Watching a TV show in person is an unforgettable experience — whether you’ve always dreamed of being a contestant on a game show or you’ve put sitting in the audience of a sitcom on your bucket list.
The good news? You can get into TV show tapings free of charge. Here’s how to do it, plus ways to minimize the amount you spend to get to the event.
Pick a time and place
First, decide which show to see. Need a little inspiration? Tourism websites like NYCgo and Discover Los Angeles compile lists of TV show tapings in their respective locations.
As you plan which set you want to go to, make sure to time your visit around available taping dates — which often means excluding the early-summer months.
Steve Sheets, the director of operations at ticket website Audiences Unlimited, Inc. says most shows the company represents are produced August through March or April. “Usually, the months of May, June and July, there’s not much going on because a lot of the shows are on hiatus at that time,” he says.
Find a ticket
Once you have a date in mind, snag a ticket. These should always be free, so never pay for one, says J.P. Evans, owner of Ticket Me Quick, a website that provides TV show tickets.
Which site you use to reserve your ticket will depend on the show you want to attend. In some cases, you can go directly to a show’s website for details about where it’s taped and how to attend. Look for a “tickets” or “be in the audience” section on its website.
In other cases, ticket distributors and broker websites handle the ticketing process. These sites offer tickets for different shows, so a simple Google search will usually help you find the right website, Evans says.
Once you land on the site for the show you want, the booking process will vary. For instance, “Dr. Phil” audience hopefuls can reserve tickets on the talk show’s website, but the show specifies that reservations aren’t confirmed until you’re contacted by a member of the audience department.
“The Price is Right” offers tickets through On-Camera Audiences, Inc., a television audience company. Here you’ll find a listing of show dates and times, including episode themes, such as summer beach party and Fourth of July specials.
Although availability varies by show, in general try to book your reservation about a month in advance, recommends Tony Garibian, chair of Visit Burbank. Burbank, known as the “Media Capital of the World,” is home to popular TV programs such as “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
“‘Ellen’ is a difficult ticket to come by,” Garibian says. For high-demand shows like this, get creative and be persistent. Garibian recommends scouring social media and even entering radio contests. “When you’re talking ‘Ellen,’ you need to go everywhere and apply everywhere,” he says.
Expect the unexpected
Once you’re able to get on the list for a taping, it can feel like you’ve won a golden ticket — especially if it’s a popular show — but keep in mind that tickets aren’t always a sure bet. A seat reservation won’t necessarily guarantee admission, and audiences can be overbooked, Sheets says.
For your best shot at a seat, don’t be late. Your ticket will include a recommended arrival time, which Sheets says is usually 60 to 90 minutes before showtime. Bring your photo ID and ticket.
If you’re going to sit in a TV show audience in hopes of winning money, you don’t want to spend too much to get there. Even if you’re not vying to spin the big wheel, you still don’t want to bust your budget.
For those traveling by air to a show, reduce the price of your flight. Consider flying into a smaller airport as opposed to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), advises Tracy Stewart, a content editor for Airfarewatchdog. And be flexible with dates. “Midweek fares are going to be the cheapest,” Stewart says.
When it’s time to pick a hotel, look for one that includes a complimentary breakfast in the price of your room, recommends Alisha Prakash, an editor at hotel review website Oyster. You’ll be fueled up and ready for the day before you head to the TV studio.
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The article How to Get Free Tickets to TV Show Tapings originally appeared on NerdWallet.