Simple Savings: amusement parks

(Columbia) May 30, 2003 - A Consumer Reports survey almost 2500 people who visited amusement parks like Disney World, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens found people enjoying themselves.

Still, wouldn't they enjoy themselves more if they knew they got a best buy on their trips. More than 300 million people visited America's amusement parks last year.

Consumer Reports' survey turned up lots of tips on how to avoid some amusement park hassles and save money. The magazine's Tod Marks says, "There are many ways to save money on the price of an admission ticket to a theme park. In fact 70 percent of the people we surveyed paid less than full price for their tickets."

Marks recommends checking for incentives. Some parks offer annual passes for the price of a one-day ticket if you buy early. Another way to find cheaper park tickets is through parks' web site. Many offer a discount on tickets bought online and printed them at home.

Once inside a park, Marks says there are other ways to save, "Some respondents told us that the quality of food wasn't that good, that it was overpriced too. So, you can save money by bringing your own small snacks and bottled water. And another tip: you might want to bring film and sunscreen, because those items are very overpriced in most parks."

The survey showed people especially loved the shows and rides, but getting into them wasn't always easy. Crowded parks and long lines were two big complaints. Some ways to avoid the hassles: dont go in peak season. One of the least crowded times is between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Also, visit the most popular rides right after the park opens or just before closing. Travel light. Since large bags may have to be stowed before boarding a ride, consider a waist pack.

Buyers beware: The package deals for theme parks aren't always a bargain. If you leave the planning to someone else, you may end up paying for extras you don't want. Plus, package deals can also be hard to cancel.

posted 4:38pm by Chris Rees

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright @ 2003 Consumers Union of U. S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED