Royal Melbourne Show 2012Saturday 22 September to Tuesday 2 October 2012.
There is such a variety of tempting experiences competing for a slice of your day, and a note from your wallet. For the cost of your entry ticket alone you can learn a lot about fresh produce, admire the show animals and be amazed by the creativity at the Art, Craft and Cookery pavilion. But come prepared to spend a little additional cash as the opportunity to eat and bring home things not available at your local 7 Eleven can't be overlooked. And of course it just wouldn't be show day without indulging in one or two of the gimmicks. The number one priority is to have fun and remember, the merinos are there to be fleeced, not you.
If you're a family on a budget, there are easily enough "free" activities to fill your day. Children love to interact with Animals, but they be easily tempted by lollies and rides. Factor this in to your budget. Doing everything the Show has to offer in a single day is a tall ask. Having a game plan for the day is the key.
- Arrive by public transport or by car. There is a constant procession of trains between the show grounds railway station and the city. If you wondered what it was like for the livestock at the show to be herded and crammed into cattle trucks, then your journey home on the train will bring you close to that experience. Alternatively, car parking is available at the show for $20 which could be cheaper than buying train tickets depending on your circumstances, especially for families traveling from Zone 2 for example. There is a Show Entry and Travel Saver package which includes public transport but other packages listed later in this post are generally better value if they match your particular requirements.
- Upon arrival at the show grounds, be sure to make your first stop one of the information booths and grab a copy of the timetable for the free Arena entertainment. Also redeem ride coupons for ride tickets at the information booths.
- Unless you're a pack horse, buy showbags as late as possible. But be warned, everyone else will be doing this too. It is bedlam at the showbag pavilion just before it closes at 9:00pm. If leaving right after the nightly fireworks, buy your showbags just before you settle in at the Arena, then you won't be carrying the showbags all over the show grounds all day and you'll have your own supply of munchies from your show bags during the fireworks.
- Not all rides at the Melbourne Show cost the same, but budget around $10 per ride. The ride coupons that are included with your "Ticket to Ride" entry ticket, can be used like cash at ticket booths. Some amusement vendors will offer a slightly better deal for cash if pressed, for example I got more throws of the basket ball game by paying cash rather than ride coupons, but generally the value of ride coupons works out dollar for dollar.
ShowbagsPrices for showbags at this years Royal Melbourne Show range from as little as $1 for the Blinky Bill Bag, up to $200 for the Hepburn Springs Bathhouse Showbag. But there are plenty of showbags under $5 choc full of lollies and chocolates.
Boring old me is trying hard not think too much about the true value for money of these little bags of trash. Discount vouchers and novelty toys just aren't worth the value listed with the contents of each showbag in my opinion.
Look, there's no shame in walking out the gates with less than half a dozen bags in each fist. Well, OK. Some shame. You know those kids around the corner from your house, who's parents both work full time, will have enough bags to construct their very own Wonka style edible garden.
So here are a few bags I would consider buying.
Bertie Beetle $2. The first bag I bought when I was a kid.
Cadbury Dairy Milk Superbag $10. A solid weeks (or less) supply of chocolate and none of the overvalued novelty items.
The Trash Pack $15. Worth mentioning truthful advertising.
Yarra Valley Regional Food Group $30. Just a great way to sample local good food and wine.
Grand Ridge Beer and Food Lovers Showbag $99. Dinner for 2, beer tasting, a sensible cap and more.
Ticket Prices and ComparisonsThe Royal Melbourne Show organizers boast a variety of "free" activities. But of course there's no way to access the many "free" activities for free. You must pay admission. This year there are many ticket options and ticket bundles and I shall attempt to simplify the selection process here. Full details are at www.royalshow.com.au/buy-tickets.asp.
The first important decision which is going to make ticket selection much easier is -
Are you interested in rides?
Show Entry with RidesThe Ticket to Ride packages generally work out to be better value than most other options assuming you use the full value of the ride vouchers included in the package. For example, a student concession Ticket to Ride costs $46 and includes a $40 ride voucher AND covers general admission. Almost the entire cost of the ticket is returned to you in ride vouchers! Whereas the alternative concession general admission ticket is $21 with no rides included. Pre-purchase the Ticket to Ride online until Sept 25.
The After 4 Fun Pass available at the gate after 4pm also includes a ride voucher. It's cheaper than my favourite Ticket to Ride, BUT the After 4 Fun Pass doesn't return nearly as much of the ticket cost back to you as a ride voucher. Buy this ticket if you're at the gate after 4pm, on a limited budget and plan to ride just a little.
The $26 Kids Day Value Fun Pass is available online for entry to the Show for children on Oct 2nd only. It is the same price as the After 4 Fun Pass for Children but is arguably better value since the child can enter before 4pm. In my opinion, however, it still doesn't beat the value of the Ticket to Ride since it returns less value in ride vouchers in proportion to the ticket price.
If you're not all that interested in rides then consider these general admission options.
General Admission without rides includedIf you're not much into rides, a general admission ticket will see you through the front gates. From there you can easily fill an entire day visiting the pavilions, watching some arena entertainment and reacquainting yourself with the sites and smells of livestock. Rides will be an additional cost after general admission.
Prices from www.royalshow.com.au
Family A (2 adults and 2 children) $75
Family B (1 adult and 3 children) $60
Fronting up to the gates on Show day morning and buying general admission tickets (above) is an expensive way to gain entry. If saving money is important then plan ahead a little and buy a ticket with rides included such as my favourite - the Ticket to Ride, or one of the discount general admission methods below.
Save between 23% and 30% on most of the general admission tickets for RACV members. You must pre-purchase online before the offer closes on the 18th September.
RACV members After 2pm Offer available at the gate. This is more expensive than pre-purchasing general admission with the RACV online so you would only buy this After 2pm Offer if your visit to the show was an unplanned last minute impulse.
The Entry and Travel Saver package bundles the cost of the Zone 1+2 public transport, with the cost of general admission. This ticket is unlikely to save you any money since the Ticket to Ride or RACV discounts offer greater value in most cases. You might save a little money with this ticket if no other discounts are available to you. For example if you are not an RACV member and you don't intend to go on Show rides then this ticket will save you money compared with buying full price general admission to the show plus a full price, Zone 1 + 2 ticket for peak travel.
Remember, if you love rides, the Ticket to Ride package generally presents better value for money than any of the discounts on General Admission tickets.
There are other ticket options for group bookings, multi-day passes and RASV members available at www.royalshow.com.au.
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