Guests are Coming: Does the Entertainment Book or CityPASS Offer More Savings? – Frugal Confessions

Guests are Coming: Does the Entertainment Book or CityPASS Offer More Savings?

We are so excited and feel very blessed that our home was chosen for a Grossman reunion. In less than a week my Dad, Uncle Andy, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Glenn and Aunt Molly will be flying in from all areas of the country to collectively spend a week with us in Houston! Needless to say, we’ve been busy preparing our home for five extra bodies. Aside from things like cleaning windows, installing new doors, and unblocking the bathtub drain in the guest bathroom, I also want to offer our guests some coupons for places they may wish to eat or visit. After all, saving people money is something I love to do.

When looking at discounts for entertainment and attractions, the choices seem to be visiting these locations on free/discounted days, collecting coupons, purchasing an entertainment book, or purchasing the CityPASS (available for the following cities: Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Hollywood, Seattle, Southern California, Toronto and San Francisco). Since I cannot find coupons for all the attractions our guests might want to see, I am wondering if it will be worth it to purchase coupons.

If we decide to purchase coupons, is the potential to save money greater with an Entertainment book, or with the CityPASS? While I don’t think we will do all of the activities listed below, this list allows some sort of comparison between the CityPASS, the Entertainment Book, free coupons I have found, and just purchasing tickets to each of these activities outright.

Attraction Actual Cost, 1 Adult CityPASS Entertainment Book Free Coupons
Space Center Houston including Tram Tour $22.95 (at gate) Included $20.95 ($2.00 off of up to six adults) $11.45 if purchased online or from coupons found at some Subway cash registers
Downtown Aquarium $9.25 Included $9.25 (B1G1 Free exhibit pass) $9.25
Houston Museum of Natural Science $15.00 Included $15.00 (B1G1 Free admission) $15.00
Houston Zoo (including African Forest) or Health Museum (including Planet You 3D) $13.00; $8.00 Included $13.00; $8.00 (No coupons available) Courtesy booth at Fiesta Stores offers tickets at $11.00; B1G1 ½ off for up to four adults
Museum of Fine Arts (includes non-ticketed exhibitions) or Children’s Museum $10.00; $9.00 Included $10.00 (No coupon); $9.00 (B1G1 Free for Children’s Museum) $10.00; $9.00
George Ranch Historical Park $10.00 $10.00 $10.00 (B1G1 Free) $10.00

Total Cost (calculated using the highest costing attraction where there is a choice):

$80.20 $49.00 $113.20 $66.70

It appears that the CityPASS is the winner for the attractions above. But the comparison is not completely level. The CityPASS is $39 per adult for Houston, and must be used within 9 days of first use. The Entertainment Book is $35 at full price, or approximately $15 if you purchase it within the year it is published, and it can be used for an entire year. Also, if you purchase the Entertainment book, you could use the B1G1 free coupons with someone else and split the cost of the single ticket. This would bring the cost down to $67.07 (this includes splitting the full cost of the Entertainment book with this person as well).On top of this, the Entertainment Book also offers discounts on many other services and restaurants. Still, if you are looking for these specific attractions and will be seeing them in a short period of time, then the CityPASS is the winner from above.

Perhaps you do not want to see all of these attractions, or you want a longer period of time to see them all (this itinerary could make a guest and host quite exhausted!). Then it might be better to collect some free coupons or to purchase the Entertainment Book.

Have you had luck finding free coupons for some of the other attractions above? Where did you find these coupons—I’d love to know! 

19 comments… add one

  • Michelle

    I doubt it will be an issue at any of the Houston attractions, but the benefit of the CityPass is that there is usually a shorter line that you get to wait in to get into the attraction. It really saved us HOURS of sightseeing time when we used it in Chicago. But I am not sure how long the lines will be at the Houston attractions. I know I have never had to wait to get into NASA.

  • a different Michelle

    We used the Houston CityPass a few years ago when my brother-in-law and his family came down for Thanksgiving weekend. We didn’t use all the passes (skipped the zoo and George Ranch and only 4 used the Children’s museum) but it helped keep the cost down for the 10 of us (including hubby’s parents) for the attractions that the visiting family wanted to see. Since we were on a condensed time frame it worked out but by the time they came down it was our 3rd trip in a just over a year to both the space center and the Natural Science museum so I was completely bored :)

    • Hi a different Michelle;).

      I know what you mean–I have been to the Space Center four times in two years now!

      They did just add a new exhibit though…I think for deep sea creatures. It will be nice to see!
      Amanda L Grossman recently posted..A Refinance Game-Changer for Us

  • I hadn’t ever heard of CityPass before, but that’s probably because it doesn’t exist in Portland. I think it’s important to be aware of the opportunities in your area. In PDX we have something called the Chinook Book, which is sort of like an entertainment book that focuses on natural and green products/businesses. In Las Vegas we had special deals for locals that could give you free tickets to shows that when venues needed to fill empty seats. I find a lot of overlap from the deals, but every time I’ve invested in a deal book or pass, it has paid for itself.
    Andi @ MealPlanRescue recently posted..Planning Meals When You’re Sick

  • I would go with the entertainment book. While you will save your guests some money while they are here you can use the entertainment book for when they are gone too. With all the coupons in there it is the gift that keeps on giving when you go out to dinner or a round of golf. Looking at the city pass it looks as though it is just for attractions where the entertainment book is food as well. I use the entertainment book in the city i live.
    Christopher @ This That and The MBA recently posted..Yuuuuuuup…….What can Storage Wars teach us about investing?

    • I do enjoy the entertainment book, but almost never buy it at $35. I usually wait to purchase until the year it is in for $15. One year, I even got a deal where it was free for signing up for a website!
      Amanda L Grossman recently posted..A Refinance Game-Changer for Us

  • I may be late to chime in, but if you do get the entertainment book, use ebates.com because you get 17% cash back on it. I have purchased the book over and over for many years and it pays for itself after about three uses on average. My hubby and I use it to have date night and go to restaraunts that we normally wouldn’t go to because it is full of bogo free at some really nice places.

  • I’d definitely go with the Entertainment Book because it offers more value for money. City Pass is a good option too, but after having visited Entertainment book twice, I’d want to go there again. No offence ;)
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