Monday, August 3, 2009

Family Fun

Monday, August 3, 2009
Happy Monday everyone!

This weekend, my husband and I decided to take our 2 children to Six Flags/Great America. My daughter had participated in an Eager Reader competition and won a free ticket. It was about to expire so we figured we better go so she won't be disappointed and we wanted to reward her for reading. While driving the hour that it takes to get there we realized we hadn't been there in about 10 years, meaning our children had never been.

It didn't take long for us to remember why. Don't get me wrong, the children had a blast and I enjoyed watching them have a good time. What I didn't enjoy was watching the dollars fly away rapidly one by one. These places are supposed to be good family fun. But at what price?

Bottled water? $4.00 (I kept the same bottle all day and filled it up in the water fountains)
Slice of Pizza? $8.50
Soda? $5.00
Ice cream cone? $7.50
a 30 sec game of Wack-A-Mole? $3.00

See my point? One would think that in these hard economic times, places like these would take that into account and make it more affordable. I understand they are a business and also need to make money but in my opinion, this is beyond ridiculous.

I did see many people eating lunch in the parking lot. I now understand why.

But, like I said, the kids had a great time and that was really the point of going. Unfortunately, it will be some time before they get to go back. Now I'm on a mission to find family fun at an affordable price!

Any ideas? Oh, the complaint counter is now open if anyone else wants to complain about the price of entertainment!

SIS Barb


B.J. said...

Barb, I know what you mean. Towards the end of school we took the girls to the Childrens Museum, the prices were un believeable. The girls had a great time though. Just taking them to the movies has gotten expensive. For cheap fun we pack up a picnic lunch and go to the park or go to the local museum, it is only a two dollar donation to get in and the girls love seeing our local heritage. Next time you are in town you will have to take your kids so they can see some of the Francis Slocumn things. After all we are related to her in some way. They have that two headed calf that I think Jax would get a kick out of.

Sisters-in-Sync said...

I don't have children, but I cringe on your and all parents' behalf. I agree. Prices at entertainment venues are out of control. The admission prices alone are enough to give you a seizure. I think its close to $100 now for a lone tic into Disney World. Imagine the cost for a family of four! And that's not counting the overpriced food and beverages.

BJ is right about the local museum in our hometown, Barb. BTW, everyone, our hometown is a dinky speck on the map--Peru, Indiana. The museum is in what used to be an old department store. The name escapes me just now. But our Grandma Miller used to shop there in the 60s (and before). The facility itself is old and unique. Anyway, I went in there the last time I was home. Very, very cool. They even have some belongings of Cole Porter! Aside from the circus, Porter is our small town's claim to fame. He had a summer home there. Anyway... long story short, local museums can be fun and cheap.

I also like BJ's idea of picnics in the park. What about family bike rides? Or camping trips? I'm trying to think of things I did as a kid. Things that cost little as we didn't have much money. I remember that I loved visting state parks, hiking through the woods.

Any other ideas, folks?

SIS Beth

B.J. said...

Beth, They have turned Cole Porters birth home into a museum. you might want to check it out. I will check the hours for you if you want.

Mary Stella said...

When I was a kid, our family used to take bike rides up the boardwalk on a Saturday morning. We'd peddle all the way to the end by Captain Starn's in A.C. and then get breakfast on the way home. All those miles more than worked off the pancakes!

Richard said...

Ah, recession -- fun for the whole family! Barb, actually I think you answered most of your own complaints/questions. As far as responding to hard economic times, remember they are a business, they suffer, too. Not on a scale we can even comprehend (i.e., you and I struggle to fill the gas tank; they struggle to meet the million dollar payroll each week), but it does effect them. Of course, their response is usually to give breaks and special offers and reduced ticket prices to get you IN the park --- oh, how NICE of them!! But once you're in, you're THEIRS --- (insert maniacal laughter). So, as you noticed, do as others -- gather up free tickets, gather up $$$-off coupons, go on "free on your birthday" days, etc. to cut the entry fees. Then, stuff a backpack! The past few times I've been to a theme park, I filled a backpack with snacks, water bottles (as you said, refillable at every water fountain), sandwichs, etc. and have never been told I could NOT. If a "real meal" is required, even if it's twice in the course of the day, "tailgate" it! Most parks allow you to leave the gates and return the same day; so, have lunch before you go in, dinner later --- AT the car! And, do like tailgaters at football games --- bring a grill, roast some brats, whatever --- it ain't DIS-allowed until someone SAYS so! As far as the price of "games of skill"? OK, really? You're at Six Flags --- the County Fair will be around soon enough if you're Jonesing for a Midway so you can throw softballs in a milkcan;)! Now, all that being said about Big Business Parks ....
Alternative Family Fun is what you "train" your kids to enjoy really. All my younger life, weeks-long Summer camping trips were the rule. Now, if asked as a teenager, or asked AFTER going to Six Flags or Disney, "Hey, you wanna spend days on end with JUST your family gathering firewood, swatting mosquitoes, pitching and striking campsites every three days as we drive for hours to get from place to place so we can then gather around a picnic table eating only food that cooks well over the flame of a Coleman stove, making beans and weenies a PARAGON of cuisine, no TV, little radio and "Uno" by the light of a bug-drawing Coleman lantern before you crawl into the sleeping bag you have to check for foreign insect, mammalian or reptilian squatters first?" guess what my answer may have been. But since that was just what we DID, we learned to enjoy it(THANKS, MOM AND DAD!!!) and those vacations are some of my dearest memories.

Taylor said...

I work at an family-friendly arcade, so I'll just make a little mention that The Smile Factory (that's the name, I didn't pick it haha) is afforadable for the family on a tight budget! Next time anybody's in NJ, stop on by!

Ok now that I'm done hawking my place of employment, I'll get to the point:

I went to the movies yesterday, and as an avid lover of film I endure the tough prices. I only go to films that seem promising. If they turn out to be bad, the price of admission was still worth the movie-going experience. But enough is enough lately!! $10 for a ticket and an additional $10.50 for a SMALL popcorn and a SMALL soda!! Luckily, there is a convenient 5 Below next to the theater, so we grab all our $1 box of candy and soda and hide it in our jackets as we walk in! Anything to pinch a penny!!

julia said...

We put out the money to get platinum passes to busch gardens/adventure island/sea world... it covers your admission for 2 years, free parking - in the preferred lot, 10% off all purchases (30% off during summertime evenings, so if you have dinner at the park, it's actually less expensive than eating at a 'real' restaurant) and you get the ride again benefit on the big coasters. we got the refillable cups *which killed me at first* but the refills are less than $2... so that's my not-so-expensive family fun for an amusement park. i remember doing the math when we decided to do this a few years ago and you end up saving money if you go about 3 times a year. (we always go more than that!) Also, some of the parks have little picnic areas out front. Sea World has a really nice area with tables and a little dog walking area.
Other fun things for the budget minded: camping is a big hit with us. beach day. day-cations where you drive somewhere that you never go and just walk around!
in regards to taylor's post on the movies - ugh! we decide if a movie is 'theater-worthy' or if we can wait for the dvd! lol! we came to terms with the idea that not everyone has to go... honestly, my husband and one of my kids could care less about harry potter, so why should we spend and extra $30 to take them to see it?? pick and choose! (and def sneak in your own candy!)

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi all!! Thanks for stopping by. I left for a busy day at work and come back to wonderful comments and suggestions. I love it!!

BJ, great idea about the picnic. My kids love that too. Our local museums are still pretty pricey but the park will do and has the added benefit of wearing them out! Hopefully, one day we'll have more time in Peru to visit some of the treasures there!

I would like to get a bike so we can do those family bike rides. Right now I'm trying to keep up by foot. Now I'm worn out! I take the kids "camping" once a year and it's a tradition we look forward to.

I get it. I know they need to pay a lot of people. I just wish it wasn't so darn expensive. We will definitely pack a lunch next time. Unfortunately, they check all bags here. No snacks and no beverages allowed. Tailgating could be fun! Thanks for the suggestion.

love the idea of biking to breakfast. We may do just that.

I'm in total agreement about movie prices so we wait and buy the DVD for less and then watch it a bazillion times!

Great idea about the platinum passes. I'll look into it. meanwhile, I'll think we'll go to the park!

SIS Barb

Tori Lennox said...

$5 for a soda?! That is ridiculous! You know there is no way on earth they paid anywhere near that to stock it. What a racket!

Olga said...

I don't have children, so I'm scarce on the ideas of family fun. I'd second the ideas of picnic and the park. Maybe also a day at a beach?

Sisters-in-Sync said...

A racket indeed, Tori! maybe I'm just mad because I don't own the theme park!

SIS Barb

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Olga,

I live in Wisconsin but we do have a huge lake. (Lake Michigan) I really should take advantage of what it has to offer more often!

SIS Barb

Sisters-in-Sync said...

BJ--I'm definitly interested in checking out Cole Porter's home. How cool!

Mary--Riding bikes on the boardwalk sounds lovely. And you know how I love pancakes!!

Richard--Loved your take on camping. What fun. And 'Uno'? I love Uno! Forgot all about that game. When I was young, we used to go camping quite a bit. I remember putting soda in a metal milk crate and putting that in a rushing creek to keep them cold. :) Also remember my dad trying to teach me how to ride a mini-bike. I kept getting the throttle and hand brake confused. Yes... that was me flying over the handlebars!

SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Taylor--I've never been inside The Smile Factory. I really need to drop in... just to see you in action! As for the cost of movies, it's insane. And the concessions? Forget about it! Cra-zee! Although, if I triedto sneak in candy and sodas undermy coat, I'd no doubt bump into something and all the booty would fall to the floor. I'd be busted and banned from the cinema for life. I just know it!

SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Julia--that platinum pass really sounds like the way to go if you're able to frequent the parks quite a bit. Great tip! As for the movies, like you, I'm very picky about what I spend my hard-earned money on.

Tori--Racket with a capital R!

Olga--the beach is a great suggestion. Whether it's the ocean or a lake... as a kid I remember loving nothing more than a day swimming, bodysurfing and building sand castles!

SIS Beth

Sisters-in-Sync said...


I know oh so well what you're saying. We don't even bother to go to the movies anymore. It's easily a $50 night. I'd rather wait for the movie to come out on DVD anyway just in case it's not as good as we hoped, which has happened to us a few times in the past.

We are fortunate to have quite a few theme parks in our area. We have done like Julia (HELLO JULIA) and purchased the platinum pass. Also, the parks in our area allow you to purchase passes and have the cost divided up over several months and withdrawn from your checking account. That works out nicely when you are buying four annual passes. And for at least five years now, I always pack a lunch and half way through the day, we go to the car and have a picnic. It's really not that big of deal and it saves LOTS of money.

SIS Bren

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