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How to Save on Southern California Theme Park Tickets

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Southern California is the Orlando of the West, with Disneyland Resort, LEGOLAND California, Universal Studios Hollywood and SeaWorld San Diego all clustered within a few hours’ drive (or less) of each other. It’s actually easy to see a few or all of the California theme parks in one vacation — it’s just not cheap.

Consider these tactics — beyond setting souvenir budgets and packing lunches — for finding cheap theme park tickets in Southern California.

The Dragon Coaster at LEGOLAND California Resort.

Consider CityPass
Did you know you can buy a CityPass for the theme parks in Southern California and enjoy discounted Disneyland tickets (and more)? The ultra-popular Southern California CityPass (sometimes referred to as the San Diego CityPass) allows you to see four theme parks – Disneyland, Disney California Adventure Park, LEGOLAND California and SeaWorld San Diego — for $341 for adults and $311 for kids (ages 3 to 9), a savings of $136 and $142 per person, respectively. The pass includes a three-day park hopper ticket at Disneyland Resort, and then LEGOLAND tickets for one day and SeaWorld tickets for another.

… or a Go Los Angeles Card
Looking for cheap Universal Studios tickets? The Go Los Angeles Card may be a good fit for your group — and there’s never been a better time to visit, now with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter open! The card includes admission to the theme park, along with a Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour, Hollywood Movie Star Homes Tour and a visit to Madame Tussauds. Sure, not all of the attractions are theme parks, but the Go Los Angeles Card offers families another way to package plans and save.

Stay at a Theme Park Hotel
While you’ll find lower nightly rates at neighboring, off-resort hotels, it’s also important to remember that time is money. And guests of theme park affiliate hotels can maximize their money with early entrance privileges to the parks. For example, guests of Disneyland Resort Hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel) enjoy a one-hour early entrance to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park with their Disneyland passes. The same goes for guests of the LEGOLAND California Hotel, who enjoy one-hour early admission to the park. The hotels also offer exclusive park entrances for guests, meaning you don’t have to pay for parking at the theme parks either.

Related: Best Disneyland Family Hotels
Related: LEGOLAND Packages for Families

Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park.

Visit on Discounted Days
Disneyland (and Disney World) now have something called “Value Days.” Part of a new pricing system launched in early 2016 for one-day tickets, the park now charges less on slow days and more on busy days. On Value Days, you’ll pay $95 for one-day Disneyland passes for adults and $89 for kids, with a price increase for “Regular” and “Peak” visitation days.

Consider a New Credit Card
Disneyland passes are expensive no matter which way you slice the price, but the Disney Rewards Credit Card (Visa) could be a good investment for your family – especially if you visit the park(s) often. New members earn a $100 credit right off the bat, and other perks include exclusive meet-and-greets with characters, 10 percent off selection stores and dining venues, and 15 percent off special tours. Cardholders also receive a $50 credit on Disney cruise ships.

Don’t Overlook Coupon Sites
Always check Groupon, Living Social and even RetailMeNot.com before you take a theme park or amusement park trip with kids — you may find LEGOLAND discount tickets and SeaWorld coupons, among other reduced tickets.

More From Family Vacation Critic:
SeaWorld San Diego Family Hotels
Best Theme Parks in California

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