Merlin Pass Sale
The January sales are nearing an end but the one sale I would recommend that you check out is the Merlin Pass sale!
What is a Merlin Pass
A Premium Merlin Pass allows you unlimited access to the 31 Attractions which are owned and run by the Merlin Group. The pass is valid for 12 months from date of issue. There is a mixture of attractions from theme parks such as Alton Towers, Thorpe Park to Legoland. There is some culture thrown in with the inclusion of Warwick Castle or London Eye to the Sea Life and Dungeons. There is also a standard paas but a number of exclusions apply to these which can be found here http://www.merlinannualpass.co.uk/compare-passes.aspx .
Just be aware for example the London attractions are not included in the months of August So if you would visit then a Standard pass may not be be for you.
We originally purchased the passes in February 2012 as we lived in Warwick. This would mean that I could bring the kids to the Castle (we had the 2 adventurers then) and we were in easy reach of the London attractions. As we are originally from the Lancashire we made weekly journey up the M6 so could make use if the north west attractions such as Blackpool Tower and the attractions within it or Legoland Discovery.
So what is the saving?
At the moment a family of 3, 4 or 5 (maximum 3 adults over 12) can purchase a standard pass for £79 or a premium pass for £99 per pass. This compares to £155 per pass normally. The Premium pass also gives you free parking (if available on site, which really means the big theme parks) and this year extra features such a birthday club, whereby you get to visit with up to 3 friends to any of the theme parks within 10 days of your birthday for £10 each. Another new aspect is the Fast Past for a theme park. It wasn’t very clear whether you only get one per pass or one per theme park. So I will tell you more when I get my renewed pass.
So is it worth it?
For us it really was. We used to visit Warwick Castle once or twice a week. The kids loved running around the grounds, finding Teepops (Peacocks to the rest of us) having picnics and playing in the playground. In addition, we visited the theme parks, London attractions and Blackpool tower so got our money’s worth. I will be reviewing each of these separately, but just as an overview the theme parks we visited (Alton Towers and Chessington) were great even for young children. There was enough for them to do and keep them entertained for the whole day and more. Plus the small kids things are never that busy so you can get to go on more things and queue a lot less compared to the big, rollercoasters. Plus both have tons of open, green spaces and the kids can burn off some steam whilst you have a picnic or lunch.
I am a bargain hunter by nature so spending £372 for the family of four passes, may seem excessive to some, I believe it is good value for money. By booking reasonably priced accommodation, you can turn days out in the UK to mini holidays. As you are all aware that holidaying in the UK is really expensive but building a trip around one of these great attractions means that you can visit various parts of the country, have a full day planned out which is already paid for and the next day do other things in the locality.
For example, these are weekends we’ve actually arranged:
weekend to Legoland, Windsor.
we booked into the Travelodge in Langley which is 7 miles from Legoland on a Friday, 6th October 2013 for £30. This included parking. We visited Legoland on Saturday, The original plan had been to stay another night and either visit Thorpe Park or Chessington World of Adventure the next day or made the trip into the City to go on the London Eye, Madame Tassauds or Sea Life. However, we needed to return home on the Saturday so did not book another night.
We visited Warwick on 29th November 2013 – 1st Dec 2013, We booked into the Days Inn M40 for £25 a night. We visited Warwick on Saturday, we parked in the free Castle car park, spent the morning until after lunch in Castle and then went around to see the rest of Warwick centre for the remainder of the Day.
We booked a 3 night stay in the Travelodge in Scarborough for £80. The hotel was fabulously located on the cliff top and gave views of the beach and sea. We went over October half term and there was threat of a Storm. We visited the Sea Life in Scarborough which was a good day out and both Maya and Raihan loved it. Its location just on north shore means that you are able to easily go on to the beach or see some of other attractions in Scarborough easily.
I believe these passes are really good value for money and if you haven’t got plans to holiday out of the country, with some careful planning, it is quite easy to make one of these attractions into a cheap break.