My top 5 tips for getting the most out of a Merlin Annual Pass

Over the last two and a half years, Tom, Emerson and I have loved owning our Merlin Annual Passes. We love the freedom they give us to visit the theme parks and attractions we really enjoy. From Alton Towers, Legoland, Chessington to Sealife Centers, Lego Discovery Centers and Warwick Castle, there are so many different destinations to visit. We have had our passes for over two years and still have not visited all of them.

Emerson enjoying himself at Sealife Center Birmingham

One thing I hear from some parents with the Merlin Annual Passes say is that they think they are a waste of money as they never get used. When Tom and I decided to buy the passes we looked at them as an investment, we didn’t jump into buying them on a whim, it must have taken us over six months to really decide if they would be worth the money or not for our family and lifestyle. Yes they can be pricey and the higher the pass you get the pricier it is, but what you really need to look at is how many times you intend on using them. With these tips you will really make them worth what you pay for them.

The War of the Roses show at Warwick Castle

Tip number one, and the biggest tip I can give you is to plan when you will use your passes. Will you use them at weekends or weekdays? Will you use them during school holidays? Can you fit a day trip in once a month? The first year we had the passes, I sat down and looked at our year to come. We had planned our family summer holiday, but nothing else. We don’t have any other commitments to plan in (football clubs days, swimming lessons etc) so we knew we could do at least one trip a month. We actually ended up using them on 22 separate days that first year, from spending Emerson’s birthday, Mothers Day and Fathers Day in Legoland, my birthday at Warwick Castle and Toms at Chessington. We made sure we spent the big days of the year at one of the parks. I also planned what we would do during every school holiday that year and I made sure we did a different park or center for each trip to mix it up and make sure we didn’t get bored.

In the Forbidden Valley at Alton Towers

With the new regulations due to COVID-19, this year, for the first time every, we have to pre-book our tickets to visit one of the attractions. This is to keep everyone safe and to keep to the government guidelines. You can pre-book your tickets for your days out by visiting the attractions website, select what day you want to go and click that you have a Merlin Annual Pass. You are sent an email with your booking confirmation, you just need to show this confirmation and your passes when you arrive.

The dragon in the clock at the Lego Discovery Center Birmingham

Tip two, look out for Merlin Pass Holders days. Keep an eye on Merlin’s website and social media platforms to hear about special pass holders days. With the parks opening for pass holders only and limiting numbers of people able to enter means shorter queues and quieter parks in general.

Enjoying a day at Warwick Castle

Tip three, use your discounts. As well as getting into the parks and attractions, having a pass means you get discounts on food, drinks, photos and gifts. You get between 10% – 20% off items bought in there attractions. So make sure you show your pass when you buy anything. You can use your discount on booking a visit to Splash Landings water park at Alton Towers or if you want to stay over in any of the hotels. Also check out the attractions app if they have one, sometimes they have little offers on there while your in the park. One we used whilst in Legoland last year was having Emerson’s name engraved for free on a lunchbox during our visit. The engraving was free with any purchase of a key ring or lunchbox, this just made Emerson’s gift that little bit more special. On another visit we also used this offer to get Tom a key ring engraved with “Daddy” on for a fathers day present from Emerson.

One of the Giraffe that you can see on the Zufari: Ride into Africa! at Chessington

Tip number four, check what each attraction has to offer before you go. Every Merlin attraction has its own website and some of them have their own apps. Before visiting check out what rides are suitable for everyone in your party, what activities are there, what you can see and do, where you can buy food and drink (if you do not take your own) and what facilities they have. If you have a plan of the things you would like to do before you visit the attraction, you can make the most out of your day.

Learning to drive at Legoland

Tip five, the special events days. During the year some of the Merlin attractions hold special events. Three events we visited last year where the fireworks at Legoland, ‘The Haunted Castle’ for Halloween at Warwick Castle and Chessington for their Christmas time ‘Winters Tail’. We absolutely loved them. It was nice to keep the Merlin Magic going even through the out of season times.

Splash Landings at Alton Towers

If you want to know more about Merlin Annual Passes and the different passes you can buy, please check out their website at https://www.merlinannualpass.co.uk/ and I hope you have as much fun on your days with the passes as we do.