What's the best buy in theme parks?

September 24, 2023, 3:06 PM

Just like the title says - what's the best buy in theme parks? It could be admission to a great park, an upgrade within a park, an on-site hotel deal, a meal, a souvenir, or experience.

What, IYHO, is the one thing that you can buy from a park that delivers the most return for your money?

Can't wait to read what everyone has to say on this one.

Replies (9)

September 24, 2023, 3:19 PM

The Platinum Annual Pass for Seaworld/Busch Gardens. Admission plus parking at all 11 theme and water parks. Costs about $400. Also 10-20% discounts on food and merchandise.

September 24, 2023, 6:31 PM

My Grumpy coffee mug. It's been a few years since I purchased it in the Main Street Emporium in the Magic Kingdom so I can't remember what it cost, but I use it just about every day.

Edited: September 24, 2023, 7:54 PM

A night's stay at a Universal Orlando Deluxe Resort. Yeah, it's a bit on the expensive side (typically $350-450/night), but if you pick up your room keys before the parks open on your check in day, you get 2 days of Unlimited Universal Express, a perk that typically costs over $150/person/day.

Not to mention the rooms are really nice and within walking distance of the parks and CityWalk.

September 24, 2023, 11:26 PM

Unpopular opinion time- I thought that the Individual Lightning Lane purchase I made in June to walk right on Guardians: Cosmic Rewind was worth every cent of the $15 I spent. It’s not a service I would use with great frequency, but it was my first time experiencing the attraction and I was pressed for time. It was a really handy option to have available. It’s probably not ideal for big families, but for myself and my wife the value absolutely met our need for the then and there.

September 25, 2023, 12:16 AM

Oddly Mickey ice cream bars are just so much better in the parks.

For souvenirs, I miss those old figurines they'd have, always fun to collect.

Edited: September 25, 2023, 1:08 AM

Honestly, for me it's a Six Flags Diamond Pass. If bought at the right time, it can net sixteen months of admission across the chain as well as parking and various other benefits for less than the cost of a single day at a destination park. While I will acknowledge that your mileage may vary with the chain's properties, I enjoy a vast majority of my Six Flags visits, and spread across the year I can generally get 10-15 days of entertainment for that price.

If travel to and from the destination is excluded, though, I'd say a stay at PortAventura World also ranks pretty high. Last year, I was able to stay at Hotel El Paso for two nights in October for under €300 for two people (about $320), which included admission to the parks on all three days (though only one day of access to Ferrari World) and breakfast each morning of the stay. That is easily the most affordable trip to a destination theme park resort I've ever had.

Within the gates of a park, it's tricky as I rarely spend much except on food (which is rarely a great buy). The $10 upcharge Skycoaster ride at Fun Spot Kissimmee with the purchase of an all day wristband is probably a contender, however.

September 25, 2023, 10:24 AM

I agree with both Russel and AJ - those are both strong "value proposition purchases" when you look at the sum of the benefit vs. purchasing piecemeal. The Universal Orlando Deluxe Resort package is great.

If that is not in your budget, I'd put Universal's Cabana Bay on the list. Great hotel, great location, and good pools for a fraction of the cost at Disney. Plus, the room size is spacious compared to a Disney comparable room with two actual beds!

September 25, 2023, 11:31 AM

While the vast majority of the time I think those all day dining deals are rips, Cedar Point is the only park I can think of that's big enough, has enough to do, and has long enough hours to make it worth it if you are someone that eats a lot. There was one time I bought it and the park was open from 10-9, you are allowed to use it every 90 minutes, I had 8 meals that day lol.
The only problem is the park was busy, understaffed, and everyone else was trying to make it worth it, so we waited 40+ minutes right before park closing at Coasters which was not worth it. Should have gone somewhere less busy.

September 25, 2023, 4:35 PM

Two things for me:

1). The quick queue upgrades are usually pretty reasonably priced at Sea World & Busch Gardens, i usually get those and feel good about it.

2). Getting an annual pass at the time in the season when they give you all of the remaining season and all the following season.

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