Summer after summer, the residents in and around Orange County, Calif. flock to the fairgrounds in Costa Mesa to get their fix of fried foods, overpriced beers, concerts, and farm animals.
The first fair took place shortly after Orange County was formed in 1889. The fair was originally a simple five-day event that included a horse race and a few exhibitions.
Nothing like the deep-fried food mecca it is today with wild rides and wild animals around every corner.
The fair is always a big event for most OC residents. This summer it ran from July 13 to Aug. 12 and attracted over a million people.
Although, this year’s number of attendees dropped slightly from the all-time high of 1.4 million in 2011 to 1.3 million.
But, 1.3 million attendees is still quite a turnout when you consider how much each person or each family is likely to spend while at the fair.
Whether fairgoers are coming out to see the concerts, eat the fried food, scream on the rickety rides, or just walk through the entrance, one thing is certain–-money is being spent.
It’s almost impossible not to escape a day at the fair without making a dent in your wallet, even when you think you are being conservative.
Shannon James Aguirre said she and her family of three spent over $100 within the first hour, which included parking and tickets.
“It’s definitely a little costly,” Aguirre said with a smile.
Costly is certainly one word to describe the prices, but it still fares better than other amusement parks in Southern California such as Disneyland.
When comparing the two vastly different attractions in terms of parking, ticket and food costs, one conclusion is undeniable: although the fair is pricey, and those $5 french fries and $7 Bud Lights make us cringe, the fair is far more friendly to your wallet than Disneyland.
Although the two have only a slight difference in their parking rates, which for a standard size car or motorcycle is $15 at Disneyland and $7 at the fair, it’s their ticket and food prices that can make a big difference for patrons. Ticket prices for the fair and Disneyland are priced nowhere near each other.
For the sake of simplicity only general admission adult tickets will be compared, not the online deals or discount tickets that are frequently available for the OC Fair.
An adult ticket at Disneyland for one park is $87. If one feels the need to visit both Disneyland and California Adventure, the ticket price for one day jumps to $125.
The fair, with its stop-and-go attitude that tries to make the most out of each county, allows patrons a visit for a mere $11.
Ticket prices are only the beginning though. People come to the fair year after year for more reasons than cheap tickets. More deep-fried reasons.
With row after row of food stands, you will always find a fix for your cravings at the fair. Even if you just want a simple snack like a corn dog or some French fries, the fair will meet your needs.
With prices at nearly all the food trucks, stands and tents lower than $15, the Orange County Fair wins another round against Disneyland.
Disneyland has roughly ten options from their 30+ restaurant choices that average $14.99 a person. The rest of the dining options are priced at $15 or more per person. This does not include any snack stands.
A Bud Light at California Adventure will cost you $6 while the fair is upwards of $7 for the beer.
Food, beer and ticket talk aside, wherever you choose to spend your day, purse strings will have to be loosened. It’s that simple.
The 1.3 million patrons that visited the fairgrounds this summer and the millions that visit Disneyland each year only prove that people are willing to pay for a day of rides, food, and crowds.
Although both attractions will hit your wallet fairly hard, one will hit it just a little bit harder.