Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
I showed you my tricks for getting to Disney World without breaking the bank. But it’s also easy to save money at lots of other popular theme parks around the US!
A key to saving money is to prepare ahead of time. And that’s especially true for saving money at amusement parks! I’ll tell you what you need to know before heading out the door.
You can usually get big savings when you purchase tickets online instead of at the gate, organize a large group, and check employer and student discounts.
You also may be able to save money by purchasing package tickets or annual passes.
Here’s a look at other easy ways to avoid paying full price at Six Flags, Universal, Cedar Point, and more!
1. Busch Gardens
Tickets for 1 general admission ticket at Busch Gardens parks can cost ~$75 per adult and ~$65 per child when you purchase them online. But you don’t have to pay full price!
Ways to Save
- Save $15 (Busch Gardens Williamsburg) – Just enter promotional code “BGWOffer” to save $15 on up to 6 single-day tickets through October 31, 2016
- Adopt a Pet! – You’ll receive 2 free tickets to Busch Gardens when you adopt a dog or cat at a participating animal shelter. Please do NOT adopt just for free admission to Busch Gardens! This is a nice extra for folks who planned to adopt anyway.
- AAA (Busch Gardens Williamsburg) – Save $18 when buying through the AAA website
- Military – Active duty military, activated or drilling reservists, National Guardsman, and veterans can receive free tickets for themselves and up to 3 dependents through October 30, 2016, in Williamsburg and through December 31, 2016, in Tampa.
2. Cedar Point
Tickets to Cedar Point currently cost ~$48 online per person for a day. Buying your tickets online is usually cheaper than the price you’ll pay at the gate. Here are other ways you can get your tickets for less!
Ways to Save
- Free Entry / Discounts – You can get “free entry passes, discounts, and coupons on entry” to Cedar Point by giving blood in Central Ohio. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS for more details.
- Local Meijer grocery stores – Select Meijer stores sell tickets to Cedar Point until October 31, 2016. You can earn bonus points or cash back at US grocery stores with cards like the JetBlue Plus Card from Barclaycard or AMEX EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card.
Regular admission tickets to Hersheypark cost up to ~$65 online for summer admission. Buying online is almost always cheaper and faster than buying tickets at the park!
Ways to Save
- $8 Off Your Order – Use promo code 20170 to get $8 off your online order, or $7 off if you’re buying tickets at the gate. This might not work for everyone!
- Local businesses – Nearby fast food restaurants, ice cream shops, etc. often have discounted tickets
- Giant Food Stores – Save on 1-day admission when you purchase tickets at participating stores (discounts may vary)
- Preview Plan – Show your ticket at the main entrance 2.5 hours before closing and add over 2 hours to your stay!
- Military – Show this ticket at the ticketing services building with your military ID to receive $20 off regular admission or $4 off junior and senior admission. One discount coupon may be used to purchase up to 8 tickets.
- Sunset Tickets – Save over 50% when you visit later in the day! Arrive after 4pm when the park closes at 8pm, or 5pm when the park closes at 10pm or 11pm.
4. Kings Island
Until August 21, 2016, a single day ticket to Kings Island costs ~$39 online.
Ways to Save
- Meijer – You can buy a 2-park ticket bundle to Kings Island and Cedar Point at certain locations around Columbus, Ohio. Remember to use a card that earns bonus points at supermarkets like the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.
- Military – Active members of the military will receive a discount (the amount may vary seasonally) off regular Front Gate admission prices. The discount offer is not available online, and is valid for up to 6 family members.
5. Legoland Theme Parks
Ways to Save
- Costco – Members can purchase single-day tickets for ~$57. Tickets should be sent to your email address within an hour, and are good through December 31, 2016.
- Free Admission for California Classroom Teachers – Saturdays and Sundays from September 3, 2016, to November 19, 2016, California teachers K-12 will get in free, while bringing family and friends for $52 each.
- TravelZoo (Legoland – Carlsbad, California) – Book a 5-day resort hopper pass for less than the cost of a 1-day resort hopper pass through TravelZoo (Hat tip to Million Mile Secrets reader Dan’s the Man!).
- Military – Members of the military can buy discounted tickets at Military ITT offices on bases. Rates can vary with location. Military will also save 10% on 1 and 2 day tickets at the gate with valid military ID.
6. Six Flags
Link: Six Flags
Six Flags has LOTS of locations in the US, including:
- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom – San Francisco, California
- Six Flags Magic Mountain – Los Angeles, California
- Six Flags Hurricane Harbor -Los Angeles, California
- The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom – Lake George, New York
- Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark – Lake George, New York
- Six Flags Fiesta Texas – San Antonio, Texas
- Six Flags Over Texas – Arlington, Texas
- Six Flags Hurricane Harbor – Arlington, Texas
Tickets into the park can cost ~$50 online depending on which location you visit.
Ways to Save
- Save 5% – Register your Discover It or Discover More card and you’ll earn 5% cash back on all purchases at Six Flags through December 31, 2016. And if you are a new cardmember, Discover will match the cash back you earn in your first 12 billing cycles, turning this into a 10% savings! Purchases using technology such as virtual wallets and mobile payments may NOT qualify.
- Coca-Cola cans – In the past, these have had discounts for $15 to $20 off admission to Six Flags. So it doesn’t hurt to check local convenience stores and supermarkets!
- Kroger – These supermarkets sometimes have discounted tickets to Six Flags parks. Use a card, such as Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, that earns bonus points or cash back at US grocery stores.
Special Group Discounts
- Military – Save 20% on General Admission tickets with a military ID at Guest Services
- AAA – Save $5 when presenting your card at the ticket booth, up to 6 tickets. Members will also save 10% on merchandise when you spend $15 or more
Link: Universal Orlando Resort
A 1-day pass to Universal Orlando can cost ~$119 for adults and ~$114 for children (ages 3 to 9) at the gate.
And you’ll pay $115 for adults and $109 for children (ages 3 to 9) at the gate at Universal Studios Hollywood!
And unfortunately, Universal parks don’t often give discounts on tickets to the general public.
- Buy tickets online (Universal Orlando) – Save $5 on adult and children’s tickets (ages 3 to 9) when you buy your tickets online.
- Buy tickets online (Universal Hollywood) – Save between $5 and $20 on both adult’s and children’s tickets (ages 3 to 9), depending on the day, using the flexible calendar.
- Check MouseSavers – They usually have all the latest deals on tickets to Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood
In the past, Sam’s Club offered discounts to members. Maybe they’ll run the promotion again!
You can save on tickets if you belong to certain groups:
Special Group Discounts
- AAA South (Universal Hollywood) – $3 off admission at the gate, adult admission at kids pricing, and save 10% on City Walk dining and merchandise.
- American Express Cardholders (Universal Orlando) – Access to American Express lounge (free snacks, drinks, and concierge) when you buy a Multi-Park ticket or Annual pass with your American Express card. Just show your receipt and card at the front door for lounge entry. You can bring up to 6 people per card.
- American Express Cardholders (Universal Hollywood) – Purchase VIP Experience or Front of Line ticket with your American Express card and get access to the American Express Lounge for up to 6 people per card.
- California Colleges (Universal Hollywood) – Get discounted tickets.
- Florida Residents (Universal Orlando) – Save up to $64 on gate prices.
- Military – Check with your local base to see if discounted tickets are available.
General Tips for Paying Less at Amusement Parks
Here are other ways you may be able to save:
- Ordering tickets online is usually cheaper than waiting until you get to the park
- Check with your employer, school, and local churches for discounts
- Sometimes local grocery stores offer discounted tickets
- Coca-Cola or Pepsi cans and cereal boxes in stores near theme parks sometimes have discounts. Remember to use a card that earns bonus points at US supermarkets like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- My Coke Rewards is a good way to earn extra points for things like amusements parks, if you would buy Coke products anyway. General admission tickets go for 1,000 points. (Hat tip to Million Mile Secrets reader DaninMCI!)
- Check with your local AAA office
- Save on tickets by organizing a large group trip
- Multi-park packages, annual passes, and dining packages could also save you some money
Remember to Use the Right Card!
The Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier cards earn 2X Citi ThankYou points on entertainment expenses including amusement parks.
Or use other cards such as:
- Citi Double Cash Card – 1% cash back on purchases and 1% back on payments
If you’re planning a trip to an amusement park summer, there are plenty of ways to save on tickets. There are discounts for using certain credit cards, purchasing at local supermarkets, or your profession (US military, California schoolteacher) might get you a deal!
And make sure to read my separate post for saving money at Disney World!
Do you have more tips for scoring discounts at amusement parks this summer?