How to Save Money on Broadway Tickets

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My oldest daughter has started gravitating towards performing. Actually I guess this is not really a recent development, as she has always been one to go for the spotlight of a room. Not only does she go for it, she often legitimately earns it. Last summer to give her something free to do for a week when school was out I signed her up for the church’s summer children’s theater program. I thought they would just learn and sing some songs together like they do at Vacation Bible School, but she came home that first night with pages and pages and pages of very real lines to learn….before she could really even read. I had a total panic attack trying to figure out how we would help her learn pages of lines at night while working and taking care of a cranky baby. I had signed her up to give her something to do, not give me something else to do!

C and her fox are always happy to perform

It was a hot mess for a day or two, but by the third day (of a five day rehearsal timeframe), she knew most of the lines, even the multi-paragraph monologues. Mommy Points Tip: Record the relevant parts of the play on the iPad using hand puppets and have your kid watch it a million times if you are in a similar situation. 

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Now over a year later, she can read to learn her own lines, and she has done a couple more church and school performances. The plan this fall is to sign her up for a real children’s theater in our area. We’ve tried a number of activities in her short 7.5 years that weren’t that great of a fit for her interests and abilities, but performing seems to be something that is a very good natural fit.

Given all of that, what better New York City activity is there for a second grader who loves to preform than to take her to her first Broadway show? I surely couldn’t think of anything better, so on our recent quick trip to the Big City one of our main goals was to see a child-friendly Broadway performance. I hadn’t seen a Broadway show in a long time either, so I was also quite excited! Of course, we didn’t want to spend more on this show than was absolutely necessary, so I had to brush up on the various ways save money on Broadway tickets While I did live in NYC for a while, and saw a number of shows during that time, they were almost always on tickets bought at NYU with a serious student discount, which clearly is not a situation that is applicable to us these days.

TKTS

Since our schedule was a little loose, my plan was to buy a same-day discounted Broadway ticket at the infamous TKTS store in the middle of Times Square. This is a solid plan if you are flexible on what you see and don’t mind lining up in an often times very long outdoor line. This plan totally failed for us as it was raining literally all day, and we decided to pay more to purchase tickets online than stand outside in the rain for an hour without proper rain gear.

Some good alternatives to the crazy-busy Times Square TKTS location are to visit their locations at the Seaport, Lincoln Center, or out in Brooklyn. You can get an idea of which shows are available by taking a look at the TKTS Live Feed.

In short, TKTS is a solid option to save on same-day Broadway tickets, but you have to be willing to stand outside for a relatively long period of time, or trek to one of their non-Times Square locations.

Same Day Broadway Ticket Lotteries

Another great way to save even more on same-day Broadway shows is to take advantage of the same day rush discounts and lotteries. What is great for families who don’t want to stand in the TKTS line, is that many of these opportunities can be done from the comfort of your laptop or smart phones without having to line up anywhere, though some are still in-person at the individual theaters. These discounted tickets typically range in price from $25 – $40 per ticket.

Some current Broadway shows with online same-day lotteries including Cats, Wicked, Hamilton, Aladdin, Lion King, and Phantom of the Opera. On our trip we actually entered the Cats lottery and won the right to purchase two tickets for $40 each! However, by the time the lottery closed at 3PM and we had won, we had already purchased tickets to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as its 7PM start time seemed a better fit for how tired we were than Cats’ 8PM showtime. There is also the issue that the lotteries typically only give you the right to purchase two discounted tickets, and we really needed three.

If you want to save money on Broadway shows, I highly recommend checking out the in-person and online lotteries to purchase very discounted tickets to hot Broadway shows that will never even make it to TKTS.

Use the TodayTix App

You can purchase discount and non-discount Broadway tickets via the TodayTix app for not only same day shows, but also for shows out into the future. You can also enter some Broadway ticket lotteries via this app.

Use Other Ticketing and Reselling Websites

It can also be worth checking all of the standard ticket selling and reselling sites such as Ticketmaster, StubHub, etc. to score Broadway tickets. Once we decided we were not standing in the TKTS line in the rain we turned to all of these traditional ticket sites and ultimately used good old Ticketmaster. We didn’t get the deal of the century on our tickets, but it was quick and easy to purchase e-tickets so we didn’t waste any time running around town trying to purchase tickets. It may be worth taking a peek at some of your Amex Offers in case one might save you some money via one of those ticket sites. Doing a quick search for a promo code also can’t hurt. In our case we would have saved via an Amex Offer at a ticket site if we wanted orchestra seats, but for the cheap seats we did best at Ticketmaster.

I found that the inventory and prices ranged wildly on the various ticket selling sites, so check several before committing to the best option for your family. Also of note is that StubHub has an office where you can pick up tickets brought through them right close to Times Square.

In general I think you do best purchasing Broadway tickets either in online advance or going 100% all-in with the same-day opportunities such as TKTS or trying your luck at the same-day rush tickets and lotteries. If you aren’t 100% committed to the randomness and extra work involved with the same-day opportunities, then you will likely pay less by purchasing at least a week or so in advance, further in advance for the more popular shows. This is especially true if you just want to get the cheapest mezzanine seats as those can sell out the closer you get to the performance, especially if you need multiple seats.

As for our own Broadway experience, the weather and our own exhaustion levels may have caused us to not get the absolute best deal on tickets this time around, but I can’t imagine a better first-time show for our daughter than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was engaging, light, funny, had a family-friendly starting time, and we all enjoyed every minute.

I would love to hear your experiences saving money on Broadway tickets with your family!

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

Comments

  1. There are also a few subscription membership programs such as TDF ($35 per year, must qualify) and WillCallClub ($19.95 per year, primarily rush seats). These are only worth the cost if you live in New York or visit frequently.

  2. Thanks for this timely tip! Just started planning our trip for next summer. Would some of these options allow enough tix for a family of six? (not lottery obviously)

    @Kathy: Do you think it would be worth it if it was a one-time thing but with a large family?

  3. While this won’t work for the most popular shows, there are many excellent shows such as Groundhog Day or School of Rock that are discounted via such sites or apps such as Broadway Box or Playbill. Ticket prices are not as cheap as those at the TKTS booth. with orchestra seats generally costing about $99 using this method, but the good news is you can use the codes from any of these sites to purchase tickets in advance or that same day either online, by phone, or, to save money on fees, at the theater box office (just display the code on your phone). So if time or weather precludes a trip to the TKTS booth, this is the next best thing.

    • This was going to be my suggestion as well. I live in NYC and pretty much always buy my tickets in person at the theater, using a code from Playbill or BroadwayBox. Avoiding the fees on 3-4 tickets can be a significant savings. Plus it’s easier to choose good seats in person with a ticket seller who can show you multiple options.

    • As PSL said, this is actually a much better way to go over TKTS and the lotteries to find discounted seats if you need/value time and energy. In addition to the 2 already mentioned, theatermania is another channel that you can get discount codes to use. There might be slight variations on price and actual shows among the 3 so it’s worth comparing/contrasting before using. I used to solely be a TKTS person but then realized this was a better way to not have to stand in line in Times Square (time waste) where you are generally paying a discount on the top priced tickets only, not the cheaper mez/balcony ones. Their additional service fees add to the bottom line reducing your overall savings, something that isn’t applied when using these sites’ discounts in person at the theater. I travel to NYC 2-5x a year and after ‘mapping out’ which shows I want to see, I go to each theater with my iPad, show them the discount (or you can print it out if you like) and get all my tickets for the trip. Then you can do whatever else you want while others are spending time in line at TKTS.

  4. We usually buy tickets for one show before we arrive and then wait until we get there for the other nights. On our last two trips to NYC, we ended up buying tickets directly from the box office once we arrived. We were able to purchase box seats which are usually cheaper and give you lots more room. You do miss some of the action on the stage, but it is worth it for the extra leg room. Also, the shows are usually cheaper during the week than they are on the weekend. Love visiting NYC!

  5. I second the recommendation above for BroadwayBox. They have access (through a code, in a similar manner to a website like Travelzoo) to discounted tickets to all but the most popular shows. We used them to see Sunset Blvd with Glenn Close earlier this year (and several other times in the past). Almost nothing will get you discount tickets to the most sought-after shows, unfortunately.

  6. It really helped when you mentioned how you can visit ticket reselling websites when looking for Broadway tickets. I can see that doing this might help you get a reduced price on the passes you want to get and be able to enjoy the shows you want to attend. My wife and I are going on 20 years together and I want to make sure I take her to a live show on Broadway so I’m glad I found your post.

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