Theme Park Insider

Vote of the Week: Will You Spend More on Your Vacation This Summer?

April 3, 2015, 10:19 AM · What are you doing for a summer vacation this year?

Are you visiting Walt Disney World? Universal Orlando? Are you coming to Southern California for Disneyland's 60th anniversary? Or are you visiting a regional amusement park? ("All of the above," of course, is a perfectly acceptable answer!)

Disneyland's castle
Disneyland's castle, getting its treatment for the 60th anniversary Diamond Celebration

No matter your intended destination, are you planning to do more on your vacation than you did last year? America's theme parks are hoping to lure you (and your money) with a line-up of new rides and shows this summer. This year's a little unusual in that none of the Central Florida theme parks are offering any major new attractions. That's left the top of the market clear for smaller, regional parks to step up and make a claim for your business.

Of course, a visit to a regional park typically costs less than a full-fledged Orlando theme park vacation. So that raises the question, "will you be spending more in your vacation this year than you did last year?"

It's not like people won't be visiting Orlando, of course. Many Harry Potter fans who stayed home during last summer's opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, fearing big, opening-season crowds, will be making their trip to Universal Orlando this year. And many devoted Walt Disney World fans wouldn't miss a summer visiting their "home away from home," whether Disney offers anything new or not.

If Orlando's not on your agenda this year, though, you will find much to enjoy at other parks around the country and around the world. We mentioned the 60th anniversary at Disneyland, with its new parade, fireworks and World of Color show. Rival Universal Studios Hollywood just opened its tricked-out Springfield land, and will debut a new Fast & Furious 4D encounter on its Studio Tour this summer. Six Flags Magic Mountain is building Southern California's first steel retracked wooden coaster, and is locked in a tight battle with Six Flags New England's new retracked coaster for our "most anticipated new coaster of the year" honor. And the Six Flags parks in Arlington, Texas and St. Louis are getting into the dark ride business is a big way, with the highly anticipated new DC Comics-themed "Justice League" shooter ride.

Is any of this enough to get you to open your wallet any wider than you did for your vacation last year? That's our Vote of the Week.


Tell us in the comments what you're doing differently this year, and why. And, as always, thank you for making Theme Park Insider part of your vacation planning!

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Replies (12)

April 3, 2015 at 11:54 AM · We went to Central Florida last year, so our vacations this year will be to regional parks (likely to include Six Flags St. Louis, Six Flags Great America, Holiday World, Cedar Point, Dorney Park, and maybe Knoebells), and will easily cost far less than last year's 11-day trip. Our entire "big" 11-day trip next month to St. Louis, Chicago, and Santa Claus (including airfare) for my family (wife and 5-year old) will probably cost less than just our admissions to WDW and UO were last fall. Now we're only doing 3 theme park days during this year's big trip (plus we only need to pay for admission to Holiday World since we have Six Flags Gold Season Passes) versus 10 theme park days last October, but the price differential is pretty striking.

We're probably going to wait until 2017 before going to Central Florida again, primarily because of the cost and lack of new things to do at those parks.

April 3, 2015 at 1:42 PM · This will be a big vacation year! The Husband and I will be spending just over a week in Japan. The real reason we are going it to experience Japan, but there will be at least one, perhaps two days at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort. Really hoping the hype is all true about TDLR.
April 3, 2015 at 6:28 PM · I'll be doing a lot less this year than in previous years due to dwindling disposable income. Going to Carowinds b/c I was able to find a roundtrip airfare of $105 and am still considering Six Flags Over Texas; only problem with the latter is that cheap flight on Spirit doesn't get into DFW until 2:44pm and has only a 68% on-time record, so that does not allow a great deal of time to spend at the park. May be able to make it to SFNE for Wicked Cyclone if I go to Hartford by train. Would love to return to Holiday World but fares to Evansville are pricey.
April 4, 2015 at 8:42 AM · My big spend was on Diagon Alley last year. It will just be regional parks for me until 2017.
April 4, 2015 at 10:18 AM · Rob,

If anything, the hype doesn't do those parks justice. Enjoy! (But arrive *very* early and be prepared to *run* at rope drop. S--t gets real at rope drop in Tokyo.)

April 4, 2015 at 8:48 PM · If you've been reading the message boards for some time, you probably saw my trip report from last year's "Epic Summer." This year will be nothing like that. My big trip this year is an Alaska Cruise for my Grandparent's 60th anniversary (which they are covering), and due to starting a new job I doubt I'll have time for much else. I'd like to get to Lagoon and/or one or two of the Texas parks, but other than that it's just local parks for me this year.

Fun Fact: Based on my estimation, the whole three week trip I did last year was only slightly more expensive than a 10 day Disney/Universal Florida trip would be. This is why I'm waiting until at least 2017 to go to Florida, despite having never visited and it topping my list of future theme park destinations. I anticipate Florida will be a once or twice a decade thing for me, and I really don't want to miss something major if I can help it.

April 5, 2015 at 12:22 PM · My current plans are to visit Kentucky Kingdom (likely a half day park) and Holiday World. Should be a cheaper trip (and likely a lot less thrilling) than my visit to Kings Island and Cedar Point last year.
April 5, 2015 at 9:43 PM · My plans are to attend local parks like Knott's Berry Farm, Disney, and USH. I'm lucky to live in SoCal near such great parks.
April 6, 2015 at 8:10 AM · Disney was last year so probably regional park. The only thing we really have here in Oregon is Enchanted Forest. I have never actually been inside. Might give it a try. A warm beach sounds pretty good for a vacation this year too.
April 6, 2015 at 1:28 PM · Alas, Disney has priced me out of the market, so I'll be spending WAY less this year. Just can't justify the cost anymore!
April 7, 2015 at 5:48 AM · I managed to pick up a really good package deal with flights and staying at the carribean beech resort for 2 weeks so im spending less this year. Still isnt cheap though!
April 9, 2015 at 12:03 PM · Last year, our family of 6 went to Six Flags on discount military tickets. We agreed it was a fun park, and since it's local, we toyed with the idea of a season pass. When a deal just after Labor Day became available, we purchased season passes (it covered this season, too) along with dining passes for 4 of us. So, this summer, we won't pay a darn thing for our visits. Well, we did get another all-you-can-drink cup for $20. And a shopping pass for $20 (because we really wanted some merch). And the photo pass for $20... so maybe we'll spend about the same. LOL ~Julie P~

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