Depending on how you look at it, un/fortunately, the opening of The Ex marks the end of the Summer. It’s an unfortunate sign to me because it means that Old Man Winter, and all his nasty baggage, is just ’round the corner! 🙁
Following an annual family tradition of visiting The Ex, my sisters, nephew, and I decided to revisit that childhood memory. I was blown away at how different AND expensive everything has become. For some reason, I remember The Ex being a relatively inexpensive way to spend the day, but man was I wrong!
(General Admission is $16 which doesn’t sound bad, but since they wouldn’t honour my mom’s corporate rate, I wasn’t able to purchase tickets for $11. Already, this got my day off on the wrong foot! The run ’round that I was given by the staff also left a bad taste in my mouth.)
After spending the entire day there, here are some ways to try and save some money if you plan to visit The Ex:
1. Corporate Rate. If you or anyone in your family qualifies for a Corporate Rate, find out exactly the number of people who will be attending and purchase the tickets ONLINE. As I discovered the hard way, they do not sell discounted tickets at the event. If you are unable to pin down exact numbers, buy an extra ticket – you can always sell it to a stranger in-line. Tickets are non-refundable.
2. Bring Cash. I didn’t have time to stop at the bank and didn’t think it would be a problem to use debit or credit card, after all I was in the city. However, aside from the main box office, I did not see any debit machines at the concession stands. The warehouse “stores” may accept these forms of payment, but not where food is purchased and definitely not for the midway games. If you have no cash, there are a bunch of umarked ATM machines, but I avoid those at all costs!
3. Pack Some Food. Unlike more theme parks, e.g. Wild Water Kingdom, the staff at The Ex do not have a “No outside food” policy. Actually, no one even inspected my purse. So take advantage of this and pack some snacks or even sandwiches!
4. Bring your water bottle. My sister pointed out these handy-dandy water fountains set-up specifically to fill your water bottle! (They weren’t as rampant as the unmarked ATMs, but I did notice a couple on my rounds.) Since I brought my water bobble with me, this was really handy – not to mention saving me from shelling out upwards of $3 for a bottle of water. 🙂
5. Share, share, share at The Food Building. There is no doubt, at least in my eyes, that The Food Building is still the #1 draw at The Ex! Neither the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Burger nor the Fried Cola/Butter/Koolaid, etc. interests me, but what I do like is seeing all the variety of food that’s under one roof…the infamous, Food Building!
We didn’t pre-plan things, but my sisters and I split 1 meal for lunch! We thought that it would be a good way to try more than one thing. Aside from the 99¢ Spaghetti, most of the concession items appeared to be 2-3 portions…easily!
6. Don’t play the midway games or go on any of the rides. I realise that this tip may seem “extreme” to some of you, but this is how my mom, as the sole breadwinner, was able to take us to places like The Ex. The first time we were old enough to speak, we may have asked if we could play a game or go on the rides, but after saying “No” the first time, we never asked in subsequent years. At $20/22 tickets, at an average of 4-6 tickets/ride, they aren’t cheap! And if you have more than one child, it’s even more expensive.
This option may not be for everyone, but if you’re really strapped for cash, it’s definitely an option! If you and your spouse can afford to, but all means, buy the ride tickets, play the midway games. However, there are other ways to have fun at The Ex without spending additional cash, e.g. Petting Zoo, The Farm, live music, people watching, just walking around, etc.
7. Skip The Ex and head to the park! Despite thinking that it’s overrated and overpriced, I still had a good time bonding with my family. However, if money is a real concern which I can totally sympathise with, especially for multi-children families, skip The Ex entirely as it does add up.
I’m sure that your family can bond by doing something less costly like a picnic at the park/beach or a day downtown or at Niagara Falls. Shopping for school supplies and clothing may not constitute as a “bonding activity”, but your money is probably better spent doing that if you had to decide between The Ex Vs. A Necessity.
If you’re set on visiting The Ex, consider going after 5pm on Monday – Thursday as admission is only $5. And on a rare occasion, sometimes there’s a “Free Admission” day too.