State Fair on the cheap

How to get every possible discount at the 2018 State Fair of Texas

How to get every possible discount at the 2018 State Fair of Texas

Texas Star Ferris wheel
There is no reason to pay full price for the State Fair. Photo courtesy of the State Fair of Texas

The State Fair of Texas, which starts its 24-day run at Fair Park on September 28, is a fall tradition for many around the Lone Star State.

But it can get expensive, and that's true more than ever in 2018, as new price increases have been levied on some ticket options, which we've detailed below.

With that in mind, it's more important than ever to take advantage of the multitude of discount ticket options.

General admission tickets are $18 for adults and $14 for seniors and kids under 48 inches tall, but with deals being offered by the State Fair and other entities — including CultureMap — there's no reason you should ever pay full price.

Below are the many ways we've found for you to save money on tickets to State Fair of Texas:

The season pass
This year, the State Fair has raised the prices on the season pass. While not the supremely fantastic deal it has been in prior years, it's still good for anyone who goes more than twice.

Individual season passes are now $45 (up from $39.95) or $39 at participating Kroger stores (up from $34.95). That's good, but since everyone knows the two biggest reasons to attend are the food and the rides, you can still do better.

The $115 Season Pass Combo Pack, which includes two season passes and 100 food/ride tickets (worth $50), is a much better deal. Not only will you have the food/ride tickets delivered early to your hot little hands, you're essentially getting a second season pass for only $20 (or two for $65, however you want to look at it).

And CultureMap is offering $10 off that deal by using the code 18MAPSP10 at checkout.

If you don't want the food/ride tickets, you can get two season passes for the $65 price, a huge savings in and of itself. These deals are available only at BigTex.com.

All season passes come with extra perks: one free single-day bring-a-friend ticket, a free State Fair of Texas reusable bag (limited to first 8,000 people), a free Midway Race Game, one 10 percent off coupon for State Fair gear at official merchandise stores, and special discounts on Fair food and Midway rides.

Buy your ticket in advance
If a season pass is not for you, you still have options to save. Tickets bought in advance through BigTex.com are $1.50 off — but we recommend waiting until DART's GoPass app starts selling tickets in September. At $2 off, you'll get an extra 50-cent savings on individual tickets, plus you can also pre-buy DART tickets to get you to the Fair. The best part is that your tickets are right there on your phone, ready to be activated whenever you're ready to use them.

Similar to the season pass combo is a family deal for individual tickets. The Family Four-Pack gives you four one-time-only general admission tickets and 100 food/ride coupons for $105. That's a $6 increase over 2017, but still a good savings over normal ticket prices, especially if your kids are already taller than 48 inches. For an extra bonus, Dallas Child is giving you $10 extra off that price by using the code 18CHILDFAM10 at checkout.

If you want more, there's also a $199 Ultimate Family Four-Pack that ups the food/ride coupon number to 300, giving you four tickets for just $49. If you want less, there's a $79 combo pack that gets you two general admission tickets and 100 food/ride coupons.

CultureMap is offering $5 off that last deal by using the code 18MAPDATE5 at checkout.

You can also save by buying advance tickets at Kroger. General admission tickets there cost $16.50, but no senior or children discounts are available. Keep in mind that kids 2 and under do not require a ticket.

Opening day deals
The half-price deal on opening day is back. As they've done for several years now, anyone who brings in a full 20-ounce Dasani water or Coca-Cola product for donation to the North Texas Food Bank gets in for $9. No cheating: Every person in your group must have a bottle to get the discount.

Back again is Military Appreciation Day, which offers free admission for all active military, retired military, and veterans, as well as their spouses and children under 18 on opening day only. Both military members and spouses must present valid military IDs at the gate.

First Responders Day
On October 12, First Responders Day will honor various active and retired public law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency services agencies. All first responders, plus up to three family members, receive free admission to the Fair when they present a valid badge or ID card from their department or organization at the gate.

McDonald's coupons
The next time you eat at Mickey D's, make sure to check your tray liner or bag for State Fair coupons. You'll find ones for $5 off general admission any day, and ones that offer half-price tickets for kids when an adult pays full price. All coupons are only good for tickets purchased at the gate and cannot be combined with any other offer.

Dr Pepper Tuesdays
Don't toss your empty Dr Pepper cans. Save 'em up, as every person with one gets in for $9 all day on Tuesdays — October 2, 9, and 16 — or after 5 pm any day of the week.

North Texas Food Bank Wednesdays
One of the best deals continues to be North Texas Food Bank Wednesdays, as anyone who brings in at least four cans of food for the North Texas Food Bank on October 3, 10, or 17 gets in for just $4.

Senior steal
Seniors 60 and over had it made in the shade in past years as they were able get a discount ticket every day. That deal is now gone, but they'll still have Senior Days every Thursday — October 4, 11, and 18 — when they get in for the low, low price of free.

Thrifty Thursdays
Thursdays have two ways to save. The first involves 20-ounce Coca-Cola products. If you drink them, hold on to your empties, as you can get in for $9 every Thursday — October 4, 11, and 18 — with an empty 20-ounce Coke bottle.

There are also special Thursday discounts on many popular food items. Those include State Fair classics like corny dogs, cotton candy, and funnel cakes. Participating food vendors also offer discounts on one of their signature menu items, ranging from mini versions to regular-size items. Most items range between 2-7 coupons ($1-$3.50); the State Fair will have a full list of vendors and foods on their site.

KISS-FM Fridays at the Fair
They haven't officially announced it yet, but you can expect KISS-FM to once again offer up a $5 off coupon good for every Friday during the fair (September 28 and October 5, 12, and 19). Check their website for the coupon, print it off, and present it at the gate. Every person in your party must have a coupon to get the discount.

AdPages Giveaway
AdPages.com is once again giving away 500 tickets to the Fair in the form of family four-packs. To enter for a chance to win, fill out this form on its website. As with many giveaway contests, you can share your entry on Facebook to earn more entries.

NorthPark Center discount for charity
If you choose to buy your tickets at NorthPark Center, not only can you get general admission tickets for $15, but $4.50 from each ticket will be given to Family Gateway, an organization providing stability and life-changing services to families with children affected by homelessness. Tickets are sold at the NorthPark Concierge, located on Level One near Neiman Marcus. 

Group tickets
Not everyone can take advantage of this discount, but for anyone coming with a big group, you can rack up the savings. Groups of 20-99 people can get in for $12.50 each, or $5.50 off regular admission. Additional discounts for groups of 100-249 people ($11.50 each), 250-999 people ($10.50 each), and 1,000 people and up ($10 each) are available.

Back again are Group Value Packs, which include admission tickets, food and ride coupons, and $10 Midway game cards. Packs are available for 20, 35, 50, and 75 people.

Discounts on Midway rides
Tuesdays are a great day to go to the Fair. Not only can you get your $9 Dr Pepper ticket, you can save more inside, when all rides (except for thrill rides and the Texas Star) are discounted. If you buy a season pass combo and only go on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you've found the perfect way to save a bundle.