Great America and the high cost of living

Yesterday marked my annual trip to Great America, part of my end-of-summer, in-need-of-a-better-name, staycation.

Credit the theme park for consistency; spending time there is still one of the most wallet-emptying days one can have in the greater Chicago metropolitan area.  Consider the following:
I bought my tickets (2) online for a discounted price of $34.99 apiece.  A high price for family fun, sure, but a great deal better than the gate price: a much more gasp-inducing $54.99.  Just to make sure I didn’t get too cocky about my savings, I had to pay $5 for the convenience of printing my passes from home.  
While going through the online ordering process, I got to choose which level of parking I’d like: the almost-at-the-gate “General Plus” parking for $25, or the need-to-be-wearing-sensible-shoes “General” parking for $15.  It’s kinda like ordering water at a nice restaurant: waiters like to ask, “would you like sparkling water from the bottle, or tap?” It’s just water.  I go with tap every time.   Parking is just parking.  I can walk the extra half mile.  General, it was.
Because Hurricane Harbor waterpark is part of the Great America experience, I packed a bag with towels, swimsuit, and other beachy accessories.  Since I got to the park at 10 a.m. and Hurricane Harbor didn’t open until 12, I had to find a place to stash my stuff.  Day locker: $14.
After my first few rides, my traveling companion and I had worked up an appetite.  My lunch of hot dog, fries, and a Diet Coke was over $14.  To be fair, the hot dog was gay porn-long, but fourteen dollars was a lot of coin to drop on a fast food meal.

When I made the pilgrimage to Hurricane Harbor, I realized that I would need to move everything from locker #1 into a locker located within the waterpark proper.  Locker #2: $14.

Once I finally arrived at Hurricane Harbor, I encountered the most shameful abuse of price gouging in the entire fun park:  Sno-cones for $6.50.  To state the obvious, sno-cones are cups of packed crushed ice with syrup pumped into them.  And just to repeat: ice with syrup; six and a half bucks. The price was so obnoxious, I felt like I had to have one.  Like the food court hot dog, the sno-cone cup was pornographic in size.  But even the ginormity of the portion can’t justify that sort of price for a cup of freaking ice. 

After a full day’s worth of activities, I decided I couldn’t leave without spending another $6.  It’s just not a trip to a theme park without funnel cake.  At 50 cents less than the sno-cone, it was the deal of the day.  And a lot more flavorful, too.

It’s a given that you’re going to get fleeced when you go to Great America.  My eyes were wide open to that fact.  And, yes, it’s legitimately thrilling and fun to take in all that Great America has to offer for a day.  But the economics of it all dictate that it can’t be done more than once a summer.  Not without sacrificing a locker and a sno-cone, and who wants to do that?
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