My family loves to go to different theme parks every summer.  They have so much to offer with shows, food, rides and the like.  But they can also cost a small fortune.  Fear not!  I’m going to provide you with some helpful tips and links in order to make the most of your trip.  This is the stuff that my family does on trips and it makes such a difference, especially with young kids.

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  • Pack a lunch!  Food costs are outrageous at theme parks.  Most will let you leave the park and eat your lunch in a pavilion, near the parking lot.  Check in advance and pack a LOT of drinks!  Do I even need to tell you how great an ice cold drink will taste once you hit the car?!?! We pack a lunch and then we choose one special snack while we are in the park.  That way, it not only saves money but it teaches everyone how to use money wisely.  You only get one and it’s a big decision! (this works with souvenirs too!)
  • Bring a loaded backpack.  We always take a backpack loaded with essentials like sunscreen, water bottles (if allowed), money, a change of clothes (this one almost ALWAYS comes in handy), napkins, camera, etc.  Take what your family might need.  Be sure to check the rules before packing your backpack.  You don’t want to have to trudge back to the car after they search it and find unintended contraband.
  • Buy your souvenirs before you go to the park.  This one sounds weird but it is a wonderful money saver!  Find out the types of souvenirs they sell at the park by checking the website.  Then, go to the dollar store, or other mass merchandisers and buy several small, fun things for your trip.  You can even wrap them if you want to make it extra special.  Then take them with you & keep it a surprise.  You can keep some in your backpack to prevent a meltdown while in the park.  That way, you are getting them for WAY lower than theme park price plus you can bypass the gift shop if you want!  Everybody wins!
  • Put a couple ponchos in your backpack.  You never know when an unexpected shower (or water ride) might occur.  The gift shop costs are ridiculous and nobody wants to walk around with wet shorts for the rest of the day.  Trust me.  This is a gem.
  • Use a note app on your phone to remember where you parked.  I use Evernote.  I just have a note called “parking’ and I use it every time I park in a crowded place.  I just make a clear description, add a photo and voila, no more lost time at the end of the night.
  • Buy the souvenir cup.  We drink a lot when we’re hot, as do most people.  They always offer a cup, where every future refill is at a reduced cost.  Do this right away or even buy it in advance and then have everyone share it.  By the time you really think about it, it will be too late and you’ve already bought four regular drinks.
  • Check the price of a season pass.  Are you planning on hitting up the park a few times? Calculate how many visits it would take in order to pay for itself.  It just might be better that way.  An added bonus? Sometimes you park free with season passes and get other special privileges.
  • Try to travel at odd times.  If you go a little early or a little late in the season, tickets are MUCH cheaper.  If your trip dates are flexible, this might be your best bet.

Looking for discount codes for your tickets?  Here are some links to get money off each ticket.  Please keep in mind that I found these using a Google search so I’m not endorsing or guaranteeing any of them to work.  Just trying to be helpful, folks!  Be sure to check fast food restaurants and grocery stores for coupons too. Different places have different coupons.  If you know someone living near the park, ask them to send some coupons to you!

Stacy Hook

 

Click the links to find discounts:

Hershey Park

Six Flags

Walt Disney World

Busch Gardens

Kings Dominion

Dorney Park

We are taking the clan to Busch Gardens this year. We are all excited and I can’t wait to try and see how much money I can try to save while there.  I’m doing some research and we’ve already purchased our tickets.  Good luck and I hope you can use some of this information. It really comes in handy when we go on vacation.

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How about you?  Are you going to a theme park this year and if so, which one?  Any tips I missed?

 

If there’s one thing I love in life, it’s a quick getaway.  So when CrowdTap recently hosted a sampling trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey,  I naturally did everything in my power to be invited.  The way CrowdTap works is you answer survey questions, take photos, participate in challenges and other various activities for different companies in exchange for samples, gift cards, and prizes!  This is the first time they ever had a sampling that included a free trip!  My sister and I decided to live it up in style for one night.  CrowdTap sent an itinerary that included a cocktail hour and a night on the town, complete with a gift bag. Upon arrival, I checked into Caesars and was told that my room was upgraded to a suite!  Sweet, it was too.  The view was beautiful and the room was so luxurious.  I wish I was able to spend more time there!

 

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The cocktail hour was at H2O, a pool bar in the Golden Nugget.  I like the Golden Nugget since it still has that old Atlantic City atmosphere.  Though dated, it was so charming.  Although, I heard that they plan on doing a lot of renovations.  H2O is a beautiful pool bar with great views of the city.  They even offered a free yoga class on Thursdays to hotel guests!

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After the cocktail party, we were taken by the jitney to the boardwalk to experience the Sand Sculpting World Cup.  If you ever get a chance to go to this event, take it!  It’s FREE and the pieces are so amazing.  You’ll wonder how someone could do this with sand!  I took a photo of the rules just so you could see how structured and professional the competition is too.  I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite. My sister and I spent a good hour here just checking out everyone’s work.  Plus, one dollar gets you a vote in the people’s choice award.

 

 

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The other thing I love about the boardwalk is all the beautiful architecture.  The casinos are so extravagant and since I’m not a gambler, I just love taking in the sites.  You see all types of people on the boardwalk too so it’s a people-watching paradise!  My sister and I just sat for awhile and watched everyone.  There is also a small skate park that is interesting to sit near.  At night, there is also a pretty light show right across from the Miss America statue.  It runs pretty frequently so you will always be able to catch it.  Of course, I had to take my picture with the Miss America statue.  No trip is complete without it.  Next time, I’ll get one during the day so you can really see it!  The boardwalk offers a great variety of food, shopping and fun.  There’s something for everyone, even on a budget.

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My sister and I ended our night by getting desserts from the hotel. It’s kind of a tradition with our family.  We have to test out the desserts everywhere we go.  They were delicious, of course.  We had a hard time choosing.

In the morning, I had enough time to visit the breakfast buffet.  However, I wasn’t too impressed with that.  It was the only thing open in the hotel and it wasn’t worth the money.  I wish I had more time and I would’ve went to another hotel on the boardwalk for breakfast.

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If you live in the area, Atlantic City is a great place, full of fun, culture and excitement for all ages.  I spent less than $100 on my entire trip, including gas and tolls!

Here are some tips:

-Plan ahead.  I know I’m beating a dead horse with this one, but 9 times out of 10, if you want a good deal you HAVE to do this.

-Use Groupon, Living Social, Deal Chicken, etc for great deals when traveling.  Not only can you get great rates on hotels, plug in the zip code and find deals to restaurants too!  My husband and I recently stayed in AC at the Borgata and got 2 tickets to the Burlesque show all for $75!  It was fantastic!

-Read the fine print but don’t just settle for anything.  Online deals sometimes make you stay on ‘off days’ or follow specific rules in order to get the discount.  Be sure to know ALL details before making a purchase.  Call them up and ask questions.  Also, if you are unhappy, tell someone while you’re there!

-Get feedback.  I met a lovely lady at the breakfast buffet that had a terrible stay in the hotel and I’m glad I heard her story.  It makes me think twice about using my own money to stay at Caesars, even though I personally had a great experience.  Read online reviews and/or ask your friends on social media too!

-Set a budget.  Just like most things, be realistic and take a pre-determined amount of money.  Keep in mind, emergencies happen so always have a back-up, but losing $25 in a slot machine isn’t an emergency.

-Live like a local.  Go to the restaurants off the beaten path.  Experience the different, odd museums.  Chances are, they are really awesome and not too expensive.  Check out Lucy the Elephant in Margate.  She won’t let you down!

-Have fun!  Just remember to let loose and enjoy the time you spend there.  Here are some fun photos from our trip!

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I love Atlantic City and I would definitely return!  You can follow them on social media to plan your trip and keep up with all things AC:

http://www.atlanticcitynj.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoAtlanticCity?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VisitAC  #DoAC

Instagram: http://instagram.com/doac

Pinteresthttp://www.pinterest.com/doatlanticcity/

 

I received a complimentary trip to Atlantic City from CrowdTap in exchange for my opinions.  I did not receive any other compensation.  All comments and/or viewpoints are my own.  Photos are my own as well.