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How to make a mega trip cheaper?


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In terms of the Six Flags parks, even though I'm going to SFGAM first, SFFT's gold season pass is the cheapest of all the parks I'd be visiting. I never bought a season pass from any park before, so can I theoretically order an SFFT gold pass and pick it up at SFGAM first, or do I have to pick it up at the park I bought it from? (Thus meaning that I'd have to get the extra money for SFGAM's pass.) Or can I get the pass mailed to me thus not having to worry about any of this in the first place?

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Some of the legs of your trip are routes I've taken, so I'll speak to those. First of all, your Branson-Oklahoma City leg is WAY off on the trip time. 3.5 hours is outlandish. You'll actually take about 5 hours to get there. Also, I-44 in Oklahoma is a toll road, and you haven't accounted for toll costs at all. Also, gas is not the only cost in traveling. For one, make sure you change your oil before and after the trip--and those are part of the travel costs. Also, the car will need to be up on maintenance, and this trip will significantly add to the wear and tear. I use the IRS estimate of $.50 per mile. Your real costs for a 300-mile leg are about $150, not $30. Let's face it, there's no cheap way to do a three-week trip; it's going to cost a lot. But if you can come up with the money, it may just be the most awesome trip you ever take. So go for it; just be sure you consider everything before going.

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In terms of the Six Flags parks, even though I'm going to SFGAM first, SFFT's gold season pass is the cheapest of all the parks I'd be visiting. I never bought a season pass from any park before, so can I theoretically order an SFFT gold pass and pick it up at SFGAM first, or do I have to pick it up at the park I bought it from? (Thus meaning that I'd have to get the extra money for SFGAM's pass.) Or can I get the pass mailed to me thus not having to worry about any of this in the first place?

 

I've never understood how one parks pass can be cheaper than the other, especially if they're in the same chain, maybe with the exception of a year around park, or a parking with a longer operating being slightly more. However, Fiesta Texas is open more operating days than Great America, so there goes that theory.

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In terms of the Six Flags parks, even though I'm going to SFGAM first, SFFT's gold season pass is the cheapest of all the parks I'd be visiting. I never bought a season pass from any park before, so can I theoretically order an SFFT gold pass and pick it up at SFGAM first, or do I have to pick it up at the park I bought it from? (Thus meaning that I'd have to get the extra money for SFGAM's pass.) Or can I get the pass mailed to me thus not having to worry about any of this in the first place?

 

I've never understood how one parks pass can be cheaper than the other, especially if they're in the same chain, maybe with the exception of a year around park, or a parking with a longer operating being slightly more. However, Fiesta Texas is open more operating days than Great America, so there goes that theory.

"Everything is worth what the purchaser will pay for it."--Adam Smith

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I rarely get sodas or anything and I also have a moisture retention problem, so I usually just drink water and lots of it. How many of the parks have drinking fountains (like next to the bathrooms or something)? I remember during the TPR 2012 New Hotness trip that BGW didn't really have any. Combined with the 135 degree (post heat index) weather and the fact that I couldn't find my wallet for half the day, that was NOT fun. So if most of the parks have fountains, then that will save me a lot of money that way. (I either haven't gone to any of these parks or haven't gone to them in a long time so I don't remember.)

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I rarely get sodas or anything and I also have a moisture retention problem, so I usually just drink water and lots of it. How many of the parks have drinking fountains (like next to the bathrooms or something)? I remember during the TPR 2012 New Hotness trip that BGW didn't really have any. Combined with the 135 degree (post heat index) weather and the fact that I couldn't find my wallet for half the day, that was NOT fun. So if most of the parks have fountains, then that will save me a lot of money that way. (I either haven't gone to any of these parks or haven't gone to them in a long time so I don't remember.)

 

 

Most parks I've been to have fountains by the bathrooms, and most parks will give you a small cup of water for free, if not all of them.

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As someone mentioned earlier, go camping rather than motels. KOA's aren't necessarily cheap but do always have showers. WIth a bit of a search you can probably find some cheap or even free camping.

 

And at WCB the last couple years, I bring in a 1/2 liter plastic bottle and it just fits in a pocket in my shorts, makes it super easy to drink H2O and fill up at the fountains.

 

Have fun, sounds like a blast.

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My cousin and I have made a couple large roller coaster road trips over the past few years and this year is no different. In June we are planning to hit many of the same parks you are by traveling from the central plains to South Carolina and back.

 

A lot of people have already posted some good tips, here are a few more I would like to emphasize:

1. Once you have calculated your final cost, add 10-15%. There will always be some things comes up or some things that you decide to splurge on.

2. Don't book your hotel until the day of. Many times, especially if you buy line-skippers, you may find you are ready to leave a park sooner than you planned. This has happened to me several times, where we were planning on staying at a park until the evening or closing, only to find we had done everything we wanted and then some by the end of the afternoon. If this happens, you may be willing to drive further and closer to the next park for the following day.

3. Related to above, use hotels.com. As others have mentioned you get the 11th night free or reduced and they have an easy to use app. HOWEVER, if you do this, especially if it is the weekend, don't wait until too late in the evening to book your rooms, as they will fill up.

4. If you are able, try to find out where NOT to stay in the big cities. A couple of times we booked a hotel that ended up being in REALLY shady areas. If you stay near interstates though you should be fine.

5. Even if you can't bring in outside food and beverages, parks will let you bring in a empty plastic bottle that you can then fill up at the drinking fountains. This has become a staple of our trips.

6. Always have cash on you for tolls as they often don't take credit cards. We once got hit a toll in Pennsylvania that was something like $10.50, and all we had on us was $9.75, seriously.

 

Here are the maps of the my two big road trips, one we took 2 years ago and the one we are planning for this June:

309148785_lakeerietrip.png.90451ee0f1df6ecccb2bd9266113f7f6.png

This was our "Lake Eirie Trip". We hit up Kennywood, Conneaut Lake, Waldameer, Martin's Fantasy Island, Darien Lake, Marineland, Canada's Wonderland and finally Cedar Point.

223779128_bluegrassloopo.png.7e6f2cc163256901d4ce90bbc9991c5b.png

This is our "Southest Trip" we are planning for this June. It include Adventureland, Indiana Beach, King's Island, Coney Island, Kentucky Kingdom, Dollywood, Carowinds, Beech Bend, Holidayworld and SF St. Louis

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I rarely get sodas or anything and I also have a moisture retention problem, so I usually just drink water and lots of it. How many of the parks have drinking fountains (like next to the bathrooms or something)? I remember during the TPR 2012 New Hotness trip that BGW didn't really have any. Combined with the 135 degree (post heat index) weather and the fact that I couldn't find my wallet for half the day, that was NOT fun. So if most of the parks have fountains, then that will save me a lot of money that way. (I either haven't gone to any of these parks or haven't gone to them in a long time so I don't remember.)

 

Every amusement park in the United States will provide water for free or at cost of the cup from a food location. Just ask for a glass of ice water and they'll provide it. Water fountains are likely legal necessities as well, though the quality of the water that will come from them is entirely suspect.

 

I know a lot of people have discussed using Hotwire and Priceline - I have nothing against either and had for many years used Priceline extensively. I used to book anywhere from 15-25 nights a year with that. Now? Maybe 1 a year if I can't find anything to stomach. I look at your plans and see Super 8, Baymont, Travelodge, and Days Inn appear...there is no rational reason why you shouldn't at least apply for the Wyndham Rewards Credit Card:

 

https://www.barclaycardus.com/apply/Landing.action?campaignId=2046&cellNumber=12&prodidreq=CCVVS62385&referrerid=AboutWyn14

 

You earn 5 points per dollar spent on each stay and you pick up 35,000 points when you make your first purchase with the Signature Card. Yes - you pay $69 for the right to have that card, but there is no way whatsoever that you wouldn't earn points far exceeding the value of that when you buy a stick of gum after it arrives in the mail. Even if you get their free card, again, the points will be worth it. And obviously join the club. Otherwise you're letting a whole bunch of points (which are really currency) go to waste.

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  • 2 months later...

Bump, because I actually have enough money and I will actually do this next year. I have a few new questions:

 

1: What would be the best time of year to do this trip? (Crowds and operating schedules are the main factors I have in mind, but if there are others than certainly tell me about them.)

 

2: How far in advance should I book hotels in order to get the best prices? I've been getting a lot of conflicting information. (I've settled on using hotwire as my go-to site.)

 

3: Speaking of Hotwire, would it be wise or unwise to add their Cancellation Protection to the hotel bookings?

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Bump, because I actually have enough money and I will actually do this next year. I have a few new questions:

 

1: What would be the best time of year to do this trip? (Crowds and operating schedules are the main factors I have in mind, but if there are others than certainly tell me about them.)

 

Probably June for crowds. Weather has a tendency to be worse then though also, but screw it, who knows. Climate change is real and the world is screwed, so don't go expecting torrential downpours in Texas in summer every year.

 

2: How far in advance should I book hotels in order to get the best prices? I've been getting a lot of conflicting information. (I've settled on using hotwire as my go-to site.)

 

Answer you don't want: depends. Depends on the dates, events in the locality, holidays, etc. There isn't any obvious reason why hotels would be expensive on a June weekend in San Antonio, but then if some massive convention of cardiologists is in town, all of a sudden things change.

 

3: Speaking of Hotwire, would it be wise or unwise to add their Cancellation Protection to the hotel bookings?

 

Is this standard travel insurance? I would say "absolutely not" unless there are certain factors (medical history and age being primary among them). The insurance is worth nothing unless you can provide documentation showing medical/family emergency related reasons for the cancellation of your $50 Best Western hotel room. Is that really worth it to you?

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Freddy's Frozen Custard is right by the entrance/exit for SFFT, and it's very good fast food. If you want BBQ, Cooper's is a great place in New Braunfels on the way in/out of Schlitterbahn (which should be a stop on your trip of it's not, it's an AMAZING water park).

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, I'm officially doing this trip; I'll get another membership for Club TPR in August to see the discounts (though I know that will change, it'll give me a good idea), I'll book the hotels via Hotwire in September (because they book up to 10 months in advance) and I'll get the 2016 tickets and season passes when they become available.

 

I read up on someone who posted a topic in this sub-forum about advice on a Texas trip, and someone mentioned I-35 has horrendous construction traffic. I knew traffic would be an issue, but I neglected it until now because of how impractical it would be to plan accordingly given how unpredictable it can be. So can anyone tell me if the default Google Earth routes are a bad idea or not? What would be good alternatives if they are? (The hotels obviously aren't fixed yet, so I'm neglecting them for now.)

 

CW - CP: ON-401 W, going through Detroit and Toledo.

 

CP - IB: US 24 W

 

IB - SFGAM: I-65 N and I-294 N (luckily I don't actually have to drive through Gary)

 

SFGAM - SFSTL: I-55 S

 

SFSTL - WoF: I-70 W

 

WoF - SDC: MO-13 S

 

SDC - Frontier City: I-44

 

Frontier City - Zero Gravity: I-35 S

 

Zero Gravity - SFOT: TX-183 W

 

SFOT - Schlitterbahn New Braunfels: I-35 S, or TX-317 S to I-35 S

 

Schlitterbahn New Braunfels to ZDT's: TX-46 E

 

ZDT's to SWSA: I-10 W

 

SWSA to SFFT: TX-1604 Loop/Charles Williams Anderson Loop/W Loop 1604 N

 

SFFT to Schlitterbahn Galveston: I-10 E

 

Schlitterbahn Galveston to Galveston Pleasure Pier: Seawall Blvd

 

Galveston Pleasure Pier to Kemah: I-45 N and TX-146 N

 

Kemah to Magic Springs: US-59 N

 

Magic Springs to Beech Bend: I-40 E

 

Beech Bend to HW: KY-9007 N and US-231 N

 

HW to KK: I-64 E

 

KK to KI: I-71 N

 

KI to Waldameer: I-71 N

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  • 7 months later...

Sorry for the double post, but it's necessary to bump the thread.

 

I'm still doing the trip, but unfortunately money is tight, so I won't be able to afford many front line passes. Therefore, I'm asking for recommendations on how to prioritize the parks. (I already have gone to CP and CW before, so they aren't as necessary despite their size.)

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Sorry for the double post, but it's necessary to bump the thread.

 

I'm still doing the trip, but unfortunately money is tight, so I won't be able to afford many front line passes. Therefore, I'm asking for recommendations on how to prioritize the parks. (I already have gone to CP and CW before, so they aren't as necessary despite their size.)

 

It all depends what parks/credits you really want to hit. A coaster like Switchback could be really cool, but you would save time, money, and likely miles by skipping ZDT's. Cutting out a few of the smaller parks could save a lot of money in the long run. The way I see it, Switchback might be good right now, but there's a good chance that other parks (and likely closer to you) will build one later.

 

Basically, what parks are a MUST hit for you?

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Sorry for the double post, but it's necessary to bump the thread.

 

I'm still doing the trip, but unfortunately money is tight, so I won't be able to afford many front line passes. Therefore, I'm asking for recommendations on how to prioritize the parks. (I already have gone to CP and CW before, so they aren't as necessary despite their size.)

 

From my prior reply:

 

RE: Front of line- unless you're going on a holiday, I would specifically avoid pre-purchase of these things. They almost never sell out prior to opening. Judge the crowd and the lines and go from there if you're staying to a strict budget. Ask yourself seriously - is it worth saving 15 minutes in line for something you'll ride only once to eat good food instead of a $5 foot long?

 

Ultimately only *you* know how much money you have for this. I don't do trips where if I go over budget, I starve for a week afterwards, and neither do most people on the forum. Keep that in mind when you're told "just get them, you never regret it!"

 

(The only slight deviation I'd have from the prior advice is that Saturdays with exceptionally nice weather might also be targets for such passes. Again, you won't know that but 24-48 hours in advance and if you arrive at opening, you'll probably still be able to get them.)

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Great America is going to be TERRIBLE on July 5. It's terrible almost every day of the year, because the operations there are worse now than I can ever remember in my lifetime. It's going to be ultra horrible terrible on July 5.

 

You can save yourself a LOT of money by skipping Great America entirely. If you must go, you will absolutely need to buy a Flash Pass to be able to get on more than 3 or 4 coasters.

 

Another money saving tip for Illinois. 294 is a toll road almost the entire way to Great America from I-80. If you have an E-Z Pass, use it! The I-Pass electronic toll system Illinois uses accepts E-Z Pass, and electronic tolls are half the price of cash tolls in all of Illinois. You'll have a few tolls on 294 to get to I-55 when you head to SFStl as well. 55 itself is a freeway, though.

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you may want to look into purchasing a six flags dining pass. They are running about $80, but cover 2 meals and a snack a day at the park. Looks like your hitting 4 SF parks so that would bring those food costs down to $20 a day. Just make sure they are valid nationally. I know theme park food isn't the best, but it may be a step above fast food and you'll leave yourself with more time at the park.
^Those are park specific.

Not this year apparently - the Gold Dining Pass is currently $80 plus tax and is valid at all Six Flags parks.

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