wide by 18 inches high — as long as it’s not on wheels and doesn’t contain any glass bottles or alcohol. Rent a locker if you don’t want to carry it all day.

If you don’t mind sharing, the supersized drink is always a better deal than small cups. Some parks offer large souvenir cups with free refills.

PARKING: If you’re flying to Orlando or California and plan a multi-day visit to Disney or Universal, consider the cost of car rentals, gas and parking when pricing hotels. Even if rooms are cheaper away from the park, you might save money (and time) staying at a park-run hotel with free shuttles to and from the park. Packages at park-run properties may include other incentives, like meal discounts and extra hours at the park.

Elliott notes that “time is money” at a theme park. The longer it takes to get into the park from your car, the less time you have for rides.

EXTRAS: Before you go, make a budget for extras. Give the kids $10 or $20 each to blow as they please, but once you set the limit, don’t budge.

Alternatively, declare all extras off-limits. Stay out of gift shops, ignore pricey souvenir photos of screaming kids on roller coasters, say no to activities with additional fees like carnival games, bungee-jumping and ziplining.

PACK WELL: Avoid rip-off prices in the park. Bring sunscreen, camera supplies and rain ponchos from home.

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