Newest Review: ... extra £35 (less than a standard one day entry ticket) I was able to upgrade my Merlin Annual Pass to a premium one, which allowed me to hav... more
Unlimited entry to some of the UK's top attractions
Merlin Annual Pass
Member Name: lyndsey1989
Merlin Annual Pass
Date: 03/07/11, updated on 03/07/11 (229 review reads)
Advantages: Lots of attractions
Disadvantages: Terms and conditions have changed over the past year, customer services are not very good
We have had Merlin Annual Passes for 2 years now. My Mum bought them for us as a Christmas present a couple of years back and then when she saw how much we used them and enjoyed them she decided to do the same for Christmas last year. At the moment we have 4 standard Merlin passes.
==What are Merlin Annual Passes?==
Merlin Annual Passes give you entry into 29 of the UK's top attractions including Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventure, Legoland, Thorpe Park, Sealife Centres, The London, Edinburgh and York Dungeons, The Legoland Discovery Centre, Warwick Castle, Madame Tussauds and The London Eye. In addition to this, this year various attractions are being added to the pass including The Blackpool Tower, The Blackpool Tower Dungeons and Madame Tussauds Dungeons, Blackpool.
By having a pass you usually get 20% off in attractions shops and restaurants. They also have various other perks including money saving offers from other companies such as Rainforest Cafe and RAC and also money saving offers on short breaks at Alton Towers and Chessington.
You can also buy an Unlimited Drinks Capsule, which I believe is £16 this year which allows you to have unlimited refills of soft drinks throughout the year. This is great if you plan on visiting more than a few times. We usually refill it at least 5 or 6 times on a day visit.
If you buy a premium pass, you get additional perks such as August entry to the London attractions (this is not available with standard passes), free parking at the attractions and entry to special events at attractions such as Fright Night at Thorpe Park.
==Why did we only buy Standard Passes?==
When we got our passes, free parking was still available with these passes at all of the attractions. Parking can be expensive (£6 at Alton Towers) and as we are unlikely to use the London attractions during August we decided that the standard passes would be fine for our needs.
==Obtaining a pass==
You can obtain a pass in numerous ways including buying them online, buying them in person at the attractions or using Tesco Clubcard vouchers to purchase one. Whichever way you purchase one you will need to visit an attraction to actually get your pass as you will need your photo on it (however in some cases you can send away a passport sized photo and they will do it that way).
==Using your pass==
We have never had a problem using our passes, either for obtaining entry to attractions or getting discounts in shops and restaurants.
==How have we found them?==
We used our passes much more last year than we have this year simply because me and my partner have been a lot more busy with work this year. However, we have absolutely loved having these passes as we have visited places that there is no way we could have afforded on a regular basis without them.
I cant remember exact figures of how many times we have visited each attraction using our passes but I know that during our first year we visited Alton Towers about 8 times, Chessington at least 3 times, Legoland 2 or 3 times, Thorpe Park once and Sealife centres twice. We could have used them a lot more but because we dont live particularly close to any of the attractions (it is over an hours drive to our nearest one) we often prefer to go for a weekend so additional costs are obviously involved.
==Are you treated any differently?==
As soon as you get into the attractions, you are treated exactly the same as other guests apart from the obvious perks such as 20% off in shops and restaurants. At Alton Towers you do get early ride time from 9am which is brilliant as it means you can get on the busier rides before other people are let in.
In the first year of our membership I was really happy with the passes but second year a lot of the perks have been taken away and are now only available to premium passholders (eg. entry to the dungeons at Warwick castle). I could upgrade but its £30 per person and as me, my partner, my step-daugher and my niece all have one it would cost £120 and at the moment I just dont have that sort of money.
There has been some confusion over the change in terms for the standard and premium passes. For example, we have old style standard passes which allows us free parking but on a couple of occasions we have had to explain this to staff, also even though we bought the passes when you were allowed in Warwick Castle dungeons, the staff have since told us we can no longer do this.
99% of the staff at attractions are absolutely brilliant. They are polite and friendly and are always keen to ask how your day is going (especially at Alton Towers).
I have only had to contact customer services once after we visited Thorpe Park on a passholder preview day and it was absolutely terrible. I was not happy with the response I recieved. I got a letter with my name spelt wrong which was obviously copied and pasted due to the amount of complaints they had received and half of my questions weren't answered. As an apology they offered me 50% off at a restaurant of my choice within 3 or 4 weeks, as I wasn't planning on visiting within that time and had clearly stated in the letter that I had serious reservations about visiting again I didnt use it.
==How much are the passes?==
Currently a standard pass is £140.40 for an individual. A premium pass is £167.40. There are discounts for family passes and you can use Tesco Clubcard vouchers to buy them which I would recommend.
If you are thinking about getting one, I would recommend the premium pass just because for £27.00 more you will get free parking which as long as you are visiting somewhere more than 5 or 6 times throughout the year will pay for itself. I think Alton Towers have the highest priced parking costing £6, the other attractions range between £2 and £5.
==Would I recommend it?==
Yes, we have had a great time using our passes and if you are likely to visit these attractions throughout the year then they are definitely worth the money.
For more information please visit http://www.merlinannualpass.co.uk/
Summary: A brilliant pass
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