Buying Experiences in the Form of Season Passes and Annual Memberships

In the last couple years with a growing toddler, we’ve discovered the joy of season passes and annual memberships.  I’ve alluded to this in other posts (How I Avoided Dropping $50+ on Santa Pics & 6 Tips for Gift Giving for Kids), but wanted to devote a full post to them and share the many benefits.

  • I prefer to spend money on experience vs things.  Purchasing season passes and memberships coincides nicely with this value.  And if your extended family is asking what to buy your little ones for Christmas or a birthday, why not ask for a family membership to a fun place to visit?
  • Experiences = memories & quality time.  When I buy experiences, I’m investing in family time and making memories together.  I hope my son grows up remembering all the time we spent together on our fun outings.  He’s more likely to value those memories versus random toys that he grows bored of in a matter of months.  And my husband and I get to enjoy the memories as well!
  • If you have a phone, you have free souvenirs.  Because when you’re enjoying experiences together, pictures are the best souvenirs to capture those memories.  And if you have phone, you have pictures.  Maybe my son is still too young, but he never asks to buy things when we visit places, and I hope that lasts as long as possible!  But he does like to look at pictures on my phone, so I’m glad I have them to reinforce his memories.
  • We have no excuse to be bored.  This year we had 4 passes/memberships, and at first, we thought that might be too much, but I think it ended up being just the right amount.  We had places we could visit no matter the weather.  On days it was nice out, we could do the zoo or the amusement park.  If it was too hot or cold or raining or snowing, then we had the aquarium or the indoor water park.  If we got tired of one place, then we had three other options.  When we had a 4 day weekend for the 4th of July, I challenged us to use one of our passes each day and therefore didn’t feel so bad about not planning (and spending money on) a short vacation.
  • They help our family stay active.  Whenever we use one of our memberships, we’re being active.  Most of them involve a lot of walking.  I love seeing my fitbit step count after one of our fun family outings!  At the water park, we get to swim.  So we always win when we choose one of our passes over a day on the couch.  And when my toddler is active, he sleeps really well…which means Mommy and Daddy get a break!
  • Season passes and memberships are just plain economical!  They really feed my desire to save money.  Usually, you pay for a pass in 2 visits, so if you go more than that, you save!
    • We buy our passes to the indoor water park on Black Friday when they are the cheapest.  And annual passes for the family are way cheaper than a summer pool membership (the water park even has an outdoor area open in the summer months)!
    • We buy the amusement park passes during their best sale of the year (they guarantee it’s the lowest price) when we get free upgrades to a water park combo pass and free parking benefits.  We also took advantage of their $40 dining pass which offers a lunch and snack on every visit.  Based on their exorbitant food prices, we make our money back in 2 visits and get to indulge in the fun junk food.  So when we go to the park, we literally have a FREE day of family fun.  The parking, admission, and food are all included!
    • I somehow got on the mailing list for the zoo and had been debating to buy the membership when I received promotional material for a discount.  The deal put me over the edge and convinced me to buy it!
    • I had a similar experience with the aquarium.  The prices for memberships weren’t very appealing, but a groupon deal convinced me!  4 annual memberships + 2 one-day tickets for ~$125 and then Groupon had a 20% off deal the day I bought.  So I got everything for $100 – score!

Now we’re evaluating what our “experience” plan is for next year!  The indoor water park and amusement park are staying.  Not sure about the aquarium or zoo (Mommy gets too bored, I know, it’s sad).  But I’m not sure what we should replace them with.  Do you have any suggestions for us??  Let me know in the comments below!

Season passes can be an affordable way to fill your year with wonderful memories!

Season passes can be an affordable way to fill your year with wonderful memories!

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