SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Disneyland, Great America, Six Flags, Universal Studios, they’re all known as some of the happiest places on earth, but they are not always the most affordable.

With summer right around the corner, many families are looking for ways to get in on the fun without breaking the bank.

The ticket to saving can be tough for any family outing, but that’s where Kate Dillion comes in. She created LaJollaMom.com and is an expert in all things budget-friendly for family travel.

“There’s not one single person – doesn’t matter if they are staying in a 5-star hotel or vacation rental – they all want to save money,” Dillion said.

From amusement parks like Six Flags in Vallejo, Disneyland and Great America, to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Legoland and Universal Studios, her number one tip is don’t pay at the gate.

READ: Amusement And Water Parks Ready To Open For Summer

“For most southern California theme parks and for multi-day tickets to Disneyland resorts, you can find authorized sellers of tickets that will sell these tickets at a little bit of a discount,” Dillion said.

For other discounts, take a peak in your pocketbook. Many debit and credit cards, such as Target’s Red Card, can give you a 5% discount when you buy a gift card to places like Disneyland.

Diana Davis is a mom-blogger of seven in Sacramento. On PantryOverflow.com she suggests using other rewards cards like American Express, AAA, and Costco to shave as much as 10% off family vacation spots.

Credit cards that give you airline miles and hotel points for free stays can also be used toward family trips.

For larger families, Davis says home rentals can often be cheaper than hotels, and you can stock up on food there instead of eating at the park.

Also, consider getting a season pass. They may only cost a few dollars more and not only give you more opportunities to visit, but also annual parking passes. For example, at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, you only have to pay to park once.

The Krazy Coupon Lady has a few hacks that can make a big difference as well. She says to make your big meal of the day lunch, instead of dinner. That can save you as much as 20%. Also, bring your own refillable water bottles into the parks and make snacks ahead of time.

Adrienne Moore

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