LOS ANGELES (CBSLA)  — Universal, Disney, Star Wars — some of the happiest places on Earth aren’t always the cheapest .

Looking to save some money on amusement parks? May the force be with you.

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CBS2/KCAL9’s Chris Holmstrom spoke to an expert on how to save big money at the big parks.

Hot new places or old family standbys, there is nothing cheap about a family outing.

Holmstrom met up with LaJollaMom.com, also known as Katie Dillon, an expert on all things $aving$.

“There’s not one single person — doesn’t matter if they are staying in a 5-star hotel or vacation rental — they all want to save money.”

If you follow her tips, you will do just that.

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Her biggest tip? Never pay gate pricing.

(credit: shutterstock)

“For most southern California theme parks and for multi-day tickets to Disneyland resorts you can find authorized sellers of tickets that will sell these tickets at a little bit of a discount,” Dillon says.

She partners with such an agent — aRes Travel. For a family of four, general admission would run $555. Purchase the same plan online and the price drops to $436. And if you book through aRes Travel, it’s $420 — that’s a $136 savings.

Another option? The Go Los Angeles Card. 
The card lets you choose up to 38 attractions and you can purchase them in multiple day increments.

Holmstrom spoke to several families about their ways to save — these included not eating inside the park, buy snacks in advance, buy the souvenirs elsewhere.

(credit: Knott’s Berry Farm)

There’s also the Krazy Coupon Lady. While she focuses on Disney vacation hacks, many of the tips here can be used in other places. More tips — make your big meal of the day lunch and not dinner, about 15-20 percent cheaper .Bring your own water, refillable water bottles and snacks.

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And, finally, if Disneyland is your destination, consider purchasing Disney gift cards with a Target red card — that will save you 5 percent.