Theme park ticketsWill amusement parks be taking you for a ride this summer? (And I'm not talking about the roller coaster kind.)

This month, after Disney raised the one-day admission price at its Anaheim theme parks by 5.3% (from $76 to $80) and the cost of the three-day pass to visit Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure Park by 8.7% (from $206 to $224), we were a little worried what other parks around the country were doing.

But despite Disney's substantial price increases, amusement park admission fees have barely nudged in recent years. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the average general admission price for 72 parks across the nation -- including both small and large parks, destination parks and regional parks -- was $49.75 as of Spring 2011, rising just about 2% more per year since Spring 2008, when the association surveyed 68 comparable parks.

Seems the nation's recessionary funk in recent years has helped keep amusement park prices relatively unchanged. "[Prices] "haven't gone up a significant amount," David Mandt, vice president of communications for the IAAPA, told WalletPop. "Part of that's [been] driven by the difficult economic times."

The recession really hurt theme park attendance in 2009, in the throes of the downturn, Mandt says, but "then we saw a marked improvement in 2010, which continues in 2011. We're continuing to be optimistic." Spring traffic at theme parks has been healthy so far, he added.

But that doesn't mean consumers aren't looking for theme park bargains this summer. If your summer plans include a visit to an amusement park this year, the following tips may help you land a bargain:

  • Mine theme parks' web sites for exclusive deals that you won't find once you get to the amusement park, Mandt suggests. Shopping early and online may help you shave money off the entrance fees. According to Mandt, you can find one-day pass discounts of up to 30% online. "So if you use the average $49.75 ticket price [as a gauge]," says Mandt, "you can save $15 or so per ticket."
  • Search for theme-park discounts on Facebook and Twitter, which often offer special promotions to the fans who "like" the theme parks, Mandt says.
  • If you live close to a park, Mandt suggests, "absolutely consider a season pass. They pay for themselves in two to three visits, and it's a great value for the family."
  • If you plan to visit a destination park for several days, instead of buying single-day passes, "consider a multi-day ticket," says Mandt. Your per-day price is usually cheaper that way.

For more ways to save on theme park admissions, check out these money-saving tips from the IAAPA.

And enjoy the rides!


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