A trip to an amusement park can be fun. It can also be costly, in more ways than one, if you don't plan in advance. Have a little common sense and use sunscreen and wear comfortable shoes and clothes as you'll be walking and standing around quite a bit. Buy tickets in advance and pack your own food and drinks to save money.
I recently visited the King's Island amusement park in Mason (near Cincinnati) for the day.
Here's my tips on ways to save money during your visit:
• Buy tickets online for a discount. You can save $17 per ticket by getting them in advance instead of at the gate. Buy them off the website at https://www.visitkingsisland.com/tickets• Go during a weekday when it's not quite as busy. I went on a Thursday and was able to ride all of the roller coasters and no line was more than a 15 minute wait. Face the reality that on the weekend, it is going to be busier. If you go on the weekend, I would consider buying a Fast Pass ($35) so that you can ride the ones you want during your visit and save you the misery of waiting in long lines. Yes, I think it's kind of ridiculous they offer this and charge for it, but it will make your visit more pleasant if it's hot and crowded at the park. They only offer a limited number of these, so get there early to get yours. I watched a number of people get to go in front of me with the Fast Pass and they didn't wait more than 5 minutes to get on The Beast, The Diamondback or Firehawk.
• If possible, carpool with a group or have someone drop you off. Parking costs (an unbelievable) $12 per vehicle or you can upgrade to park closer for $20.
• Take a cooler with your own food and drinks. Although you can't take it inside the park, you can leave the park (be sure to get the re-entry hand stamp!) and eat at the picnic tables near the entrance or at your vehicle. I saw a family eating at their SUV when I went out to get a drink and check my iPhone for texts and email. For this family of 5, they probably easily saved $100 by bringing their own cooler with food, drinks and snacks. Food at the park costs almost twice what it does at the normal fast food restaurants featured in the park such as LaRosa's, Chick-fil-a, Skyline Chili and Starbucks. If you must buy a drink, try and get the souvenir drink cup that offers free refills the day of your visit for $9.95 and use it the rest of the day to get drinks. There are drinking fountains near the restrooms and most of the eateries and some of the workers in wait lines will give you cold water if you ask. If you plan to eat at the park, it's roughly $9 for a meal.
• Limit yourself to one souvenir. There are shops all along the main entrance/exit peddling all sort of stuff. Plan on spending $10 for a keychain or more if you want to get a photo of you on your favorite ride.
My other tips for your visit:
• Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. I don't know how many people, mainly teens, I saw wearing flip flops. Reasons not to wear flip flops are numerous, including the fact you have to take them off for many rides, but the main one being they offer your feet no support/shock absorption.
• Wear sunscreen. (I wore sunscreen, reapplied it during a visit to my car, and my shoulders still got a little too much sun.) I'll never forget how a guy I worked with during the summer in college got second-degree burns from walking around Cedar Point without his shirt on and not using sunscreen. A back full of blisters is unsightly and has to hurt like nobody's business ...
• Check out a show to escape the sun and sit down and rest for a little while. I went to the Magic & Mayhem show and the 25-minute production was a nice break in the afternoon.
• Take a bag to put stuff in during the rides. Lots of people had sling backpacks and I'd take one of them. The park provides boxes for you to put stuff in and if you take a bag you can quickly take off your hat and sunglasses so you don't lose them on the rollercoaster or other fast-moving rides.
• Wear shorts with a zipper pocket. This way you don't have to worry about losing keys, a phone or money out of your pockets-unless you leave it unzipped.
• Get there when they open to get a good parking spot. If you're not good at remembering where you parked, type it into your phone or write it down on a piece of paper. At the end of the day, you're going to be tired and you won't want to walk another mile trying to find your vehicle.