MONEY Super Bowl

The 5 Best Deals If You’re Not Watching the Super Bowl

"The Book of Mormon" on Broadway at Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City
"The Book of Mormon" on Broadway at Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City Stephen Lovekin—Getty Images

Lower prices and shorter lines await those who skip watching football on February 1 in favor of other attractions.

If the only hawks you care about seeing Super Bowl Sunday have wings and feathers, there’s a good chance your wish can come true—for cheap, no less.

Thanks to the one-third of the U.S. population that will be parked in front of their TVs watching football on February 1, it will be easier for the rest to snag discounts at zoos, ski resorts, spas, and other attractions—not to mention score seats at otherwise unavailable shows and restaurants.

Here are five suggestions for Super Bowl-skippers in search of good deals.

1. Take in a show

Super Bowl Sunday is a great time to see musicals and other popular shows that are normally hard to get into. For example, as of January 21, $99 evening tickets to perennially sold-out Broadway show “Book of Mormon” were still available for February 1 directly through Telecharge. And even if tickets to a hit show are all sold out at the box office, you’re still likely to get a discount on the resale market: Tickets on Stubhub for the same February 1 “Book of Mormon” performance are $40 cheaper than those for the following Sunday.

To look for theater performances near you, check

2. Finally eat at that restaurant you’ve been wanting to try

While everyone else has to settle for mediocre tailgate snacks, you have a much better shot than usual at scoring an enviable meal at some of your city’s hottest eateries. Restaurant reservation site typically seats only about half the number of bookings on Super Bowl Sunday as on the Sunday before or after.

Some cities offer even better odds. In Philadelphia, reservations are typically down 60%, OpenTable found. But even major markets like New York City and Boston experience a pronounced dip: 30-40% fewer people will dine out in those cities on February 1.

A word to the wise: Even though your chances improve dramatically on game day, “some of the hottest and most acclaimed restaurants can still be tough to get into,” says Tiffany Fox, a spokeswoman for OpenTable. “So people shouldn’t wait to the last minute to book if there’s a special spot they’ve been dying to get into.”

3. Enjoy zoos and theme parks without the crowds

While Disney World spokespeople claim the event has no impact on park attendance, Disney vacation planning sites like and recommend visiting the parks on Super Bowl Sunday because you can expect far less company.

The game “keeps many locals away and is usually a great time to tour the parks,” notes, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios was “virtually dead on Super Bowl Sunday each of the last three years,” according to

If you’re not going to be in sunny California or Florida come game day, try your local zoo or wildlife park. The Nashville Zoo, for example, is offering a “Zooperbowl Deal” this year that cuts admission by half. And last year the Virginia Zoo offered 50% off to anyone wearing merchandise from a Super Bowl participating team.

4. Hit the slopes

Skiers and snowboarders hitting the slopes instead of the sofa over Super Bowl weekend are in for a treat: Lift lines will be scant, and many ski resorts plan to roll out deep discounts that day.

The average booked savings on during last year’s game day was 29% off window rates, making it the best value of any Sunday during the regular ski season. Prices are expected to drop similarly this year, but you will need to book in advance to take advantage.

The Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in Colorado, for example, has cut lift tickets to $57 this year, or 33% off, according to Liftopia. Utah’s Snowbasin slashed rates by 29% to $63. And in Vermont, Okemo Mountain is offering tickets for $73, or a 21% discount.

5. Have a Spa Day

If you’d literally rather stare at the ceiling than watch football, you can do exactly that—while getting a discounted massage or facial. You’ll find deals all across the country as spas promote their services for so-called Super Bowl widows (and widowers).

“If you don’t see a special at your favorite spa, just ask,” says Beth McGroarty, research director at spa directory site “Bookings may be lighter, and under-the-radar deals may be available—especially group discounts.”

If you don’t have a particular spa in mind, browse ratings on sites like Spafinder and Yelp and make calls to compare prices. Some examples of Super Bowl spa deals currently available include 15% off regular services at Clay Health Club + Spa in New York City; 25% off services at Kohler Waters Spa in Kohler, Wisconsin; and $50 off massages at The Palms Spa in Miami Beach, Florida.

TIME Infectious Disease

California Confirms 9 Cases of Measles in Recent Disneyland Visitors

Euro Disney Paris
A general view of Disneyland Paris on Jan. 16, 2014. Paul Hubble—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Seven cases found in California and two in Utah

Nine cases of measles have been confirmed among recent visitors of theme parks in California, the state’s department of health said Wednesday.

Each of the cases were found to occur in visitors to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park in Orange County between Dec. 15 to Dec. 20, the department announced in a statement. Seven of the confirmed cases are in locations across California (six of them had not been vaccinated) and two are in Utah; three other California residents are suspected of having infections and are being monitored.

The department is urging people who are exhibiting symptoms of the airborne disease, which it calls “highly infectious,” to contact their health care providers immediately. Symptoms of measles include fever, cough, runny nose and eventually the appearance of a red rash — first on the face, then on the rest of the body. And patients can be infectious for nine days.

Measles has been eliminated since 2000, the health department added, largely thanks to the highly-effective vaccine. But because Disneyland attracts many international travelers and there have been outbreaks in recent years, it’s possible that someone could have brought it to the U.S. and, in turn, to “the happiest place on earth.”

TIME Culture

Wes Anderson Might Create a Theme Park With Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou BMI-NARAS Screening
Mark Mothersbaugh, Jonathan McHugh and Wes Anderson Randall Michelson Archive—WireImage

No word yet on a Bill Murray-themed roller coaster

It happens every time: The credits roll on another Wes Anderson movie, and the curtains close on the whimsical universe he’s created. You’re ejected from the symmetrical, 1970s-colored trance of his movie sets into the cold reality of an asymmetrical, 2014-colored world. But talk of a theme park masterminded by Anderson and long-time collaborator Mark Mothersbaugh, co-founder of the new wave band Devo, hints at the possibility of a real-life counterpart to these fictional worlds.

In the foreward to Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, a new book by Denver Museum of Contemporary Art Director Adam Lerner, Anderson describes the vision: “It will include hundreds of animatronic characters and creatures, rides through vast invented landscapes and buildings, extensive galleries of textiles and sculptures, plus an ongoing original music score piped-in everywhere.”

But Anderson will play the role facilitator rather than chief visionary; the theme park is intended to be “conceived and designed entirely” by Mothersbaugh. The pair has enjoyed a long working relationship, with Mothersbaugh scoring many of Anderson’s movies (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). And Mothersbaugh is an accomplished visual artist in his own right, having worked in a variety of visual media since before co-founding Devo.

A glimpse inside Myopia offers a testament to a diverse array of influences, from pop art to punk, on Mothersbaugh’s self-described “particular brand of fear/enthusiasm for this flawed creature called Homo sapiens.” And though a theme park based on this vision seems a far cry from Disneyworld, Anderson’s promise that “the visitor will be amused and frightened, often simultaneously,” suggests that the two might not be so different, after all.

Should it come to fruition, the theme park will be located in Mothersbaugh’s birthplace of Akron, Ohio.

MONEY Tourism

Disney World Tests a No-Line Ride

In a move designed to speed up theme park lines, Disney is running a test to make the Toy Story Mania ride a FastPass-only attraction.

TIME Pop Culture

This Map Shows That Disney World Has Grown Like Crazy

Disney Map
From the Oct. 18, 1971, issue of TIME TIME

The theme park opened on Oct. 1, 1971

A few decades ago, it was incredible to imagine a theme park surpassing the size and scope of California’s Disneyland — but Walt Disney World, which opened on this day, Oct. 1, in 1971, did. “‘World’ is right,” TIME marveled in the Oct. 18 issue of that year, alongside a map of the new attraction. “The latest Disney enterprise, four years in the building, includes a spotlessly clean amusement area, two enormous and elaborate hotels with marinas and beaches, two championship-caliber golf courses, lavishly landscaped lakes and a futuristic transportation network linking everything.”

The article went on to praise the “futuristic unisex jumpsuits” worn by workers, the $4.25 roast beef dinner at Cinderella Castle and the skill of the lawyers who worked to make Disney World “in effect a city-state” with near complete control of what goes on on its property.

So we can only imagine how much ooh-ing and aw-ing there would have been if those writers in 1971 had gotten a load of this modern map of Disney World:


Roll over to zoom; on mobile, click.

Everything included in the original map fits into the upper right-hand corner. Though the basic layout of the Magic Kingdom is unchanged, the resort — that’s Epcot, Animal Kingdom and rest of the whole shebang — now covers an area about the same size as San Francisco, by‘s count. But the craziest thing of all on that up-to-date map isn’t a new addition to the park; it’s that there’s still so much empty space into which it could still expand.

Read the 1971 article about the theme park’s opening, here in TIME’s archives: Pixie Dust Over Florida

TIME Theme Parks

SeaWorld Is Drowning Fast

Trainers have Orca killer whales perform for the crowd  during a show at the animal theme park SeaWorld in San Diego, California
Trainers have Orca killer whales perform for the crowd during a show at the animal theme park SeaWorld in San Diego, on March 19, 2014. Mike Blake—Reuters

A damning documentary hasn't helped the struggling theme park

This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at

By Ben Geier

On Friday, SeaWorld Entertainment announced that it is building new, bigger enclosures for its signature attractions — the orcas (also known as killer whales). Their jumps and tricks have delighted some, but their alleged poor treatment and inadequate habitats have enraged others.

The theme park company said it plans to upgrade the killer whale tanks at three of its theme parks, starting with the one in San Diego, Calif. The new orca tanks will be 50 feet deep and have a surface area of nearly 1.5 acres.

Will improved conditions be enough to reverseSeaWorld’s declining revenue? Earlier this week the theme park company said its revenue dropped 1 percent in the three months ended June 30 during a period that’s considered the company’s peak season. SeaWorld also attributed its poor quarter to bad press following the release of the “Blackfish” documentary, which accused the theme park operator of mistreating orcas.

Wall Street wasn’t impressed and sent the company’s stock price down over 30 percent.

For the rest of the story, please go to

MONEY Tourism

Diagon Alley vs. Legal Pot: How Their Big Opening Days Match Up

A dragon breathes fire above The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley during a media preview
A dragon breathes fire above The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley during a media preview at the Universal Orlando. David Manning—Reuters

A new theme park area in Orlando and marijuana stores in Washington state both opened for business for the first time on Tuesday.

And that, perhaps surprisingly, is not the only thing they have in common. Here’s how the two opening days match up:

Diagon Alley: Followup to very successful launch of Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park
WA Pot Shops: Followup to very successful launch of recreational marijuana sales in Colorado

Diagon Alley: Universal Studios says Diagon Alley will double the size of its Wizarding World theme park area
WA Pot Shops: Washington says it will collect $190 million in pot-related taxes and fees over the next four years

Diagon Alley: Up to 300 minutes (a.k.a. five hours) for visitors to get inside the park on Tuesday
WA Pot Shops: Up to one day—at least a couple people waited in line overnight outside pot shops anticipating a Tuesday opening

Diagon Alley: $96 to $136 per adult
WA Pot Shops: $12 to $25 per gram

Diagon Alley: Anti-authoritarian fans of magic and fantasy
WA Pot Shops: Pretty much the same

Diagon Alley: Know-it-all spewing theories about stuff like the pros and cons of Half-Blood Prince vs. Order of the Phoenix
WA Pot Shops: Know-it-all spewing theories about stuff like the pros and cons of Cannalope Haze vs. Jamaican Lion

Diagon Alley: Creepy animatronic goblins staring at you on Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride
WA Pot Shops: Creepy alive goblin-like customers staring at you—or at something—in front of the pot counter

Diagon Alley: Minimum height of 4 feet to ride Gringotts alone
WA Pot Shops: Minimum age of 21 to purchase marijuana

Diagon Alley: Many rides not recommended for women who are pregnant and people prone to nausea
WA Pot Shops: Pretty much the same

Diagon Alley: Trip on the Hogwarts Express
WA Pot Shops: Trip on edible marijuana snacks like those “enjoyed” by Maureen Dowd

Diagon Alley: Fire-breathing dragon atop the Gringotts ride
WA Pot Shops: Pretty much everybody

MONEY Tourism

Why You Should Postpone That Trip to Disney World

Summer never fails to attract big crowds to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Peter Ptschelinzew—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

After crunching the numbers, researchers concluded that the most expensive weekend of the summer in Orlando is just about here.

Specifically, the last weekend of June. As for the cheapest time of the summer in theme park central, that supposedly takes place on the second-to-last weekend in August—in other words, the weekend before Labor Day.

This is all according to the folks at dealnews, who asked Priceline to dig into its reams of data and figure out when families would get the best deals on hotels in Orlando for a summer vacation. Based on 2013 numbers, Priceline determined that Orlando hotels cost an average of $93.54 on the last weekend of June, compared to $82.08 on the second-to-last weekend of August. When looking strictly at three-star hotels, the differential was bigger: $94 at the end of June, versus $76 for the August weekend.

The main reason given for the price differential is that by late August, many kids are either already back in school, or their families are in the throws of hectic back-to-school preparations, so it’s not an ideal time to haul the brood to Orlando for a big vacation. The July issue of MONEY backs this theory up, in an article quoting Robert Niles of Theme Park Insider, who says that crowds thin out and on-site hotel prices dip 25% to 35% in mid to late August.

The end of June, by contrast, is when most kids are freshly released from the clutches of teachers and principals—the perfect time to reward kids for all their work in school, and also for moms and dads to make their case as Best Parents Ever.

Just be aware that you’ll pay a hefty price for visiting Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and the rest of Orlando anytime from the end of June through early August. This is peak summer season in Orlando, and while the hotel rate premium indicated above may not seem like all that big of a deal, lodging is but one vacation cost.

Arguably far bigger “costs” are the ones that don’t technically cost you anything out of pocket: weather and crowds. The Disney fanatics over at are among the many theme park enthusiasts who list the peak summer season (end of June to mid-August) as one of the worst times of year to hit Walt Disney World. “Expect it to be very busy and extremely hot, with heavy humidity,” the site warns. Likewise, Frommer’s cautions, “Summer is when the masses throng to the parks. It’s also very humid and hot, Hot, HOT.”

On the other hand, Mouse Savers names the period of late August through September as among the very best times for families going to Orlando, in particular because of “rock-bottom deals” at off-site (non-Disney) hotels and lodging packages that include “free” meals for guests staying at Disney properties.

Many news outlets jumped on the hotel pricing data released by dealnews and Priceline and announced that August was the least expensive and overall best time for visiting Orlando. But that’s misleading. The second-to-last weekend in August isn’t the cheapest time of year in central Florida. It’s just the cheapest weekend in the summer. And hey, based on the hotel rates listed, it’s not all that much cheaper than the most expensive weekend of the summer.

There are generally much better deals to be had—in terms of lodging, as well as lodging-meals-and-pass packages—during the off-season periods of late fall (with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend) and just after New Year’s (with the exception of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend). By visiting during one of these periods, you’ll not only save on lodging and other expenses, you’ll also avoid the end-of-summer hurricane season, when torrential downpours and lightning (if not worse) are to be expected.

Yes, we know that summer is when kids are out of school, and that’s when you want to take the family to the famously family-friendly destination that is Orlando. But there’s so much upside to hitting Disney and the rest in the true off season, it’s worth considering taking the kids out of school for a visit in, say, early December. That’ll make it even easier to stake your claim to the title of Best Parent Ever.

MONEY Tourism

How Theme Parks Are Killing Spontaneous Fun

A child shows excitement at the entrance to Disneyland Paris, France. Image shot 07/2009. Exact date unknown.
Howard Sayer—Alamy

Nowadays, going to a theme park on a whim means you'll pay through the nose and spend more time on line than the folks who booked in advance.

Carefree, spontaneous family fun? It’s been a long time since a visit to a popular theme park fit that description. Nowadays, showing up out of the blue, with no prebooked reservations or admission tickets, to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld, or pretty much any other major theme park is unwise, to put it mildly.

The savvy mouse-ear-hat-wearing enthusiast would laugh at the idea of arriving at a big theme park on a whim. At, one of dozens of unofficial Disney park web guides, the #1 rookie mistake (among a dizzying 20 possible mistakes listed) is the failure to plan ahead. To give you an idea of how seriously folks take this, another Disney-focused site calls itself wdwprepschool, where parents can study up and do reams and reams of homework on how to have a relaxed, leisurely vacation.

What’s so bad about just crashing the gates of the Magic Kingdom? For starters, it will cost you. Earlier in 2014, Walt Disney World in Orlando raised its walk-up single-day price $99 ($105 after taxes), up from $89 a year earlier. Universal Studios followed up immediately with a price hike of its own. More recently, Disneyland in California raised its prices, hitting the $150 mark for a one-day Parkhopper pass good for entrance to Disney’s two area parks.

While the price hikes usually affect all manner of admissions—multi-day, season passes, etc.—the promotional structure increasingly rewards travelers who buy multi-day tickets in advance with an array of discounts and benefits. (There’s a good counterargument about the foolishness of spending a ton of money over the course of several days in order to cut one’s average per-day costs, but let’s not get into that now.)

The most recent example of theme parks pushing aggressively to make customers buy admissions ahead of time comes from SeaWorld, which raised its one-day walk-up price to $95, while also introducing a new advance-purchase discount that knocks off $15 (for weekends and holidays) or $30 (most weekdays) to guests buying online ahead of time.

One common argument in favor of raising theme park prices says that doing so benefits park visitors by providing them with more elbow room. SeaWorld, for one, says that it has deliberately lowered visitor numbers by way of higher admissions prices, in order to make the experience better for visitors who have paid top dollar to see Shamu and the rest.

Then again, price hikes can be explained in a simpler way: Theme park operators charge more because they can. Each year, prices inch up by a few bucks, and each year, the tourists keep showing up in strong numbers. Until theme park enthusiasts start staying away in droves, there’s no business justification for slowing the rise of admissions prices.

While paying extra for a spontaneous theme park visit is annoying, visitors arguably pay a much steeper cost in terms of wasted time by doing what comes naturally on vacation: just wandering around, casually looking for fun. As the Orlando Sentinel reported, SeaWorld just added a new feature to its mobile app, allowing guests to buy its QuickQueue line-skipping service, for $19, via smartphone, even when waiting in a line at SeaWorld.

The app feature is one of a long line of services and guest options that not only make it possible to plan nearly every minute of one’s theme park visit in advance, they make it seem foolish and wasteful to not plan nearly every minute of one’s theme park visit in advance.

From line-skipping passes and wristbands, to dinner reservations and character breakfasts that must be booked months ahead of time, to the walk-up admission price premium, the goal of theme park companies is clear: They want guests to visit multiple days rather than one random day at a time, and they want guests to plan and pay for their big trips long in advance.

Is this what park guests want? The theme parks don’t really care, so long as people keep showing up.

TIME poverty

Disney World Has a Homeless Problem

Merida's Royal Celebration
Magic Kingdom on May 11, 2013 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Gerardo Mora—WireImage

Some employees at the Disney World theme park and many others at local businesses in Florida's Osceola County reportedly say they can't afford the area's average $800 per month rent making $8.03 an hour

Updated 11:56 a.m. on April 28

Those employees at the happiest place on earth? Some of them are homeless parents, according to the Associated Press. Many Walt Disney World employees cannot afford the average $800 per month rent while being paid a starting minimum pay of $8.03 per hour working at the park. Meanwhile, any one person pays about $100 just for admission to Orlando’s theme parks.

1,216 families in Florida’s Osceola County are living out of hotels because they cannot afford to live anywhere else and because the county does not have any shelters. Many small hotel owners—running mom-and-pop businesses—have complained to the county sheriff that families are overcrowding rooms and unable to pay long-term. Some have even filed lawsuits. (Larger, more expensive hotels that house many of the tourists visiting Disney World don’t have to deal with the same issue.)

Advocates blame the problem on low wages and comparatively high rent given those salaries in the 300,000 person county. According to census figures, the median income in Osceola County is just $24,128 a year.

A Disney spokesperson said it’s “a stretch to make a connection between our strong collective bargaining offer to Cast Members and the homeless issue in Central Florida.”

“Walt Disney World is actively involved with community organizations to help address homelessness in Central Florida and its underlying causes,” spokesperson Jacquee Polak. “Our efforts range from financial contributions and in-kind support to volunteer service.”


Walt Disney World, the area’s largest employer, may end up forking over more money (up to $10) to its employees as contracts are being negotiated with the resort’s biggest union group.


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