The Penny-Pinchers Guide to Amusement Parks

Friday, August 13, 2004 10:43 AM
Thought this was an interesting article to share. There might be something there you didn't think of to save money on your trips. Not sure how you link but here goes... LINK. *** Edited 8/13/2004 3:33:52 PM UTC by Jeff***
Friday, August 13, 2004 11:29 AM
Articles like this always suggest bringing your own food, but to me, eating junk is a good part of the fun. How often do you get a chance to buy funnel cakes and corn dogs?
Friday, August 13, 2004 11:34 AM
People who try to be cheap at amusement parks very much miss the point, I think.
Friday, August 13, 2004 11:36 AM
i am with Den on the food, I myself have been waitning all summer long to get a corn dog from Kennywood. Next week i will be able to get one. Everything else is good though, it could help some people.
Friday, August 13, 2004 12:05 PM
I like this one: "Consider investing in a guide" so you can save money by buying a book that contains information you can get for free on the Internet. good advice ;) I'll eat the junk food, buy the souveniers, and stop obsessing about every dollar. It may be more expensive, but it's a lot more fun.
Friday, August 13, 2004 12:12 PM
Well, Jeff said it first, so I don't feel I'm being so negative or mean here.

That article really should be subtitled something like:

"or how to go to the park and not have fun"

or maybe just rename it:

"The Stick In The Mud Guide to Amusement Parks"

Seriously though, I'm all for cutting costs on park trips, but not at the expense of the experience. And since this 'guide' seems to focus on a Disney vacation offering tips like buying a guide book, studying maps for 'can't miss' attractions and staying down the road for $50 a night - I truly think the author has no idea what the point of an immersive Disney vacation is.

Follow the advice in that article and you'll walk away wondering what makes a Disney Vacation so "special" - drop the cash to play the game and you'll walk away with lifelong memories.

(ok, that was cheesy, but true)

The rest of the tips exchange convenience for dollars.
Bring you're own food and/or a cooler? Maybe you won't have to study maps and make plans to hit all the 'big' attractions if you didn't waste time heading back to your car/hotel for every little bite and drink during your day.

Be alert for deals? Again, no map studying needed if you don't circle the park 3 times looking to save a buck or two on a quick bite to eat.

Buy in advance? Yes, those lame out of date souvenirs from that you bought before your trip will certainly help relive memories of your theme park trip - memories of missing rides and attractions because you had to leave the park 12 times during your day for drinks. Memories of walking right by rides and attractions and never getting on them because you were looking for the food that was a buck or two cheaper than the food you just passed.

Again, I'm all for cutting costs - just not at the expense of the fun. Liz Pulliam Weston needs to get the stick out of her ass, let go and have fun.

Friday, August 13, 2004 12:12 PM
Even if you wanted a guide in book form, you can get them from the library for free! Duh.
Friday, August 13, 2004 12:58 PM
I have to disagree with some here. If I don't eat amusement park food at bloated prices, it will not enhance my experience or detract from it either. I usually eat right before I enter the park and either go back to my car or hotel room for lunch that I packed. Then, maybe, I might eat one meal there at the park. As far as drinks go, I just buy them at the park or from hotel vending machines. I'm not saving tons of money, but it's probably better for me to eat what I brought instead of in the park.
Friday, August 13, 2004 1:10 PM

I truly think the author has no idea what the point of an immersive Disney vacation is

I agree. We used to stay off property in Orlando, but never again after our first stay at a Disney resort. I just can't imagine anyone having the full Disney experience without it. It's kind of like half of a vacation.

Friday, August 13, 2004 1:14 PM
it all depends on the trip here. When I drove 7 or more hours to get to PKD or Cedar Point, I was going for the whole deal. but when I take the kids to SFNE, our "home park", we bring lunch and cut costs. If its gonna happen once a summer or less make it worthwhile, but on the places I frequent, I am all about cutting costs.
Friday, August 13, 2004 1:14 PM

Jeff said:
People who try to be cheap at amusement parks very much miss the point, I think.

So do people who have money...and people who don't care about living their life in the red.

I don't want to turn this into a sociological discussion...But not everyone can "let go and have fun". Some people do have restraints in their life that don't allow them to let go".

Friday, August 13, 2004 2:11 PM
freakylick has a good point, and I agree.

But, you also have to realize the opportunity cost. Bringing food to the park IS NOT a free lunch. You might think you're saving $10 on lunch, but the truth is the sandwich you made at home, the candy bar and soda you packed, the veggies and dip, all cost a few bucks. Granted, nowhere near ten dollars! However, $3 might be more like it. Add in the hassle of carrying around food all day, or paying extra money and putting it into a locker (irony), and it's just not worth it. Now as far as staying on the property... it's worth it if the price is reasonable. But paying $500 or $1000 a night is assinine (I do recognize that the author likely picked the most expensive rooms during peak time to help sensationalize her story).

One time some friends of mine didn't want to pay outragous food prices at the park, so they picked up combo meals at Subway on the way over. Figure that one out!

I'm all for finding discount admission tickets, as that really isn't that difficult and can really save a lot of money for a family of four.
*** Edited 8/13/2004 6:12:45 PM UTC by Danimales***

Friday, August 13, 2004 2:40 PM
Danimales is dead on - especially on the food thing. Is saving $5 or even $10 over the course of your day really making that much difference? And if it is, what are you giving up in return for that savings? Convenience? Time? Effort?

And yes, she did sensationalize the on-site resort thing too. You can stay at WDW's 'value' resorts next month starting at $55 a night.

It seems many people compare dollar vs dollar, but I find myself comparing dollar vs convenience or dollar vs experience most of the time.

To me saving a few bucks in exchange for lugging food around or stashing food somewhere or repeated trips to the car to get the food, just isn't worth the price I pay in convenience. The simplicity of just eating in the park is worth more than the extra dollars I spend. The experience of saving time, satying in the park all day, etc is worth more than the extra dollars I spend.

If I visit Universal, I can stay at a multitude of hotels for a fraction of the coast of the onsite hotels, but I lose a lot more in time, convenience and all the other "intangibles" that come with it. I choose to spend the money instead.

To me it's more complicated than $5 vs $10 (or whatever) in the end.

However, that is just my current situation. I've been in the other end of the boat for most of my life - where the dollars do matter and even then this article is far from useful. Also, back then we tended to take only one or two single park trips and still exchange the money in return for the other variables rather than hassle with the details and take trips to many parks.

I'd rather have one or two exceptional park trips than a half dozen 'not-so-great' ones. Perhaps it's just my nature to opt for quality over quantity?

Friday, August 13, 2004 3:02 PM
Chances are, though, that a lot of the stuff you take with you was already in the fridge. So, it's not like you had to set aside other money just for a trip to the store for amusement park food. So, in effect, you are saving money by eating the items that were already there that would not have been eaten since you were out of town. I don't find it to be a huge inconvenience to walk my butt out to the car for a meal. I'm not saying don't buy any food items in the park. I always buy my drinks in the park unless it is with a meal for which I packed specifically for that. I mean, a meal that I planned to eat outside the park.
Friday, August 13, 2004 3:07 PM
If you're dropping the cash for parking and admission, then spending a fraction more than that to get the most out of your visit (and your admission price) seems more than justifiable in my mind.

If you're living on such a tight budget that spending an extra $20 getting souvenirs actually at the park or eating park food is going to stretch your wallet, then what are you doing at an amusement park anyways?

Friday, August 13, 2004 3:18 PM
Gonch said what I was about to write. Experience and convenience, IMO, are very much worth paying for.

What I spend on one 3-day vacation could probably be used frugally to purchase three vacations of the same length, but I'm not about that. When I'm on vacation, I wanna have a good time, and if that equals living beyond my means for three days, so be it. That's what credit cards are for. As long as I can pay it off in a couple of months, I'm not going to worry about it.

Friday, August 13, 2004 3:25 PM
We usually bring our lunch to parks, not so much for the $ issue, but more for the nutritional factor. That way when I do have ice cream or something fried for a snack, I don't feel so horrible. And we always get free water instead of pop.
Friday, August 13, 2004 3:26 PM
well Drew, the difference in spending the extra $20-50 is my admissions for myself and my kids are free, thanks to season passes. so anytime we want to go to the park, we go. and if i pack lunch, which they would have eaten at home anyway, it only costs me gas. oh, and before you ask, the passes were a gift :)
Friday, August 13, 2004 3:35 PM

Canadas Coaster Drew said:
...If you're living on such a tight budget that spending an extra $20 getting souvenirs actually at the park or eating park food is going to stretch your wallet, then what are you doing at an amusement park anyways?

So are you implying that those of us that make minumum wage, go to college, etc. don't deserve to have a break from our busy stressed out lives? If you don't have a lot of money and you can have fun without spending hundreds of dollars then so be it. I have tons of fun at parks without buying a souvenier cup, keychain, and Hello Kitty backpack!

Another thing is that you don't put food in a locker. I have no idea who does that, but I sure don't. I eat before I get into the park so that I only have to go back out for lunch and dinner. It's nice to get away from the park and sit in my own vehicle and relax in the air conditioning. If I feel like it I will eat at a restaurant!

I drink water at the fountains to keep hydrated (I rarely drink pop anyways) and occasionally buy a treat like the fries at the potato patch in Kennywood. Hotels are a great deal when reserved well in advance. Camping is even more fun near the park because you can sometimes hear what goes on in the park at night! We are the masters of taking cheap trips but still having a great time. I have never been unhappy on any of the trips we have taken! Just being away from my house is enough for me but I guess some people are hard to please.

Friday, August 13, 2004 3:40 PM
I would say that if you buy souvenirs and food at the park, it will cost you more than $20.00. More like $50.00 or more. Also, what am I doing at an amusememt without the money to pay for bloated prices on souvs and food? Having a good time and not going broke or in the red. Maybe others see using credit cards as an option, but I would rather not use them. You're gonna get stuck for the interest to boot. Funny thing is, money really isn't even an issue for me when I go. But, I can see where other people might want to try and save a little money. And, I mean that I account for everything. I ususally even save a couple a hundred dollars in case something happens to my car.

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