Vote of the week: Which is your favorite theme park vacation discount?
We've been talking about ways to afford a family theme park vacation on a tight budget
, and we've seen Disney and Universal theme parks offer aggressive discounts
in an attempt to entice you to book, despite the souring economy.
But which discounts tempt you most? That is today's vote of the week.
Now, I know that the devil is in the details here. Often, it's a question of how much of a discount, or how many night free that prompts someone to hit the "Reserve Now" button on their browser. But I'd like to get a sense, from you, which type of discount gets your attention, absent specific numbers.
Here's what we're talking about - options that are being offered by various major theme parks:Straight-up ticket price discounts, with no minimum required
Free days added to your ticket when you buy a minimum number of days
Hotel room rate discounts, again, with no minimum stay
Free hotel nights added when you buy a minimum number of nights
Free meals, either for kids or for the whole family
Free ground transportation, such as bus transport or rental car
Free gift cars, for buying stuff in or around the park
Free additional front-of-line access on rides and shows in the park, not available to other visitors
Free special access to rides, shows or characters, such as early openings and reserved character dinners, available only to select guests
Tell us in the comments about what parks can do - and have done - to motivate you to book.
Theme park prices are theme park prices. I think most of us kind of accept that there isn't a whole lot you can do there. So when you think Disney you think $$$$ and when you think Cedar Point you think $ or $$. So to me the greatest discounts come in the areas of transportation and lodging. That's where I always look to get the most value. So I picked the hotel discounts. I just got a great deal for our trip in June and it's making me even more excited which I didn't think was possible. :)
We booked the buy 4 get 3 free deal from Disney. This really caught our attention and could not have come at a better time for us. With this great of a discount we decided to go all the way and booked deluxe rooms and went ahead with a deluxe dining plan. To me, offering free lodging and tickets is such a nice perk. I even looked at the prices if we booked the same without using the discount and it was saving us well over $2,000. Not bad, not bad at all.
For my family of five, the annual free dining plan offer is the key at WDW. I can save around $1000 - $1200 for a week's stay. Conversely, the buy 4 get 3 free deal saves my family about $450 at Port Orleans Riverside.
Transportation has always been Disney's strong suit. They even pick you up at the airport. For DVC members, its free!
Since we live a little more than an hour from Orlando and Tampa, we don't stay at any of the resorts for more than a night or two, so the vacation and dining packages don't really affect us. What I like are the ticket discounts offered to Florida residents. You can't beat the "Pay for a day, come back all year" offers at Busch Gardens Africa and Seaworld.
I don't necessarily like the free front of line/special privilege promos. If they are popular, then there is a wait in the special lines! Sometimes they have you come at a particular time of day. Same thing with the birthday promo.
Personally, I'm all for the hotel discounts. Mostly because, well.. you spend so much more on hotel than you do on anything else. We're currently planning an all-around Orlando trip, and we found it was cheaper to stay five nights in a Disney hotel than it is to spend three (which is how many days we were going to visit Disney) in a Disney hotel, and two at a Universal hotel.
Resort hotel discounts, on property or in an exclusive relationship with the parks. WDW and DL are great examples where dollars saved on lodging translate into dollars spent in parks.
My favorite discount involving theme parks are the annual pass offers that Universal usually advertises--either a free year or half year with a Coke can or Burger King meal. If Disney offered something like that, I'd jump on it in a millisecond.
Unsurprisingly the votes are pretty well spread on this one.
I find it interesting that respondents prefer the bonus days on the ticket, but prefer the discounts up front on the hotel. (Though it didn't surprise me that people preferred the hotel discounts to the ticket discounts, overall.)
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