Covert transaction legal, life-saving: getting free drinks at the amusement park

By Julie Rains on 17 May 2007 (Updated 18 August 2011) 14 comments

Amusement park in the summer

Summer’s coming, and nice weather and vacation days may land you in an amusement park very soon. I’ve come to accept the high cost of admission but still grumble at the food and drink prices. Tired, thirsty, hungry, and captive audiences are ripe, it seems, for gouging. Perhaps the rationale is that if you can afford the ticket price, you can afford a $3.00 hot dog and a $2.00 cola.

In the interest of frugality and safety (I assume all of you need hydration and some of you may also bring along children who also need fluids), I will pass along a tip that I received from a waitress when my family and I were visiting Williamsburg. She rightly divined that my husband, my sons, and I had come to visit Busch Gardens and advised us that free water inside the park was always available. Apparently, it is a rule (law?) that patrons who ask (for water) shall receive. I suppose it could be bad for business if a visitor fainted from dehydration just because he or she didn’t bring some extra cash or had spent it on souvenirs.

At any rate, the waitress was right and you can get free water at Busch Gardens. In hindsight, we should have tipped her even more than the typical 20%.

Since then, I have tested my don’t-let-the-customers-get-dehydrated-or-we-will-look-exceedingly-greedy theory at one of the large water parks in North Carolina. The kid behind the ice cream counter wanted to hide the transaction but, yes, he did pass me a cup of free water (tap, not bottled) that quenched my thirst.

Try it sometime and let me know what happens.

Photo by Luza.

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Will Chen's picture

I wonder if this works in Vegas.  Because man, water in them hotels is darn expensive!

Guest's picture

The only amusement park close to my house has been voted friendliest park in the world and they offer free unlimited soft drinks (Pepsi products plus water). You have to pay for bottled water but there are fountain drink huts everywhere. And they have free sunscreen. Holiday World is a bit small but they have a really cool water park and the regular park is decent. And the free drinks save me a lot of money.

Guest's picture
warh0und

i work in a movie theatre and ya, we give away free water, too. since the cups themselves are inventoried (and we have to account for each one at the end of the night) we use a special 12 oz cup for water. we charge for bottled water, of course, but if someone comes in with their own thermos and they want it filled with root beer i'll usually fill it at no charge (the soda is inventoried by just a weekly guesstimation at the weight)

Jessica Okon's picture

Just put a couple of bottles of water in your purse? Are the drink Nazis going to come and throw you out of the park? They've got bigger worries. Just don't flaunt it.

You've just got to be slick.

 welcome to the wb!

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for visiting! For families, 2 adults + 2 kids with enough water to last 8 hours makes a heavy backpack. Now that you mention nazis/security, I've given much less information and had fewer bags checked crossing international borders than I did to get into the amusement park.

Guest's picture
Richard

Don't drag in enough for all day, just 1 bottle per person, or less if folks are willing to share, and refill them at the park's water fountains or sinks.
Despite all the parks' policies, we've never been even questioned about drinks and/or snacks.

Jessica Okon's picture

could outfit the whole crew with these .

Julie Rains's picture

Now that you mention it, I am in the market for my very own personal hydration unit. I was on charity bike ride this weekend and though it was supposed to be fully supported, the last rest stop packed up and left before my riding buddies and I made it there (there weren't enough amateurs in the pack apparently). One of my friends (I think of him as Mr. Safety) usually rides with a Camelbak and had plenty of water whereas my 2 water bottles ran dry.

Guest's picture
Guest

I love my camelback, but I think it's a health dept. reg. that water has to be made available.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

I think these are much better.

"Thirst leads to fatigue.

Fatigue leads to indigestion.

Indigestion leads to misery." 

Guest's picture
Matt

Six flags does this, when I went to day camp the counselors always got us (20+kids) free water.

Jessica Okon's picture

Will, they'd probably try to make Yoda pay admission.

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

Nah, if Obiwan can get past a security checkpoint, I think Yoda can sneak us into an amusement park. 

Guest's picture
Guest

Here in Arizona that is indeed the law; if they have water available they will give it to you. Even the gas stations here will do so. And in the summer when it's 118 out, they pretend they don't hear you hitting the ice machine so long as the Dr. Pepper doesn't follow.

The comment about the inventoried cups is helpful. I asked and found out that is why they give you the Dixie cup or whatever; not to stigmatize you as a "got free water" person, but the cup inventory keeps the employees from giving away free sodas, supposedly.