I wanted to squeeze one more trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain in before school started, so we headed over to Valencia at the end of July to celebrate the end of summer! Today I’ll share our budget and savings, and tomorrow I’ll share our itinerary and what we did each day. Let’s go!
As I shared in my trip report from Spring Break, my friend had convinced me last fall to buy season passes at our local water park since Six Flags was buying it out. Turns out, it was a great value because your Gold Season Pass allows entry into ALL Six Flags theme parks. Even though I had dreamed of visiting other parks around the country this summer, I just couldn’t pull the trigger on the airfare and other costs. So we stuck to what was easy. Since I included the pass costs in our last trip, this line itemed is zeroed out for this trip. Pretty sweet!
Our lodging was super easy as well. When our friends were going to join us, we had booked at the Hyatt Regency Valencia, but we were paying a cash rate, and it doesn’t have a lounge for free breakfast. I couldn’t find anything better in the vicinity due to the increased rates for the summer, and I didn’t have a good stash of other points, so I decided to try the Hyatt. Despite not having a lounge to use our Explorist free certificates, it was perfect! The location couldn’t have been more convenient to the park, it had a nice pool and hot tub, and our room had a golf course view. We even got to watch a crew film some scenes for a movie or TV show. Come to find out a lot of studios use this hotel as a venue.
In order to avoid making the same mistake twice, I decided to add a dining plan to my pass before we left. It was fairly easy just to stop by the water park and add it on. I had been hoping I could do it at the guest services window because there was a fee to do it online. While guest services couldn’t do it, she told me to pay for it online, and then she could activate it from there. When I came back to the window, she refunded the $2 fee. I was thinking it was more like $8, so I felt a bit silly about it, but hey, I’ll take $2! Now we didn’t have to worry about sharing meals or snacks or when lunch ended and dinner began since we each had a lunch, dinner, and snack credit on our dining pass. Plus, we were able to refill our bottles at any Freestyle machine for free.
This category included parking and fuel. While trips to Disneyland always include the dilemma of whether to fly or drive, this trip is a clear choice: drive. Only two hotels are near enough to drive, and the Burbank airport is at least 30 minutes away.
My strategy whenever we head to California is to stop at the border town and gas up whether we need to or not. California gas is much more expensive than in Arizona. I use GasBuddy to help me determine which station has to best price nearest the border. This trip, I also had an Amex Offer for 76, Conoco, and Phillips 66 to use up before it expired on August 1. We stopped at a new 76 station for our $30 in gas in order to get a $5 credit. I didn’t include the credit here because I plan to add up all of my Amex Offer credits and use them towards Disney gift cards.
The other half of our transportation budget was parking. I was prepared to pay to park at the Hyatt, but the front desk clerk informed me at check in that parking was free, even though it is listed as $12 per night on their website. I’m not sure if we got free parking from using points or having status, or if the website is inaccurate. The parking structure is adjacent to a shopping center across a side road, so most of the traffic is for the shops, and it’s free for the patrons there. Parking at Six Flags is included in our pass, so it was free each day we visited there.
If you look at the spreadsheet below or click here, you can see that we are running an unprecedented 89% savings! Wow! Between no cost for lodging and entertainment, and using the dining pass for most of our food, this trip only cost $200 instead of $1800. Now that’s savings! You can see the Actual Cost vs Value chart here, and the Cost by Category chart here. Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow where I’ll share our itinerary and what we did each day.