Around Tampa Bay: Four places where an annual pass is worth the investment

Summer is here and the kids are out of school. The hardest part will be trying to figure out how to keep the kids entertained. There will be days when they are not in summer camp and more than likely you will decide to take them to an amusement park. Once at the amusement park you pull out your wallet to pay for the day pass, but the clerk suggests that you get the annual pass instead. If you’re like me, you’ll say no initially and then regret it later  when the kids tell you they want to go back again. Here is a list of places  around the Tampa Bay area where the annual pass deal is worth every penny.

Lowry Park Zoo

 About 12 years ago when I just moved to Tampa, I remember the zoo being in the news a lot. They were having difficulties keeping it open. The zoo was having a hard time getting people to go there for whatever reason. I myself never went to the zoo because I heard negative things about it. Well, after having kids we have become regular attendees. Lowry Park Zoo is our second home sometimes. We love it because it’s in Tampa, about 30 minutes from home, our kids can get on almost all the rides, and the price is right.

Viewing a sea turtle at the Lowry Park Zoo aquarium

The best time to get tickets is when they have their pay for a day and come all year deal. A day pass costs $32.95 for adults and $24.95 for ages 3 and up. This pass doesn’t have many perks, but it doesn’t disappoint either. Matter of fact, with this pass you can attend their Christmas and Halloween events. There are a couple  block out dates, but nothing that interrupts any of the major holidays.


Lego Land

The little city in Lego Land

 Okay I know  this isn’t Tampa Bay area per se, but 60 minute to Winter Haven isn’t too bad. This place is a hidden gem. My family and I love going here because it’s small enough to not feel rushed and overwhelmed, but big enough for you to stay  for a few hours and not have to repeat the rides. Furthermore, they have a water park that’s loads of fun. If you get tired and don’t want to drive back home, you can make a vacation  out of it by staying at one of their kids approved resorts. They just built their beach resort, and from what hear it’s helluva fun.

Why the annual pass: If you go to Lego Land with your kids for one day, they will definitely want to go back. The One day pass, with out any discounts range from $70-$100, while the annual pass will run you from a low of $120( a pass that only grants access to Lego land and the water park) to the high of 200+. For my family and I, the Awesomer pass works out great because you also get free admission to the Orlando Madame Tussauds wax museum, Sea Life Orlando , and The Orlando Eye. Furthermore, your Parking fee of $18 is waived at Lego Land. Some perks: Teachers receive the awesomer pass for FREE. Kids under three are FREE. Active Military get a daily pass for FREE.  


Busch Gardens (BG)

Big Bird at the character parade in Busch Gardens

 If you don’t want to invest in Lego Land or the zoo, try BG. Overall it’s like buying two for the price of one. Who wouldn’t want to go on a safari ride then head over to Shekra-the mother of ll roller coasters. You wanna get wet? Head on over to Adventure Islands. To even the playing field the little ones have the sesame street show where they can eat breakfast with Elmo.

The B.G. annual pass: For $168-$192 you can get unlimited access to BG and Adventure Islands. They have the EZ pay plan where you pay $14-$16/ pass per month. Sea World admissions is also included in one of their packages. There are no block out dates and there is FREE parking. Lastly kids under the age of six qualify for free admission.


The Glazer Children’s Museum

If you have children between the ages of 1-10 this The Glazer Children’s Museum will be your new home away from home. The Glazer Children’s Museum was made for children. To think of it, it may have been designed by kids too. Just kidding, the point is it’s totally kid friendly in every aspect of the name. The museum is equipped with a kid friendly supermarket and a veterinarian clinic. You will be amazed just watching your kids be amazed. If being inside isn’t enough fun, the museum is located adjacent to the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. To top off your trip  you can head out side with the kiddos and have them run through water and play on the beautiful kid friendly playground.

The annual pass: For $125 you get annual admission for 5 people and to add an extra person it’s $25 annually. With out the annual pass a family of four would cost $41 for the day.

Honorable Mentions 


The Florida Aquarium

Are you an annual pass holder to some really cool and affordable places around the Tampa Bay area? Share your suggestions and I may give it a try.


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