Monday, February 6, 2017

An expensive trip

Recently, I went with my family to the aquarium. I did the best I could to save money on the excursion.

Since tickets to the aquarium cost nearly $30, I got the discount passes from the library for ONLY $10 each.  So I congratulated myself on spending only $40 instead of $120 on the tickets.  But then the parking cost $40.  And even though I made sandwiches for myself and one of my daughters, lunch in the cafeteria for my husband and other daughter (a cafeteria-grade burger and pizza) cost $25.  So in spite of some efforts, we still spent over a hundred dollars on the trip.

We don't really need to save money--it's just instinctual for me after growing up with a single mom.  But the thing is, we have more money than most people.  Yet I could see that most people were paying full price for the tickets.  And the cafeteria was so packed with people buying food, you couldn't even get a table.  And the parking garage was nearly completely full of people willing to pay $40 for parking.

Granted some of these people could have been tourists taking a yearly trip.  But it's hard to believe that the aquarium was packed to the brim (there was a line to enter after the line for buying the tickets) with people who were so excited to go to a not that great aquarium in the dead of winter.  It seriously wasn't that special. It's just fish. We all agreed after two hours that we were totally bored.

Why are there so many people willing to spend close to $200 for a day at the aquarium?  Who are these people?


  1. About 10 years ago I found myself in central Florida at the gates of Sea World. Seems to me it was about $100 each to get in plus parking and peripherals. It was certainly interesting, but at those prices it is a "just once" thing.

  2. I wouldn't be interested enough to pay those prices. I'd expect my kids to get their aquarium exposure via field trip. Which presumably would be less expensive per head.

    That said... some may be noncustodial parents who just want something to do and are less price-sensitive, or families with visiting relatives. Or people on vacation. Or people with membership either at the aquarium or someplace else that shares memberships. (Our city's natural history museum has a reciprocity agreement with a large variety of similar places-- the year we bought a family pass, we only had to go to our museum or others twice for it to pay for itself. And the reciprocity agreement covered some local places, plus a lot of others nationwide.)

  3. I travel all over the world and visit aquariums because I really like fish and other aquatic life. I am a married man without any children and have a decent income. Prices at aquariums are high because operating costs are high. That said, they do try to offer ways to make admission more family friendly (like memberships and other discounts). I applaud your efforts in being thrifty and it doesn't matter what your income is; at some point when I'm on a fixed income, I'm sure I'll be looking for ways to trim costs.

    Aside from a love of all things aquatic, people go to aquariums for their educational value or for entertainment (i.e., movies and animal shows, feedings). In a wintry climate, you can't take your kids to the zoo, so a climate controlled aquarium is your only option. Some zoos and aquariums offer combined memberships for savings.

    Since you mentioned bored kids, I'm sure you're not one of those parents who lets their kids go tearing through the aquarium at breakneck speed and screaming at max volume. I'm also sure you have taught your kids some basic etiquette with regards to how to behave in crowds and at public exhibits. I like kids, but what sometimes ruins my visit are kids (unattended or with inattentive or clueless guardians)that transform a hushed, enclosed space like an aquarium into a bus station, full of jostling bodies and loud noise. Then there are the kids who push themselves in front of an exhibit and soil the aquarium glass with greasy hand prints as they bang away, scaring the bejesus out of the aquarium occupants.

  4. I've got the same instinct to be frugal, even though I'm finally earning an income
    Mind The Medic

  5. I often wonder this about people who go to movie theaters - or even restaurants - with kids. We go very infrequently. It's not like I don't buy my share of $5 lattes (ugh!) or other wasteful spending. But we go to the movies maybe a few times a year and do more than takeout very infrequently. Where does all this money come from that people seem to have AND be willing to spend?

    1. I wonder the same thing. Just because they're willing to spend it doesn't mean they really can afford to do so. Doesn't mean they're putting away money for retirement or college. But who knows...

  6. I'm happier when aquariums are just fish, honestly. I don't feel that large mammals belong in a pool in a building. So the dolphins and whales are just sad, to me. Things like beluga whales die at high rates in aquariums because they are so hard to keep in a pool. I don't like seals and sea lions being kept either, because while they don't seem to have the same issues as "smarter" mammals like the dolphins, they also deserve more enrichment than they get in an aquarium or zoo. Otters and penguins..they might be ok.

  7. Parking is $40!! Seriously? Is that a regular/generic price for theme park parking in thr U.S? So they clean and park your car for you for that money?!