Frugal Tips for Visiting Theme Parks

Coming off an exhausting vacation of chasing down overstuffed characters at the “Happiest Place on Earth” I thought it prudent to cover a few of the things you can do to cut down on your costs, and time in line, at theme parks. My own personal experience was with Disney World but the same concepts apply for any theme park.

  1. Cinderellas_Castle_NightBring your own Water – When we first got to Disney it was pushing 100 degrees, water wasn’t an option it was a necessity. Thankfully we had the foresight to stop by a grocery store before checking in and picked up some bottles of water. We would fill the bottles at night and keep them in the fridge (if you have a freezer even better). We would pack them up in our backpack and then throughout the day we could drink for “free” at the parks. Bottled water would cost you a fortune and the water fountains have been handled by half of the world.
  2. Eat Breakfast Before you go – We picked up granola bars and fruit to keep in the hotel room, this allowed us to eat breakfast before we went to the parks eliminating the need to eat at a quick service spot for at least one of the three daily meals. You could even extend this to include sandwiches brought in to the park for lunch.
  3. Bring Snacks – Let’s face it you are going to get hungry as you walk around for 12 hours chasing down Winnie the Pooh, or waiting in line for the Dumbo ride. Why pay $6 for a turkey leg when you could have brought bags of chips, trail mix, or beef jerkey in your back pack.
  4. Get on the Wagon – One of the largest expenses you are likely to incur on your trip is the cost of beer or other alcohol. Your resort, and the parks, are going to charge you an arm and leg for a beer. I was paying, and yes I did pay it, $5.25 or more PER beer. I can buy a 12 pack of Yuengling for $10, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do the math on that one. Either don’t drink at all or wait till you get back to your room to hit the stash you brought with you.
  5. Time Your Trip Right – My wife and I are in a pretty good position right now, we don’t have any school age children so we can hit the road anytime we have enough vacation stored up at work. The biggest advantage is avoiding peak travel times to places like Disney World. Not only are the crowds lighter but they will most likely be offering specials to entice you to come during that time. Disney is running a special now where if you stay on property for a certain number of nights they will give you the dining plan for free.
  6. Be Prepared – Check the weather and be prepared ahead of time. If the weather calls for rain make sure you are prepared for it and purchase your umbrella and some poncho’s before you leave town.  It is going to cost you about half as much if you purchase these items at the store instead of at the park and if you are prepared you can still be getting around while everyone else is ducking for cover.
  7. Make a Friend on the Inside – OK so this one may not be as easy to do but it will save you the most money. If you have a friend or relative who works for the company you can save big dollars. Free admissions to the park as well as possible discounts on hotel rooms and other park amenities. I can assure you it is a pretty nice perk.

Let us know of anything I missed by leaving a comment with your own tips.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SailboatFamily May 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm

This year Disney is allowing guests to enter their theme parks free on the guests birthday. Not only that, but you get a nice button announcing to the world it is your birthday. Keeping the button on not only gets you plenty of “Happy Birthdays!”s, but many of the vendors give you free things. For example, on my birthday I went, I got a free Mickey helium balloon ($6), a Mickey Mouse Ice Cream ($4), candy on a stick ($2), and some stickers ($1). Free admission plus free stuff plus lots of people to celebrate my birthday with…. now that’s a frugal way to visit the Mickey theme parks.

SailboatFamily’s last blog post..Speed Costs In Unexpected Ways

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2 FFB May 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Do your homework online! For Disney, mousesaversDOTcom is a great resource for discounts. We were able to research hotels as well as get discount tickets because of them.

Plan out what you want to do before hand. We made itineraries for each day of what we wanted to accomplish/see. We had must-see’s as well as would be nice but could live without.

Find out of you can leave and come back – Disney is great for this. We went in the morning, went back to hotel for lunch/break, then went back in the evening.

FFB’s last blog post..The Time I Found A Fraud Credit Card Charge

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