Universal Orlando Resort invites guests to set their festive side free with its destination-wide Holidays celebration kicking off this month. Guests can experience a mix of merry and mischief brought to life from holiday classics to experiences inspired by pop culture icons, creating a memorable holiday atmosphere unlike any other beginning Friday, November 17 and running daily through Sunday, December 31. From the wondrous spectacle of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, and coming face-to-face with everyone’s favorite green grouch, the Grinch, during Grinchmas, to gazing at the floats and larger-than-life balloons during Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s, there are boundless opportunities for guests to enjoy at Universal Orlando this holiday season. Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort Holiday magic fills The Wizarding World of Harry Potter as the streets of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade transform into a wizarding holiday wonderland overflowing with festively themed décor, lights, garland and more. The nighttime spectacle, “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle,” returns to Hogsmeade at Universal Islands of Adventure bringing to life a stunning projection show highlighting Christmas moments and holiday spirit inspired by the beloved characters and stories of the “Harry Potter” films. The Frog Choir, comprised of Hogwarts students and their giant croaking frogs also returns to Hogsmeade with a special holiday-themed performance, plus guests can groove to the music of the wizarding world’s most popular singing sensation, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, in Diagon Alley. Universal's Holiday Parade Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's - courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort Guests will gaze in awe as beloved pop culture-inspired stories from Illumination’s Despicable Me and DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek and Madagascar fill the streets of Universal Studios Florida during Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. These beloved stories come to life as larger-than-life balloons, colorful holiday floats and hundreds of jolly performers embark on a picturesque journey that culminates in a stunning finale including a special appearance by Santa Claus and the lighting of the magnificent 80-foot Christmas tree. Grinchmas at Universal Islands of Adventure The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular - courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort Revel in the spirit of Grinchmas at Universal Islands of Adventure where the Grinch stars in the live retelling of the Dr. Seuss holiday classic, the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular.” Seuss Landing will transport guests into a whimsical atmosphere decked out with oversized candy canes, twisty Christmas trees, stunning tinsel ornaments and more. There will even be appearances from the Whos from Who-ville and a special photo opportunity that brings guests face-to-face with the mean, green one himself, the Grinch. The Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast - courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort Additionally, the popular dining experience, “The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast,” allows guests to start their day with a delicious breakfast and fun appearances by the Grinch and other favorite Dr. Seuss characters. The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast takes place in Confisco Grille in Universal Islands of Adventure on select dates November 17 through December 27 for $58.99 + tax per adult and $32.99 + tax per child (ages 3-9) and can be booked by visiting www.UniversalOrlando.com/Holidays. Premier and Preferred Annual Passholders can receive a 20% discount on purchases of The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast for select dates by calling 407-224-7554. Festivities at Universal CityWalk and Resort Hotels Loews Sapphire Falls Resort during the holidays - courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort Guests can keep the celebration going at Universal CityWalk with seasonal food and beverage and special entertainment. Plus, all eight Universal Orlando Resort hotels will be decked out with festive décor that enhances each hotel’s theme – and the whole family can indulge in holiday feasts and activities. Special menus will be available at Universal hotels for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, and there will also be menorah lighting ceremonies and more. Select hotels even offer special holiday entertainment like Christmas tree lightings and strolling carolers. Guests can now save 20% on a four-night stay in the 2-bedroom suites at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites & Surfside Inn and Suites and the family suites at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Special Holiday Deals See it all and book Universal's Holiday Tour: Guests can enjoy a guided tour that gives them special access to all the beloved holiday entertainment experiences taking place across the destination. Universal’s Holiday Tour is available on select dates beginning November 19 through December 30, 2023 and can be booked by visiting www.UniversalOrlando.com/Holidays. Pricing begins at $79.99 per person (plus tax) and separate theme park admission with a 1-Day 2-Park Park-to-Park ticket is required. Annual and Seasonal Passholders can get a $10 off discount per ticket per passholder with a valid Annual or Seasonal Pass. The tour includes:A chance to meet the maven of mischief himself, the Grinch, and his dog, Max, while enjoying small bites, desserts and non-alcoholic beveragesReserved seating at the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” in Universal Islands of AdventureA meet-and-greet photo opportunity with Santa Claus in Universal Studios FloridaAn exclusive, after-hours showing of “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal Islands of Adventure to complete the night’s festivities Get 2 days of park admission free with a special deal: Access to Universal Orlando’s Holidays celebration is included with regular admission to the theme parks. U.S. and Canada residents can now take advantage of an incredible deal giving them five days of access to Universal Orlando Resort’s thrilling theme parks for the price of a three-day ticket to enjoy the ultimate holiday getaway. Guests also have the option to upgrade their ticket to include Universal Volcano Bay. Click here for more information and to purchase.Take advantage of special experiences for annual passholders: In addition to discounts on select holiday experiences, Annual Passholders will get special access to enjoy Universal’s Holidays Parade featuring Macy’s from a viewing area just for Passholders, as well as exclusive merchandise and early access to the Holidays Tribute Store. — The Holidays celebration runs daily from November 17 through December 31 at Universal Orlando Resort and from November 24 through January 1, 2024 at Universal Studios Hollywood. For more information about Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.UniversalOrlando.com/Holidays.
There are hundreds of amusement parks in America to choose from, which is why we narrowed our list down to ten of the best. From Universal Orlando Resort in Florida to Disneyland in California; discover ten incredible amusement parks in the USA. 10. Disneyland Resort, California Consisting of two iconic theme parks, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, Disneyland Resort in California is an enchanting destination that captivates visitors of all ages. From classic attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain to immersive worlds like Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, there’s something for everyone. The attention to detail, beloved characters, and fantastic shows make it a dream for Disney fans and anyone seeking some nostalgic fun. 9. LEGOLAND California, California Legoland California Courtesy of legoland.com LEGOLAND is an extraordinary theme park where imagination and inspiration meet through life-sized LEGO figures, thrilling attractions, and interactive activities. Explore the worlds of LEGO Star Wars or Miniland USA, where you can see the Las Vegas Strip and the skyline of New York City entirely made of LEGO bricks! With over 60 attractions and shows, as well as a water park, it’s the perfect place to spend a few days – just over an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. 8. Six Flags Magic Mountain, California Six Flags Magic Mountain in California boasts some impressive records. It holds the world record for the most roller coasters in one park, with over 19 heart-pounding attractions to choose from. Visitors flock to the park for rides like Wonder Woman Flight of Courage and X2. With its renowned reputation for extreme thrills, Six Flags Magic Mountain is a haven for roller-coaster enthusiasts. The continuous innovation and new additions make it a must-see. 7. Universal Studios Hollywood, California Get swept away by the stars of Hollywood at Universal Studios, another fascinating amusement park that transports you to new worlds. Some favorites include the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can immerse yourself in Hogwarts. And of course we have to mention Fast & Furious-Supercharged, where you can go on an exciting chase with the iconic cast, at speeds of over 118mph! Don’t miss the new SUPER NINTENDO WORLD™ as well; a colorful themed area featuring the high-tech attraction Mario Kart™: Bowser’s Challenge. 6. Six Flags Great Adventure, New Jersey About an hour and a half drive from New York City, lies another top-notch Six Flags amusement park: Great Adventure. Along with tons of great rides for all ages – including the iconic Kingda Ka roller coaster – the park offers lovely shopping areas. It also has a fantastic safari adventure, featuring 1200 animals and overnight camping in the safari park. If you visit during the summer, don’t miss out on the refreshing water slides and attractions at Hurricane Harbor. 5. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Florida Bush Gardens by Viaval Tours / Shutterstock.com Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has an intriguing history as both an amusement park and a zoo. It’s inspired by the African continent and offers a blend of thrilling attractions and encounters with exotic animals. Some top attractions include the heart-pounding and brand-new Serengeti Flyer and the lightning-fast Cheetah Hunt. In the Serengeti Safari and Jungala, you can get up close to fascinating animals. With its thrilling rides, immersive animal experiences and captivating shows, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a must for animal lovers and thrill-seekers. 4. Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Texas Six Flags Fiesta Texas, located in San Antonio, Texas, was originally an abandoned limestone quarry, before it was transformed into the exciting amusement park we know today. The unique setting and thrilling attractions make it a must-see. The park offers a variety of rides, including epic roller coasters like Iron Rattler and Superman: Krypton Coaster. Dubbed the ‘Thrill Capital of the World,’ you can expect some of the best roller coasters in the country, including a fantastic water park to cool off in! 3. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Florida Disney magic is all around in the land of Mickey and Minnie Mouse! Part of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Magic Kingdom is a fantastic amusement park that will enchant everyone. With exciting and interactive rides for kids of all ages (including big kids like yourself), spend your days meeting Cinderella, Ariel and the family of The Incredibles, or exploring the amazing alien world of Avatar in the Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Speed enthusiasts shouldn’t miss the TRON coaster, opening in the spring of 2023. 2. Knott’s Berry Farm, California Knott’s Berry Farm in California literally began as a berry farm in the 1920s and has since become a famous amusement park. It attracts visitors seeking excitement with historic charm. The park has nearly 50 attractions, offering something for everyone. Roller coaster enthusiasts will get a thrill from GhostRider and HangTime, while families will enjoy the kid-friendly adventures in Camp Snoopy. Don’t miss the immersive experience of Ghost Town, either. With its rich heritage, diverse attractions and thrilling experiences, Knott’s Berry Farm promises an unforgettable adventure. 1. Universal Orlando Resort, Florida Universal Orlando by Craig Russell / Shutterstock.com The Universal Orlando Resort consists of three amusement parks: Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and the water park Universal’s Volcano Bay. Immerse yourself in the magical and exotic worlds of iconic films like Despicable Me, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park. Visit the Goblins at Gringotts Bank, make like the young wizards and witches by shopping for your wand in Diagon Alley or get up close and personal with a T-Rex on the thrilling Jurassic Park River Adventure water ride! Starting from summer 2023, you can also experience the delightful world of the Minions in Illumination’s Minion Land. With so much to discover, the kids won’t want to leave…and neither will you. For more information visit Musement.
The Ultimate Guide to Orlando's Halloween Celebrations and Theme Park Events
Orlando, Florida—sometimes called the "Halloween Vacation Capital"—invites visitors to celebrate the spooky season with a full lineup of frightful and family-friendly experiences throughout the destination. Visitors can enjoy hair-raising, spooktacular events, such as horror movie brunches, paranormal-themed escape rooms, haunted botanical gardens, kid-friendly trick-or-treat trails, and an adults-only vampire bar. “Orlando lives up to its reputation as the Halloween Vacation Capital with nearly three months of festive celebrations for all ages,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “Halloween fanatics, horror movie enthusiasts and costume-loving families can enjoy the multitude of special events across our theme parks, attractions and beyond.” While many of the events are focused around special theme park celebrations, there are plenty of other attractions happening beyond DisneyWorld and Universal that are equally amazing. Below are some of the top highlights for this fall season. Spooky Theme Park Events Howl-o-Scream at SeaWorld - courtesy of Visit OrlandoMickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World Resort (select nights, now through Nov. 1) makes a frightfully fun return at Magic Kingdom Park. The family-friendly, all-ages event features eerie entertainment that includes the “Hocus Pocus” Villain Spelltacular! at Cinderella Castle, Disney's Not-So-Spooky Spectacular, Disney Junior Jam for young partygoers, Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, the Trick-or-Treat Trail, Disney Characters in costume, and more than 20 favorite attractions with a Halloween twist. Guests are also invited to wear costumes, with some restrictions. Universal Orlando Resort's Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida (Sept. 1 – Nov. 4) returns for a record-breaking 48 nights featuring 10 new, movie-quality haunted houses featuring “The Exorcist: Believer”, “Stranger Things 4” and “The Last of Us” along with five scare zones filled with creatures lunging from the shadows, and two live shows. At SeaWorld Orlando, guests can experience two Halloween-themed events: Howl-O-Scream (select nights, Sept. 8 - Oct. 31) returns to terrorize guests at SeaWorld Orlando. Offering 24 nights of fully immersive fear, the event will feature fright-inducing haunted houses and scare zones; thrilling nighttime coaster rides and experiences; an interactive bar; and an electrifying live show. Additionally, little ones can dress up in their favorite costumes to trick-or-treat and meet colorful Halloween characters at the SeaWorld Spooktacular (weekends, Sept. 16 - Oct. 29), a family-friendly daytime event included with regular theme park admission.Brick or Treat Presents Monster Party at LEGOLAND Florida Resort (weekends, Sept. 16 – Oct. 29), a signature Halloween event included with theme park admission, will feature a trick or treat trail with candy, live entertainment and shows, never-before-seen exclusive LEGO characters and an all-new cinematic experience to create the ultimate family Halloween celebration. Family-Friendly Frights Beyond the Theme Parks Gatorland's Halloween events - courtesy of Visit Orlando The centerpiece of many Orlando trips will often be one of their popular theme parks, but that doesn't mean you have to limit the fun there. There are many more unique, kids-friendly events happening in September and October to experience. Screamin' Green Hauntoween at Crayola Experience (Sept. 24 – Oct. 31) celebrates the Halloween season with a lineup of spooky happenings included with admission, such as a themed scavenger hunt, spook-tastic crafts, character photo ops, trick-or-treating on the weekends and more. Guests craving more can add-on activities like pumpkin decorating and slime making. Gatorland's “Gators, Ghosts and Goblins” Halloween event (weekends, Oct. 14–29) returns for its fifth year of family fun and fright. The all-ages daytime event, included with regular admission, will feature an all-new haunt zone and exhibit, interactive characters, animal meet-and-greets, candy giveaways, a children's Halloween costume parade and more. Pirates Dinner Adventure will offer “Vampirates: When the Blood Moon Rises” (Sept. 19 – Oct. 31), a limited time Halloween-themed dinner show suitable for all ages. Guests will Embark on a spooktacular journey filled with aerial artistry, swordplay, death-defying stunts and dynamic duels. Happy Frights at Harry P. Leu Gardens (Sept. 29 – Oct. 31) is an all-ages, family-friendly trick-or-treat adventure through 12 immersive worlds. The event will give guests an opportunity to meet a dancing bridge-troll, walk through a garden of sunflowers, explore a neon-light maze, climb up a giant hay-pyramid, celebrate Dia de Muertos and so much more - all while visiting eight trick-or-treat stations along the way. The German American Society of Central Florida will host Halloween Oktoberfest (Oct. 28), a combination of the well-renowned German autumn festival and a Halloween celebration. The family-friendly event will feature authentic German food, a Biergarten, live musical entertainment, a kids play area, a traditional flag parade and more. Lake Nona Town Center will host the family-friendly Lake Nona Graveyard Smash event (Oct. 28). Mortals will be able to party with ghosts and ghouls; participate in trick-or-treat stations; experience live music; and take a journey through inflatable courses. This event is free and open to the public with no ticket required. Gaylord Palms Resort's annual Goblins & Giggles weekends (Sept.9 – Oct. 29) features family-friendly events including a spooky scavenger hunt; live shows; dance and costume parties; a haunted escape room; character experiences; pumpkins; movies and more. The resort will feature a “Fall Into Family Fun” vacation package, which includes an overnight stay with premium views, $50 nightly resort credit, one scavenger hunt booklet and two Halloween-themed crafts in the Adventure Kids' Clubhouse. Thrilling, Adults-Only Experiences Cocktails & Screams - courtesy of Visit Orlando While Orlando is known for being a fabulous family destination, there are plenty of events for date nights and adults-only crowds. For Halloween fun all year long, The Bureau features Possession at Haddon Heights, a paranormal themed escape room that forces guests to confront an evil entity at an abandoned school. Renaissance Theatre Company will present the return of “Nosferatu" (Sept. 15 – Nov. 5) at the Ren. The re-vamped, 90-minute adults-only horror experience offers an entirely new concept from last year's event, where each patron has a unique experience as the cast of 32 vampires lead the audience into hidden corners of the building playing out engaging scenarios. Later in the evening, “VBar”, the elevated Vampire-nightclub, opens its doors to guests with separate admission. Harry P. Leu Gardens will host Haunting Nights (Sept. 29 – Oct. 31), an artful, elevated Halloween event, brought to life by Creative City Project, featuring thrilling surprises for guests 13 and older. The immersive event will feature jump scares as guests encounter several characters throughout the journey that will provide a heightened level of thrill. Teatro Martini, the Vegas-inspired adult dinner show, will host its annual Halloween Revue (Sept. 29 – Oct. 31) this fall. The show will feature lyrical pole dancers, comedians, magicians, jugglers and limited-edition themed cocktails throughout the season. Scream n' Stream Drive-Thru Halloween Experience, a haunted Halloween drive-thru event, will return for its third year featuring seven horrifying zones to drive through complete with monsters, music, lighting and special effects Friday through Sunday from Oct. 6-29. Cocktails & Screams in Downtown Orlando is an only Halloween-themed bar, featuring live music and an extensive list of creative cocktails. On Sundays this fall, guests can experience the Cereal Killer Brunch from noon to 5 p.m., among other themed events throughout the season. And on Oct. 31, new cocktails and entertainment will debut during the HallowEMO Night event, featuring a complete lineup of local bands to celebrate Halloween. Vampires, ghastly revenants, and banshees come to life in Phantasmagoria XIV: “Tales of the Undead” (Oct. 26-28). For three nights only at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, guests can experience the original tales of the critically acclaimed Victorian Horror Troupe “PHANTASMAGORIA” and the haunting stories of world-famous authors including Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells, Penny Dreadfuls and more. The Halloween Pub Crawl (Oct. 27) returns to downtown Orlando for another year of killer-drink specials and a chance for guests to show off their hauntingly best costumes. From 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., Halloween fans will have access to all participating venues, four complimentary drinks, drink specials and more.
Most people with travel plans to North Carolina this fall have the incredible, sunset-colored foliage and fresh mountain air on their minds—but, this year, travelers to the state might want to add something a little more whimsical to their itinerary. A unique theme park exists in Beech Mountain, North Carolina inspired by the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. This year, the Land of Oz celebrates its 30th anniversary with the Autumn at Oz festival. The Land of Oz isn't your typical theme park. After a successful opening in the 1970s, the park unfortunately fell into troubles in the 1980s. During that time, much of the original theme park was demolished due to decay or vandalism—however, the most emblematic features were preserved, including the Gale farmhouse, barn, and yellow brick road. A reunion of the park’s original employees, the “Ozzies”, in 1988 sparked the idea of public visits. This led to the inception of the Autumn at Oz Festival in 1993, an annual event in September that drew thousands of nostalgic visitors. Currently, while Land of Oz is not a fully functioning theme park, it offers many public events that celebrate the magic and legacy of all things Oz! Celebrate Autumn at Oz Skipping down the Yellow Brick Road - courtesy of the Land of Oz Autumn at Oz is a one-of-a-kind event that combines your typical festival atmosphere with an interactive, immersive theatrical experience. Guests walk onto the Gale’s Kansas farm, visit Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s Home, escape into our newly renovated Tornado Storm Cellar, and walk out on the Yellow Brick Road into the world of Oz. Along the way, you meet all your favorite characters, see them sing and dance, and enjoy the natural scenery of this magical place that sits over one mile high atop Beech Mountain. The stunning Blue Ridge Mountains provide a picturesque background for an unforgettable adventure Over The Rainbow.Inside the park, the Judy Garland Over the Rainbow Observation Deck (the second highest elevation along the East Coast) boasts one of the most beautiful views in the South East granting a hundred miles radius view of North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee. One can also find food & craft vendors, official Land of Oz souvenirs and Wizard of Oz Memorabilia for sale, face painting & much more! At Oz, you don’t just watch it – you live it! Guests wander through the Land of Oz - courtesy fo the Land of Oz Sean Barrett, Artistic Director of the Land of Oz Theme Park, describes the excitement leading up to this year's event: "We are thrilled to be celebrating 30 years of the Autumn at Oz Festival! We've come a long way over the years with renovations and adding to this event each year. Now with 8 theatrical vignette shows, food and craft vendors, character meet-n-greets, and a few surprises along the way, Oz has grown into something extremely special and magical. If you haven't come in recent years, now is the time! We cannot wait to skip down the Yellow Brick Road with everyone while celebrating this milestone year." Stay nearby in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains With a convenient location near Boone, North Carolina and close access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, visitors will find they have a number of amazing options when it comes to lodging. Everything from affordable hotel chains and local inns, to quaint bed and breakfasts and cozy cabins can be found. Plenty of hiking trails and outdoor activities abound to make your trip magical.
Amusement parks are one of the most popular summer outings. More than 100 million people visited the 20 most popular North American amusement parks in 2021 with another 10 million attending the most popular water parks—and attendance is expected to rise in 2023. It’s not just visits that are up, though. Theme park prices are also high, especially for families where costs are multiplied across several people. To determine which U.S. parks are the most affordable for families, Forbes Advisor analyzed the price of admission, food, parking and nearby lodging for the most popular amusement and water parks. Take a look at the cheapest amusement parks nationwide to plan an exciting day out while meeting your budget’s bottom line. Top Five Cheapest Water Parks Slides at a water park by Aquavera - Unsplash Water parks dominate the list of cheapest parks for families, accounting for eight of the top 10 most affordable parks nationwide. On average, the admission cost of a water park is half that of an amusement park. Though water parks tend to be smaller, there’s still more than enough to fill a day (or more!) when visiting with your family. 1. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix is the cheapest water park in the United States for a family to visit. A family of four would spend just under $300 for a day at the park, including four admissions, four all-day dining passes and parking for one car. Families with young children may save even more. Airbnbs in the area have a median nightly price of $255.67 over the summer for properties that sleep four to eight people, ranking 15th on our list for lodging. If you need less space or can secure cheaper lodging through hotel free night certificates, this park could be a great pick. 2. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown Houston’s Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Splashtown ties for the lowest one-day admission price at U.S. water parks, charging $34.99 for entry. Relatively inexpensive parking and dining plans are also available. In fact, for day-trippers, this Texas park actually comes in cheaper than Hurricane Harbor Phoenix—though the higher cost of nearby lodging pushes the park to number two on our list. 3. Six Flags White Water Atlanta Similar to other Six Flags-branded locations, admission to Six Flags White Water Atlanta is only $34.99 per person, making this another cheap water park option for families. Though overnight stays are more expensive here, it might make sense for guests who also want to visit Six Flags Over Georgia, a more traditional theme park only 20 miles away. 4. Aquatica A part of the SeaWorld family, the Aquatica park in Orlando ranks fourth on our list of most affordable water parks. Here, admission is more expensive than the Six Flags water parks but cheap lodging helps bring the cost down for traveling families. An overnight trip to this water park would cost $655.63 for a family of four (including four one-day admission passes, four dining passes, one day’s parking and one night of lodging at a family-sized Airbnb). 5. Adventure Island An hour away from theme park central, Adventure Island in Tampa Bay, Florida is an affordable water park option for families. At around $655, the cost for an overnight visit here is nearly identical to a trip to Aquatica, so park goers can choose which location is a better fit for their interest or overall travel plans. Top Five Cheapest Theme Parks A ride at Cedar Point in Ohio by Aaron Burden - Unsplash When it comes to a day at the park, sometimes you’re looking for traditional thrills. These cheap amusement parks have classic rides plus new, inventive rides sure to excite. Best of all, they cost well under the nationwide average admission of $113 and offer all the fun at a better price for families. 1. Hersheypark In the small town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, you’ll find the cheapest theme park in America. The estimated daily spend for a family of four is $400.56, which covers one-day admission tickets, dining passes and parking. Compared to other locations on our list, you’ll also note that the Hershey area has affordable lodging. The median nightly price for an Airbnb sleeping four to eight people is approximately $190 in the middle of summer. It’s also an easy drive for anyone living in the northeast or mid-Atlantic, helping families avoid the cost of airfare. 2. Kings Island Kings Island in Cincinnati is an exceptional value for families. Admission is reasonable and includes access to Soak City Water Park for a two-in-one experience. Overnight lodging bumps the total experience cost a bit: families should budget about $670 for a one-day visit to the park with an overnight stay. 3. Six Flags Great America For an easy side trip from Chicago, plan a day at Six Flags Great America, which is one of the most affordable amusement parks. The low cost of a dining pass at $20.99 helps keep your price down, though general admission and parking are also competitively priced. As you may expect for Chicagoland, overnight stays can be more expensive here. 4. Cedar Point At only $54.99 for admission, Cedar Point is a fun, cheap amusement park. A day at the park would cost a family of four $371.07 for admission, dining and parking—even cheaper than Hersheypark. However, lodging expenses drop Cedar Point to number four on our list. To save even more, stay in Toledo instead, which is only an hour away and one of the most affordable cities for family vacations. 5. Six Flags Great Adventure Another cheap theme park is Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, where admission and a dining pass adds up to $75.98 per person. If you live within day-tripping distance, which includes both New York City and Philadelphia, you can keep costs down to a total of $341.43 for a family of four. The median cost of a summer Airbnb sleeping four to eight adds another $350 to your trip cost. — For more details about the study and ways to save money on your next family theme park adventure, visit Forbes Advisor.
Universal Orlando Resort shares new details about all the ways guests can eat, laugh and make mischief with the Minions in the highly anticipated Minion Land on Illumination Ave. – an immersive new area created in partnership between Universal’s award-winning creative team and the acclaimed filmmakers from Illumination. Opening this summer at Universal Studios Florida, the new land expands upon the wildly popular Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction and will debut a new collection of experiences for guests of all ages inspired by the beloved Minions franchise. As soon as guests enter the land, they’ll be greeted by a fun, photo-worthy “Minion Land” marquee featuring 22 Minions before embarking on the mischief that awaits along Illumination Ave. From blasting their way to supervillain stardom in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast to savoring tasty dishes at the Minion Cafe to snacking on banana-flavored popcorn at Pop-a-Nana and meeting fan-favorite characters along the way, here are details about the exciting new experiences that await in Minion Land: Play in the Villain-Con Minion Blast Illumination's new Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction - courtesy of NBCUniversal Guests can put their villainous skills to the test in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast – an all-new attraction where guests compete against each other in a fully interactive gaming experience that’s so much fun, it’s a crime. Afterward, guests exit through Evil Stuff, an all-new retail location where they can stock up on Villain-Con and Minions merchandise. More details about Villain-Con Minion Blast will be revealed soon. Indulge in Minion-themed Treats Rendering of Bake My Day at Universal Orlando - courtesy of NBCUniversal It’s Minions in the kitchen, mischief in the dining room, and tons of tasty food at the new Illumination’s Minion Cafe – the marquee dining location within Minion Land. This immersive new eatery offers something for every palate in a highly-entertaining dining experience that features three themed areas designed after beloved Minions Kevin, Stuart, Bob and Otto:the Kitchen – where guests will get a glimpse of the equipment and gear the Minions have used to whip up the cafe’s menu; the Breakroom – where guests can dine in the Minions’ break space that includes everything from “Office Safety Tips” to a vending machine stocked with mischievous items; and the Dining Room – a vibrant space adorned with colorful artwork courtesy of the Minions and more. Guests can also enjoy their meal on an outdoor patio that overlooks the fun of Minion Land. Just as eye-catching as Minion Cafe’s incredibly-themed surroundings is its delicious menu – the latest example of how Universal Orlando’s award-winning culinary team continues to raise the bar when it comes to theme park dining. Guests of all ages can enjoy inventive, family-friendly fare featuring nearly 20 items inspired by memorable characters and staples from the Minions franchise, including eclectic “despica-bowls” such as Otto’s Noodle Bowl, Agnes’s Honeymoon Soup and Carl’s Crispy Cauliflower (vegan offering); delectable handhelds such as the Steak & “Cheese Ray” Sandwich; adorable desserts such as Bob’s Teddy Bear Chocolate Cream Puff; a kids’ menu for the “mini Minions” in the family that includes items like the Mini Boss’ Mega Melt; and so much more. The Minion Cafe will also feature an express window with a limited menu for those looking to satisfy their mischievous cravings quickly and return to the mayhem in Minion Land. Other Minion Land treats to come: Bake My Day: Topped with a massive pink cupcake that’s visible from anywhere in the land, Bake My Day is a whimsical retail location and bakery featuring a selection of Minion-themed sweet treats, including cupcakes, macarons, s’mores and more, along with exclusive Minion-inspired merchandise like apparel, plush, drinkware, accessories, keychains and more.Pop-A-Nana: Banana-flavored popcorn, anyone? This walkup location features sweet and savory popcorn inspired by the Minions’ love for bananas. Here, guests may also find an assortment of cute popcorn buckets, including the Minion Selfie bucket. Freeze Ray Pops: Guests can cool off with a visit to Freeze Ray Pops, featuring a variety of colorful popsicles inspired by Gru, the Minions and Vector – along with beverages. Interact with Characters Guests can meet, greet and interact with beloved characters like the Minions, Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes, plus new additions from the hit film “Sing” – Rosita, Gunter and Johnny – at an outdoor Illumination Theater facade. Guests can also discover murals, photo ops and more throughout Minion Land that celebrate additional characters from popular Illumination films. Minion Land is yet another example of how Universal Destinations & Experiences is raising the bar on immersive storytelling for the entire family using beloved stories and franchises often seen in films. —For more information about Minion Land and Universal Orlando Resort overall, visit www.universalorlando.com.
Most kids dream of visiting a Disney park from the moment they realize these magical wonderlands exist. They grow up watching Disney fairytales unfold on television and in their favorite movies, envision their lives as Disney princes or princesses, and yearn for the day when they can see the iconic Disney castles with their own eyes. According to a recent analysis by Time Magazine, the average four-day Disney vacation costs families $6,360. That includes the costs of hotels, transportation, park admission, food, souvenirs, and extras. The reality is, even the average, non-luxury trip to Walt Disney World isn’t going to be cheap. Even if you can drive to a park, you’ll need to pay for park admission, hotel stays, and food at a very minimum. If you want your kids to have any special experiences like dinner in Cinderella’s castle, that costs extra, too. You could do it cheaper, they noted, if you stayed off the resort, shortened your visit, drove instead of flying, avoided “park hopper” tickets that let you visit more than one park in a day, and ate entirely off the resort. However, the cheapest realistic budget they could come up with for a Disney vacation still came out to $3,564. But, what if you could save even more on your trip? Some experts say it’s possible to whittle down the cost of your Disney vacation significantly if you’re willing to think outside the box, sacrifice in a few areas, and plan way ahead. Budget Travel has plenty of deals to find at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California—and they aren't the only way to save money. CouponChief.com has assembled the ultimate guide of practical ways to save for a Disney vacation. Whether you plan to visit Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando or Disneyland Resort near Anaheim, California, there are tons of savings strategies that can add up in a big way. Book with a Disney-approved travel agent “Look for an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner,” says Steve Griswold, owner of Disney-themed travel agency Pixie Vacations. According to Griswold, authorized Disney vacation planners are travel agencies that the Walt Disney Company has given this designation to. These travel agencies usually specialize in Disney vacations such as Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney and Aulani. “Most agencies are free to work with and their knowledge and service will help you find and plan the perfect vacation just right for you and your family,” he says. For example, these agencies will typically watch prices for you so that, if a new offer comes out that would save you money, you can reconfigure your vacation right away. “This is also very convenient as you don’t have to look for new discounts every day or spend hours on hold with Disney.” Griswold also notes that hiring an agent can help you save time since they typically help with Disney dining reservations and going over the different dining packages with you, along with booking fast passes and other Disney extras. Shop for these items getting to the park or resort Disney merchandise - courtesy of disneytouristblog.com Travel necessities – Disney Authorized Vacation Planner Sandy Nussbaum-Giercyk of Instant Impressions Travel Services says one of her favorite savings tips is hitting the Dollar Store to buy necessities before she leaves. “I get throw-away rain ponchos, glow sticks, and some little toys to keep us and those around us busy in line,” she says. You could also head to the Dollar Store or any discount store to stock up on additional supplies you might need for your trip – things like paper plates, toothpaste, and shampoo.Souvenirs – While Disney parks offer all kinds of activities to take part in, they are also chock full of distractions intended to get you to part with your hard-earned money. Souvenir shops and game stalls abound and, if you take advantage, you could wind up spending hundreds of dollars on extras and souvenirs. Disney-branded items can be purchased for much less than official gear or items on-site. Pack some Disney stickers or stuffed animals purchased cheaply at home and hand them out to your kids as required. They won’t know the difference, but you’ll avoid the huge mark-up on souvenirs at the parks. Alternatively, if you're set on doing on-site shopping, be firm with a budget. Give kids an upfront dollar limit in terms of what they can spend on souvenirs. If they have $30 to spend, for example, they might be choosier when it comes to what they buy with their spending money.Meals and snacks – You can absolutely bring your own food into any Disney park (as long as it is not alcohol or inside a glass container). This can include a cooler with drinks and sandwiches or little snacks to help you get through the day. If you can avoid even $20 in snacking at the park over five days, that’s an easy $100 in savings. If you have Amazon Prime Now or another favorite grocery delivery service, take advantage of these services if you're staying at hotel or condo with a refrigerator and kitchen. Select a limited number of special dining experiences; there is no need to pay Disney prices for every meal—especially if you have young kids that may not eat much of what is offered. Save on park ticket prices Save with an annual pass - courtesy of thepointsguy.com Consider multi-day passes – While planning a longer trip might sound counterintuitive for those wanting to save, Nussbaum-Giercyk points out that park tickets become cheaper per-day when you stay longer. “Disney park tickets are front-loaded with cost, so a single day or two seems very expensive,” she says. “Add on at day 5 or 6 and it costs about the same as going to the movies!” Obviously, staying longer will cause the total cost of your trip to surge, but you may get more value in return if you’re able to buy a multi-day ticket and find other ways to save on your trip.Buy discounted park tickets through UndercoverTourist.com – While the discounts can vary quite a bit, it’s possible to save on the cost of park tickets through UnderCoverTourist.com. Make sure to compare prices before you choose this option. Also compare whether you would save more if you purchased a full-fledged Disney vacation package instead of buying tickets and lodging ala carte.Plan for just one park per day – While the idea of buying “park hopper” tickets that let you visit multiple parks every day does sound intriguing, many families are able to save substantial sums of money by visiting just one park per day. Most families can save $250 or more on their trip if they skip the “park hopper” upgrade and plan their visit accordingly. You still get to visit the parks you want this way, but you have to be more mindful in terms of the rides you want to ride and when, along with the special amenities you plan to take advantage of each day.Buy an annual pass – If you’re visiting Disney parks multiple times per year, buying an annual pass can absolutely pay off. A Disney Platinum Plus Pass is currently $829 for those ages 3 and up, but it includes unlimited admission to most Disney parks as well as free parking. This pass also allows you to visit more than one park in a single day. Florida residents also get special discounts. Don't live in Florida, but have a grandparent living there? Not only do Florida residents get discounted pass prices, but they can purchase resident-rate passes for grandkids (under age 18). Utilize travel credit card rewards Driving instead of flying can save hundreds of dollars, but it isn't the only way to save on transportation costs. It’s possible to avoid the cost of flying if you’re savvy with credit card rewards. By racking up miles with the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, for example, you can often fly round-trip into Orlando or into several California airports for just the cost of airline taxes and fees, which works out to $5.60 per person, per leg. You can earn Southwest miles by signing up for a co-branded Southwest credit card, flying with Southwest, shopping through their shopping portal, or signing up for the Southwest Dining Club. Disney does offer a co-branded credit card with Chase, but the rewards are paltry compared to what you can get with other cash-back and travel rewards cards. If you’re looking for ways to get at least part of your Disney vacation covered for free, it might be worth it to look into travel credit cards that offer flexible points or travel credit. Just be sure to pay down your credit card each month, otherwise the interest will negate the benefits and rewards. Get smart about Disney gift cards The entrance to Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida - courtesy of orlandoinformer.com One of the best ways to save for a Disney vacation is to take advantage of offers for Disney gift cards. “You can save five percent by buying Disney Gift Cards at Target, for example,” Griswold notes. To do so, you’ll need to sign up for a Target REDCard, which allows you to save 5 percent on Target purchases. According to the vacation expert, there is a special app that lets you type in your Disney gift cards so they are all organized and ready to be used and applied to your Disney World vacation balance. Sam's Club is also a popular place to buy Disney gift cards at a discounted price (usually 3% to 10% off). Just be sure to always purchase your gift cards from a trusted retailer and, if possible, in person, as there are plenty of websites online that are scams. Rent a vacation condo or stay at an off-site hotel Florida rental property - courtesy of orlandovacationhomes.com If you’re worried about the high costs of staying on-property at your favorite Disney resort, you may want to consider renting a condo or timeshare week off-site. Doing so can typically net you plenty of savings and more room than you might have otherwise. For example, you may be able to pay less for a week in a two-bedroom condo than you would in a Disney resort with two queen beds. If you stay at an off-site hotel, it is likely possible you can shuttle to the parks instead of taking your rental car and paying for parking. Many off-site hotels offer their own shuttles to entice guests, so make sure to check. Sit through a timeshare presentation Lots of local resorts offer special deals on Disney vacations (or Disney lodging) if you’re willing to sit through a timeshare presentation that can last between 90 minutes and 4 hours. These presentations don’t require a purchase but often include high-pressure sales techniques. While some of these pitches offer free or discounted hotel stays, others offer free tickets to a local Disney park in exchange for your time. While these opportunities can absolutely help you save on a Disney trip, Griswold says you should think long and hard about pursuing this option and what your time is worth.“You will see booths all over Orlando offering discounted park tickets,” he says. “You are going to waste at least half a day in timeshare presentations and most have very high-pressure sales people.” If your trip is fairly short already, the time you spend may not be worth it. Skip Disney during one day of your trip Just because you’re in Florida or California near a Disney park doesn’t mean you have to spend every waking moment soaking up the Disney experience. If you plan a “free day” or skip the park for a single day, your savings can be substantial. A free day can be anything you want it to be. Maybe your kids would be happy as clams swimming in the hotel pool. If you’re near the beach, you can also pack a picnic and let the kids play in the surf for the day (this option would require a rental car). Lastly, you could shop or explore other less expensive parks nearby such as city parks or water parks. You could even go roller skating or take the family to the movies! — For more ways to save on a Disney vacation, check out the full guide at CouponChief.com.