During the days of summer, going to a theme park with children is a fun adventure that families explore.
What might not be exciting is the price tag of drinks and food at the theme park.
Today, let’s explore how to save money on food and beverages at a theme park.
Pack A Lunch To Save Money At A Theme Park
Our family went on a mini road trip to a popular Ontario theme park, but we did it with money savings in mind.
Thinking frugally or a day trip with two or three kids could cost your budget hundreds of dollars.
Before heading out, we packed food and drinks because paying $6.00 for pop wasn’t in our family’s budget.
Summer Food Budget Increases
You may find that going on day trips in the summer with or without kids may increase your food budget because you pack a lunch.
If you save spending money for eating out in your travel fund, that’s great, although not everyone does this.
Think about how much more fun you could have by saving money and bringing food and drinks instead.
I know that sounds VERY FRUGAL, but we rarely, if ever, buy food from local attractions because the price is a rip-off.
Yes, it is, and you know it.
No, one should pay almost $6 for a large pop when that could get you a case of 24 cans.
Consider these day trips as a camping excursion but without sleeping over.
What To Consider Packing For A Theme Park
- Summer chairs
- Umbrella for shade
- Toys for kids
- Sports equipment such as a volleyball, basketball or other water sports equipment
- Sunscreen for the family
- Sun Hats
- Health and Beauty supplies, including a First Aid Kit
- Beach Towels
- Extra sets of clothes
- Bathing suit
- Cold Cooler to pack food and beverages
- Large Wagon for kids and to pack stuff inside
- Push Buggy for small children
How To Pack A Theme Park Lunch
The last thing you want to do for a day trip is pack lunch but what we’ve learned from visiting local attractions and parks in Ontario is in your best interest financially.
The cost of food is rising at the grocery store, but if you reach into your pocket for convenience just about anywhere, you can expect to pay even more.
I’m not just talking fast-food trucks, cafeterias, and restaurants; I’m digging deeper into family festivities and day trips with the family where you are already paying a high price tag for admission.
Paying to entertain your family doesn’t have to be expensive, and going to theme parks is not a need. It’s a want but something we choose to do for the little guy as long as our budget permits it.
Many frugal savers will make their way to local theme parks or other attractions in and around your local area, but it’s essential to learn the FAQs and package food and drinks before you go.
Summer Family Getaways
It’s summer, and time to be outside for our family, so we make frequent visits within one to two hours drives.
- Local Parks
- Nature Trails
- Hiking Trails
- Local Family Farms for tourists
- Picking Fruits and Vegetables
- Play Centres
- Ontario Parks
- Splash Pads
- Butterfly Conservatory
Apart from free outdoor activities, summer festivals, and fairs, we also like to take the family on adventures at some of Ontario’s top theme parks and Zoo exhibits.
Now that our little guy is older, we thought we’d give the theme park another shot this year.
When he was two years old, we took him to Wonderland last-minute with friends who invited us, which didn’t work out well.
Sometimes, first-time parents, you learn what works and doesn’t work for your children.
Our son did not have patience back then, and waiting in line on a hot summer day wasn’t his idea of fun.
Update 2022: We later found out that the lack of patience was due to our son being Autistic ASD1.
Although he loved the animal attractions, the rides didn’t do it for him.
We didn’t make our way to the splash park because of his grumpy mood and decided we’d wait until he was older until we visited again.
We did for our visit to the theme park of all amusement parks in Ontario to bring a packed lunch that included lots of snacks and drinks.
The Importance Of Researching Your Day Trip
Personally, as parents, we should have done our research before we left to learn more about the theme park, but we didn’t.
There was lots of excitement as this was our first real adventure as a family. Hence, it was more of a learning experience than anything, and it paid off recently after a trip to Bingemans in Kitchener, Ontario.
Some of the best theme parks in our area were far too big for our little guy, so we looked outside of the Toronto area for a water theme park that our family could enjoy.
Bingemans seemed like it would be perfect, and the website boasted an indoor play centre, Splash park, Diggerland and arcade, and a bowling alley and restaurant.
It is a kids’ theme park built for family fun, including the adults.
The thing about theme park restaurants is that you will pay big money to eat there, whether it is a franchise.
A couple of beers later and a few minutes watching the Soccer match between our theme park visit cost me $15.
That was my splurge for the day, but we did frugal our way through discount Bingemans tickets from Groupon for the kids.
The 43% savings was a welcome surprise; we only paid $19.95 for the entire day at the water theme park instead of $34.95.
There were shocking costs involved with Bingemans, although I was not surprised. For one, the Excavation Station by Diggerland was so expensive that we bypassed it altogether.
The charge to use one of the machines for the kids runs at $8 for two short minutes, which seems excessive, but an attendant has to come out specifically.
There were NO line-ups for this new attraction because of the extra costs.
Extra Costs Not Included With Theme Park Tickets
The arcade prices are outrageous, but luckily we had 2-hour Playdium arcade cards compliments of my sister-in-law, which provided lots of fun for the entire family.
The multi-level play structure costs $10.95 per child for the day and $4.95 under 2 yrs.
Adults are complimentary with a paid child.
There is also rock climbing, ropes course, and Ball-o-city, a foam ball blasting station available for a Power Pass price of $20.95 for the day, including the play structure.
If getting a yearly pass makes sense for your budget and family lifestyle, then most certainly entertain the idea, but for us, one or two visits are more than enough during the season.
There are SO many things to do in Ontario in the summer we don’t like to limit ourselves. Besides, there are lots of free road trips and parks to visit.
Either way, each theme park, amusement park, park, farm, splash pad, festival, etc., requires us to pack food and drinks.
YES, we enjoy some local food and drink attractions when the budget permits, but we do more sharing than anything.
A recent lunch stop at a food truck for Indian food would cost me close to $20 for a curry.
I opted to wait until I got home to eat instead, but the smells were tempting.
10 Theme Parks And Amusement Parks Near Me
List of 10 theme parks popular in Ontario for families.
- Centreville Amusement Park Toronto
- Fallsview Indoor Water Park Niagara
- Wet n Wild Brampton
- Bingemans Big Splash /FunWorx/Diggerland
- Calypso Park Waterpark
- Toronto Zoo Splash Island
- Legoland Discovery Centre
- Storybook Gardens London
16 Best Foods and Drinks To Pack- Theme Park/Zoo/Farm/Hike/Amusement Park
I know the title said ten, but I came up with more over the years and added them to the list.
After securing our discount theme park tickets to Bingemans, the next thought that popped into our heads was FOOD and Drink.
Can you take food into Bingemans?
Thankfully, after reading the FAQs on the website, we realized that we could pack a cooler.
I bought this Coleman cooler with ice packs to keep everything cold for both families.
We aimed to keep it simple and bring foods that required a small paper plate, forks, spoons, napkins and baby wipes.
Baby Wipes are essential for every trip to clean our hands and mouth before and after eating.
- Bottled Water
- Apple juice or any juice you like
- Dried sausage pepperettes
- Cured and Dried Steak Strips Kirkland
- Apple Sauce and any other serving size portions of pudding, jello, yogurt
- Ham and cheese stuffed pita bread (gluten-free)
- Peanut Butter sandwiches
- Egg salad and Tuna Salad with tortilla wraps on the side
- Container of sliced cheddar cheese
- Cold homemade pizza slices
- Snack Packs Of GoldFish Cheese crackers
- Mixed nuts along with raisins and dried fruits are also a great option
- Jar of Dill Pickles
- Container of chopped veggies and homemade guacamole and taco dip
- Red and Green Grapes, Bananas, Strawberries and watermelon chunks
- Whisps (keto cheese snack)
- Homemade Chocolate chip banana brownies
Homemade Pizza Made For Our Theme Park Lunch
Below are the pizzas we made before we went to the theme park.
They were SO GOOD.
There was enough food, snacks and drinks to feed us for the afternoon until we went home for a BBQ dinner.
An abundance of seating areas around the theme park made it simple to take a break and return for more fun.
Had we not been prepared for the afternoon at the theme park, we could have added another $50 for food, drink, and some.
Whether going to a theme park or taking a small day trip this summer, consider packing a lunch, drinks and snacks to bring along with you.
Check with the facility first if you are allowed to do so, although some might only let you eat outside the facility, like at Wonderland, which is fine.
For picnics outside the theme park zone, enjoy the day exploring the outdoors and forget about the extra costs of eating out and convenience foods.
That leaves more time to spend with your family and more money for your next adventure!
Our entire fun day cost us approximately $100 and $30 of food we packed in our cooler.
We had a happy family who was exhausted and ready for bed.
Discussion: What are some of your favourite foods to bring to a theme park or other summer destination day trip?
Please comment below and share other ways families can save money at a theme park.
Thanks for stopping by,
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