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Thorpe Park/Alton Towers season pass for the same or less than a day ticket?
Also see how similar Legoland & Chessington passes stack upOngoing
'Pay for a day, come back all year/season for free'. That's how Merlin is billing its Thorpe Park and Alton Towers annual/season passes, but are they as good as they sound?
While it's true the Thorpe Park and Alton Towers passes - which are the same price for adults and kids - are either as cheap or cheaper than the most expensive on-the-gate tickets, easily-obtained 2for1 vouchers and discounted online tickets bought in advance mean you'd have to visit the same park at least a twice for the pass to save you any money.
The cheapest way to visit can depend on group size, how many kids are going and whether it's a peak or off-peak day. Our table below breaks down all the costs for Thorpe Park, Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland Windsor, so you can work out what's best. See our theme park guide for more deals.
The attractions are generally open every day from April to October, though pass holders sometimes have to pay an extra charge during special events and on peak weekends in Aug-Sep.Theme park annual/season pass vs single day ticket costs
Pass price per person, any age Pass expiry Full-price on-the-gate day ticket Tickets booked online 5-7 days in advance Thorpe Park (buy / T&Cs) £49 12 months £49-£55 adult, £44-£50 child £30 per person £55 Nov 2018 £55 adult, £48 child £33 adult, £27.50 child Chessington (buy / T&Cs) £65 12 months £50 adult, £46 child £29 per person Legoland (buy / T&Cs) £70-£110 12 months £47-£60 per person £32-£47 per person
If you live near Thorpe Park, we think it offers the best-value pass - it's the only one that can be cheaper to buy than an on-the-gate ticket. However, if you live closer to one of the other attractions, or just prefer a different one, a pass may still save you money but you'll likely have to visit more times for it to beat using a 2for1.
Want to visit multiple theme parks?
If you plan to make multiple trips to Merlin attractions, you should consider buying an annual Merlin pass, which gets you unlimited visits to 32 attractions including Legoland, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Sea Life, Madame Tussauds, London Dungeon, London Eye and the Blackpool Tower. They cost £179 per person at full price, or if you're buying for between three and five people (max three over-12s) you can get them at the reduced 'standard family' rate of £139 per person.
Merlin annual passes are usually discounted a few times per year, normally in January and June by £40-£50 (or £20-£30 for family rate ones). Given you could also go to many attractions using a 2for1 voucher (see our Theme Parks guide), you need to make multiple visits during the year to make it worth buying an annual pass, so you’d need to weigh up whether you’re likely to save money or not.
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If you register and print a voucher from Days Out Guide then buy a National Rail ticket, you can get 2for1 entry to over 300 UK attractions, including SeaLife Centres, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures, Alton Towers and Legoland Windsor when you present both at the attraction. See the full theme park list or the zoo and wildlife list.
You need to print a voucher for the relevant attraction (follow the link above and search for it) AND have a valid rail ticket bought from National Rail on the same day for a single or day return ticket, or within the days of travel for a return ticket.
What if I live near the attraction/am travelling by other means?
It's worth doing this even if you are not travelling by train as a cheap single ticket can be available for a couple of quid, far cheaper than the entry ticket price (Legoland Windsor is the most expensive at up to £60 on the gate).
Just stop by the nearest station on your way and pick one up, then present both to get your 2for1. Crucially, your rail ticket must show that you have travelled to one of the stations nearest the attraction. So for Thorpe Park, you need to have a ticket with an end destination of Staines or Chertsey.
The offer's ongoing, but check the voucher for each individual attraction's restrictions, as these vary. See the full T&Cs including which tickets are valid.
Excludes Oyster cards, Freedom Passes, and tickets and travelcards bought from London Underground. Can't be used with other offers or promotions.
Convert Tesco Clubcard points into Tesco Boost tokens* and on some theme parks you get three times the vouchers' face value to use on tickets, eg, £5 in points converts into £15 worth of Boost rewards.
Here are some of the places you can visit:
The London Dungeon*
Blackpool Pleasure Beach*
Legoland Discovery Centre*
Madame Tussaud's London*
For how to fully maximise Clubcard points, see the Loyalty Schemes guide.
Latest Expired Deals
2for1 Legoland, Alton Towers etc with £3ish cereal
Adults go 'free' voucher on selected Kellogg's cereals
Look for promotional packs of Kellogg's cereal and snacks, including Rice Krispies, Frosties, Crunchy Nut and Squares (norm £2ish-£4ish at most supermarkets), to get 'free' adult entry via a voucher for 30 Merlin attractions until 30 June 2020.
Effectively this is a 2for1, as you must buy a full-price on-the-gate child or adult ticket to get the free adult entry, but this could actually work out better than a 2for1 ticket if you're an adult going with a child as generally child tickets tend to be cheaper than adult ones.
The vouchers can be exchanged for entry on the day at Merlin attractions including Legoland, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington, Sea Life centres and sanctuaries, the Dungeons and Madame Tussauds. Some dates are excluded and these vary between attractions - see 'More info' below.
Promotional packs will be readily available in stores until May, after which they'll be harder to find.
How strong is this deal?
While attraction prices vary, the most you could save with this offer is £57ish based on peak Legoland Windsor ticket prices (norm £60 each on the gate, so £120 for two, but you could get two for £63ish with this deal).
As it covers a large range of attractions and the vouchers are valid for over a year, this is a particularly strong deal if you and one other person are considering visiting one of the participating venues.
However, if you’re only interested in visiting a specific attraction, possibly more than once, and aren’t going in a pair, it’s worth checking to see what other deals are available. Find ticket prices for other attractions and see our round-up of theme park deals to check which works best for you.
You can also book online
To guarantee entry and beat the queues at selected attractions, there's also an option to book your tickets online in advance using unique codes found inside Kellogg's cereal packets (though you'll still pay the on-the-gate price). Technically, these codes can be combined with the physical vouchers to obtain two free adult tickets with two full-price child tickets purchased - see 'More info' for full details.
Ensure you take the voucher with you on the day. It can only be used against the gate price, not the discounted online price. The age classification for an adult ticket varies between attractions so make sure you check before you go. Valid for standard entry tickets only.
Also check the venue's individual opening dates as some are closed at certain times of the year. There are also some extra excluded dates in 2019 listed below (2020 exclusion dates will be available from the end of the 2019 season):
- 19-30 Aug and 25 Dec at all attractions
- 8-10 Nov at Alton Towers Resort
- 19-21 Apr, 21, 22 and 27-28 Jul, 3, 4 and 10-11 Aug, and 31 Dec at the Coca-Cola London Eye
- 1-31 Aug at SEA LIFE London
- 25-31 Oct at The London Dungeon
- 6-Oct-4 Nov at The Blackpool Tower Circus (The Blackpool Tower Eye is open subject to weather conditions)
- 18-31 Oct at Thorpe Park
- 27-31 Oct at The Blackpool Tower Dungeon, 26-31 Oct and 26-31 Dec at The York and Edinburgh Dungeons
- 30 Nov, 1, 7-8, 14-15, 18-24 Dec at Legoland Windsor
- 25 May-2 Jun, 26 Oct- 3 Nov, 31 Dec- 5 Jan at The Bear Grylls Adventure
Promotional vouchers aren't valid at secondary attractions and don’t guarantee entry into attractions in the event of venue capacity being reached. Offer can't be used with any other offer or concession, reward or loyalty schemes.
Or book online in advance using promo codes on cereal packets
To guarantee entry in advance, you can book tickets online (excludes The Blackpool Tower Circus) at a special Merlin website ahead of your visit. To do this, you need a unique code found inside promotional packs of Kellogg’s cereal only, on the underside of the carton flap.
This method of redeeming the offer requires you to pay the gate price in advance and print out your tickets. At selected attractions, you can scan these tickets and walk right through the gates, enabling you to beat the queues.
Discounted Merlin theme parks pass £129 (norm £179)
Gets you 15 months unlimited entry to Legoland, Alton Towers etc
If you buy an annual 'standard' Merlin pass for the discounted price of £129 per person before 11.59pm on Mon 3 Dec, you'll also get three months extra for free. After that, it will rise to the normal 2019 price of £179 per person for a 12-month pass.
The discounted 15-month pass gets you unlimited visits to 32 attractions including Legoland, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Madame Tussauds, London Dungeon, London Eye and the Blackpool Tower.
Is it worth it?
Given you could also go to many attractions using a 2for1 voucher, eg, Legoland for two people costs £55ish with 2for1 tickets, you need to make about five theme park visits during the 15 months to make it worth buying a pass – more for cheaper attractions.
It's worth noting Legoland, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and the Jurassic Skyline attraction are closed until March 2019, effectively cancelling out the extra three months you’re getting with this deal if those are the attractions you’re interested in visiting.
However, even if you don’t make full use of all 15 months’ access, you’ll still be saving £50 per pass compared with if you wait until next year to buy them – so it’s worth it if you definitely intend on getting some.
The passes also can’t be used at central London attractions in August, or at some theme parks during key summer school holiday weekends – check full T&Cs including these and other exclusions.
Buying for three to five people?
If you're buying passes for between three and five people (max three over-12s), you can get them at the reduced 'standard family' rate of £109 per person, going up to £139 on Tue 4 Dec. You don't technically need to be family, or even visit together, so adults can team up to get the cheaper rate.
Got Tesco points?
If you've got Tesco points, you can buy a 'standard' annual pass for £60 in Clubcard Boost vouchers. See our Tesco Clubcard Boost page for more info.