For Christmas 2016 we asked family for a contribution towards the cost of an Merlin Annual Pass as a family so that we could enjoy a whole year of days out. We had been to some Merlin attractions previously but there were also plenty that we hadn’t been to, or even heard of before we got the passes.
We bought the passes in the January sale, which works out quite a bit cheaper so worth waiting til then if you can. Once you buy the passes you have up 6 months to activate them and then your 12 months starts from that date. We chose to go for the premium passes, which were a bit more expensive but meant there were no restrictions on when we could use them unlike the standard passes, they also included parking which can be quite costly at each attraction.
Our passes cost us £322 in total for the three of us which is a lot to pay out at once therefore, we were determined that we were going to make the most of them. I certainly think we managed to get good value out of our passes over the 12 months these are the trips that we went on.
Our Round Up of Trips
- 2 visits to Seal Life Centre, Birmingham
- 2 visits to Sea Life Centre, Manchester
- 2 visits to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Manchester
- 3 Visits to Warwick Castle
- London Eye
- Shrek Adventure
- Sea Life Centre, London
- Chessington World of Adventures
- Madame Tussaud’s London
- Jurrasic Skyline Weymouth
- Sea Life Centre, Weymouth
- 2 visits to Legoland, Windsor
- Blackpool Tower
- Madame Tussaud’s Blackpool
- Sea Life Centre, Blackpool
We have all really enjoyed our year of adventures with Merlin Annual Passes and if you are going to make the most of them, then I think they are actually really good value for money and encouraged us to visit new places together. Mini was 4 when we had our passes and there was definitely plenty of things suitable for her, although she is a bit of a daredevil and was happy to go on as many big rides as she could at the theme parks we visited.
We have decided not to renew our passes this year, as we feel that if we did it would be quite repetitive and we would like to visit some different attractions. That being said we would definitely look at getting passes again maybe next year or in a few years time, maybe by then Mini will be big enough to come on Nemesis with me at Alton Towers.
Our Top Tips for using Merlin Annual Passes
- Visit attractions on school training days as they are likely to be a lot quieter and you will be able to go on a lot more rides throughout your day. We visited Chessington World of Adventures on Mini’s school training day and hardly queued for any of the rides.
- Plan trips away where there are more than one attraction and turn it into a holiday or weekend away. Manchester, Blackpool, London and Weymouth all have multiple Merlin attractions.
- Don’t forget that you can get 20% off food and drink at Merlin attractions by showing your annual pass.
- You can collect pop badges to go onto your lanyard with your annual pass. If you go up to any Merlin member of staff with an existing pop badge and ask to swap, they will do this, Mini had lots of fun hunting down staff with badges that she didn’t yet have.
- Check out the Merlin Annual Pass website for a full list of discounts and special offers that you can make use of with your passes. We didn’t find that a lot of these were very well known or advertised such as discounts at some motorway service stations and special discounts on Champagne flights at the London Eye.
- Keep an eye on the Merlin Annual Pass Facebook and Twitter accounts for details of special events just for passholders.
- With an annual pass you can just turn up at any Merlin attraction however, there are some attractions that you can pre-book a timed slot to guarantee entry at a specific time. The slots are normally only £1 to book and worth it if you are visiting during a particular busy time such as weekends or school holidays.