Updated: 09/27/2013 5:05 PM KSTP.com By: Beth McDonough
All you have to say is MEA break - and eyes light up.
Technically, it's not called that anymore. It's now known as Education Minnesota.
It's a long weekend in October where teachers across the state gather for a conference. It's also a time when Minnesota families take a last chance getaway before winter hits.
As a Buffalo family started planning their trip, they were shocked to discover that one hot spot raised the price of admission - on purpose.
Kimberly Shropshire points out a date on the calendar that irks her. In just one day, prices at the Water Park of America in Bloomington suddenly spiked.
On Oct. 16 - the day before Education Minnesota begins - the cost for water park admission is $25.95. But the next day, when classes are canceled statewide and students have four days of free time, the admission price jumps to $39.95.
"As a consumer with people on tight budgets, it's very difficult to plan for a family of four," said Shropshire. "You're looking at $15 per person extra. That's $60 a day."
Now, the Shropshire's are cutting a mini-vacation at the Water Park of America in half, from two days to one.
A water park spokeswoman said admission prices vary year round. It's a way to control demand and capitalize on holidays and peak seasons, like Education Minnesota next month, she said.
"A lot of our stuff is based on the school calendar," said Angela Reed of Water Park of America. "We take into consideration Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota when we put together our calendars. We try to capture as much of the market as we can when school is out."
The same changes happen in the hospitality industry as a whole, looking at this one weekend as a boost, "tourism is a $11.9 billion industry in the state of Minnesota," said Alyssa Ebel of Explore Minnesota. "It's very important it definitely makes a splash."
This week, the Water Park of America is offering special discounts on its website.