Merlin Annual Pass – Is It Worth It?

Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It?We have had our Merlin Annual passes almost a year now and whilst we are in the process of considering whether to renew I thought I would recap over what we have experienced this year with them and if, for us, the upfront outlay has been worth while. Because there is no getting around the fact that it is alot of money. £387 to be exact. We purchased 3 Family Premium Passes in the sale and the price was £129 each (this years sale is £139 at the moment). Roma is of course under 3 so was eligible for free entry anyway.

One of the main reasons for buying the passes was that we knew that we would like to take the children to LegoLand Windsor at Easter. As it is a good few hours from us and the fact that I have a muscle condition which makes days out a little trickier, we wanted to go for two days. This in itself, had we paid direct, would have cost us almost £300. So really it was a no brainer!

We opted for the premium pass also because for the difference in price (£30 each) it allowed us to go with no date restrictions (standard passes have restrictions especially at peak times like bank holidays, school holidays and the month of August), it also includes priority entry and car parking and I just think that it gives you freedom and you can’t put a price on that…well other than it costing £90 that is!

Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It?

Having ordered our passes online we chose to pick them up at our nearest attraction which was Sealife Centre Birmingham at half term where they printed them for us, took our photos and the pass date started from that day of collection. The girls love the Sealife anyway and we have been several times before, it just never gets old and going at different ages definitely shows us how they can get so much from it each time. We continued on our half term fun and went to Manchester Lego Discovery Centre and the Sealilfe there too, it is practically next door so was a must. Having only ever been to the one in Birmingham I was pleased to see that this one was unique and was like a completely different experience which I’ll be honest I kind of thought it would be the same just in a different place!

Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It?

Legoland discovery centre however was a weird one. We queued for a long time to get in as the priority you get with the premium pass was taken in stages so we stood in the queue with everyone else until we were called. It was a strange set up and possibly due to the fact that they were in the middle of a bit of redevelopment in there I have to say there was alot of waiting around and certainly wasn’t the best place we had been. It was really busy and the queues for the little rides they had (namely the driving) were so crazy we ended up leaving the queue in the end. The girls just liked playing with the Lego though to be honest. Nevertheless it was fun and the beauty of having the annual pass is that we didn’t feel like we had wasted our money which we may have done had we paid to go there specifically. I am also sure that now the works are all done it is probably worth another visit. Maybe something to do before our passes run out!

Like I said at the beginning we then visited LegoLand Windsor in April which was brilliant. Having the car parking really helped and although the park was busy there was always something to see and do and having the relaxed feeling knowing we were here for two days made it all the more enjoyable. The girls favourite was definitely the boat ride and miniland! What I would say was that the food was quite expensive and not all that healthy and so we not only brought our own for a picnic lunch but also then left a little earlier and had dinner at Wagamama’s in Windsor itself. It cost us about the same as it would have in the park for fast food (even with the 20% discount from having a pass) and was lovely for the girls to run around the outside of Windsor castle too. We stayed at the De Vere Beaumont Estate which was about a 10 minute drive, absolutely beautiful and a steal at only just over £100 for adjoining rooms (thanks to last minute bookings). It was such a stunning place I would definitely go back and we were able to have a good breakfast before heading back for another fun packed day!

Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It?

From Easter there wasn’t much chance to visit anymore places, or at least with a school child we didn’t find much chance, but we did visit SeaLife again a few times.

Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It?

In August we were Glamping in Surrey and so made the most of the time to use our passes. I may have scuppered our changes of visiting SeaLife in Brighton as I had left my pass in the Yurt (an electronic Merlin Pass database wouldn’t go a miss for cases like this) but we managed to head to Chessington World Of Adventures  on the way home. This was by far the best park for the children. It had the most rides catered to their age and a reasonably small footprint so it was easily manageable for the girls, and for me! If we lived closer we would definitely have managed more trips here. Eva loved the treetop adventure and Roma has the best time in the world on this Frog Hopper ride!

Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It?

One of the best things about the Merlin Pass of course is multiple visits to span the seasons and events. Alton Towers is our closest theme park and we visited in August and then again in October at Halloween for their Scarefest celebrations. That is probably my most favourite time that I have been actually, all the decorations and entertainment were really good – if a tad scary. But, whenever a member of staff would see a child that was scared or unsure they approached them with kindness and I thought this was amazing attention to customer detail, after all who wants to spend a day with your child terrified of walking around every corner? Not me!

Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It?

This picture probably sums up the restrictions for the smallest of people. Roma was too little to drive the cars in the driving school and as you can see she wasn’t best pleased about it! That being said she has managed to get the most out of the visits and there hasn’t been that much that she would have wanted to go on that she couldn’t as we mostly went on as a family. And because Eva isn’t really a ‘big ride’ kind of child either. We have never had any shortage of things to do and Alton Towers specifically is so scenic and has beautiful gardens that if you get the weather these are well worth the time to enjoy too.

At Halloween though there were so many little shows and entertainment even for the littlest of children and the girls enjoyed a lighthearted monster show which had a really lovely moral running through it, a win for me. There were signs all around to let you know what was on and the suitability in terms of age and fear factor which was great.

Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It?

As all the theme parks close for the season we turned out attention to other attractions and right at the beginning of December and as part of their advent treats we took a christmas day out to London. We hopped on the London Eye – and by hopped I actually mean hopped. There was a big queue but with the premium passes we were able to have priority (which with a sleeping Roma was a godsend) and were on within 10 minutes. I love that then the other attractions are so close by and having only time for one more (I so wish we had time for SeaLife there too) we opted for Shreks Adventure. There was so much to love about that, not so much the waiting around at the start (there seemed to be alot of waiting for others to join for some reason), but the experience was really good and something a little different to the other attractions for sure. Not to mention Shrek with a Christmas suit on! As we were working with a train company at the time we didn’t have any outlay that day with entertainment and this close to Christmas that is always a plus. Of course it isn’t ‘free’ by any means, we have paid but it does feel like it!

Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It? Merlin Annual Pass - Is it worth It?

As you can see we had so many adventures and in terms of value for money we 100% got that. I would say that we were conservative with our visits just because life got away from us or due to our location which means it is a bit of a way to go to most attractions but I do think that having a Merlin Pass is worth it. For this year at least it basically meant that any free weekend or half term entertainment was already taken care of and meant that we actually just had a bit more get up and go to make these memories together. This teamed with the fact that it took the pressure off to enjoy every moment because we knew we could do it again was something in itself.

Here is a snapshot of all that we did as a family of four for £387 (not including any more we do!)

Sealife Birmingham * 3                           Lego Discovery Centre * 1                             Manchester Sealife * 1

Legoland Windsor * 2                             Alton Towers * 2                                            Chessington World Of Adventures * 1

London Eye * 1                                       Shreks Adventure * 1

Whilst I am still on the fence as to whether to renew (with Roma now being close to 3 it will cost us £556, in the sale). I don’t have one bit of regret of the last year and if for nothing else the girls absolutely adored every moment of it, were so appreciative of every single one of those days out and I am pretty sure if you asked them they would tell you it was their best day ever! We had fun, and we made precious memories of this year that we will never get to live again, if that doesn’t make it worth it, nothing will.

Now to go and plan our next adventures to make the most of the coming three weeks before they expire….or maybe we renew again.

xx

Merlin annual Pass - Is It Worth It?

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32 Comments

  1. January 29, 2018 / 9:28 pm

    I am glad you made good use of the passes I think they are brilliant and such a money saver for school holidays. You sound like you are quite close by to where I live too. We booked a long weekend to Blackpool last year and there’s so much to do up there. You can get (obviously not one in Blackpool) discount off the hotels too. y niece really wants to go in a Gruffalo room or the Cbeebies hotel so may look into it this year.

    Disclosure: I am super excited that we are Merlin Annual Pass Bloggers this year.

    • February 26, 2018 / 9:55 pm

      Blackpool is the one place we never went and I really wish we had, we haven’t renewed this year but I really hope we will do it again as like you say school holidays are the best x

  2. February 15, 2018 / 1:11 pm

    Ah this sounds that you had an awesome year using your passes. Ive been in two minds as to get us a family pass but with my little one being under 1, I wasn’t sure we would make the most of the pass as we may be restricted. I think you’ve changed me mind. We also live near Bham Sealife and Alton Towers and I am desperate to take the kids to Chessington! #sharingthebloglove

    • February 26, 2018 / 9:57 pm

      Oh if you do it definitely take them to Chessington it was the best for the littler ones even if it was a bit of a way x

  3. February 15, 2018 / 7:38 pm

    This is interesting because we never did go with the pass however we have always got a National Trust card and found these really great for days out or for if you go down to Devon or Cornwall on holiday. I think it sounds as if it was defiantly worth the money and even £550 sounds great when you consider how much you did -I suppose the question is, will you do all that again next year to make it worth your while? Great review by the way. #sharethebloglove

    • February 26, 2018 / 9:58 pm

      I think National Trust might be on our radar this year to be honest as we haven’t renewed these, not this year anyway but we will for sure do it again as we had the very best time x

  4. February 17, 2018 / 8:11 pm

    The Trafford centre ones are our nearest an like you that means LEGOLAND is a big trip for us. we haven’t bought a pass as I can’t see us using it enough here in the North. love LEGOLAND though. #sharingthebloglove

    • February 26, 2018 / 9:59 pm

      It was definitely one of those times when we knew we would make the big trips with what we had planned, like you with us being midlands it isn’t exactly close to a lot x

  5. February 18, 2018 / 7:08 pm

    I’m such a big lover of an annual pass – we have National Trust, RHS, a local garden to us, and of course our Merlin Passes! We get so much value out of them, and we’re lucky to live near Legoland, Chessington and Thorpe Park, so plenty to occupy us. I’m glad we got the passes, as otherwise we might not have discovered how great Chessington is for young children – I remembered it from my own visits as a teenager, and remembered all the big rides, but there is so much for little children. Our current passes run until the end of August, but I’m sure we’ll be renewing when the time comes. We are always a bit strategic though, and only get my husband a Standard Pass as we already have parking covered with the other passes. I’d love to visit Alton Towers too – I think we need to make a trip up there for it! Thanks for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • February 26, 2018 / 10:00 pm

      Wow that is amazing that you have them all, national trust I think is on the cards for us this year as I blummin love a national trust and we have so many by us. You are lucky to be so close to a lot too. If you come to Alton Towers definitely drop a hi to us on the way! x

  6. February 18, 2018 / 10:46 pm

    I quite often look at these passes. It would only be the 2 of us because the OH never comes with us. But apart from Warwick there’s not really many places near enough to pop to to make it worth it.

    • February 26, 2018 / 10:01 pm

      Yes it is definitely hard when you don’t have places near and we made an effort to make plans around this to make it worth it x

  7. February 19, 2018 / 9:09 pm

    Sounds like you really made the most of the passes and made so many happy memories that your girls will treasure. We’re lucky that we have so many Merlin places near us and I can’t wait to take the girls to them all this year with our passes. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

    • February 26, 2018 / 10:02 pm

      You will have such a fab time and they are amazing to have if you have many places on your doorstep, easy outs for every downtime and great for big adventures too x

  8. February 22, 2018 / 10:17 am

    I do love an annual pass, and it looks like you made the most of yours. We only have a National Trust pass but at £9 a month, it’s less that one visit to soft play and I love that we can just hop in the car and go on impromptu visits without the worry of splashing out more money. I think we might consider a Merlin pass then- I’m sure there’s lots to visit near the midlands. Lovely snaps of your trips x #SharingTheBlogLove

    • February 26, 2018 / 10:04 pm

      We are definitely going to get National trust this year for sure as there is so much around here that I know we will all love. Merlin passes are worth it at least once x

  9. February 22, 2018 / 10:24 am

    This is definitely money well spent and also the fact that you could put it on a c/c and pay off a monthly sum to make it feel less of a hit is amazing. even going once a month makes it seem worth it!
    I’d consider this as Ben is two in May, but with the twins coming soon.. I don’t think it’ll work, but give it a year or two and I’ll definitely look into this again!! BTW, the photos are beautiful! #sharingthebloglove

  10. February 22, 2018 / 12:16 pm

    If you know you’ll use it, then it’s totally worth it. If you’d paid for those all those trips separately it would have cost way more than the pass. We’ve thought about doing something similar, but came to conclusion that we wouldn’t get our money’s worth

  11. February 22, 2018 / 2:20 pm

    The initial payout in the beginning is so worth ot for the amount of attractions you can go to. Lovely photos. #sharingthebloglove

  12. February 22, 2018 / 7:39 pm

    Would be tempted, but I never want to feel like we have to go to places just because we have the passes. Probably be a case of buy them and see for the year and reevaluate after that. #SharingtheBlogLove

    • February 26, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      I know what you mean I would definitely give it some thought on what you could plan in without it feeling like a chore x

  13. February 22, 2018 / 8:25 pm

    Hi, its great to see you made the most of your passes last year even in a sale they are not cheap so you really have to plan ahead. We have the National Trust membership but never seem to make the most of it #sharingthebloglovechloe

    • February 26, 2018 / 10:09 pm

      We have had some before for various places and it is hard to ensure you get the most out of them so I love this about Merlin in that every place is different x

  14. February 23, 2018 / 3:18 pm

    It looks like you got good value out of your passes, with lots of great fun! It’s a big chunk of money to pay all at once though… hm… Thank you for a thourough post on it! x
    #sharingthebloglove

  15. February 27, 2018 / 2:44 pm

    it sounds like you packed a lot in during the year. #SharingtheBlogLove

  16. February 28, 2018 / 4:05 am

    It looks like your annual pass has given you lots of amazing days out! I love the look of Shreks Adventure I seem to keep seeing things about it at the moment! #sharingthebloglove

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