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The Navman GPS 3420 earned high ratings. It costs $300. The TravRoute Pocket CoPilot is almost as good and is also compatible with other kinds of PDAs. It costs $350.

Theme parks aren't just child's play — Americans dropped 10 billion dollars at parks last year alone. A Consumer Reports survey of thousands of people who visited parks like Disney World, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens shows people are really enjoying themselves. Here's how you can make sure you enjoy your visit, too.

More than 300 million people visited America’s amusement parks last year.

Consumer Reports just surveyed almost 25 hundred theme park goers. All the parks rated highly in visitor satisfaction. Survey results also turned up tips on how to avoid some amusement park hassles and save money.

"There are many ways to save money on the price of an admission ticket to a theme park. In fact, 70 percent of the people we surveyed paid less than full price for their tickets."

One way to save — check for incentives. Some parks offer annual passes for the price of a one day ticket if you buy early. Another tip — check out the park Web sites. Some offer a discount if you buy your tickets online and print them at home. And once inside a park, there are other ways to save.

"Some respondents told us that the quality of food wasn't that good — that it was overpriced too. So you can save money by bringing your own small snacks and bottled water. And another tip: you might want to bring film and sunscreen because those items are very overpriced in most parks."

Consumer Reports survey showed people especially loved the shows and rides. But getting in to them wasn't always easy — crowded parks and long lines were two big complaints.

Some ways to avoid amusement park hassles: Don’t go in peak season. One of the least crowded times is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Also, time your thrills — visit the most popular rides right after the park opens, or just before closing. And travel light. Since you could end up having to stow large bags before boarding a ride, consider a waist pack.

Consumer Reports says with a little planning, you can have the time of your life at a theme park, without getting taken for a ride.

View more Consumer Reports stories here.


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