All you can eat

Last weekend, I took the boys to the big Air and Space Museum annex, out by Dulles.  Like all the Smithsonian museums, admission is free, but they charge $12 for parking.  After some agonizing, I signed up for an annual parking permit.  I’m something of a sucker for unlimited admission passes — we also got season passes for Six Flags.  I’m not sure they always make economic sense, but I’m a more relaxed and happier parent when I know that we can leave as soon as the boys start to fade, without having to endure the "death march of fun" in order to wring out the most value from our admission.  Economic logic says that once you’ve paid the admission it’s a sunk cost, and thus the price of admission shouldn’t affect how long you choose to stay, but I don’t know anyone who actually behaves that way.  (I’m also pretty sure that we’re still not mentally accounting for the price of gas when when we decide to go to the museum because it’s "free.")

The Six Flags passes are an interesting case, because they cost barely more than a single admission.  As far as I can tell, they’re a loss leader to get you to buy food and rent lockers at the park.

2 Responses to “All you can eat”

  1. merseydotes Says:

    We have only been to Six Flags once and never with Petunia. She had a great time at Disney World, though, so maybe we should think about doing that.

  2. Becca Says:

    We are all about the passes for the mental freedom. When girls were little we had a zoo pass, for exactly the same reason–so it was OK if we just went for half an hour and they spent most of the time playing on the animal sculptures. But then once we had the pass, we did go more often, and they ended up both getting more benefit and having more fun. This summer we have passes at two lakes, and I really don’t know if we’ll get our money’s worth for the second–though now that I think about it, we probably will–but it just makes going swimming something you don’t even need to think about…or worry if you have any cash on you… So totally worth it–though I wonder if there’s a point of diminishing returns expense-wise, i.e. one pass was $35 (parking) and the other was $120 (family membership), and I don’t think I’d be so sanguine about it if it was $750 or something (this is also why we have lake passes instead of club memberships…).

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