This weekend sees the start of the 2014 season at Alton Towers theme park. I think Thorpe Park and Chessington also open this weekend, with Legoland opening last weekend. We have Merlin cards which means we can look forward to visiting the theme parks over the coming few months. We are now in our third year of having our cards, so I thought I would look back and see whether they are worth it, for anyone thinking of purchasing them.
You can find the current prices of the passes over on their website, but as a rule our passes are around £300.00 for 2 adults and 2 children. This gives us access to all of the Merlin attractions on their website, and I personally think it is great value. The first year we purchased them, I kept a tally of how much our visits would have cost us. The total cost was over £1000.00, so paying just £300.00 is a bargain.
We live in the North West so in around an hour we can get to Blackpool (where there are 4 attractions), Alton Towers and Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester. When we are visiting the attractions down south, we tend to make it into a mini family break, and stay in a Premier Inn. We have stayed in the Premier Inns in Slough and High Wycombe which are great bases for London, Thorpe Park, Chessington and also Legoland. If you book during a sale, you can get a night in a family room for as low as £29.00. We touched lucky 2 years ago when we got 5 nights in a row for £29.00 a night in High Wycombe. Yep a total cost of £145.00 AND it was in the summer holidays.
You do get a discount on the food in the attractions when showing your Merlin card, but we prefer to take a picnic with us. We also have the refillable capsule which we got free with our Tesco clubcard, and we fill this many times during the day. I understand this is changing, and the capsule will be around £2.00 to buy, and then a charge of 75p for each refill you have. I still think this is good value. We once set ourselves a little family mission to see whether we could go to Alton Towers and not spend any money at all. And yes we did manage it. So whilst there is an initial outlay for the cards, you really can go to a theme park after that and not spend anything at all !
When we renewed last year back in August, we made our money back within 4 days as we visited Thorpe Park, Chessington and Legoland. For example a visit to Legoland as a family of 4 would cost you £124.00 (this is the online price… the walk up price would be £176.00) !
You also get discounts off the Alton Towers hotel, Legoland and Chessington hotel, as well as discounted entry into the Waterpark. And don’t forget whilst you are travelling around, you can get 20% off at MOTO service stations. Good for that sneaky Burger King on the way home.
So back to my original question. Are the Merlin cards worth it ? Well I can definitely say that yes they are. We have had so much fun as a family, and will continue our fun this year. Now just need to plan when we are going to visit all the attractions. Have already ticked off Legoland Discovery Centre a few weeks ago.