At the beginning of last year we sat going through our diaries booking out some family days and thinking about places we would like to take the children during the year. I had spotted that the Merlin Annual Passes were about to go on offer and so decided to weigh up whether it was worth getting some.
We knew that we were going to be visiting The Sea Life Centre in Birmingham as we were visiting the nearby NIA for another event so were going to make a day of it.
During May bank holiday we had already decided to go to Lego Land, our little boy had received some money from his birthday (which is Christmas Eve) so we decided to spend it on a special day out in the Spring for him to enjoy.
We had also planned a trip to London for our daughter’s 5th birthday to see Mamma Mia, her absolute favourite and had promised her we would visit The London Eye while we were there.
And of course, as many of you probably know, we live right by Warwick Castle so would definitely be visiting at least once during the holidays.
We totted up the cost of all of these adventures … for two adults and one child (our youngest also but he goes free as is only a small one)
Lego Land – two day would have cost
|The Sea Life Centre would have cost – £46.50 for the family – only if we were there at 10 am – more if we arrived at lunchtime! and only if we booked online!Warwick Castle would have cost – £41.28 – plus £6 parking = £47.00 if we booked online and a whopping £87.60 + £6 parking if we paid on the gate!The London Eye would have cost £80.88 if we booked online in advance.These are all the places we would definitely have visited, pass or not last year.In total it would have cost us £376.86 just for tickets for these attractions.
With the cost of two adult and one child premium passes being £357.00 for the year. I quickly realised that it made far more sense to buy a Merlin Annual Pass so that we could take advantage of the additional discounts such as the discounts off resort hotels and food, drink and photographs once in the parks. We also went for the premium passes because of the free parking at many of the attractions, this made particular sense for us as we would be using Warwick Castle more frequently than any of the others and the parking there is very expensive!
We have really enjoyed having our Merlin Annual Premium passes this year and it came into its own on the day we went to London! It was absolutely boiling hot and we hadn’t even realised that the premium passes allowed us fast track access to The London Eye! After a long hot journey, a four year old and the sweaty underground it was SUCH a relief to realise that we could just walk up to our pod and climb on especially as the queue was over an hour long!
We still have a trip planned to Alton Towers and Cbeebies land planned before the passes run out and have used them numerous times at our most local attractions, The Sea Life Centre and Warwick Castle.
If you’re planning on getting passes for the first time I would advise you to do what we did, work out what you were definitely planning on doing during the year, add it up and work out if you would save money and go from there. Having the passes means you want to make the most of them so you really can just head off one morning to somewhere without having to worry about shelling out more money on entry fees. Of course I do know that there are lots of 241 offers etc but we found that lots weren’t suitable for the dates we wanted to go and you couldn’t book online with them meaning long queues to pay when you arrive at the attractions. With the passes you can just scan them and walk on through! The downside for many families is finding the money upfront, it’s a shame that Merlin don’t offer a direct debit option which would be really helpful! However, you could always save some money this year and buy one next year in the sale!
|We also had a great pack each full of discounts, fast track vouchers, free food vouchers and also free or cheaper tickets for our friends either side of each of our birthdays!The Merlin Annual passes are now on sale on their website here: http://www.merlinannualpass.co.ukStandard Passes are £119 individual and £99pp family.Premium Passes are £149 individual and £119pp family Sale NOW EXTENDED TILL 8TH FEB!
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Here’s just a tiny peek into some of the fun we have had using our passes so far! 🙂