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The Perks of (Annual) Membership

Here are some of the best ones out there.

From Joseph Catlett
Posted July 3, 2011 at 6:07 AM
So many of us reading this website would feel something was off if we weren't carrying around a certain card in our wallets or purse. Its the Annual Pass membership for our favorite local theme park!

Now as we all know, that pass' biggest benefit to our theme park mania is being that golden ticket that gets us in as many times as we choose to Six Flags, Disney or Universal. However, a lot of parks are now sweetening the deal by adding some fun perks along with the pass. Here are some of the best ones out there.

CEDAR FAIR PARKS
* Buy a Platinum Pass and get free admission for the rest of the year to any of the Cedar Fair family of parks. Take a trip to the flagship park Cedar Point in Ohio and then jet cross country to America's First Theme park, Knott's Berry Farm.

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
* Buy any annual pass and get a friend in for free with you in your birthday month. This is a great perk, especially if you have a friend who maybe has never been or is from out of town. A great to celebrate another year.
*Universal also offers tickets to member exlcusive events like movie premieres and early looks at new attractions.

SIX FLAGS
*The Six Flags parks also offers free friend tickets included with a funbook you receive when you sign on the dotted line for their season pass.
*Free admission to all 13 Six Flags parks, so you can get yourself dizzy from sea to shining sea on their army of steel monster coasters.

UNIVERSAL ORLANDO
*Their top pass includes a bunch of free cool stuff like FREE WATER, a MUST in that stifling Florida heat.
* A free ticket to Halloween Horror Nights. Great if you like to have your socks scared off, now in its 21st year.
*Free Valet parking (the worst part of the day in my opinion is the long walk back to the car. Why not have them bring the car to YOU?

DOLLYWOOD
* Dolly Parton's little bit of fun in the Smokey Mountains makes with discounts for lots of area attractions like 50 percent of Silver Dollar City and Smoky Mountain park.

WALT DISNEY WORLD
*While Disney is NOT known for giving anything away, and you do pay for it (over 600 bucks) their top annual pass includes unlimited access to the Disney's Oak Trail Golf Course,both water parks, Disneyquest and ESPN Wide World of Sports.
* They also offer occasional, exclusive special events for new attractions and shows.

Those are some of the best annual passholder perks I've found out there. I Would love to hear some of your favorites in the comments section. It is summer, enjoy those theme parks and give that annual or season pass a work out!


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Andre Somma
Posted July 2, 2011 at 4:47 PM
Sorely disappointed that Universal Orlando has greatly reduced their annual pass holder appreciation. They used to host new attraction previews for pass holders but now it seems like a mere after thought if they even host one at all. The only real benefit is that it is much more economical to purchase a pass than it is to pay the astronomical one day ticket price.

From Andy Milio
Posted July 2, 2011 at 5:38 PM
The best thing about annual membership? Saving money by not having to buy one day tickets every time you go

From M. Ryan Traylor
Posted July 2, 2011 at 10:52 PM
But remember the most important responsibility of being a season/annual pass holder:

Use it, and use it often!

Same applies to elections:

Vote, and vote often!

From James Koehl
Posted July 3, 2011 at 6:33 AM
As far as the Cedar Fair Platinum Pass admitting you to any Cedar Fair park, I say big deal. The closest one is King's Island, about a 4 hour drive. The others are too far away without planing a multi-day vacation or a flight, and the cost of a free admission doesn't make up for that. I'd rather they give locals who use the Pass some special benefits like free parking, early admission, etc.

From Mike Gallagher
Posted July 4, 2011 at 12:17 PM
James, regarding early admission..I'm pretty sure they do. Last year, my Dorney Park Platinum Pass got me early entry to CP and KI (but not Dorney..go figure!) So, I believe the CP pass would have the same benefit. And it was my understanding that parking was free at the park at which the pass was purchased. my friend in VA gets only the KD pass, but parking is included.

Granted, I do not have a CF pass in any form this year, so the game may have changed.

From James Koehl
Posted July 4, 2011 at 1:21 PM
^I haven't purchased a season pass for the past few years, but when I did all it did was get me in the park. Parking was extra. No early admission- that was reserved for hotel guests. Maybe I'll need to check it out again- next year.

From Mark Migliaccio
Posted July 5, 2011 at 9:16 AM
At Busch Gardens Williamsburg, you get the free parking and a passholder preview day in March with the annual passes up to 2year/2park. You also get 10% off anything you buy in the park. As long as you go twice a year, you pretty much make up the cost of the pass(~$64 single day admission) and parking($13).

Now if you get the platinum pass, you get free "preferred parking" at BGW. That pass also gets you entrance and free parking to the rest of the Seaworld parks. If you go down to the Central Florida area, you also can get the benefit of a reride if you're a platinum holder. You just wait in line, let them know you're platinum and you want to reride. Once your first ride is done, you get out then let one train go and you hop back in once more.

From Steph Ramos
Posted July 6, 2011 at 3:37 PM
My first Season Pass experince was last year when I purchased one for the Six Flags parks.

What I loved about the pass was their Funatics program (Which is optional when you buy the pass for Magic Mountain, and its totally free!), which is only really worthwhile if you're a frequent visitor of the parks. The way I recall it working, for every visit to any Six Flags park, the Funatics program would reward season pass holders with various goodies. As the visits increased in frequncy, the rewards only got better...some of the rewards included free parking, free drinks, skip the line passes, and extra free tickets for friends....(BTW, these were all seperate awards offered from the Coupon Booklet given with the pass).

From Mike Gallagher
Posted July 6, 2011 at 4:48 PM
Steph:

I thought the Funatics program worked pretty well the last two years from SG GAdv. It really wasn't optional..you were automatically in with a Pass and an e-mail address. I didn't use most of the rewards, but they were decent. They've scrapped it this year.

From Heather Olson
Posted July 7, 2011 at 8:06 PM
We have the Universal Premier Pass and the best benefits are the free valet parking (SO helpful when you're unloading three infants out of car seats and into strollers) and the free express pass after 4 pm. We can get to the park at 4 and do every single ride in the park before it closes. Pure awesomeness.

BTW - the free water with the Universal Pass is greatly exaggerated. You do not get free water all year, you get eight coupons for one free bottle. If you only want one bottle every 6 weeks I guess you're covered. And the water is Zephyrhills, which is a cheap local brand that my dad refers to as "bottled swamp water" or "alligator piss."

From Mike Gallagher
Posted July 8, 2011 at 2:48 AM
Mmmmm... Alligator piss...

From Tony Duda
Posted July 8, 2011 at 11:31 AM
Heather,
As a Pasco County resident, I must protest the characterization of Zephyrhills bottled water as alligator piss. I don't think alligators live around Zephyrhills. Kind of far inland but I could be wrong.

From Dave Stroem
Posted July 8, 2011 at 2:01 PM
Our favorite pass perk is at Kings Island. Half priced Cinnabon 4 & 6 packs. They sell normally for 13.99 and 16.99. When you cut that in half, it is only $1.42 each.

This offer is only good during June, July and August.

Of course Cinnabons are not exactly coaster friendly. Too many will have you taking a walk of shame on your next Intamin ride. :)

From Heather Olson
Posted July 9, 2011 at 3:35 PM
We live in Orlando, which is just as far inland as Zephyrhills, and we have alligators here. And when I lived in Pasco we had alligators there, too. How far inland you are is irrelevant because alligators don't live in the ocean. They live in swamps and other wet, marshy areas. Which are all over Florida.

From Tony Duda
Posted July 9, 2011 at 4:05 PM
Heather, please learn to recognize humor when you see it.

From Heather Olson
Posted July 9, 2011 at 4:22 PM
That didn't read as a joke to me. I just thought to myself, "wow, the Florida public education system claimed another one." :)

From Tony Duda
Posted July 10, 2011 at 3:10 PM
That's exactly what I thought when I read your overly literal response. So we're even.

From Anthony O'Neal
Posted July 10, 2011 at 8:00 PM
With regards to the Cedar Fair passes, if you buy a season pass to an individual park (like Kings Dominion, for example), you do not get free parking.

If, however, you purchase the Cedar Fair Platinum Pass (access to all Cedar Fair Parks), then you DO get free parking.

I had one for two years. One year, I did Cedar Point (a few hours away) and Michigan's Adventure (literally right down the road). That was 5 days total in the parks with parking. The next year, it was Michigan's Adventure and Kings Dominion. . . 4 days in the parks and parking. Totally worth it, because in this case, parking and tickets totalled more than the cost of the pass!

Now, I ended up flying to Virginia this year to see a friend, and went to Kings Dominion, and I ended up only going for a day, and got a great deal on a single day pass and parking wasn't bad. Regardless, if you're doing more than 4 days total at the parks (and when I lived in Michigan, it was easy for me to do), then the pass is always a good option. If you're doing 4 days, it may or may not be worth it. You just need to add it up and see!

I know I saved money with the Busch Gardens pass I bought last year with only two visits.

From Nathan Alexander
Posted July 14, 2011 at 1:38 PM
Recently our big parks here in Australia released details on their 11/12 annual passes.

Ardent Parks
Dreamworld
WhiteWater world

Annual Pass - unlimited entry to both parks til August 2011 $99
Platinum Pass - unlimited entry to both parks til July 2013 and access to exclusive preview events $169.99

Both passes include early entry and discounts on merchandise, food and beverage.

Village roadshow theme parks
Warner Brothers Movie World
Sea World
Wet N Wild

VIP pass - $109.99
VIP gold pass - $139.99

Both passes offer unlimited entry to all 3 parks, some discounts and early entry will be provided on certain dates.

The gold pass includes entry to Movieworlds "Fright Nights" and "White Christmas"

Both groups have put pricing up on their passes this year, after two years of extremely cheap passes. They are still fighting it out with each other though.

While Dreamworld offered early entry nearly all last year, this is something that Movieworld is just starting to get into. With new compact roller coasters going into both parks in September it really will be a fight for customers which can only be a good thing for our big Aussie parks.

Oh, and our parks have never charged for parking.

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