The main point of the article was "the unadvertised extra costs... that add up, sending the price of the a day out spiralling." The cost of visiting attractions on their own is not, however, so crushing. If one looks hard enough, family breaks can be found for as little as 125 GBP for a family of four - which includes entry to a top theme park and a hotel stay for the night. Not a bad price to pay considering the amount of fun on offer.
The article continued to suggest that extras such as parking, petrol, lunch and souvenirs are the real crippling factor of these excursions which can be true, to a certain extent. But then again, there are always ways to avoid these expenses.
First and foremost, the issue of food: It is true that a meal for four can cost almost 100 GBP with drinks and deserts, but with the summer well on its way, why not enjoy a tasty picnic with the family. Picnics are a great way to cut the price of the trip and great fun for the kids. Get them involved in making the sandwiches and packing the basket before you leave and they will love stopping for food later in the day.
The price of petrol is ridiculously high at around 1.20 per litre (depending on your area) which can soon add up if you are travelling a long distance. This, unfortunately, cannot be helped. But in a new green age, where the emphasis is on cutting carbon emissions and using public transport, why not do your bit and catch the train? Pre-booking your rail fare can significantly reduce the price of your trip and in many areas there are group discounts available as well. In Kent, for example, you can save 50% on your rail fare when four passengers book at the same time. This means a return trip from Ashford to London can cost as little as 10 GBP per person.
Some of the charges mentioned are certainly unavoidable, and possibly classed as collateral. When you venture into theme park land, you are fully aware that you are going to have to stop and buy an ice cream for the kids. But in reality, it is almost impossible to go anywhere, even your local swimming pool without forking out for a lollipop or a ride on Bob the Builder. These expenses are laid out even before you leave the house.
The customer needs to be more savvy in these situations and realise what the expenses are likely to amount to. If you are paying 98 GBP for a family of four to visit Alton Towers, then you have probably got another ten pounds spare to buy ice creams. If you are going swimming for the afternoon, then you probably have 50p spare for a fun ride afterwards. It's not exactly rocket science, this parenting game - more common sense.
Samantha is an expert Research and Theatre consultant. Her current interests are UK shortbreaks.