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Tip of the week: Buy your 2013 season passes in 2012

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Published: September 4, 2012 at 1:54 PM

On Tuesdays this fall and winter, we'll be offering a weekly tips column, featuring a money- or time-saving tip for visiting your favorite theme parks.

Now that we're into September, we're heading into the "off season" for the seasonal theme parks around the country. But just because kids are going back to school doesn't mean you should forget about theme parks. In fact, now's the time to buy passes for the 2013 season at the lowest rates you'll find them.

Knott's Berry Farm

Knott's Berry Farm has put its 2013 passes on sale, for just $66.99. The passes are good for every day of 2013, excluding after-hours events such as Halloween Haunt. A one-day ticket at Knott's now costs $57.99 at the gate, for comparison.

The 2013 season pass also includes a free one-day ticket for use before the end of 2012, and you can buy additional one-day passes for yourself for $9.99 each. Knott's passes also include discounts on food, merchandise and 2013 Halloween Haunt tickets. If you want free parking (normally $15), you can spend an additional $97 to upgrade to a Platinum pass (total cost: $164), but that also gets you free admission throughout 2013 to all Cedar Fair parks, including Cedar Point, Kings Island and Canada's Wonderland. (*See the comments for additional parking options.)

If you want to do the math to see if a season pass is a good deal for you (and I always encourage you to do the math!), Knott's is offering one-day tickets online for $33.99, if you buy at least three days in advance. If you miss that cut-off, you'll have to pay $2 more - $35.99 for the one-day ticket online. That means a Knott's season pass can pay for itself if you visit the park just twice in 2013. If you're planning to visit another Cedar Fair park in 2013 as well as Knott's, and will spend more than three days total visiting Knott's and other Cedar Fair parks, I'd absolutely go for the Platinum pass.

Knott's will raise the price of its 2013 season pass later, so if you've got the cash to spare and plan ahead, you can lock in a pretty good price now for the park, then not have to worry about paying for theme park tickets next year.

For readers around the country, what other parks are you seeing offering similar "early bird" deals? Please share them with the rest of us, in the comments. Thanks!

Readers' Opinions

From Brandon Townsend on September 4, 2012 at 2:08 PM
I got a Florida resident Seasonal Pass this past weekend for DW. I paid $120 down and only have to pay $20 a month for the next 11 months. There are a few block out dates, but not too many. I park hopped Saturday and Sunday which would have cost me $232, so I am ahead of the game already. And I'll be going back every weekend, so it is an awesome deal if you live close by.

I will be getting a similar deal for Universal this weekend. Man, I love Florida!

From 24.151.233.168 on September 4, 2012 at 3:39 PM
Dollywood is offering their 2013 passes at the 2012 price right now. They also had buy 4 passes save $20 and have a 6 month payment plan.
From 74.212.201.170 on September 4, 2012 at 3:44 PM
You can get parking on a Regular or Gold pass. It is not listed on the initial page, but if you go to buy, it will show you other passes. For example, the regular with parking is $121.99 or 6 Payments of $20.33. You don't have to buy the platinum to get parking.
From Mike Gallagher on September 4, 2012 at 3:45 PM
I bought my 2013 SF Great Adventure SP Sunday. Renewal was only 59.99, and included a free "upgrade" to Premium..Waterpark included. I've actually never been to GAdv's waterpark OR Safari, so ONE of those streaks will probably end in 2013. Guess which? I understand other SF parks are also offering a Gold pass, which apparently includes parking at other SF parks. GAdv is not offering that option, so I had to spring for parking. $60, valid only there. I was gonna wait until October to add parking, but I figured hey, it's SF..the price could jump to $80 tomorrow. It seems like a lot, but ya gotta realize it's $22 for daily parking, and I go at least 9-10 times a season. The Pass, natcherly(that was intentional, Dom!) is good at all SF parks.
From Anon Mouse on September 5, 2012 at 7:40 AM
There is still 4 more months left in 2012. I wonder why they don't offer a combo pass to include the 2012 and 2013 so you can use the season pass immediately.

As for price increases in 2013, based on previous experience, Knott's hasn't increased their prices when compared with Disney. It is barely 10% higher when I bought a season pass 2 years ago at $59.99.

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