There are ways to do an amusement park…and there are better ways to do it on the cheap. When I was younger and on a budget, I could barely pay for the admission ticket and a few snacks during the day. Now, I splurge with no restraint, especially if it is the first time in the park. You can spend a bundle at Disneyland or Disney World, not to mention Sea World or Marine Land. Look at the prices for Magic Mountain and it will take your breath away. What does a family do to cover all the costs? You either save up and do it right, or you don’t go.

I have some tips and tricks to make the money stretch. Today, I will cover the most basic. First and foremost, you must get a discount ticket for all day at the park, especially one that includes parking. Look on Groupon or similar sites. You may have to change the day you go, but it will be worth altering your schedule to get the savings.

Next, fill your backpack with snacks and drinks to save on major meals. Most parks will let you take one in as long as they can check the contents at the entry gate.  On hot days, I wish I had a cooler, but it is too bulky and large. You can buy small cold packs to cool your food and beverages. Beyond that, forget your bottled water and consume it as is. If you like hotdogs and fries, you will pine for them at the park, but that’s the way it goes if you are on the cheap. Meanwhile, use the same backpack for college to store items you need as the day wears into night so you don’t have to rent a locker. For some this means a change of tee, a light weight parka, or a change of socks. Most people don’t need to change their attire just because it is evening—unless it is cold and you prefer pants to daytime shorts. I do like to have a flashlight at night and a small collapsible umbrella just in case. No doubt you will know in the morning before you leave if it is likely to rain.

The idea is to be comfortable and well supplied with snacks for yourself or your accompanying family. It can be a long day waiting in line for rides. I always find it worth the time spent and on the way home, I proudly count the times I did the roller coaster. One final tip is to read the rules governing park behavior and stay with the bounds of the compartment of a ride. Warn your kids about what happens to stray arms and legs. The park is concerned about your safety, but you should, too. With proper supplies (stowed in your trusty backpack), and safety in mind you will have a most enjoyable time.

Disney Around the World So Fun but Can't Wait to Go Home