Disney Parks’ announced Sunday that it was raising ticket prices at both Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida, in what has now become an annual event.
The new prices are eye-popping to be sure: according to USA Today, “on the most expensive days, the new pricing structure means a family of four with two kids will have to pay $526 for a day of fun in (Walt Disney World) the park.”
Food, drinks, trinkets not included.
Park reps said they are raising prices to combat over-crowding. Needless to say the internet was not pleased.
So what if those ticket prices are just flat-out not in your budget? Or if you’re giving a hard-pass to spending that much on a day of fun?
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here’s some options for family getaways and days-out that won’t break the bank. Some are actually cheaper. Some you might consider because they offer more for your dollar because rates include perks like passes, or food.
The theme park currently has locations in both California and Florida, with a third U.S. property slated to open in New York in 2019. LEGOLAND is currently running a “Kids Stay & Play Free” package.
Book before Feb. 28, and travel before May 24, and you get free admission for two days for up to two children when you book your hotel stay. Blackout dates (most notably over popular spring break weeks) apply. Rates start at $84.99 a night in Florida and $105 in California.
Great Wolf Lodge
With 15 locations around the U.S. and another opening in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2019, you’re odds of finding a resort within a day’s drive or a short flight away are high. The Wisconsin-based resort chain, which features enormous indoor water parks at each of it’s properties, plus character meet and greets, crafts and pajama parties, is currently running a 30 percent off special at it’s soon-to-open Chicago location.
Book by March 9 for travel between July 1 and December 31 and get free passes to the water park for every night you stay. Rates start at $174.99 per night for a standard room. Themed suites, which include separate bunk-bed rooms for the kids are $216.99 per night. There are special offers at each location, including a 50 percent off “early bird” saver at Colorado Springs, so find the deal that works best for you.
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With fall upon us, #throwbackthursday picture to San Diego Travels last year… did you know in October kids go free to the vast majority of San Diego destinations? It's an awesome time to explore not just their zoos and theme parks, but also their many museums and parks! Happy Fall Y'all! #sandiego #sandiegozoo #sandiegosafaripark #visitsandiego #kidsfreesandiego #sandiegokids #travelblogger #travelwithkids #wecaintravel #familytravel #bringthekids @sandiegozoo @sdzsafaripark @visitsandiego
Kids Free San Diego
Instead of planning your vacation over the summer break, hold off until October. That’s the month where kids stay and play (and in many cases eat) for free in San Diego. More than 100 area attractions, hotels and restaurants participate in the deal-friendly promotion.
Get free admission for the kids to such popular sites as the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and LEGOLAND California with a paid adult admission. Visit http://www.sandiego.org/promotions/kids-free to plan your trip.
Got teens or thrill-seekers in your family? Consider taking your crew to the shores of Lake Erie in northern Ohio and spending the day at the so-called “roller coaster capital of the world.” The park boasts 17 different coasters, and yes, they do have rides for the smaller members of your party.
Humid and hot outside? The Cedar Point Shores Waterpark features everything from stomach-dropping slides to shallow play areas for toddlers. Plus, there’s a beach!
The amusement park is currently running a pre-season sale where everyone pays the kids’ entry fee price of $45, plus taxes and fees. Need two days to work your way through all the rides? A two-day ticket is $70.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
Open 365 days a year, this Southern California amusement park is also less expensive. The park features thrill rides, family rides and kid rides, so every member of your party is sure to find something they enjoy.
Want to give the kids a “character” experience? You’re in luck. Your favorites from “Justice League” and “Looney Toons” routinely roam the park for meet-and-greets. Advance tickets are currently on sale for $59.99. Regular price is $84.99.
Tyler Place Family Resort
Want a vacation that reminds you of the summers of your youth? Consider Tyler Place, a bucolic resort in northern Vermont on the shores of Lake Champlain. Guests stay either in the Inn or in no-frills cabins, where you can actually unplug, given there are no TVs. The resort gives you bikes to use (for free) during your stay, so leave the car at home or parked in a nearby lot.
Most accommodations include separate rooms for the kids. Children spend their days in camp with counselors, participating in activities based on their age. And it’s a packed day: gardening, archery, horseback riding, swimming, fishing and playing lawn games to name a few. Adult activities include rock climbing, kayaking and wine tasting.
Cocktail hour and dinner are adults-only (the kids eat with their camp counselors) giving you a chance to enjoy date night. Rates start at $132 a night for adults and $100 a night for kiddos for a five-night stay in May and climb from there. All meals and activities are included.
Club Med Sandpiper Bay
If the beach is your thing, consider this family-friendly all-inclusive resort in Florida. Activities include golf, volleyball, kayaking and swimming and kids stay occupied at on-site kids’ clubs.
Rates start as low as $348 a night on select dates in September. If your dates are flexible, check out the easy-to-use rate finder on the Club Med website. A family of four can stay for three nights – food, drinks (including alcohol) and activities included for $1225. That includes taxes, fees and gratuities.
Why not take in some of nature’s majestic beauty for this year’s trip? Yosemite National Park in California, Yellowstone in Wyoming and the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona are top-rated destinations for families.
Yes, there will be crowds, but you can still find solitude. Camp, bike, hike and visit waterfalls in Yosemite. Be awe-inspired by Yellowstone’s famous geysers. Hike along or down the Rim at the Grand Canyon, and then unwind at one of several lodging options.
Sign the kids up for the Junior Ranger program and let them earn “ranger badges” by completing a variety of on-site activities. For more information: https://www.nps.gov/index.htm
Yes, it’s ridiculously hot in Arizona in the summer. But if you can tolerate it, you can find some scorching deals at top Arizona resorts. Properties throughout the Phoenix metro region include gorgeous pools with water slides and other family-friendly amenities.
Treat yourself to some serious relaxation at the hotel spa, and take the kids to a bevy of nearby air-conditioned fun-spots including the OdySea Aquarium, Arizona Science Center or the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. Cool off at outdoor-water parks including Big Surf and Wet ‘n Wild. Summer resort deals are usually announced mid-April. See 2017’s list here for ideas and options.
YMCA Family Camp Resorts
Did you know that the YMCA, the nationally-known purveyor of after-school activities and programs operates a handful of family camps/resorts around the U.S.?
The YMCA of the Rockies, in Estes Park, Colo., operates a family resort with activities including fly-fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing — even a day spa. Rates for peak summer visitation start at $184 a night for a two-bedroom cabin and fill up quickly. Also check out the Silver Bay YMCA in New York and the YMCA of the Ozarks in Missouri.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
In December 2017, CruiseCritic.com named Royal Caribbean’s “Oasis” class ships: Harmony, Symphony, Oasis, Allure & Anthem, the best for families based in part of the sheer number of activities for all age ranges.
The ships hold roughly 5,000 passengers (this is not a vacation for those looking for solitude) and feature free activities including Broadway shows, a FlowRider wave simulator, water slides, a splash deck, and a boardwalk-inspired carousel.
A family of four can sail for 3-nights to the Bahamas for $1,452 on select dates next spring. Food and on-board activities are included in the price.
Disney Cruise Line
If all things Mickey Mouse is an absolute must for you, consider a Disney cruise. Note: These are not exactly what I’d call cheap, and you’ll need to be flexible on your travel dates.
A 3-night cruise for a family of four on the Disney Wonder to Ensenada Mexico and San Diego, California starts at $2289 (plus taxes and fees) for an inside cabin on select dates. That’s more than a day at theme park certainly, but given that the price includes your accommodation, all your meals, shows, and meet-and-great character experiences, it may be a better value for your dollar.