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Merlin Pass attractions, benefits, top tips and is it worth the money?

Merlin Pass attractions, benefits, top tips and is it worth the money?

We investigate the popular annual membership for Merlin Entertainment and its big list of popular attractions

There are a lot of perks to annual memberships for families. They can encourage us to get out and about more in a bid to make use of them and there are potential cost savings. Here we explore one of the most popular – the Merlin Pass. 

What is it?

The UK’s biggest annual pass offering entry to 32 Merlin attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland and more with prices starting at £99.

What do you get?

Entry to 33 attractions including:

The different types of Merlin passes offer other savings depending on which you choose including free parking, discounted fastrack and cheaper food and drink.

Children on LEGO Ninjago the Ride

Ninjago the Ride at LEGOLAND Windsor

Different Merlin Passes

There are four standards of Merlin passes – Merlin Discovery Pass, Merlin Silver Pass, Merlin Gold Pass and Merlin Platinum Pass.

The cheapest option is the Merlin Discovery Pass. It gives off-peak entry only (so excludes entry during school holidays, some weekends and special events) and access to Merlin attractions for over 200 days.  Excludes entry during school holidays, some weekend dates and special events.

Next cheapest is Merlin Silver Pass which also includes some weekends and school holidays, giving over 300 days of entry and 10 per cent off shops, food and drinks. It also includes discounted friends and family tickets.

The Merlin Gold Pass has even less exclusion dates, giving access over 340 days. It also includes free parking, fastrack vouchers and benefits like 20 per cent off shops, food and drinks.

The most expensive option is the Merlin Platinum Pass which gives 364 days entry, with no excluded dates other than paid events. It also includes free parking, £5 off fastrack and Share the Fun vouchers and £19 tickets for friends and family.

How much are the Merlin passes?

Merlin Discovery Pass is from £99 per person.

Merlin Silver Pass is from £169 per person (renewals from £119 per person).

Merlin Gold Pass is from £239 per person (renewals from £169)

Merlin Platinum Pass from £299 per person (renewals from £229).

Can I pay monthly?

Yes you can spread the cost with a monthly membership, on all but the cheapest Merlin Discovery Pass option.

You need to pay a joining fee and then a set monthly rate.

Silver Pass – joining fee £39.99, £10.99 a month, total cost £171.87.

Gold Pass – joining fee, £49.99, £15.99 a month, total cost £241.87.

Platinum Pass, joining fee, £59.99, £20.99 a month, total cost £311.8.

What about the small print?

The passes are delivered digitally to your email inbox ready to use.

You still need to pre-book tickets to attractions online.

How much could you save?

This depends on which pass you go for and how often you visit Merlin attractions.

Merlin have an online calculator tool to show you how much you can save.

For a family of two adults and two children with Merlin Discovery Passes, visiting just Alton Towers once a month, could save £2,868, so a huge saving.

In fact just going to Alton Towers twice would save you £148. But you would have to go to a Legoland Discovery Centre five times to make your money back.

Nobody should be paying the full price for tickets though with offers available on cereal packets and in newspapers – although always check as often booking online in advance can work out cheaper.

Verdict

If you are a fan of Merlin attractions, know you will be going anyway and can afford it, these passes would seem like a fantastic investment which will encourage you to get out and make the most of them for a fun-filled year.

Carer passes

Carers of Merlin Annual Passholders with additional needs who require assistance, can receive a free Merlin Annual Pass.

The passes are transferable between carers. They just include the name, date of birth and a photo of the guest with additional needs.

You need to submit your request here.

Top Tip

Look out for Merlin Pass discounts – this usually happens in January and June.

Related stories

We investigate Merlin and other popular family membership schemes including National Trust, English Heritage, RHS and Chester Zoo – Annual passes and membership at top attractions across the UK in 2024 – our tips and advice

Our Merlin content on the site includes reviews and guides to Warwick Castle and LEGOLAND Windsor Resort.

Another popular article tells you How to beat the queues at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with the Reserve & Ride (formerly Q-Bot) Ride Reservation System.

LEGOLAND Windsor – our 10 top tips to get the most out of your visit

LEGOLAND Windsor – our 10 top tips to get the most out of your visit

Make sure your children enjoy their time at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with our time-saving tips and advice on everything from parking to eating and queueing

1. Before you go

Buy your tickets online to save time and money, then you can go straight to the turnstiles when you arrive.

Plan which rides your children want to try and check out a map of the park.

Don’t forget to measure your child’s height to see which rides they can go on to save upset as they are very strict.

2. Parking

You must pay for parking before you leave the park – to save time, pay in advance online before you arrive.

Parking is £8 (or £7 in advance online) or £16 for Priority Parking in a closer car park (£13 online) which isn’t worth the extra if you plan to arrive early as you can aim for car parks B or C and drive up each row as far as possible to be close to the entrance.

3. Park opening

The park opens at 9.30am but you can only get as far as Miniland until the rides open at 10am (unless you are a hotel guest).

But if you do get there at 9.30am, you will get a good parking space, save time queuing for tickets and Q-Bots and be able to see around Miniland (or shop in the Big Shop) before the 10am rush to the rides.

Try to at least be in and down to Miniland for at least 9.50am, it’s about a five minute walk from the entrance. In good weather they put on a small show while you wait.

Two children enjoy Miniland at Legoland Windsor

Miniland

3. Laser Raiders and Lego Ninjago The Ride

The longest queues are for the Ninjago ride and Laser Raiders. They are quite close together so try to get to your preferred one as soon as the park opens at 10am to prevent a long wait. (A lot of people have this idea, so don’t hang about)! Then do the other ride at lunchtime. The shortest queues are usually around 12 to 1pm while people have lunch. So jump on the ride you didn’t do first thing at lunchtime to minimise queuing.

4. Work backwards

Head for the Atlantis Submarine Voyage or Dragon roller coaster quite early in the day. These are in the two furthest areas from the entrance (unless you are staying at the hotel) and it pays off to do a long walk first and work your way back towards the entrance. You will be walking in the opposite way to most of the crowds.

5. Bring a picnic

Picnic areas are limited (especially undercover) but there are benches and grassy areas you can sit on to eat. To really save time, eat your sandwiches in the queue for a ride. If you are buying lunch there, the quickest snacks to buy are hot dogs, noodles or pasta pots, which you can also eat on the go. If you get noodles or pasta, ask for a spare pot! The portions are large for a child, so you can split the food between two children. Makes for a more affordable lunch and cools it down more quickly too.

6. Reserve & Ride (formerly Q-Bot)

We have written in detail about the Reserve & Ride system here, where you can pay to jump ride queues at LEGOLAND.

Essentially, you book on to a ride from anywhere in the park, via your mobile phone. Instead of waiting in a queue, you wait while going on other rides or doing anything else you want and when the countdown is up, you go through the special Reserve & Ride entrance of your chosen ride. You don’t have to go at the exact time, just as soon as you are ready. Your waiting/countdown time depends on which Reserve & Ride system you have chosen, there are three – regular, express and ultimate, costing a hefty £25, £40 or £90 per person. But they save you long waits and can be used on more than 20 rides.

To maximise the Reserve & Ride’s value, book your next ride as soon as staff have scanned your code to let you on the ride before.

Also consider the one-off Reserve & Ride on busy rides – they can be worth it to save an hour’s queuing with tired children.

Read our detailed guide on LEGOLAND’s Reserve & Ride system here.

7. Afternoon rest and a film

Use the 4D movie cinema as a chance to rest tired legs and sit down for 30 minutes.

If it is raining and you want to dry off, avoid the middle seats as you’ll get sprayed with more water as part of the 4D experience!

8. The shops

LEGOLAND has no shortage of LEGO shops. To save time, the Big Shop at the entrance has almost everything the smaller stores have under one roof, so you may be able to persuade your child to just look around just the one, although we didn’t!

The main store does get busy after 3pm so if you have a window before then and want to buy something, take it.

You can buy from any store and collect at the end of the day from The Big Shop or have purchases sent to the resort hotels, if you are staying in one of them.

9. No queues

Some of the rides and attractions can have no wait so to make sure you don’t spend all day queueing, do some of these throughout the day – Brickville, Castaway Camp, Miniland, the DUPLO Theatre Puppet Show, Splash Safari and the Star Wars Miniland Model Display.

10. Leaving

Miss the traffic through Windsor to the M4 by turning right at the roundabout when you leave LEGOLAND.

And if you did run out of time and want to return, you can upgrade to an annual pass and have your entry fee refunded.

RELATED POST: How to beat the queues at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort with the Reserve & Ride (formerly Q-Bot) Ride Reservation System

RELATED POST: LEGOLAND Windsor Resort – read our full review and tips here