Travel and leisure spending continues to rise in 2024, reports show, in spite of inflation, rising consumer debt. and other financial pressures. A survey from Nationwide Travel Insurance showed that 40% of people plan to travel more in 2024 than they did in 2023.

Check Out: Dave Ramsey: 7 Vacation Splurges That are a Waste of Money

Read Next: 5 Genius Things All Wealthy People Do With Their Money

A study from IBISWorld showed that overall spending on recreation and leisure activities is expected to rise 6.8% in 2024, reaching a total of $626 billion by the end of the year.

However, according to a recent GOBankingRates survey, people with children aren’t necessarily prioritizing kid-related activities when it comes to leisure spending.

The survey showed that nearly half of consumers with children (47.97%) said they spend under $1,000 on kid-related activities. Nearly 19% (18.84) said they spend between $1,001 and $1,500. More than 10% spend between $1,501 and $2,000, while nearly 11% spend $2,001 to $2,000. Close to 12% said they spend over $3,000 on kid-related activities in a year.

Mousehacking.com reported that the “baseline Disney World vacation” (two adults, one child 10+ and one child 3-9, in a value resort for 5 nights) costs $6,865.

That doesn’t mean you can’t give your kids an enjoyable summer vacation or a day trip on a budget. Besides finding ways to reduce your costs at Disney World, you can consider one of the many more affordable theme parks and resorts across the U.S.

You can save even more money by choosing a park close to home. Most of the parks listed offer season passes; if you plan to visit more than three or four times, you will get the most value, plus season passes often include discounts on food and merchandise.

For comparison purposes, a single-day ticket to any one park at Walt Disney World Resort starts at $109 per day for guests over the age of 10. That price does not include hotel, parking, meals, Park Hopper passes or anything else.

1. Cedar Point

  • Location: Sandusky, Ohio

When ride enthusiasts think of roller coaster parks, Cedar Point often comes to mind. Situated on Lake Erie, the park offers a breathtaking array of world-renowned roller coasters. With the launch of Top Thrill 2, hailed as a record-breaking, triple-launch stratacoaster, the thrill ride lineup got even more impressive in 2024.

The park offers an on-site hotel, Breakers, with rooms starting at $142 per night according to data from Kayak. Nearby Castaway Bay also provides affordable, modern rooms with bunk beds for the kids and an on-site, indoor waterpark, plus tons of activities. Daily passes to Cedar Point start at $50, but the Funday Bundle is a better value since it includes parking and all-day dining for one meal every 90 minutes at $75.

2. Hersheypark

  • Location: Hershey, PA

Located just minutes from Harrisburg, PA, Hersheypark brings families together to share their passion for chocolate and thrill rides. The addition of Wildcat’s Revenge, a new wood and steel hybrid coaster, is attracting attention at Hershey this season and makes the park a must-visit for kids and ride enthusiasts, alike.

A ticket for a single day normally runs $87, which is still cheaper than Disney. But you can find deals going on now for as low as $60. Or, spring for a Summer Fun card, which provides unlimited visited through September 8 for just $99.

Stay onsite at Hershey Lodge with rates that start as low as $199 per night, not including park tickets.

3. Six Flags Great Adventure

  • Location: Jackson, NJ

With Kingda Ka, the tallest launch coaster in the U.S., a drive-through animal safari, and an array of coasters and flat rides for all ages, Six Flags Great Adventure has been a Northeast vacation destination for 50 years.

Single-day passes start at $48 online, but that does not include parking, which costs a hefty $50. If you plan to visit more than once this season, consider a Platinum Pass which includes parking, admission to Hurricane Harbor Water Park, as well as Six Flags Great Adventure, and 10% off food and merchandise for $115.

4. LEGOLand

  • Location: California, New York, and Florida

If you’re looking for family fun for younger children, choose a day trip or overnight stay at a LEGOLand Resort in California, Florida, or New York. Tickets for LEGOLand New York Resort in Goshen, NY start at $54 for adults online, and $29 for children. For even more savings, snag season passes for just $109, and save 10% on food, beverages, merchandise and stays at the online LEGOLand New York Hotel.

The hotel is fully themed out with kids’ favorite LEGO designs from elevators to guest rooms. The hotel includes play areas, activities, and an outdoor pool, plus free breakfast. We found two-night packages in June for under $1,500, which is still less than Disney.

5. Nickelodeon Universe

  • Location: New Jersey and Minnesota

Nickelodeon Universe, with locations in New Jersey and Minnesota, offer everything from towering coasters to fun flat rides for smaller children. Plus, you don’t have to worry about rain since these parks are inside two of America’s favorite malls: American Dream and the Mall of America.

Grab an All Access Pass to the New Jersey location for just $59. Non-riders can still enjoy character meet-and-greets and live entertainment for a $10 entry fee. Plus, if you just want to enjoy a few rides, you can purchase Ride Points to pay as you go.

If you plan to spend a lot of time at the American Dream throughout the year, a season pass to Nickeloedeon Universe costs just $109 — the same price as a single day at Disney World.

Final Note

Learn More: 10 Best US Vacation Destinations for Retirees on a Budget

For some families, summer vacation means Disney or bust. With a little research and a willingness to explore new adventures, you’ll find a whole world of affordable theme parks that won’t break your budget and still deliver magical moments and memories for your family.

More From GOBankingRates

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 5 Theme Parks That Are Way Cheaper Than Disney but Just as Fun

2024-05-07T22:20:48Z dg43tfdfdgfd