For some reason, the April showers haven’t quite hit San Diego like they normally do and the weather has been fantastic lately. Warm days and a nice breeze are why I love living in Socal and this past weekend I decided it would be a good time to take my sister(age 5) to Sea World. Even though it wasn’t too crowded, there was still a ton of people there and I couldn’t help but think about how much money everyone was spending.
From admission tickets to stuffed animals and concessions, money was flying around almost as if Sea World was paying us to visit the park. Unfortunately that’s not the case, but I thought of some travel tips that should save you anywhere from a little to a lot(depending on how extreme you are) of money at Sea World(or any park for that matter). All it takes is a bit of planning, so onto the ways to save.
1. Admission Tickets
I love buying things on Craigslist and I’ve now completed successful purchases with Disneyland and Sea World tickets. You have to be careful on Craigslist because unfortunately there are some scammers out there, but as long as you use a common sense approach, your chances of getting screwed over will be very minimal.
You used to be able to just look at a ticket and if the stub was still attached it was still good. But these days, a lot of tickets have scannable bar codes instead of a tear-off portion so don’t automatically assume your tickets will be valid if they look ok. I actually receive hard tickets for my Chargers season seats but I can override them at any time and print out e-tickets.
If you’re buying from a private seller, try to get some personal information from them, like where they work or their home address. Basically anything that you could use against them should the tickets turn out to be fakes. I like dealing with small time ticket brokers since they offer the best discounts and can usually prove to you that they are legitimate. Buying tickets on Craigslist isn’t for everyone though. It can be nerve-racking since you won’t know for sure that your tickets are good until you step foot inside the venue. There will always be a greater supply than demand when it comes to these types of tickets so don’t be scared to just walk away if something doesn’t feel right.
I found an ad on craigslist for $35 Sea World tickets and the seller I bought them from actually had a blog where she posted all her positive feedback. She also offered to e-mail me the tickets and told me I wouldn’t have to pay until Monday at 11 am. That was fine with me since now I assumed no risk of getting scammed out of my money. It all worked out perfectly, I got the e-tickets morning of, went into the park and paid the next day via Chase QuickPay. I ended up only spending $105($35 * 3) for 2 adult and 1 child tickets(full price would have been $226: $78 for adults and $70 for a child).
2. Bring Your Own Food
I don’t really enjoy paying $5 for sodas and $10 for an average burger so I always plan ahead and bring food. Most parks won’t let you bring actual food inside the park so instead bring a cooler and leave it in your car. You can usually bring in small snacks like bags of chips, nuts, fruit snacks, etc (and of course water) so toss it all in a backpack and you’ll have something to snack on until lunch time.
If you’re on the adventurous side, you can always try and sneak in a full picnic at the bottom of your backpack or purse. At a recent music festival I went to, I actually saw a couple people(not going to name any names) sneak in alcohol in a sunscreen bottle. Just make sure you wash it out well! At Sea World, all they did was poke around with a wooden stick for about half a second. I almost felt ashamed that I didn’t try to sneak in more food.
We ventured the park for about 3 hours before we got hungry so we got our re-entry stamps and headed back to the car for a picnic. It was actually nice to sit down, turn the A/C on for a while and relax and eat.
3. Free Parking
I absolutely hate paying for parking but this was the one time I had to give in since there was nothing available within a reasonable distance. I even did a quick google search the night before for free parking but came up dry. It was ‘only’ $15 to park though so I figured it was worth it since we were going to spend most of the day walking already. It also allowed us to leave the food close by so we could have a picnic lunch when we got hungry.
I think the best alternative to paying for parking would probably be public transportation. There are usually lockers out front of most parks so you could probably leave a cooler or two there if you’re set on picnic’ing, otherwise take the bus and spend all the money you save on junk food inside the park.
4. Be Careful of Kid Traps
I finally realized why all these rides end in a gift shop: it’s for the kids. My sister nearly broke into tears when I told her I wasn’t going to buy her this cute baby beluga whale stuffed animal. Eventually, I succumbed to her superpowers and we went back and I bought it for her(at least it was only $10). But you do have to be careful when you’re visiting with kids since there are a lot of things they will want. I told my sister she could pick out one thing and the whale was what she chose. That made it a lot easier later on in the day, when she wanted a turtle, dippin’ dots, ice cream, etc haha.
I’ve never had to stay overnight to visit an amusement park but I could only imagine how much that would cost(especially with kids). I’d try and find a friend that lives nearby and stay with them or maybe use up one of my free hotel nights from a credit card sign-up bonus.
Readers, are there any other tips that I should know about? I’m pretty lucky to live within 100 miles of 10 major theme parks so I’m sure there are a couple things I haven’t thought of.
-Harry @ PF Pro