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I know there are a couple of terms for doing something without consent, or paying for it, like free ride, free load and tag along.

But these words are more inclined to jumping on a vehicle without a ticket or going along for a free ride. I found the word 'gatecrash', but it isn't the exact same meaning.

Is there any word specifically for the type of places like parks and such?

Or should I just use the word 'gatecrash'?

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    you'd very likely just say "sneak in". gatecrash is totally wrong and completely unrelated.
    – Fattie
    May 26 at 17:03
  • Broadly no, and equally broadly, I suggest this Question is far too deep for SE ELL and much more clearly belongs in English Language Usage… if even there. Here, Shadow Ranger seems to catch the idea rather well. May 26 at 22:39
  • Technically it's trespassing, but often more specific terms are used.
    – Mast
    May 28 at 14:17

4 Answers 4

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It's typically used to refer to skipping a toll to ride a subway, but I'd use turnstile hopping (sometimes substituting "gate" for "turnstile" or "jumping" for "hopping") for this, assuming you enter through the regular entrance but avoid paying for a ticket. It describes the act of actually hopping over the entrance turnstiles rather than inserting a ticket/card, and while it's most commonly used for public transit like subway turnstiles, it applies anytime you've got a pay-to-enter turnstile/gate system that you can literally go over to avoid the entry fee.

Note that "turnstile hopping" in that order is itself only idiomatic in the -ing form describing the activity in general; if I did it, I "hopped the turnstile", I'd never say "I turnstile hopped".

If you're getting in by some other means you could be hopping the fence (if there's a barrier to be surmounted) or just sneaking in (if there's limited barriers or no barriers and you just need to circle around out of sight).

None of this is specific to amusement parks, but idiomatic English favors phrases that describe what you're bypassing and how; the thing you're accessing is secondary to the means by which you gain access.

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In Britain we sometimes call that act 'bunking in'. Some examples I found:

"Meanwhile John Beggs QC, who represents police match commander David Duckenfield, has previously suggested that Mr Dalglish once said that 10,000 Liverpool supporters bunked in to one football match."

"my uncle who'd bunked in to Wembley left at half time"

"The Odeon London Rd [cinema]... bunked in to see Oliver! a world record 126 times"

"most of the parka clad kids I had bunked in to see 'Quadrophenia' with"

"But this is a slight film and even at an hour and a half it seems too long. Good thing I bunked in to it and didn't pay. "

I expect 'sneaking in' might cover this in a more formal way as well. For the simple past tense, many, if not most, British English speakers would prefer 'sneaked' to 'snuck', which they might view as an Americanism, but these days one does see it, er, sneaking in to UK news reports, especially in the less formally inclined news media.

'Gatecrash' means to attend a specific event such as a party, wedding, etc, without having been invited, so would not fit this meaning.

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    Agreed - bunk a train and bunk the tube are used in British English, so bunk the festival makes sense to me. May 25 at 12:36
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    @FumbleFingers - "Meanwhile John Beggs QC, who represents police match commander David Duckenfield, has previously suggested that Mr Dalglish once said that 10,000 Liverpool supporters bunked in to one football match."; "my uncle who'd bunked in to Wembley left at half time" ; "The Odeon London Rd [cinema] ...bunked in to see Oliver a world record 126 times"; "most of the parka clad kids I had bunked in to see 'Quadrophenia' with"; " But this is a slight film and even at an hour and a half it seems too long. Good thing I bunked in to it and didn't pay. " May 25 at 17:28
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    @FumbleFingers - if you're saying 'bunked', you're already in an informal register, and 'concert' might not be the word of choice for the event. "In 1984 when the Do You Think I'm Sexy singer Rod was playing Dublin, Dave bunked into the gig by driving up to the gates of the RDS in a Hiace van", "Then, we bunked into the gig. Supporting was Leo Sayer.", May 25 at 19:53
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    In direct opposition to 'bunking off' - which is to not be somewhere you are supposed to be. "We bunked off school yesterday." May 26 at 8:43
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    At the same risk @MichaelHarvey mentions, I'll note that even if "bunking in" is used in Britain, I've never heard it used in Scotland. In fact, I'm not sure we have an equivalent term, probably because the amusement parks up our way are so rubbish, no one can be bothered to sneak in. Wait! "Sneak in"! That's our equivalent term!
    – tkp
    May 27 at 16:37
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'Gatecrash' is more for private events, like a party, it doesn't really fit your context. A person who sneaks onto transport (ie a plane or boat) without a ticket is a stowaway (verb 'to stow away').

There isn't really a specific noun or verb for your exact context. We would probably just say they "snuck in without paying" (to sneak in).

However, there is a very generic term - 'freeloader' (verb to freeload) for someone who does not pay for things, usually services (as a person who takes tangible items without paying is of course a thief).

Also, from the point of view of the landowner / park operator, the person might be considered a trespasser (verb trespassing) as they are not authorised to be there without a ticket.

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  • For the simple past tense, many, if not most, British English speakers would prefer 'sneaked' to 'snuck', which they might view as an Americanism, but these days one does see it, er, sneaking in to UK news reports, especially in the less formally inclined news media. May 25 at 9:02
  • @MichaelHarvey: Are you sure about that? "Sneaked" sounds very artificial and forced to my ears, like if one were to say "eated" or "digged".
    – Vikki
    May 26 at 20:30
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    @Vikki - yes, I am very sure about that. So is Grammarly. Sneaked sounds perfectly normal, natural, unforced, and everyday to my British ears, and 'snuck' sounds kind of American-dialect, like 'brung' or 'knowed'. May 26 at 21:58
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    @MichaelHarvey: To my Canadian ears, "snuck" and "sneaked" both sound fairly normal. But "brung" sounds very American southern or western dialect; I wouldn't have associated "snuck" with that. And "knowed" just sounds obviously wrong, like a sign of less education. Or a dialect that's at least stereotypically associated with less book learnin'. May 26 at 23:29
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It depends on how you enter the amusement park.

If you get in without paying by avoiding detection, like entering in a place without anyone seeing, then "sneak in/into" is correct.

From Merriam-Webster:
sneak
1 : to go stealthily or furtively
// They tried to sneak into the movie without paying.

"Gatecrash" is used for ticketed events (not just private events, like others have said), and tends to mean forcing your way in, like a mob pushing their way in.

From Merriam-Webster:
gate-crasher
: a person who enters, attends, or participates without ticket or invitation

It can be used as a verb even though this dictionary does not list it as a verb.

Based on comments on this answer, though the term feels correct and natural to me, a Canadian native speaker, it is not natural everywhere, so use with caution.

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    Gatecrash wouldn't work well though, because (at least in every context I've encountered it) it implies you're being excluded in some way, not merely avoiding an entry fee. Tickets might be involved, but you're only gatecrashing if they're limited access in some way, and you're unable to acquire one (for reasons beyond simply "don't have the cash") and you attend anyway. You could gate crash an amusement park only if it was on one of the days that are, say, limited to season ticket holders, or a day without general admission when a company rented it out and you don't work for the company. May 25 at 23:45
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    @ShadowRanger In the top few hits on nGrams, I found this usage of "gatecrasher" in "Forensic Epidemiology: Principles and Practice". The usage is the same as the context here: "...suppose 1000 people attend a rodeo but only 499 pay. On the balance of probabilities, a randomly selected person is a gatecrasher. ... That problem is known as the gatecrasher paradox."
    – gotube
    May 26 at 0:05
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    @gotube while that may be a proper forensic use of the word, it is not a colloquial one. If you used gatecrasher in the context you noted, it would be confusing. Most would assume there was some sort of limited audience at said rodeo.
    – rkedge
    May 26 at 10:10
  • @rkedge To me, a Canadian native speaker, this sense of "gatecrasher" is colloquial. The usage in the book I cited was also colloquial, not technical. I can't find the link to that book anymore, but I've found another book that cites the same story. See the fourth and fifth instances of the word
    – gotube
    May 26 at 15:43
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    @gotube That very interesting. For me being from California, and my wife from the SE US, we both find that usage strange. I found references to the "gatecrasher paradox" and I find it ill-named.
    – rkedge
    May 28 at 8:52

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