When it comes to getting out and having a good time, water parks and amusement parks are popular destinations for couples, groups of friends and families. And millions upon millions of people visit the most popular amusement and water parks across the U.S. each year.
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But the most popular parks are often the ones with the most expensive price tags, which can be difficult for families on less flexible budgets to swing — especially if they plan to do additional fun activities during the months of May through September.
But just because you can’t afford to take the family to Walt Disney World or Aquatica this year doesn’t mean you’re out of options. Plenty of affordable water parks and amusement parks across the U.S. are open to visit, and some are two-for-ones — offering admission to both an amusement park and a water park by paying one low price per ticket.
It’s also helpful to note that if you’re planning on visiting an amusement or water park more than one day in a row, your per-day price will often be lower. And some parks even offer the next consecutive day of admission free with the purchase of each full-price ticket. Additionally, many parks offer season passes, which can really help you save if you plan to visit more than once during the season.
Last updated: July 8, 2021
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
- Ticket price: $44.99
Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park, located in downtown Denver, offers visitors two parks for the price of one. For one ticket price, you can enjoy four different types of rides: thrill, family, kids’ and water. Kids age 2 and under are free. And if you’re into thrill rides, the park claims it has the 13 best coasters in Denver.
Six Flags Magic Mountain
- Ticket price: As low as $45
Six Flags Magic Mountain, located in Valencia, California, features 42 rides, shows and attractions, including thrill rides, family rides, kids’ rides and live shows. The park’s website states that by purchasing your ticket online, you’ll often get a cheaper price (plus less waiting in line) than if you choose to purchase your tickets at the park. Visit this park to ride Full Throttle, which has gained notoriety as the No. 1 tallest and fastest looping rolling coaster worldwide.
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The Island in Pigeon Forge
- Ticket price: $35
Although one of the most prolific attractions in Pigeon Forge is Dollywood, a one-day ticket is pricey at $79 for ages 10-61, which can really add up for a family of four or more. In contrast, an unlimited ticket at The Island in Pigeon Forge for $35 is less than half the cost of a Dollywood ticket. One of The Island’s most popular attractions is its 200-foot observation wheel: The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel.
King’s Dominion & Soak City
- Ticket price: $39.99-$45
King’s Dominion & Soak City in Doswell, Virginia, gives you more bang for your buck by offering a theme park and water park rolled into one, with family, kids’ and thrill ride offerings in both areas. Purchase your tickets online and save up to $30 off admission to both King’s Dominion & Soak City. On Monday-Thursday, you can save $30 and get a ticket for $39.99. Save $28 on Friday or Sunday and get a ticket for $42. Or buy a Saturday admission ticket online and save $24 for a total price of $45. And if you want to skip the water park, you can get a one-day ticket to King’s Dominion starting at $39.99.
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- Ticket price: Starting at $24.99
Frontier City, located in Oklahoma City, is a Six Flags theme park. However, if you plan to visit the park more than once during the season, you can save with a season pass. A season pass is $49.99 per person and includes unlimited admission to Frontier City, Hurricane Harbor water park, Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park, plus parking. The best part is that you can use the season pass for unlimited admission and parking at any Six Flags theme park.
- Ticket price: $30-$43
If you’re planning a visit to or near Elysburg, Pennsylvania (around 73 miles north of Harrisburg), you may want to add Knoebels to your itinerary. The park offers kiddie, family and thrill rides, plus vari0us attractions, like mini-golf, an XD theater and a bald eagle habitat. A Ride All Day ticket with coasters is $43. If anyone in your party is under 48″ a Ride All Day ticket with coasters is $30. And if you buy a Sundown ticket, which allows admission starting at 4 p.m., ticket prices drop to $30 and $20, respectively.
- Ticket price: $41.99-$51.99
If you’re planning to visit Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia, purchase your tickets online at least two days in advance to save $10, and pay only $41.99 instead of $51.99. Included in the price is admission to Splash Island water park and the live shows and animal exhibits. Or, if you plan to visit the parks over a couple of days, pay the general admission price of $51.99 (child and senior pricing also available) and get the next day free.
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park
- Ticket price: $39.99-$49.99
Magic Springs Theme and Water Park is billed as the thrill capital of Arkansas, and the best ticket prices are available online. You can save $10 off the regular price of admission by buying your tickets to this theme/water park online. With the online discount, you’ll pay $39.99 per ticket on Sunday-Friday and $49.99 on Saturday. And if you visit on Sundays in 2021 between May 30-Sept. 5, you have the option of bringing your own cooler full of drinks and snacks so you can avoid paying extra for meals or refreshments in the park.
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Knott’s Berry Farm
- Ticket price: Starts at $57
Tickets are close to $60 at Knott’s Berry Farm, an amusement park in Buena Park, California. However, if you have a AAA membership, you can save 30% on each regular admission ticket, dropping the price to $39.90 per ticket. If you don’t have a AAA membership, consider this: A trip to Knott’s Berry Farm at the regular price of $57 is still cheaper than going to Disneyland, where one-day tickets start at $104 per day. And Knott’s Berry Farm has four themed areas with thrill rides and one-of-a-kind experiences, plus a water park you can enjoy for an additional fee.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
- Ticket price: $49.99-$54.99
When you visit Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana, you get both parks for one price that offers admission to each section’s rides, slides, shows and events. Buy your tickets online for $49.99 admission Sunday-Friday and $54.99 admission on Saturday. Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari prides itself on the value it offers families, with free drinks, parking and sunscreen. Plus, it’s home to Mammoth, the world’s longest water coaster.
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