Living in Florida & having great friends that work there- we often go to Sea World and Disney World. But because we are on a budget and go so frequently (yes yes, I know it’s nice!), we cannot afford to eat/snack at the theme parks when we go! Even if it were a one time vacation it is way out of our budget to eat at a theme park for a meal! A family of 4 could easily drop $60 on lunch! Even a “quick snack” will easily set you back $6 a person!
Here are some ways that we save money when heading to a theme park for the day:
Save $$ on Food/Drinks
- Pack your own lunch! Most parks now will let you bring in your own food so double check first. I know at Disney & Sea World you can bring your own food. Especially since my son has food allergies.
- Bring your own drinks- or a cup for water! Drinks can easily cost $3-7 depending on what sort of cup you get. Most places will put ice & water in your cup for you.
- If it’s a theme park you will visit more than once, consider ‘investing’ in their drink cups or popcorn buckets- refills are usually extremely cheap. We have cups & popcorn bucket for Sea World & refills are $.99 each as opposed to $3-7!
Save $$ on Parking
- Look for free parking. Parking can be quite expensive- running about $15 a park. Consider carpooling. Find out whether there is another lot where you can park and take a shuttle over. (Downtown Disney offers free parking, and you can hop on the Disney bus for free and go to any of the theme parks from there.)
- If you are going to a theme park that has liscenced characters (like Disney, Universal, Sea World, etc.) buy items beforehand at a retail store. Your kids won’t care! I’ve seen ALL sorts of Disney character toys and books at the Dollar Tree for a buck- at Disney, the same item would cost $5 or more! Want a shirt? Buy it at Walmart or Target or online BEFORE heading to the theme park. Present it as a gift to the kids the morning of the trip. Signature books- look for them online, or have the kids make their own special book for the characters to sign. Buy a large present before the trip, and tell the kids when they get home that Tinkerbell, Lightning McQueen, Mickey, or whoever left a gift at home for them. Consider buying items that are related to the park but not actually from there. For example-if you’re going to Sea World, instead of buying a $20 Shamu plush, buy your kid a killer whale or dolphin plush from Toys R Us or Walmart for $5 beforehand. Get creative!
- Give each child a certain amount of money. Tell them that is their spending money and once it’s gone that’s it! You don’t overspend and it teaches your child the value of money- even if they are little.
- Bring your own strollers/wheelchairs- rental for either of these runs you $10 & up!
Have some more ideas that I didn’t list here?? Leave a comment and let us know what it is!!!