How to Get Full Use of Season Passes – Places to go with Kids

One of the great advantages to living in Southern California is the option for outside activities. There are also so many fun places to go with kids. We have zoos, a wild animal park, aquariums, Disneyland, Sea World, Knott’s Berry Farm. YAY!

When the kids were babies, my sister and I started taking advantage of season passes to some of these places. We get a different pass every year. It’s been such an incredible experience and we’ve learned a thing or to about how to get full use of our season pass.

11 ways to make the most of your season pass

Making the most of your Season Pass

  1. Know the dates. Season passes are not created equal. Some places have block out dates, some passes start when you purchase the pass and end on December 31 of that year, some passes continue for a full year from the time of purchase. Knowing what to expect will make it much easier to get a pass that will really work for you and your family.
  2. Know the rules (and how they are enforced). A lot of parks post that you can not bring in food, but will look right at a cooler without saying a word. Figure out if you can bring in your own drinks and snacks.
  3. Pack well. Bring a stroller (even if you don’t really need it anymore), Cooler Tote, sunscreen, hats, a camera, chap-stick, sweatshirts, a change of clothes (just in case!), comfy shoes and of course THE PASS! (This is an affiliate link, if you make a purchase using this link you are supporting A Mom with a Lesson Plan. Thanks!)
  4. Pack a lunch. Buying food at these parks can get really expensive, really quick. Pack your own lunches, drinks and snacks. If you can bring them in great! If not, park by a tree and enjoy a shaded lunch by the car mid day. The cost is probably worth a quick trip to the car.
  5. Take short trips. Knowing that you can go back again and again makes it so easy to take a lot of short trips When the kids were still napping, we would make sure to walk in as the gates open. That way we could leave in time for naps to happen in the car. (It also made for a nice quiet drive home.)
  6. Go at night. Mix up the times you go. The parks are all very different at night. Going after lunch and staying late will make it feel like a whole new adventure.
  7. See the shows. Taking time to see the shows and events can be difficult when your trying to see an entire park in one day, a season pass lets you take your time and visit all the extras. Check the park’s website to see everything that’s offered, along with dates and times.
  8. Take adult trips. Sure, sure the season pass is for the kids… but it’s a totally different experience without the kids in tow. Some parks will make a great date night or girls day out (if like us,  you love roller coasters).
  9. Take only one kid. I once took Big M to the Wild Animal Park. There are tons of hills and a lot of space to run. And run is just what we did. On that trip we saw every. single. exhibit… as we ran by. That’s something that never would have happened with Little M. She likes to stand and study each exhibit. What would your kids enjoy if they were in the lead? (Season passes are also great to use for a birthday date!)

We love having season passes and use them once a month or even more often while we have them. Do you have any parks near by? What tips would you add to the list?


  1. says

    I would add for our local places – Know when NOT to go! Watch out for discount days, school holidays, first day of breaks. If you have a season pass you can go anytime, so who wants to battle the big crowds? I know the big parks in California are always packed, but here in Utah the day you pick can mean having the place to yourself or standing room only. Also, if you have Pre-schoolers, try 2 o’clock. School groups have to leave before then, but the after school crowd hasn’t gotten home yet.

  2. Michelle says

    I renew our GLAZA pass every year to the LA Zoo. We go on the tours and use the free guest passes to bring family or friends. You get discounts on everything and they have a great reciprocal program, so when we visit other states we get in for free or half-price (I highly recommend the Miami Zoo). The pass is great for the days there are promo events (like Snow Days) since they usually offer member tours the same morning so you’re in the Zoo before the rest of the City. If you buy the souvenir cup with your discount the refills are less than a dollar so we bring it back each time! There’s a Costco 2 exits down, so that’s where we do lunch instead.


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