There's no doubt about it. Whether it's Disneyland, LEGOLAND or Universal, theme parks can be expensive. And even more so when you've got the whole family in town. If you're headed to one of the theme parks and looking for ways to save, we have the best tips and tricks to make sure you get the best deal possible and save on your theme park vacation.
Look for parks that offer discounts on annual passes via presale options. For example, LEGOLAND New York Resort recently launched its limited 1st to Play passes. Set to open in spring 2020, those that opt to purchase now will receive a preview day of the park, a year of admission, and discounts at the onsite themed hotel.
Check online annual and one-day admission passes over the holidays. Many parks runs discounts when you purchase passes for upcoming visits over holidays like Cyber Monday, Labor Day and the 4th of July so families can enjoy the attractions for less.
Courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort
Offering stay and play packages, seek hotels that partner with nearby attractions for special pricing and VIP perks. For example, the offsite Hilton Orlando offers a Universal Orlando package that is complete with early park admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a $20 Uber credit toward daily transportation.
Sometimes the best perks are in a family’s own backyard as smaller, regional parks sometimes have the best prices for a large number of attractions. Many local theme parks offer tons of attractions and rides, plus water parks, games and live shows that will keep the kids entertained all day. Passes to these parks are frequently less than $50, making them a great value. And, if you happen to be a resident of a state with big theme parks, don't miss out on resident discounts. Florida residents, for example, get cheaper pass options to many of the major theme parks, including Disney World and Universal.
If you’re a big fan of a park or theme, purchase an annual pass to save on ticket costs and receive exclusive benefits. For example, LEGOLAND Discovery Centers across the country – including Boston, Westchester and Philadelphia – offer annual passes (which pay for themselves in less than two visits!) for families to NOT ONLY save on LEGOLAND Discovery Centers’ multiple build & play zones, 4D cinemas and rides, but also get 15% off LEGO’s for brick-loving kids in the gift shop and 20% off food in the themed café. Similarly, Disneyland Annual Passport comes with benefits like discounts on food and merchandise, and Universal's seasonal and annual passes also include discounts on hotel stays.
Popular winter destinations are transforming into year-round adventures for families, often offering hotel bundles or pass packages for rides and associated parks. One great place to check out for winter is Greek Peak Mountain Resort is not only a state-of-the-art ski resort, but also a kids’ fun hotspot with its Outdoor Adventure Center featuring a Mountain Coaster, a eurobungy, ziplining, and seasonal snow tubing with year-round promotions. They even offer a Family Fun Package with a three night stay, unlimited coaster rides, and access to the onsite Cascades Indoor Waterpark with a wave pool, four water slides, a cove and hot tubs for the whole family to enjoy starting at only $60 a person/night.
Obviously the theme parks are most crowded during the usual school breaks and not only will you hit extreme crowds, but ticket prices also go way up. If you're able to go during at a less conventional time that's always best for savings, but even if your only option is over summer break you can still be strategic. Early August, for example, tends to be less crowded than say mid July and you might still be able to cash in on slightly cheaper tickets.