Signing Up For A Pay Monthly Merlin Annual Pass - All You Need To Know


I have considered joining the Merlin Annual Pass Club for years now but there's always been some excuse and I've never taken the plunge. Then towards the end of last year, they allowed you to spread the cost and pay monthly rather than having to find £800+ to buy 5 passes up front and my interest was piqued even further.

Signing Up For A Pay Monthly Merlin Annual Pass - All You Need To Know


As I started making our holiday plans for the year, I realised that we weren't having a summer holiday this year and were going to be at home for the Easter holidays and October Half Term too. Plus Steve has more weekends off this year during term time due to a change in shift. This, along with the fact that Heidi and Jack are now over 1.2m tall, told me that now was the time to sign up.

Premium or Standard Passes 

If you pay monthly, premium passes will set you back £11.99 per month (for a minimum of 12 months) plus a one-off £35 admin fee whereas standard passes will set you back £8.99 per month (for a minimum of 12 months) with a one-off admin fee of £30. So the difference in passes is £41 per year.

Signing Up For A Pay Monthly Merlin Annual Pass - All You Need To Know
Soaking up the sunshine at LEGOLAND

You can mix and match passes so in the end we decided to go with 2 premium (for Steve and I) plus 3 standard for the kids. There are restrictions on when and where you can visit with a standard pass but we can plan our trips without the restrictions affecting us at all. I opted for 2 premium passes mainly for the free parking, share the fun vouchers (you can bring 3 friends for £15) and £5 off fast track passes which Steve and I might use when we're not with the kids. Cheeky!

When you buy a new pass via pay monthly, you need to pay the admin fee and your first month up front, your montly payment is then taken by card payment on that same date each month.

Passholder Perks (standard and premium) 
  • Entry to over 30 of the UK's top attractions 
  • Being able to spread the cost of days out over the year
  • Up to 20% discount on food, beverage and retail 
  • Short break discounts with Merlin Holiday Club 
  • Exclusive pass holder preview events 
  • Discounted entry for family and friends (up to 5 discounted per visit) 

Passholder Perks (premium only) 
  • Free car parking at theme parks and Warwick Castle 
  • Visit any time without restrictions 
  • Privilege pack with 3 x share the fun (£15 entry for friends) vouchers, 3 x £5 of ride fast track vouchers, lanyard and pop badge 
  • Priority entry to attractions 

2019 Standard Pass Restrictions 
  • No entry to Central London attractions during August and the first weekend in September 
  • No entry to Central London attractions on official bank holidays 
  • No entry to the London Eye on 14 February 
  • No entry to the London Dungeon on 26 October - 1 November 
  • No entry to Thorpe Park, Chessington, Alton Towers, LEGOLAND Windsor or Warwick Castle on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in August 
  • Parking is not included with standard passes 

We don't plan on visiting London in August or theme parks over weekends in August when they're at their busiest so I am definitely happy to buy the kids standard passes and save myself £120. If we do fancy visiting on a restricted date we can pay a £10 supplement for each child to do so. 



Where Can I Visit? (and current discounted rates for friends and family) 

Signing Up For A Pay Monthly Merlin Annual Pass - All You Need To Know
Star Wars Exhibition at Madame Tussauds 

I think Merlin Annual Passes offer fantastic value for money. Excluding the restrictions mentioned above for standard passholders, we can visit the following attractions as many times as we like throughout the year. We can also bring up to 5 friends and family per pass per visit with us (so that's up to 25 people at once) at a discounted rate with up to 50% off which is a huge perk for us. I've added the current friends and family discounted rate in brackets. The passholder must be present when collecting friends and family tickets and they need to be pre-booked using a special link online:

  • Alton Towers   (£27.50 friends and family)
  • Chessington World of Adventures   (£23 child / £25 adult friends and family) 
  • Thorpe Park   (£25 friends and family) 
  • Warwick Castle   (£10 friends and family) 
  • LEGOLAND Windsor   (£26 friends and family) 
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Manchester   (£10 friends and family) 
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Birmingham   (£10 friends and family) 
  • Blackpool Tower Eye    (£5.25 child/ £6.75 adult friends and family)
  • Blackpool Tower Ballroom    (£4.95 friends and family) 
  • Blackpool Tower Circus    (£6.75 child / £8.25 adult friends and family) 
  • Blackpool Tower Jungle Jims    (£3.25 friends and family) 
  • Sea-Life Blackpool    (£6.75 child / £8.25 adult friends and family)
  • Blackpool Dungeons    (£6.75 child / £8.25 adult friends and family) 
  • Madame Tussauds Blackpool   (£6.75 child / £8.25 adult friends and family) 
  • Madame Tussauds London   (£17 friends and family) 
  • The London Eye   (£10 friends and family) 
  • Sea-Life London Aquarium  (£11.50 child / £13.50 adult friends and family) 
  • London Dungeons   (£5 friends and family) 
  • Shrek's Adventure London   (£11 child and £16 adult friends and family) 
  • Sea-Life Blackpool, Birmingham, Brighton, Great Yarmouth, Gweek, Hunstanton, Loch Lomond, London, Manchester, Scarborough and Weymouth  (various prices from £5 friends and family) 
  • Blackpool, Edinburgh, York and London Dungeons  (various prices from £5 friends and family)
As you can see there is LOADS going on - we're going to have a busy year!! 


Our Merlin Plans So Far 

Signing Up For A Pay Monthly Merlin Annual Pass - All You Need To Know
Building LEGO Racers at LEGOLAND Discovery Manchester 

  • We have 2 days in Blackpool booked over Easter and a weekend in the Peak District too so we'll be visiting all of the Blackpool attractions and Alton Towers this month. 
  • I'm hoping to book a glamping break at Warwick Castle at some point over the summer. 
  • In July we're staying at Loch Lomond for a few days and plan on visiting Loch Lomond Sealife Centre then. 
  • I'm hoping to book a week's camping near LEGOLAND, Chessington and Thorpe Park in the summer. 
  • We plan on spending a few nights in London over October Half Term if I can find a cheap travelodge
  • We are planning day trips to Alton Towers, York Dungeons and Scarborough Sealife in the Summer 
  • We're planning day trips/cheap weekend breaks to Manchester and Birmingham in the Winter to see their Sealife and LEGOLAND Discovery Centres. 
  • We might head to Blackpool again for the illuminations later in the year. 
  • I'd love to visit the Alton Towers Fireworks - I've heard they're spectacular! 
  • We'll visit the Edinburgh Dungeon when we visit Edinburgh Christmas Markets 
  • Obviously, these plans may change but I'm feeling hopeful we'll be able to do it all. 

I was almost tempted to not buy the kids their own pass and just use discounted friends and family discount for their entry and this might be worth doing if you don't plan on visiting loads of attractions. However, when I did the math, it was still better value to buy them their own pass. You can read more and sign up to a Merlin Annual Pass online here.

Originally we were going to only visit Alton Towers over Easter and if that was the case I was going to buy the kids' passes at a later date and just use our share the fun £15 entry vouchers for them BUT then we booked a last minute break to Blackpool so it made sense to buy their passes now rather than hold off. It might be worth looking at buying one/two premium passes now and another in 6 months or so and then switching who uses the share the fun/discounted entry but I'd work out where you're going to visit and whether this method would be worth your while first. 

During my research, I found the Merlin Annual Passholders Facebook group to be super helpful. There is all sorts of info in there and if you have any questions, there's always someone who will know the answer. You can join the group here.

Disclosure: We are not working with Merlin and although we have visited some Merlin attractions in the past, they have never been through working directly with Merlin. We paid for our passes ourselves and can't wait to share some tips we pick up throughout the year. I've set up a dedicated 'theme park' category on my website which you can access during the drop-down list at the top of my blog.

I've worked out that visiting everywhere I plan to this year and buying tickets online in advance would cost over £700 and that's just for one person. Our premium annual passes are costing us £179, offer discounted accommodation, drinks and food (which we will use), free parking and the chance to spread the cost so it is more than worth it for us. I think as the years go on, the novelty will wear off and we'll end up using them less often so I think we'll probably keep our passes for 2-3 years max. 


Have you ever considered becoming a passholder? Let me know in the comments.

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Signing Up For A Pay Monthly Merlin Annual Pass - All You Need To Know


  
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