So the Summer holidays are coming to an end – heck, they have for some parts of the country. It can be an expensive time for parents, as much as I’m a firm believer in letting kids find their own entertainment – it’s good to do a few things as a family. I was speaking to Vicki about how handy it had been to have our Merlin Membership / Merlin Annual Passes. With them, aside from the upfront cost (or monthly cost with the Membership), you can have a super cheap day out! I decided to work out exactly how much money we’d saved by using Merlin Annual Passes over the summer holidays, and, well – I was pretty shocked at the totals.

So what is a Merlin Annual Pass / Merlin Membership?

If you’re wondering what on earth a Merlin Annual Pass / Merlin Membership is – it’s essentially a card that gets you into over 30 Merlin owned UK Theme Parks and Attractions. That includes places like Alton Towers Resort, Thorpe Park Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, Sea Life Centres, Dungeons – the full list is here. You have to pay for a Merlin Pass upfront (prices start at £139 per person), or if you opt for the Merlin Membership you can pay for your pass over 12 months (prices start at £8.99 per person) – I’ve written about it here. There are two types of Merlin Pass – Standard and Premium. Standard has some limitations on when you can use it – we have Premium Merlin Memberships which have very few limitations, and also gives you free standard car parking at some of the attractions. All the calculations in this post are based on our Premium Merlin Memberships – you’d get similar savings with the Premium Merlin Annual Pass.

What have we done with our Merlin Annual Pass this Summer?

Thorpe Park Resort

First up James and I went to Thorpe Park Resort to investigate just how good it is for children of his age. You might have seen from our vlog – we had a LOT of fun, and had a very busy day! So – if we were to book in advance online, it would cost us £33 each (they don’t do cheaper entrance for children). If we just rocked up on the day, or booked online less than a week before it would be £55 each. Don’t forget car parking – booking online it will cost you £7 – on the day £10.

So let’s look at the figures for Thorpe Park Resort

James – £33 in advance – £55 on the day

Kip – £33 in advance – £55 on the day

Parking – £7 in advance – £10 on the day

Total – £73 in advance – £120 on the day

Scoffing some pizza at Thorpe Park Resort, and saving 20% off the cost with the Merlin Annual Pass.
Scoffing some pizza at Thorpe Park Resort, and saving 20% off the cost with the Merlin Annual Pass.
The London Dungeon

Vicki and I took a trip to The London Dungeon on her birthday – obviously, it’s not suitable for James – so he didn’t come along for that. It was a lot of fun and a great way of spending some time in London – plus they have the ‘Hide and Seek’ scene at the moment which was so cool (I was ‘in the chair’ too!).

Let’s tot up how much The London Dungeon would have cost –

Vicki – £24 in advance – £30 on the day

Kip – £24 in advance – £30 on the day

Total – £24 in advance – £60 on the day

Messing around at The London Dungeon
Shrek’s Adventure

We had a proper ‘Summer Holiday’ day out in London on Friday, and our first port of call was Shrek’s Adventure. It was the first time we’ve been there, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. When I asked on Twitter, the reaction to it was pretty good. It was a super cute attraction, and whilst there were a few moments of ‘mild peril’ James came out very happy. It’s a fun thing to do when you’re in London for sure!

London isn’t cheap – so let’s see how much Shrek’s Adventure would cost –

James – £17 in advance – £24 on the day

Vicki – £21 in advance – £30 on the day

Kip – £21 in advance – £30 on the day

Total – £59 in advance – £84 on the day

James didn’t fancy having his photo with Shrek!
The London Eye

After doing Shrek’s Adventure in the morning, we went for lunch at Ping Pong on the Southbank – in the afternoon we took James on The London Eye. James is a good age for The London Eye – he’s interested in the views and they kept him interested for the 30 minutes or so it takes to go around. The Eye is probably the most expensive experience based on the amount of time you spend doing it. However, it seems that by using our Premium Merlin Annual Pass, we were given Fast Track entry (which is a £10 upcharge on Standard tickets). The standard queue was REALLY long, so being able to saunter up the Fast Track queue was amazing!

James – £32 in advance – £34 on the day

Vicki – £37 in advance – £40 on the day

Kip – £37 in advance – £40 on the day

Total – £106 in advance – £114 on the day

James checking out the view from The London Eye

Adding up all the costs, if we’d NOT had the Merlin Annual Pass and booked all these activities in advance, we’d have spent £268 to do all of these things. If we’d freestyled it, and just rocked up on the day, it would have cost a staggering £378! Obviously – the Merlin Annual Pass or Merlin Membership isn’t free, so we need to take that into account. We have the Premium Merlin Membership which is £12.99 per month – so for 3 of us in the months of July and August, we pay Merlin £71.94.

Taking that off the totals to work out our savings.. With the Merlin Annual Pass / Merlin Membership we saved –

£214.06 (advance pricing) or £306.06 (on the day pricing)


The thing is – we’ve used them fairly lightly – we could have gone to Chessington, LEGOLAND Windsor, a Sea Life Centre – or even Alton Towers too. The savings would have increased even more! In theory we could have gone to one place a week, or even one every day! With the Premium Pass you can really go crazy – the more you go, the more you’re saving! Obviously, you do save by booking in advance – with the temperamental weather though, it’s hard to know exactly what the weather will be like 7 days in advance. When James and I went to Thorpe Park Resort, the weather was actually meant to be good – which it was, until there was a MASSIVE downpour mid-afternoon. It’s good to have a bit of flexibility and the Merlin Annual Pass gives you plenty of that – weather looking a bit iffy? You can go another day!

James became very attached to one piece of merchandise,

Is there anything else?

Yes there is! As well as giving you entry. The Merlin Annual Pass in the Standard or Premium flavour gives you a 20% discount on most merchandise as well as 20% off eating and drinking at the attractions. So in theory, because we had lunch at Thorpe Park, and a drink in The London Dungeon as well as purchasing merchandise in all of the places we visited we actually saved even MORE money. I really don’t mind getting James a pin badge, or a teddy because we’ve saved so much on the entrance fee AND whatever I get him will be cheaper too!

If you’re SUPER quick you can grab a Free DigiPass with every Premium Merlin Annual Pass too. You know those on-ride photos or the pictures they take behind a green screen? A DigiPass allows you to get a digital copy of all your photos at the attractions (so long as you’re in the photo!) A DigiPass is £60 for 12 months normally, so it’s a great offer to take advantage of – it ends on the 3rd September 2019!

This isn’t an advert for Merlin Passes, I am a genuine fan, and have had one for YEARS. The links to the Merlin Annual Pass site are affiliate links, so if you purchase a pass, I get a (very) small financial reward.

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