Get the most from your season pass

If your family makes frequent visits to a local amusement park, museum, or science center, purchasing a season pass may be a great way to save money. Whether it’s a local zoo, or an annual pass to Disney World, here are some tips to help you get the most from your season pass. 

  1. Know Your Family — Before purchasing season passes, there are some things you may want to consider such as the ages of the kids, interests, activity levels, etc. Make sure it is a place your family intends to visit often, and calculate how many visits you will have to make to get your money’s worth out of your season pass. Then go home, and schedule those visits on your family calendar.
  2. Know When to Buy — Many times you may be able to get discounts on season passes if you purchase them during the off-season. Do you have friends who had passes to a place you are considering? Ask them about their experiences, and be sure to read online reviews. 
  3. Pick Up a Calendar of Events — Once you’ve purchased your season pass, be sure to pick up a calendar of events and try to schedule your visits around those events. 
  4. Laminate a Map — This can be especially helpful if you have season passes to a zoo or amusement park. Pick up a map, and laminate it to bring along on every trip. Before you get to the park, make note of all the restrooms so you won’t panic when your 3 year old needs to use the potty… RIGHT NOW!
  5. Pack Your Own Food & Snacks — Amusement parks and zoos are notorious for over-charging on food and snack items, many of which are unhealthy. Avoid temptation by bringing your own fresh fruit, sandwiches, and plenty of water. 
Tip — Many season passes include some sort of a network program. Buying a pass to your local zoo may get you a discount at other zoos around the country, for example. Many also include free parking, gift shop discounts, or other member benefits. Know what is included so you can get the most bang for your buck!
Do you plan to get season passes for your family, or have you had season passes before? I would love to hear about it! Leave us a comment and share your stories with us!


  1. Infant Bibliophile says

    We started getting family passes as soon as our son was born. I love to suggest them (when asked for ideas) as holiday gifts from grandparents. They’re educational, fun, cost-saving, and help out a non-profit by purchasing them. Thank you for posting the idea for others! We’ve had memberships at children’s museums, zoos, aviary, friend of library, natural history museum, and aquarium. I love that we can just stop in for 10 minutes if we’re going by and our son is tired, and not feel like we wasted the price of admission that day.

  2. Infant Bibliophile — That’s a very good point. With young kids especially, it is nice to have the freedom to come and go without the pressure of feeling like you wasted the price of admission that day. In the past, we were gifted with a season pass to the zoo, and it was one of the best gifts for our family!

  3. aprilfoolwed says

    We are pass-lovers too! We’ve had zoo passes for years now. Last year, the kids opted to try the science center (but we found we didn’t use those passes as much – the center was a little too old for them and they didn’t enjoy it as much as the zoo). There’s a real value in these types of passes (most cost us about $60 – and we love to use the passes at other places that have a reciprocal program).

    We looked into amusement park passes – for the park in our hometown (which also owns several other parks). WAYYYYYYY too expensive for us (it would have been $700!). We’ll visit a few times with the twilight admission and save money that way.

  4. We have been thinking about getting a family pass for the zoo! It works out cheaper for our size family and now that I am not working anymore, we will use it a lot more:0)

  5. @ aprilfoolwed — OMG! $700??!! That’s insane!! I’m thinking of trying a pass to the science center in the next year or two. I like that it’s indoors and we can use it year-round. Plus, it’s super-educational!

    @ sandy — I bet your kiddos will love the zoo this year. I found that now that I’m not working, we spend a lot more time outdoors and more time together as a family. Our local zoo just got a new penguin exhibit that Emily loves!

  6. aprilfoolwed says

    Yep – $700 to get cedar Fair passes that we would have used on vacation and then at home for the rest of the summer. Too much! Just for Dorney Park it would have been $450 – not much of a savings!

    We did enjoy the science center and certainly got out money’s worth of our pass (their Halloween Party alone was well worth the cost of the pass). Our biggest issue with the science place was that our kids were just too different in age and ability – our youngest only wanted to be in the toddler room, our oldest wanted to only see animal things and our middle son wanted to do everything (but quickly – he has a short attention span). We couldn’t keep everyone happy – but it’s still sucha fun place!

    We’re back to the tiny LV Zoo this year – everyone seems to enjoy that!

  7. I love our annual pass to the zoo! Not only do we get to go often, but I don’t feel guilty about “getting my money’s worth” out of each trip. My daughter is young – only 18 months, so a couple of hours is plenty long for a zoo trip for us. With my pass, I feel like, we can even run to the zoo to picnic for lunch, feed the goats and then leave within an hour of our arrival! Another benefit of quick trips is that I don’t feel the need to pack half the house…or even bring a stroller if I don’t want to! I am sold on annual passes. 🙂

  8. We have an annual pass to the local children’s museum. It’s definitely worth it! Our library lends out free passes to the local zoo, or we would probably belong to that too.

  9. aprilfoolwed, I think it’s wise to rotate the passes to different things every year, especially since I tend to beat the place to death! Passes to the zoo are a great buy, and it is open year-round! Much better than the amusement park that’s only open during the summer months.

    amelia, isn’t it so nice to not have the pressure of having to stay a long time to get your money’s worth? Plus, the zoo is so educational. It can be a great buy and lots of fun!

  10. Oh my God, Maryanne, I am having serious library-envy! Your library rocks! Every so often I see posts on your blog about some awesome activity the kids enjoyed there, and now I find out they lend out passes to the zoo??? That’s awesome!!

  11. We have a pass to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle for my 7 year old and my husband only. We paid less for a pass for just 1 adult and 1 child, so they can go and have their “guy time” together. I get kind of tired of the place so almost never go with them—I could go if I paid extra for that particular day. They have guy time once or twice a month, and it gives me the chance to veg out on my own or do some kid-free errands, since my son and I are together 99% of the time normally! We also have a membership to the Museum of Flight which we got at a discount through my husband’s employer. My husband loves all this science and technical stuff and it’s so wonderful for them to share those interests and the time together. I’m the one who acts like a whiny 3 year old when I’m tired and hungry there! 🙂

  12. Val in the Rose Garden says

    Those are great tips! We have a combo NW Trek and Zoo pass and we use it ALL THE TIME. I can’t wait to go back to NW Trek cus this time of year is when all the babies are out. My zoo pics are great, but NW Trek? They are just adorable!

    Have a great Wednesday!


    PS Did you see my blogs? I put your dodad on there and it works great! Do you think it looks ok on Collecting the Moments? It doesn’t have the little lines between subjects.

  13. Check in out as well, with season passes to the zoo, some zoo memberships you get in free to other zoos and some you have to pay a discount amount. Like we have opted for Philly Zoo pass which provides us with free admission and parking and gets us in for free to our local LV Zoo.

  14. schmobes says

    We have had a membership to our zoo for a number of years. In the last 2 years, it has also gotten us into zoos in 3 other states for FREE. When we are planning a trip, I plot the zoos on our route we can go to for free and plan them as activities for the trip. The kids love it, and it costs us nothing (especially when we pack our own lunch!)