My family goes to Lagoon in Utah a few miles outside of Salt Lake every year for “Frightmares” in October. Since we bring along a brood of starving kids and struggling parents, we’ve learned a few tricks along the way to make day passes more affordable for everyone, and avoid spending huge amounts of money on gas and food while we are at the amusement park for at least 8 hours.
Carpooling is a must. As a family, we designate the house we meet at for everyone to travel from, meet there, and then take the vehicles that get the best mileage and pack everybody in. We took 2 cars this year, and made sure to take the least gas guzzling of the 7 cars that were packed out front. Everybody pitched in $5 for gas, and we were good to go.
Buy tickets and day passes in advance, before the price gets jacked up. Costco was selling tickets to Lagoon for $30, whereas Lagoon was selling them for $47 at the gate, so we bought our tickets in advance for a $17 savings per person for a day pass for all the rides, including the haunted houses Lagoon features for “Frightmares.” Look up online to find out where you can get your passes and tickets at a discount, to avoid getting gouged at the gate.
Get there just as the park opens, so you can pack in a few rides before the crowds show up. This year, Lagoon was oddly packed, but we got there at 10:30 am when the park opened at 11, so we had a half hour to get all our things together, make sure everyone had cell phones, and buddy up so nobody had to ride alone. We got in a few rides before the lines backed up and we had to wait half an hour or so to get on a roller coaster.
Pack your own lunches and beverages. When we got hungry, we’d go out to the car and bring out the coolers, full of lunch meats, cheeses, chips, various sandwich stuff, and sodas so we could make our own sandwiches and eat out on the grass in front of the park. We then took in a backpack full of crackers and sodas and bottled water so we could snack throughout the day and not be tempted to spend $7 for nachos at the various food stands. Plus, packing your own lunch gives everyone time to regroup when everyone keeps wandering off, and gives everybody a break from the crowds for a minute.
Hit as many attractions as you can. We took advantage of the train ride through the zoo, the “Pioneer Village” museum, all the rides we could handle, and basically wandered all around the park until we were so exhausted we could barely walk. You want to vary your experience so even if you don’t hit all the rides (my brother and his wife didn’t ride a single thing) you don’t feel gypped out of your money.
Oddly enough, we never do the haunted houses for “Frightmares” at Lagoon, we just like to go this time of year because it’s become tradition. This year, everyone spent about $10 for extras on top of our tickets, which is massively less than last year, where we all took our own cars, bought food at the park, and then went out to eat at Arby’s at the end of the day. We spent far less this year and had a wonderful time. Next year will be even better.