If you're making an entire vacation out of your theme-park visit, take advantage of free resources to help you plan. Disney will mail you a Disney Vacation Planning DVD in either English or Spanish, which covers both the California and Florida parks. And, a downloadable Disney Mobile Magic app for smartphones and iPads features GPS-enabled park maps, current wait times for attractions, where to find Disney characters, dining guides and more.
Since summertime lines at top theme park rides can be formidable, look into time-savers such as the FastPass at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World parks.
Hefty price tags and family amusement park visits seem to go hand-in-hand. But there are ways to save! Most parks offer special online deals. For example, Legoland Florida currently features online savings on a single-day combination ticket that includes the new Legoland Water Park.
If you live near a theme park, save with local resident promotions like the one offered by Universal Studios Hollywood. Locals enjoy a full year at the park for the price of one admission.
An annual pass is another option that can save money in the long run. Even if you don't plan to visit a park more than once a year, out-of-town guests may expect you to escort them on their visit.
"The annual pass pays for itself in several visits," says Michele Himmelberg, public relations director for Disney Destinations.
Visitors to Chicago's Six Flags Great America enjoy special rates on season passes for groups of four or more. Larger groups of 20 or more — such as family reunions — will find even greater savings by contacting the group sales department. And the park's new Season Dining Pass is a money-saver for those who make frequent trips during the same year.
For multiday visits, look for vacation promotions on park websites.
This summer, many parks will entice Latinos with festivals and entertainment with a Hispanic twist, such as mariachi music and ballet folklórico dancers.
I, for one, won't need any special enticement. I'm pleased enough that Disneyland long ago began offering churros along with other all-American snack fare. To me, that says a lot about how Hispanics have assimilated into the theme park experience. And, I'm happy to have played my part, motion sickness and all.
Also of interest: 8 fun indoor activities to do with your young ones.