There's a reason why they don't play this up
September 24, 2006 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Can we get into other amusement parks for free*? (more inside)


Completely by accident, my friend and I stumbled upon Legoland's Shopping Pass program, which, for an admission-priced deposit, lets visitors shop at the stores and hang out inside the park for an hour - absolutely free. We weren't obligated to shop, but were able to hang out a little bit longer than an hour, which was exactly what we needed to wander around Miniland and buy Legoland trinkets. And, if we had shown we had purchased more than $20 worth of toys and gifts, our $10 parking fee would have been refunded! Talk about savings!

Now I am wondering if there are other amusment parks/interesting venues that offer this sort of program for those of us who are curious but less inclined to pay full price. Legoland was a very interesting place, and if you haven't been, you should, but paying $57 for a one-day pass was out of the question; it was definitely not worth that price. I have tried googling this, but haven't been too successful, except for the one at Disneyland, which seems to be a similar deal.

Thanks in advance for your input!
posted by i8ny3x to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Universal Studios (Hollywood) secret:

Go into the main parking structure. Go all the way to the northwest corner. You will find a stairway. Take the stairway all the way down. And I mean, all the way down -- ignore any signs and keep going down. Eventually, you will reach a level that is below the guest parking level. Go out the door and exit the strcuture via the nearest opening. Head northwest, which would be your left as you exit the structure.

Voila, you have reached the back lot, but very near the area where the backstage tour buses are being loaded with guests. Now remember, the back lot is a working production area, so there are people walking around, doing their jobs of making movies and television shows. If you are calm and not obviously touristy, you will not be noticed.

Keep heading northwest and you'll reach the backstage tour loading area (it's obvious, you'll see the buses). A restroom area is located right near there, too, at the edge of the loading area, so it's common that they walk into the backstage production area by accident. Take advantage of this by just walking into the park and blending into the crowd.

Congratulations. You have just snuck into Universal Studios.

This parking structure trick was first discovered by me and my wife by accident approximately five years ago, and was still open and available as recently as one year ago. IMO, there is no sign of it ever being corrected, as closing the security hole would disrupt the production studio area itself.

Bonus tip -- if you head right instead of left when you exit the structure, you get into some really cool backstage areas. I've walked onto the sets of several films. Again, this is a working stage, so nobody will notice you unless you call attention to yourself.
posted by frogan at 10:39 PM on September 24, 2006 [30 favorites]

so it's common that they walk into the backstage production area by accident.

They, meaning the park guests.
posted by frogan at 10:40 PM on September 24, 2006

I used to sneak into the employee's entrance to Silver Dollar City all the time.

My justification was that once I was in there they would profit from my concession spending.
posted by sourwookie at 10:55 PM on September 24, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, frogan! That is a pretty sweet discovery. Thanks!
posted by i8ny3x at 9:25 AM on September 25, 2006

Response by poster: But really, I was looking for legal ways to get in! Still, mighty interesting find.
posted by i8ny3x at 9:44 AM on September 25, 2006

six flags magic mountain had a similar free pass for shopping that you could get from guest relations (or whatever they call it). a classmate and i used it once to go and record the audio from a run on their wooden coaster. but this was back in 1995 or so, and i have no idea of the same program is still available.
posted by jimw at 9:55 AM on September 25, 2006

Busch Gardens Williamsburg had some kind of similar program for people who just wanted to purchase something (many of the shops sold fairly high-priced collectible items, so they want people to be able to access the shops). I can't remember if you just got in free, or if you were refunded when you came out and it had been less than an hour. You would have to speak to someone at Guest Services before entering, I would imagine.

By the way, this info is from memory, from the summer I worked there ('91), so it may have changed.
posted by timepiece at 12:33 PM on September 25, 2006

Needless to say, don't count on any hole you read about in this thread staying a hole for long, now that it's broken on mefi...
posted by allterrainbrain at 1:14 AM on September 27, 2006

Needless to say, don't count on any hole you read about in this thread staying a hole for long, now that it's broken on mefi...

Agreed. But the Universal Studios thing is/was weird. The first time, I chalked it up to some construction going on nearby. The next several dozen times, over the course of years, I figured what may have happened was that the stairway and its exterior exit was considered a fire escape, and would therefore never be closed because it was the primary means of getting out of the structure from that end. They would count on internal security to keep people out ... but as long as you played nicely, you'd never be noticed.
posted by frogan at 5:19 PM on September 27, 2006

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