Parenting Perspective: Discount Amusement Tickets

The Murphy kids have always been into amusement parks. Dad's into discounts!

July 5, 2011 2:50:34 PM PDT
Some of my best summer memories as a kid were trips to amusement parks with my family and friends.

My favorites were Lenape Park and Willow Grove Park, each of which had great old wooden roller coasters with drops that left your stomach about two cars behind. Those parks are gone, but those that remain have grown into sprawling entertainment centers that are probably even better for today's ride fan. A limiting factor for any sizable family is money, because as the parks have grown larger and more sophisticated, the price has grown, too.

Enter two organizations you may not have heard of: The Pennsylvania Park and Recreation Society and the New Jersey Park and Recreation Society. These two organizations offer discount tickets at sometimes steep discounts. You can order the tickets directly by mailing in a form with payment and allowing a few weeks to get the tickets sent back. Click here for the dowloadable NJ form. In Pennsylvania, click here and then follow the links to "Branches and Programs" and "Programs" to see a list of attractions. Then, contact the society via phone or email about receiving an order form. This mail-order system is especially handy if you're planning on seeing an attraction in another part of your state (for example, Kennywood Amusement Park near Pittsburgh).

But the Societies have made it even easier to receive discounts to nearby attractions by partnering with dozens of local municipalities who sell the tickets direct to walk-in customers at their recreation or leisure department offices. At the bottom of this blog, I'll list the local Pennsylvania municipalities that participate along with their phone numbers. In New Jersey, you can call Ruth-Ann Bellon (NJ Rec. and Parks Soc.) at 732-568-1270 to find out whether there's a participating municipality near you that handles ticket sales. You can also call your local recreation department directly. The Delaware Park and Recreation Society told me they don't participate in this program, but that's not an enormous problem for residents of the first state, since most municipalities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey will gladly sell to outside residents.

Here's a list of the most commonly offered attractions. I've included the 2011 disount price with the regular admission in parentheses.

Adventure Aquarium (Camden, NJ): Adult $17 ($25), Child $13 ($19)

Camelbeach Water Park (Poconos): $29 ($37)

Clementon Park (Clementon, NJ): $22 ($38)

Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom (Allentown, PA): Adult Combo $33 ($45), Small Child $23 ($25)

Dutch Wonderland (Lancaster, PA): $29 ($33)

Hershey Park (Hershey, PA): Adult $43 ($54), Young Child $31 ($33)

Knoebels Amusement Park (Elysburg, PA): Weekday $27 ($31), Weekday Small Child $16 ($20)

Morey's Pier (Wildwood, NJ): Adult Combo $43 ($61), Small Child Combo $35 ($48), Water Park Only (All Day) $28 ($36), Rides Only (Adult) $38 ($48)

Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire (Lancaster Co., PA): 12-yrs.+ $21 ($30), Young kids $9 ($10)

Philadelphia Zoo $14 ($18)

Ride The Ducks (Philadelphia, PA): Adult $23 ($27), Youth $20 ($23), Young Child $15 ($17)

Sesame Place (Langhorne, PA): $48 ($60)

Six Flags/Great Adventure (Jackson, NJ): Safari/Theme Park Combo $30 ($70), Water Park Only $23 ($40)

Splash Zone (Wildwood, NJ): 4-hour ticket $20 ($32)

Regal Movie Ticket Discounts are also available.

It's a good idea to call ahead to the municipal office you're planning to visit to make sure they have tickets available for the attraction you want, since certain venues sell-out or may not be offered at a specific location. Also, ask about payment options (it's cash-only at some outlets). In addition, you'll want to ask about office hours. Some leisure service offices like the one in Upper Darby Township stay open a little later on Friday nights to make it easier to purchase your tickets after work, but that may not always be the case. Find out whether non-residents can participate if you're planning on going outside of your home area. By the way, Philadelphia's Recreation Department does not participate in this program, so city residents will have to venture into the counties to get the discounted tickets. Finally, ask about any restrictions on the tickets you're planning to buy. Most are good on any day during the current season, but some may have limitations.

By buying tickets directly from municipalities, you're not only helping yourself to savings, you're helping local government. The Park and Recreation Societies allow the local recreation departments to keep a small portion of the profits. For example, Upper Darby Township's Director of Leisure Services, Sue Elder, says her department received five-thousand dollars from the program last year, a pretty nice chunk of change that's helping the township maintain is recreational services. But beyond the funding, Elder also believes the ticket program is positive, because it gets people into the department's office and establishes a relationship with residents. Often, she says, residents will notice flyers for other programs offered (everything from sports camps to art and theater programs) and sign-up.

So, if you've been considering a trip to local attractions this summer but you've been scared-off by the price, look into this program. It not only saves you money, but you'll have tickets in hand as you enter an attraction which means you avoid those lines at the ticket windows.

Here's that list I promised of participating Pennsylvania municipalities:

BERKS COUNTY: Longswamp Township, Mertztown (610) 682-7388, Maidencreek Township, Blandon (610) 926-4920, Muhlenberg Twp. Parks & Recreation, Temple (610) 929-1503, Spring Twp. Parks & Recreation, Sinking Spring (610) 678-5399.

BUCKS COUNTY: Bristol Township, Bristol (215) 785-0500, Buckingham Township, Buckingham (215) 794-8834, Bucks County Parks & Recreation, Langhorne (215) 757-0571, Doylestown Township, Doylestown (215) 348-9915, Falls Township, Fairless Hills (215) 949-9000, Hilltown Parks, Rec., & Open Space, Hilltown (215) 453-6000, Lower Makefield Township, Yardley (267) 274-1110, Lower Southampton Township, Feasterville (215) 357-7300, Middletown Twp. - Bucks County, Langhorne (215) 750-3890, New Britain Township, Chalfont (215) 822-1391, Newtown Twp. Parks & Recreation, Newtown (215) 968-2800, Northampton Township, Richboro (215) 357-6800, Perkasie Borough, Perkasie (215) 257-5065, Plumstead Township, Plumsteadville (215) 766-8914, Quakertown Borough, Quakertown (215) 536-5001, Richland Township - Bucks County, Quakertown (215) 536-4066, Warminster Twp. Parks & Recreation, Warminster (215) 443-5428, Warwick Park & Recreation Board, Jamison (215) 343-6100

CHESTER COUNTY: Caln Township, Thorndale (610) 384-0600, Downingtown Area Recreation Consortium, Downingtown (610) 269-9260, East Pikeland Township, Phoenixville (610) 933-1770, East Whiteland Township, Frazer (610) 648-0600, Phoenixville Recreation Dept., Phoenixville (610) 933-7728, Thornbury Twp. - Chester Co., Cheyney (610) 399-1425, West Chester Recreation, West Chester (610) 436-9010, West Goshen Township, West Chester (610) 696-5266

DELAWARE COUNTY: Bethel Township, Garnet Valley (610) 459-5140, Concord Township, Glen Mills (610) 842-2147, Edgmont Township, Gradyville (610) 459-1662, Haverford Twp. Recreation Dept., Havertown (610) 446-9397, Marple Newtown Recreation, Newtown Square (610) 353-2326, Media Borough, Media (610) 566-5210, Middletown Township - Delaware Co., Lima (610) 565-2700, Ridley Township, Folsom (610) 534-4800, Thornbury Twp. - Delaware Co., Cheyney (610) 399-8383, Upper Chichester Recreation, Boothwyn (610) 485-5881, Upper Darby Recreation, Drexel Hill (610) 284-5860

MONTGOMERY COUNTY: Abington Twp. Parks & Rec. Dept., Jenkintown (215) 576-5213, Cheltenham Twp. Parks & Rec., Elkins Park (215) 887-1000, Collegeville Borough, Collegeville (610) 489-9208, East Norriton Twp. Parks & Rec., East Norriton (610) 275-2800, Franconia Township, Franconia (215) 723-1137, Greater Plymouth Community Center, Plymouth Meeting (610) 277-4312, Gwynedd Mercy College, Gwynedd Valley (215) 641-5565, Hatfield Township, Hatfield (215) 855-0900, Horsham Township, Horsham (215) 643-3131, Lansdale Parks & Recreation, Lansdale (215) 361-8353, Limerick Township Parks & Rec., Limerick (610) 495-6432, Lower Gwynedd Township, Spring House (215) 646-5302, Lower Merion Twp. Dept. of Rec., Ardmore (610) 645-6187, Lower Providence Twp. Parks & Rec., Eagleville (610) 635-3543, Lower Salford Township, Harleysville (215) 256-8087, Montgomery Township, Montgomeryville (215) 393-6911, Norristown Recreation, Trappe (610) 270-0467, Pottstown Parks & Recreation, Pottstown (610) 970-6608, Montgomery Skippack Township, Skippack (610) 454-0909, Springfield Township, Wyndmoor (215) 836-7600, Towamencin Twp. Parks & Rec., Lansdale (215) 368-7602, Trappe Borough, Trappe (610) 489-7181, Upper Dublin Parks & Recreation, Fort Washington (215) 643-1600, Upper Gwynedd Township, North Wales (215) 699-7777, Upper Merion Park & Rec. Dept., King of Prussia (610) 265-1071, Upper Moreland Twp. Parks & Rec., Willow Grove (215) 659-3100, Upper Providence Twp. - Montgomery Co., Phoenixville (610) 933-9179, Whitemarsh Township, Lafayette Hill (610) 828-7276, Whitpain Twp. Parks & Rec., Blue Bell (610) 277-2400, Worcester Township, Worcester (610) 584-1410

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY: Bethlehem Twp. Parks & Rec., Bethlehem (610) 332-1514, Northampton Forks Twp. Community Center, Easton (484) 239-1189, Lower Saucon Township, Bethlehem (610) 865-3291

---David Murphy

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