Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fun on a Budget: Surprise Savings in the Amusement Park

Even at a theme park, you can spend less and still have lots of fun. We found some great deals at Busch Gardens in Tampa. Some of the savings are no-brainers, but other thrifty deals took us by surprise. Here's are our frugal finds:

  • Cheap ice cream: Don't assume that prices are the same at every stand in the park. Here's what happened to us: Near the main entrance we found a stand with a two-for-one ice cream special. The sales person told us that the price drops toward the end of the day. In the summer, when the park closes at 9 p.m., the price of ice cream drops by 4 p.m. Not all stands cut prices, but it was standard procedure at the stand just outside of the main gate. As such, we purchased four ice cream pops for $1.50 per item.

  • Affordable lockers: Shop around for lockers when you are in amusement parks. We carry a small backpack stuffed with food, snacks, water bottles, sunscreen and other creature comforts. It's a money-saving option. Rather than toting the bag around, we rent a small locker for safekeeping. At Busch Gardens, we found different prices for lockers. Outside of the park - near the ticket gate - lockers cost $6 to rent, with unlimited visits. But inside the park, we found smaller lockers for 50 cents. Of course, each visit to the smaller locker required another 50-cent toll, but even three visits cost $1.50 versus the $6 rental for the other lockers. Plus, the smaller lockers were more conveniently located.

  • Water fountain: We were surprised to find that the water fountains at the park were cold and tasty. This was a budget-friendly option when our water bottles ran out. (We had purchased bottled water before going to the park.) Before recycling our water bottles, we used the water fountains for several cool, quick-and-easy refills. This strategy saved us at least $30 during the course of an eight-hour trip to the park.

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Sharon is the author of the Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money -- a coming of age memoir about money -- and a contributing writer in Wise Bread's 10,0001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.

1 comment:

Mandi said...

Instead of using the water fountains you could always go up to most of the restaurants and ask for a cup of ice water... for free... it helps beat the heat better than the water fountains at Busch... for some reason (at least the ones in Williamsburg) tend to be on the warm side.