Summer is practically here, and it’s time to plan fun summer activities. Whether you are a big kid yourself, or you have your own kids, amusement parks are a big attraction for Americans. There are more than four hundred amusement parks and and attractions across the nation. About 290 million people visited amusement parks in the United States in 2010, and amusement parks in the U.S. generate roughly $12 billion in revenue and bring about $57 million for the economy.
Obviously, amusement parks are very popular in America. Water parks also are a big draw in the summer, which also generate several billion dollars each year. However, many amusement and water parks can come with a heft price tag, especially if you have a big family. The price leaves many individuals wondering if the parks themselves are worth the cost. Determining whether or not these parks are worth the cost depends on several factors.
Amusement and water parks cost what most people would consider a lot of money, but the actual cost depends on the park itself. Theme parks can be especially expensive, but each individual or family has to decide whether or not the trip is worth the money. For example, Water World in Colorado costs $35.99 plus tax for an all-day child’s pass, and $40.99 for an all-day pass for an adult. However, this price includes parking and access to all forty-nine attractions. This means that for a family of four, the price for one day attendance could be over $150. This seems like a lot, but the park includes many fun attractions for the entire family, and if you only go once, perhaps the trip would be worth it. On the other hand, when you think about how much you could do with $150, the value seems to go down. It depends how much you like water parks.
A one-day ticket to Magic Kingdom Park will cost you $93 for kids ages 3 to 9, and $99 for anyone over 10 years. For some children, and for many adults, a trip to the Magic Kingdom is a dream come true, and often, a once-in-a-lifetime event, so it may be worth the cost. However, if your family enjoys going to amusement parks regularly, you might want to consider a season’s pass. A two park combo pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor costs $109.99 for one to three passes.
In addition to the cost itself, there are many other issues to consider when determining whether or not the parks are worth the price. If you want to go to an amusement or water park, you will probably have to fight crowds. Many people feel that the crowds are worth it when you factor in the fun, but some don’t. If you’re worried about crowds, show up early, at least fifteen minutes before the gates open if possible; most people don’t go as soon as the park opens. Also, consider going during the school year instead of in the summer if you can to avoid long lines.
In addition to the physical problem of waiting in line or facing crowds, is the added problem of how people act when they get tired and frustrated. Many people get crabby and impatient in the heat, and if you mix that with long lines, you’re likely to deal with angry and rude people. In addition, because you probably will be around a lot of strangers, some people may act in a disrespectful way that they normally wouldn’t, because water and amusement parks have a certain level of anonymity. Many people also suffer from a sense of entitlement, and start to think that because they paid a lot of money to get in, they can act however they want to.
If you determine that you can afford to go, and that the park is worth fighting the crowds, you should also think about safety. You will need to plan for snacks, water, and of course, sunscreen, but you would need to plan for those things anywhere else outside that you might travel. Some rides do result in injuries, however. Follow all posted rules, and if you have children with you, watch them carefully. Most parks will probably be well maintained, but not all of them are, so be careful. Check out RideAccidents.com for current accident information.
When you plan your trip, also factor in food. Most people agree that food at the various parks is pretty awful, and yes, it is also expensive and usually full of calories. Still, for some people, the food itself is part of the fun of visiting a water park or amusement park.
In the end, you will have to decide if the price is worth it to you for a day of (possibly) fun at an amusement park or water park. Be sure to factor in more than just the literal cost though; remember to consider the likely crowds and lines, the food, and any potential safety concerns.