Whether you're active duty or retired, there are places to save money on family fun. You can find free or discounted theme park tickets for veterans or military members at a variety of locations. Make the most of your time with your family while saving some money.
10 Free or Discounted Theme Park Admission Programs
It shouldn't surprise you, but many of the discounted military admission programs are sponsored by some of the largest theme park chains in the country: Disney, Six Flags, and Busch Gardens, for example. However, you might be surprised to hear that another program comes straight from the Department of the Interior aka The National Park Service.
Take a closer look at the admission program's fine print for a few of these parks:
- Disney's Armed Forces Salute: Veterans can enjoy up to six specially discounted tickets for 4-Day, 5-Day, or 6-Day passes. For a small additional price, you can add a Park Hopper pass to your ticket to visit more than one theme park. The promotion is valid starting from January 1, 2024, to December 20, 2024, with blackout dates between March 24 to April 6 and November 24 to November 30.
- Six Flags Military Discount: Veterans can enjoy steep discounts on single-day, season passes, and parking at any Six Flags theme park. You will need to verify your military status using ID.me before purchasing.
- Waves of Honor Military Discount: As a way of supporting America's bravest, this program provides one complimentary day of admissions to any Busch Gardens or SeaWorld parks for active military members and three of their direct dependents. Active-duty military can also purchase a discounted pass for unlimited visits to theme parks, water parks, and general parking through December 31, 2024, for $149.99. People who are retired or inactive are not eligible for these promotions.
- Universal Studios: Whether it's Hollywood or Orlando, Universal Studios offers multiple military discount ticket packages for active duty and retired military members and spouses. For example, you can use their 2024 Military Freedom Pass Promotional Ticket through December 20, 2024. It costs $210.
- Carowinds: So long as you sign up to ID.me or bring your military identification to the front gate, you can access both the military season pass discount ($99) and the single admission discount ($29.99). Both active and retired military are eligible.
- Lifetime Pass for National Parks: While it's not an amusement park, military veterans are eligible for free lifetime entry to over 2,000 federal recreation sites across the US. This includes national parks, wildlife refuges, and forests on federal land. The pass will cover entrance fees for a passenger and up to 3 adults.
- Tweetsie Railroad: This small theme park nestled in the Appalachian Mountains does offer active military member + family discounts on their general admission tickets, though for an unspecified amount. You must purchase your discounted ticket in person.
- King's Dominion: At this Virginia theme park, active and retired military members can get discounted single-day tickets (including up to 6 tickets for their family) for only $29.99 and Military Gold Passes for $95.
- Knott's Berry Farm: At Knott's Berry Farm, active and retired military can nab a $41 discount for admission. Their military discounted tickets start at $58.99 a piece and can be used on up to 6 tickets for family and friends.
- Dollywood: Dolly Parton's beloved theme park has discounts on single-day, two-day, and season pass tickets for active and retired military veterans, spouses, and dependants. Note that you'll need to verify your status with ID.me.
Theme park discount terms and conditions are always subject to change. If you're interested in these types of admission discounts, you should contact the specific parks for updated information and current offers.
Tips for Maxing Out Your Military Discounts
If you've ever watched Extreme Couponing, then you know how important doubling your discounts is. Take advantage of all the military discounts by covering a few bases:
- Ask about military discounts at the ticket booth. Small theme parks might not have robust websites with all of their discounts listed on them. So, there might be hidden discounts you don't know about. Just make sure you have your military ID on hand when you go to ask.
- Check theme park calendars for specific military days. Yes, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and the Fourth of July are the typical dates set to have military discounts. Double-check different theme park calendars just to be sure. For instance, Carowinds' free military admission days span the entire Memorial Day weekend.
- Sign up for ID.me. Many theme parks with military discounts are asking veterans and active duty service members to get their discounted tickets online using ID.me.
- Follow relevant hashtags or accounts on social media. When new military discounts drop at popular parks, people usually post about it on their socials. Be the first to find out about it by staying up-to-date.
6 Things to Consider When Looking for Free Military Admission to Theme Parks
When it comes to finding free theme park tickets for veterans, you may have to spend time scrolling. Many theme parks offer free tickets — with some contingencies, of course. For example, some may offer free military admission on certain days (notably on the Fourth of July and Memorial Day). Others might offer free admission to servicemen and women in conjunction with promotional offers sponsored by local businesses or patriotic organizations.
Before you start planning that road trip over to Walt Disney World or Six Flags, make sure to look for any restrictions and conditions that could affect your ticket prices. Some of these are:
- Type of Duty: Some parks offer free admission to both active and reserve armed forces members, while others are less permitting. The branch of the service may matter, and whether or not an individual has retired can be a factor in a free admission offer.
- Blackout Dates: Like many discount offers, free military admission to theme parks may not be valid on all dates. Weekends and holidays are frequently blacked out, though special exceptions may exist based on each park's policies.
- Number of Tickets: The number of free admissions granted to each member of the armed forces can vary. Some programs only admit the individual, while others offer a limited number of free tickets for immediate family members as well.
- Identification: All free military admission programs require a valid military ID. If a family tries to use the discount while the service member is deployed and the park doesn't require the service members to be present, they might need proof of active service and the deployment orders.
- Expiration: Most free admission offers do have expiration dates, though the programs may be renewed or extended based on their popularity and the park's economic situation. Some offers can be used multiple times by the same person, while others expire after a single use.
Military Discounts Might Go Beyond the Park
Being active or retired military might come with a lot of sacrifice, but one high point is the discounts. Depending on the park and what they offer, you might also be eligible for parking benefits, discounts on food and beverages, grocery items, and more. As with most things — you won't know until you ask.