Entry prices for San Diego attractions: Opening day vs. today

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Family fun in San Diego isn’t hard to come by, but many of our biggest attractions come with a price tag to match. Over time, these destinations have grown in size, popularity, and of course cost.

We’re diving into San Diego history to check out opening day ticket prices at five landmark attractions and comparing them to today’s costs. Keep in mind, this isn’t just inflation, these destinations also upped their offerings.

San Diego Zoo

Hello to the San Diego Zoo. | Photo via SDtoday + Michael Beausoleil

🦁 San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoological Society was founded on Nov. 17, 1916, but the original zoo didn’t have a fence — meaning there was no admission fee. In 1921, Ellen Browning Scripps donated $9,000 to build a fence, paving the way for an admission fee at its 1923 grand opening.

💵 Show me the money

  • Opening day, 1923: 10 cents for adults, kids free
  • Today (single-day ticket): $65 ages 12+, $55 kids ages 3-11

Pro tip: Buying an annual pass starting at $95 for adult San Diego residents will make your cost per visit way less wild.

🎢 The Giant Dipper at Belmont Park

This roller coaster opened in 1925 and has lived at the seaside destination throughout its ups and downs. Almost a century later, you can still drop in for a ride.

💵 Show me the money

  • Opening day: 15 cents
  • Today: $8 — you can save with ticket bundles
Whale show at SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego always makes a splash. | Photo via @bobalover90

🐳 SeaWorld San Diego

This aquatic theme park made a splash when it opened in 1964, but it’s grown up over time. On opening day, the high-rising SeaWorld Skytower hadn’t been built, but today, rides + coasters are an equal part of the fun — most recently, the “Emperortook flight.

💵 Show me the money

  • Opening day: $2.25 for adults, $1.25 kids ages 12-17, 60 cents kids under 12
  • Today (single-day pass): $54.99 — but there are many packages to help you save

⚾ San Diego Padres

Few things are as San Diegan as watching the Friars swing. Our team has changed a lot between their inaugural season in 1969 at San Diego Stadium and the modern era at Petco Park, where ticket prices can be determined by seat location + the opposing team.

💵 Show me the money

  • Opening season: Tickets were $2.50 or $3.50, depending on location
  • Today: $61 (average ticket according to SeatGeek) — tickets as low as $20 aren’t uncommon

🧱 Legoland

This colorful park opened on March 20, 1999, but it’s added blocks of new attractions, a resort + a waterpark in the past two decades.

💵 Show me the money

  • Opening day: $32 adult, $25 seniors + children 3-16, parking $6
  • Today: $99.99+ adults, $89.99+ children 3-12, $25 parking

Pro tip: Stack your savings by booking a trip, or buy a park-hopper pass to get access to SEA LIFE Aquarium for a reduced cost.

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