You can’t ignore the cost of Disneyland? Here are 5 cheaper theme parks

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are introducing additional fees. Instead of collecting free FastPasses, park visitors will have to pay for the new Genie+ service — $15 a day at Disney World and $20 a day at Disneyland — to skip the lines at attractions. Mandarin. That was the top of the regular admission, which could have been more than $100 per day.

Robert Niles, a former Disney World trip operator reporter, has covered theme parks for over 15 years and now runs the Theme Park Insider blog. He says most people can spend a few hundred dollars a day at Disney.

“Disney prices aggressively because they know they have a premium product,” says Niles. “And the market has told them they can move away from pricing aggressively.”

As MarketWatch reported, Disney World ticket prices have increased by more than 3,000% since it opened in 1971. We asked Niles what other theme parks he would recommend if a vacation in “The Happiest Place on Earth” was too expensive. Here are some of his alternative suggestions for theme parks that are cheaper than Disney.

Theme park vacations cost less than Disney

Choose an alternative theme park that doesn’t sacrifice your favorite parts of your Disney vacation.

1. Universal Orlando Resort – if you still want a vacation in Orlando

Universal Orlando Resort in Florida is perhaps the most popular theme park alternative to Disney, and it’s only a 15-minute drive away (and still in Orlando). You’ll still get three large parks, including a water park and themed lands like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Kids still have plenty of options for character encounters, and teens and adults alike are said to have more thrill ride options at Universal than at Disney.

In terms of cost, Universal tickets can be as expensive as Disney’s, but Niles says the hotel savings is where Universal makes the difference.

“You can buy Universal Orlando’s cheapest on-site hotel for 30 to 50 percent less than Disney’s cheapest on-site hotel, and it’s also a better quality hotel,” he said.

Other perks of hotels on Universal’s grounds, including the Endless Summer Resort (Surfside Inn and Suites as well as the Dockside Inn and Suites), are free shuttles to the parks and early access to Harry’s Wizarding World. Potter.

2. Legoland – if you have children under 13

Legoland has mastered the design of a park for children, especially primary school age.

“My experience is that the kids there are a lot more comfortable because everything is scaled down for them,” says Niles. “The attractions seem to be more hands-on and interactive, rather than just ‘sit and watch’.”

Tickets for Legoland California start at $95 per day for adults.

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3. Dollywood – if you love amusement parks and amusement parks

Let superstar Dolly Parton perform. Her amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has great rides, but the live shows – which usually last under an hour – are the real highlight.

“I remember last time I went to see an absolutely amazing show there. It was like a Broadway musical,” said Niles. “It’s not just the country. You have rock music, you have show tunes, you have gospel. They have a wide range of musical performances there. ”

Considering the cost of Disney tickets or even Broadway theater tickets, Dollywood can definitely save some money. Adult tickets are $84 per day, and child tickets are $74 per day.

4. Busch Gardens Williamsburg – if you love Epcot

Epcot gives visitors a taste of culture and history from different countries, and Niles’ next pick can do the same. Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a European themed park, so you can go to France for the Griffon ride, then to Germany for Oktoberfest. One-day adult tickets at Virginia parks can start around $50 and can be less as you buy multiple days.

“You get that [Epcot] Niles said: “World Showcase”. “I know a lot of Disney fans who love the Williamsburg area and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

“Tickets are cheaper. Great experiences.”

In addition to the Busch Gardens amusement park, visitors can visit the Water Country USA waterpark and learn about their history in colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.

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5. Disneyland Paris or Disneyland Tokyo – if you still want to experience Disney

For some die-hard fans, nothing really compares to the Disney experience. In that case, you shouldn’t miss the Disney park abroad.

“If you can get a cheap flight to Paris, you can sometimes price a stay at Disneyland Paris less than a stay at Disney World,” says Niles.

Not only is there some different food and attractions, but tickets can be as low as $63 for a one-day, one-park admission.

Niles suggests turning it into a whole European theme park adventure by taking the train to Efteling in the Netherlands, another park that features many games based on fairy tales. According to Niles, Disney Imagineers come to Efteling for inspiration.

More ways to save on your theme park vacation

Choosing a different theme park is just one way to keep costs low for your family or friends’ next vacation. Other things you can do include:

  • Go on low demand days. Many theme parks use a dynamic pricing system, and you’ll both save money and avoid the crowds when most kids are in school.

  • Be careful with add-ons. Additional features may be added. If you’ve enjoyed a Disney stay, pay for your admission and say no to extra charges, like when your child asks for a princess makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

  • Consider alternatives to amusement park parking and food. Regardless of which park you choose, parking and food can be hefty expenses. Check to see if there is a free shuttle to the park from your accommodation or if you can pack your own lunch to eat in the park.

In addition to saving on the entertainment of your trip, travelers can also book hotels and airfare to earn points. Join loyalty programs or adding a travel credit card to your wallet can help pay for these costs. If you are new to points and miles, this Beginner’s Guide is a great place to start.

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If you love Disney but can’t always afford it, you have alternatives

While your vacations won’t be quite the same, the experience at the theme parks cheaper than Disney will put less pressure on your pocket – and still provide plenty of fun. Whether it’s riding a horse or watching a show, you can find a suitable, more affordable alternative that still makes you scream (out loud or in your heart) for enjoyment.

See more from NerdWallet

Meghan Coyle writes for NerdWallet. Email: Twitter: @inkwaves. | You can’t ignore the cost of Disneyland? Here are 5 cheaper theme parks


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