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Timing the best deals for family entertainment

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How to time your next theme park or zoo visit

Timing is everything — even, as it turns out, when you're deciding which day to visit the zoo or what time to catch a movie.

Consumers have gotten used to seeing prices fluctuate based on demand when they're booking a flight or hailing an Uber, but more businesses in the entertainment industry are now playing with the idea, said John Gerner, managing director at industry consulting firm Leisure Business Advisors. Some are putting in place fixed tiers by day, time or season, while others are using sophisticated algorithms for more fluid changes based on real-time demand.

"They're trying to discourage people from coming during the peak days when attractions tend to be at their fullest," he said.

For bargain hunters, the trend can mean taking a harder look at pricing policies and often, booking in advance. Don't forget to think about value, too. Cheaper rates usually mean smaller crowds — a boon for getting on more amusement park rides or an unobstructed view of the zoo's pandas — but it might also mean rainy April baseball games and so-so snow at the ski resort.

Here's how to nail the timing for six different outings.

— By CNBC's Kelli B. Grant
Posted 15 Feb. 2016

Image Source | Getty Images